Slow Cooker Southwestern Chicken and Quinoa

After all the chocolates, cookies and lemon treats this weekend, not to mention some amazing ham (seriously people, check out this recipe at Mel's Kitchen Cafe if you've ever wished there was something you could actually do to ham besides glazing the outside and warming it up.) this dish is just what I needed in my life this week. Something a little healthier, low fat, packed with protein and easy to make. Oh, and tasty to boot.

If you haven't heard all about quinoa and why you should be eating it, do a quick google search. It's one of the darlings of the food world right now, and unlike some of the other current fad foods, I think quinoa lives up to its hype. I love its mild flavor and fluffy texture and cook with it on a regular basis. (Incidentally, if you want to see my 10 month old's reaction to quinoa's texture, see my Google+ page

What I love about this recipe is that it is made in the slow cooker and the hands-on time is minimal. The quinoa is added at the end so it soaks up the juices from the slow cooker, making it packed with flavor. It's also a one-pot meal, which is always great when it comes to clean up time. Between the chicken breasts, the black beans and quinoa, it's a protein powerhouse so it's also very filling. There is just enough heat for my tastes, but you can easily adjust the amount of heat to your tastebuds by using hot salsa or adding more cayenne pepper. Whether you indulged a little too much this weekend or just want a delicious, easy, healthy meal, this one is great. 

Slow Cooker Southwestern Chicken and Quinoa

HeatOvenTo350 Published 04/02/2013
Southwestern Chicken Quinoa


  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 2 large chicken breasts (about 1.5 lbs; can be frozen)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles, undrained
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed*
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • crushed tortilla chips


  1. Place corn in an even layer on the bottom of a 5-6 quart slow cooker, then layer chicken breasts, black beans and salsa on top.
  2. Stir cumin, garlic, oregano and cayenne and chicken broth into diced tomatoes, then pour mixture over black beans and salsa in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-7 hours, or until chicken is cooked through and tender.
  3. Remove chicken from slow cooker and turn slow cooker up to high. Stir in quinoa and replace lid. Shred chicken and return to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 30-40 minutes, or until quinoa has cooked and soaked up remaining liquid in the slow cooker. (Some salsas are more liquidy than others, so if you are finding that after 25 minutes or so that the mixture still looks very wet, take the top off the slow cooker and stir a few times while it finishes cooking so that some of the moisture can evaporate.)
  4. Serve warm with tortilla chips, cilantro and avocado.
*Make sure you rinse your quinoa before using it. Your package may say that it is pre-washed but I've had packages of pre-washed quinoa that were very bitter unless I rinsed it myself. 

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook time: 7 hours
Recipe Source: HeatOvenTo350, inspired by several sources including Mel's Kitchen Cafe, Taste of Home and the 
Fagor 3 -in-1 Electric Multicooker Recipe Book

16 Click For Comments:

There are so many ingredients in here that I love, so I know I'd be crazy about this. I need healthy food after last week without a doubt! Great recipe!

As a busy mom I love slow cooker recipes. This meal looks delicious.

Yum! Love all of this - especially the tortilla chips! Good call.

I love everything about this Nicole! I've been all about the slow cooker lately so your timing is perfect :)

This is how you can get me to eat quiona. I keep trying it and keep not liking it.

Thanks for the tip Nicole on rinsing the quinoa - I didn't know that!

I actually just discovered not long ago that I really like quinoa. I love the bite it keeps after it's cooked. I'm going to pin this to make in the future!

Your recipes always look so delicious. I cannot wait to try this one Nicole.

Yum! You've been posting so often I haven't been able to keep up!! This looks really tasty and quinoa is a favorite of mine. Gives me lots of dinner ideas :)

I wasn't the biggest fan of quinoa when I tried it before, but southwestern/mexican flavors are my favorite so I will be making this for dinner next week. Besides, you finally got me to like cauliflower so I bet you can get me to like quinoa, too!

Yay, I'm glad you liked the cauliflower! Hope you enjoy the quinoa as well.

I made this last night and it was great! Honestly, I didn't really taste the quinoa that much but I think that may be because the pieces of chicken I used were too big. I have a whole bunch leftover than I'm going to use in quesadillas and taquitos for lunch.

Unless I just totally missed it (which is possible) I think you left out when to add the chicken broth? I assumed it went in along with the quinoa but I just wanted to let you know. Thanks for the great recipe!

You just made my day. I'm always so glad to hear feedback on recipes, especially if the dishes were enjoyed. :) The quinoa is pretty subtle in this dish since I was trying to sneak it into my husband's diet so it's probably not just your chicken that was masking the flavor. You could cut back on the chicken if you wanted to taste more of the quinoa. I used my leftovers in quesadillas, too!

No, you didn't miss the step to add the chicken broth. It was me who missed it. Thanks for pointing it out. I actually added it with the diced tomatoes, but I'm glad to know it works to add it later, too. I just wasn't sure if it would get warm enough to cook the quinoa if I added it with the quinoa. Thanks for letting me know!

Love your food photography! I’m working for a company called Village Harvest that’s running a Facebook grain photo contest for a $7500 international trip. You should totally enter. Here’s the link: http://a.pgtb.me/GtXGz

Can you put the quinoa in with everything else for 6-7 hours? I like to start my crock pot when I leave and come home and it be all ready to eat

I like to do that, too, Karen. The problem I found when trying this with quinoa is that the cooking time for quinoa is too short to leave it cooking all day. It gets mushy, unfortunately.

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