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Mexican Chicken Stew, Slow Cooker or Stovetop

Mexican chicken stew based on the fantastic tinga de pollo featuring thighs cooked with tomato, onion and chipotle before being shredded.

This recipe contains instructions for both the slow cooker and the stovetop, it will take around an hour to cook on the stove and 4 hours in a crockpot.

Mexican shredded chicken stew served with coriander rice and jalapenos.

Mexican Chicken Tinga

Mexican-inspired food is a rarity in the UK and indeed across Europe.

The spread and knowledge of foods from around the world tends to follow diaspora. Even in the age of the internet this largely remains true.

For me it is the true beauty of food from around the world, we take what we love where ever we go and share it with everyone!

As a result, this Mexican chicken stew is one of the few takes on Mexican food I have here on my site. It joins a spicy black bean soup and spicy sweetcorn soup with influences from that part of the world.

In fact, the other two dishes, battered fish tacos and my slow cooker chilli con carne have more of a US influence than a real Mexican influence. I also have a vegetarian chilli sans carne too!

This recipe is based on a dish called chicken tinga, a simple spicy stew of chicken, onions, tomatoes and chipotle chillies in adobo.

My version of this dish moves to chipotle paste rather than chipotle in adobo.

Primarily because it is an ingredient that is seemingly only available by mail order in my corner of the world. A practice that really does not dominate my cooking, if I can’t get stuff at a local store then I don’t cook with it!

But this dish is glorious, smokey, sweet and spicy just add a squeeze of lime juice and off you go!

Close up overhead Mexican shredded chicken stew served with coriander rice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use other cuts of chicken?

I would stick to either whole legs, thighs or drumsticks for this recipe. The breast cooks far too quickly and has a tendency to dry out.

What is the best way to cook this, on the stovetop or in the slow cooker?

For me, the stovetop produces a far superior dish because a slow cooker does not reduce the sauce in any meaningful sense.

You can of course reduce the sauce at the end but it adds an unneeded and faffy step. But cooking it in a slow cooker still produces a really tasty dish!

Does the size of the slow cooker really matter?

Yes, absolutely, slow cookers need enough volume in them to allow them to cook slowly.

Many problems with slow cooker or crockpot dishes are caused by using a slow cooker that is too large for a recipe in my experience.

Can I use chipotle in adobo instead of chipotle paste?

Absolutely! Use 2 or 3 depending on how hot you want the dish, chop them up and throw them in at the same time I add the paste in the recipe below.

As I mention above I only use paste because chipotle in adobo is tough to find in the UK without using mail order.

Overhead Mexican shredded chicken stew served with coriander rice and jalapenos.

Serving Suggestions

I like to serve this Mexican shredded chicken stew with some lime and coriander rice and some fresh jalapeno peppers.

The dish that this is based on, chicken tinga, is often served with fresh avocado, refried beans and queso fresco.

It is also commonly seen as part of a tostada, a flat crispy tortilla shell loaded with goodies.

You could also turn this into a “dirty fries” kinda dish or even loaded tacos.

Or just wrap it up with more goodies and use it as the base for a chicken burrito!

Close up Mexican shredded chicken stew served jalapenos.

Equipment Used

I only recommend specific brands of equipment if I think that they make a material difference to a recipe. If you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.

  • Stovetop.
  • Slow cooker (OPTIONAL) this is best made in a 3-3.5l slow cooker.
  • Medium (24cm or 10″) ovenproof saucepan with a lid or dutch oven.
  • Sharp kitchen knife.
  • Chopping board.
  • Weighing scales and or measuring cups and spoons.
Mexican shredded chicken stew served with coriander rice, lime wedges and jalapenos.
Yield: 2 Servings

Mexican Chicken Stew Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Based on the tinga de pollo this spicy Mexican shredded chicken stew is easy too cook and just as good served with rice as it is with tortillas.


  • 4 Chicken Thighs
  • ¼ Tsp Salt
  • 2 Tbsp Rapeseed Oil (Canola Oil)
  • 150g (1 Cup) Onion
  • 4 Garlic Cloves
  • 250g (2 Medium) Tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 1 Tbsp Chipotle Chilli Paste
  • 125ml (½ Cup) Chicken Stock
  • ½ Tsp Oregano
  • ½ Tsp Dried Thyme
  • ¼ Tsp Ground Cumin


  1. Peel the onion and cut it in half and then cut it into 1cm (½") thick slices.
  2. Cut the tomatoes into a 1cm (½") dice.
  3. Peel the garlic and chop it into a medium-fine dice (2-3mm)
  4. Heat a medium (24cm) saucepan over a medium heat and when it is hot add the oil.
  5. Brown the chicken thighs on all sides and set aside.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium and add the sliced onions and cook for 5 minutes.
  7. Throw in the garlic and cook for a further minute.
  8. Add the tomato puree and chipotle pasta and cook for a minute stirring constantly.
  9. Pour in the stick, add the tomatoes, oregano, thyme and cumin and stir to combine.
  10. Return the chicken thighs add a lid and cook on very low for 30 minutes.
  11. Remove the lid and cook for 10-15 minutes.
  12. Remove the chicken thighs and shred the meat, then return it to the pan and stir it through the sauce and serve.
  13. Slow Cooker Instructions

  1. Pour the sauce from the blender into a small (2.4-3.5 Litre) slow cooker.
  2. Add the chicken thighs to the slow cooker pushing them into the sauce, then add the lid and cook on low for 3-4 hours.
  3. Remove the chicken and shred it before returning to the slow cooker and stirring through the sauce. *SEE NOTE


The slow cooker does not permit the sauce to reduce so you may wish to remove the sauce from the crockpot and reduce it on a stovetop a little.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 752Total Fat: 50gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 38gCholesterol: 322mgSodium: 829mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 3gSugar: 8gProtein: 63g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

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