Damn Delicious

Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken (Freezer Meal)

Stock your freezer with the easiest, quickest crockpot FREEZER MEAL!!! Simply drop into the crockpot and you’re set!!!

Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken - Stock your freezer with the easiest, quickest crockpot FREEZER MEAL!!! Simply drop into the crockpot and you're set!!!

Did you guys know about this?

This whole straight-from-freezer-to-crockpot situation?

Because I’m sitting here wondering where this has been my entire life.

It’s a game-changer, guys.

There’s no prep cooking ahead of time here.

  1. All you do is prep.
  2. Throw it in a Ziploc freezer bag.
  3. Freeze.
  4. Thaw.
  5. And dump into slow cooker.

 And you know what?

It tastes freshly made.

It doesn’t taste like I’m eating 3-day old leftovers.

So again.

I ask.

Where has this been my entire life?

And you know I made burrito bowls with this cilantro lime chicken.

Just add some brown rice.

A dollop of sour cream.

Some avo.

Or guac.

And boom.

Done.

Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken

Stock your freezer with the easiest, quickest crockpot FREEZER MEAL!!! Simply drop into the crockpot and you’re set!!!

10 minutes8 hours

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (10-ounce can) Ro*Tel® Mild Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies
  • 1 cup corn kernels, frozen, canned or roasted
  • 1/2 cup salsa, homemade or store-bought
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, diced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Juice of 2 limes

Directions:

  1. In a gallon size Ziploc bag or large bowl, combine chicken, beans, tomatoes, corn, salsa, cilantro, onion, jalapeno, cumin, chili powder and garlic. Place in freezer for up to 1 month.*
  2. Place chicken mixture into a 6-qt slow cooker; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover and cook on low heat for 7-8 hours or high heat for 3-4 hours. Stir in lime juice.
  3. Serve immediately.

Notes:

*Thaw chicken mixture for 12-24 hours prior to adding to the slow cooker.

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Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Servings Per Container 6

Amount Per Serving
Calories 242.0 Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5.0g 8%
Saturated Fat 1.0g 5%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 65.0mg 22%
Sodium 1139mg 47%
Total Carbohydrate 26.0g 9%
Dietary Fiber 5.0g 20%
Sugars 4.0g
Protein 24.0g 48%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

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113 comments

  1. I served this over rice with tortilla chips on the side, and a nice green salad for a great healthy mid-week meal. Followed the recipe exactly.  It definitely has some spicy kick — on the warm side of medium, but not fire truck hot.

  2. Rated 4 out of 5

    My husband and I enjoyed this recipe, and I really appreciate how simple it is, and that it can be prepared ahead of time as a freezer “dump” meal for the slow cooker. I made it right away in the slow cooker but I’ll make another batch for the freezer now that I know we liked it.

    I made 2 slight modifications:
    1 – I’m a wimp with spice so I substituted the jalapeño with a can of chopped green chillies.
    2 – My husband doesn’t like cilantro, so I kept the cilantro separate so I could add it to my plate.

    I served this over rice with a good dollop of guacamole on top, and that really took it to the next level. Next time I might try chicken thighs and see how it is.

    Note: Be sure to add the lime juice at the end. It’s key to brighten up the flavours after being in the slow cooker.

  3. Rated 4 out of 5

    The chicken was perfectly cooked and very tasty, but for some reason my beans were rather hard and flavorless. Do you know what would cause the beans to be hard? 

  4. Can this be done in the instant pot instead?

    • What a great idea! But unfortunately, without having tried this myself, I cannot answer with certainty. But if you get a chance to try it, please let me know how it turns out! 🙂

    • I made this a couple months ago— delicious!! I wish I’d waited to put lime in til end- but definitely a repeat recipe. I can’t remember now if I used in slow cooker hotpot (just had a baby, so just happy to have had a yummy meal 🙂

    • I did this recipe in my instant pot. Put 1 tablespoon of olive oil after the pot heated up on Saute and browned the chicken for 2-3 minutes. Put all the rest of the ingredients into the pot in the order of the recipe, but it probably doesn’t matter. Changed Instant Pot to Pressure for 10 minutes. When done, let it release pressure naturally for 10 minutes before doing a quick release. It turned out ymmy! Put it over rice with a dab of Greek yogurt on top. Good eating.

  5. A girlfriend of mine made this after the birth of my second daughter and it was heavenly. She served it with shredded cabbage and plain Greek yogurt. When I made it myself it wasn’t as good.

    Yesterday I tried again for my daughter’s third birthday party and the tweaks I think made it excellent were:

    1) seasoning the chicken breasts with adobo and Browning them before adding them to the Crock-Pot

    2) using salsa Verde instead of a tomato based salsa.

    I also used recommendations from other comments to stir in the lime juice and cilantro at the end. I agree with others that it would be super helpful to add “thaw for 12-24 hours” as a step between freezing and cooking instead of a footnote. Otherwise, the recipe and instructions were easily understood and communicated.

  6. Hi…i was wondering if you have tried chicken tenders and if so would it change the cooking time…thanks Catelin

    • Hi Catelin, we have not unfortunately. I would say keep it the same, but check in with it periodically, since the chicken tenders will probably cook faster than the breasts. Sorry I can’t be more precise. As always, please use your best judgement when making modifications and substitutions.

    • The thing with IPs is that meat cooks per volume (size of the piece(s) of meat). As the chicken tenders are smaller than shoe breasts, you would have to adjust the cooking time. The amount of meat doesn’t matter except that it would take a bit longer to come to pressure. So doubling a recipe would be the same cooking time, but a change in the size of pieces would not. If you do a search online, there are guidelines on this.

  7. Rated 5 out of 5

    This was a pretty darn good recipe and easy to prepare for the freezer. I put the lime juice in a snack bag so it would freeze separately. I didn’t want to get ready to make it and realize I had no limes.

  8. just made this today. Put everything in the slow cooker and went about my cleaning. It turned out amazing. It is so damn good. I had to share with my neighbor who always enjoys great food. Thank you so much for all the great recipes.

  9. Rated 5 out of 5

    Great looking recipe ! Can you PLEASE update the recipe for the Instant Pot  ??

    PLEASE !?

  10. Question: I assume I can prep this the night before so my husband can dump it into the slow cooker in the morning, right? No need to freeze — or is it bad for the beans and corn to sit with the raw chicken overnight in the fridge? Thank you.

  11. Rated 5 out of 5

    This was so delicious! I made one to eat and two to freeze. Due to time constraints I threw it in my instant pot with a cup of water and stirred the cilantro in with the lime juice at the end. This one is going in my freezer meal line-up for sure!

  12. Amazingly delicious!! I cubed my chicken and served it on a bed of orzo.
    I was a little afraid of all the “heat” so only used 1/2 a jalapeño.
    It did take me quite a bit longer to prepare, but I’m a slow preparer, so not surprising.

  13. Can I add rice to the slow cooker too?  If so, at what point?  Thanks!  Love your recipes!

  14. Do you carpet the chicken breasts up before freezing them?

  15. Absolutely Delicious! It did sit in my slow cooker longer than the recipe stated-long day at work-but it was still so good.  I served it over some cilantro lime rice to make burrito bowls for dinner.  
    I do have to say though, the best part was using the leftovers to make a breakfast hash! I made some breakfast potatoes, put them in a bowl, threw some shredded cheese over them, heated up the leftovers put that in the bowl and topped it off with an over easy egg-scrumptious! 

  16. What are the thawing instructions and can this be cooked first and then frozen for a longer shelf life? I’m meal prepping for a baby arrival and would prefer meals that last longer than a month. Thx

  17. Thank you so much for this wonderful dish

  18. Hey, sorry to bother, just wondering if it’s okay to include the lime juice in the marinade? 

    • I recommend adding the lime juice at the end of cooking time as directed in the recipe. Marinades that contain citrus juices, such as lemon or lime juice, should be used for only 2 hours or less.

      • I also made the mistake of adding lime juice to the marinade.  But I kept the chicken in a separate bag.  Any suggestions on how I can salvage my dinner?   

  19. Is the chicken shredded at the end or eaten as a whole piece of chicken?

  20. This turned out incredibly poorly for me.  Not just “meh” poorly, but couldn’t-stomach-it poorly.  3/4 of it is uneaten and going to be tossed in the trash.  

    I realized, however, that I did three whole things wrong!  

    I think they were honest mistakes; and I wouldn’t be surprised if others who hated the recipe did similarly!  Read and learn!  (And maybe consider super-duper-clarifying the directions?)

    1. I cut the chicken breasts into large cubes rather than leaving them whole.  Reading through the comments, it became clear I was supposed to leave them whole.  However, the recipe wasn’t clear and the ones in the picture looked vaguely diced, I guess?  Result: tough and tasteless chunks of chicken breast in the final dish.

    2. I threw it in the crockpot from frozen rather than letting it thaw and marinate.  See again, tough and tasteless chunks of chicken breast.  I don’t know whether I missed it myself or whether my recipe clipper failed to clip it:  but may I humbly suggest that an important step like thawing for 12-24 hours before proceeding should NOT be a footnote, but an actual STEP within the recipe!

    3. I FORGOT THE LIME JUICE.  So, I’m not great with directions, what can I say.  I assembled the meal ahead of when I cooked it — and when the time came, I forgot the “lime” component wasn’t already in the bag.  I DID scan the directions before throwing it in the crockpot — but failing to see any directions besides “3. Serve immediately!” after what looked like the simple and obligatory “throw it in the crockpot at x setting” step 2, I assumed there was nothing more to do in between cooking and serving.  Can you make “stir in the lime juice” its own instruction item, or at least group it with the serving step, rather than slipping it in it at the end of the crockpot settings line?  You know, for people who are … less than careful readers?  🙂

    Anyway, the way I made it, it was certainly awful.  Bad camp food awful.  Bland canned tomatoeyness interspersed with tough bits of chicken breast. I didn’t taste ANY of the spices and not a hint of cilantro.  My memory of it is so bad I probably won’t remake this recipe; but I can perhaps save others the stomach-turning experience, hahah!  I have faith it is not actually a horrible recipe if made correctly!

    • Elisa, thank you so much for your feedback!

      Few things here:
      1. The chicken breasts are left whole as stated in the recipe, and as seen in the images.
      2. I always find it super helpful to read through a recipe in its ENTIRETY at least twice before beginning to cook (that includes all steps and footnotes). It’ll save you time, money and a headache. PROMISE!

  21. Is there a different procedure/amount of time if I wanted to make this recipe with bone-in chicken? I really really want to try this but I love my chicken with the bones in it.

    • Unfortunately, without further recipe testing, we cannot answer with certainty. As always, please use your best judgment regarding substitutions and modifications.

  22. I’m making this freezer meal for a family who may want to only cook small portions at a time. That is, only cooking enough to serve two people at a time. If I were to half or even third the recipe, how should I adjust the cook time? Thanks!

  23. I made this before the birth of my son and it was a big hit! Unfortunately my slow cooker decided to die that week. Heads up if you defrost your bag of ingredients and simply saute on the stovetop till the chicken is cooked through it is a fast and delicious meal. I still make this on the stovetop as a quick and easyvrice bowl or burrito filling.

  24. Should I mix all ingredients in the bag before freezing or leave them separated as in the photo?

  25. Hi there,
    How would I convert this recipe to cook in an instant pot?

    • Unfortunately, without further recipe testing, I cannot answer with certainty. As always, please use your best judgment regarding substitutions and modifications.

  26. How do you cook it in crockpot?

  27. Hi – I’m not able to have peppers or tomatoes due to allergy restrictions. What else do you suggest for a tasty substitution for the Rotel, Jalapeno, Also, what is the serving size? Thanks!

  28. I made this recipe last night for dinner and my kids couldn’t stop eating it ( I have tried quite a few of your recipes – all of them have been a hit).

    Thanks for an another great slow cooker recipe! 

  29. This was awesome! I made two batches…one for dinner right away and one freezer pack. The flavors all meld together so well in the slow cooker. This recipe is definitely a keeper!

  30. Thank you for this recipe, it has been a life saver lately! Super easy and the best part is there’s always leftovers for nachos, egg rolls or a frittata the next night. So good!

  31. Are the breasts cooked whole or are they diced

  32. Can I sub another can of green chiles instead of the jalapeño?  My 6 year children likes spicy, but not spicy hot.

  33. Won’t the beans turn to mush after 3 or 4 hours? 

  34. I am a pretty accomplished & very particular cook.  I love experimenting in the kitchen but equally enjoy trying other peoples’ creations, modifying them slightly to suit my family’s taste.  

    Your recipes are consistently outstanding.  I enjoy them for their flavor profiles, texture and freshness!  This recipe was so easy and yet so tender and flavorful.  I garnished mine with a little sliced avocado and a dollop of sour cream to contrast the heat.  It’s been so nice to have some meals in the freezer for those nights you just can’t pull it together!  Thank you for your contributions and willingness to share!

  35. The bag in the picture shows a nice orderly stacking yet you say to mix it up.

    If you are to stack it- what is the procedure?  I see the chicken is mixed with the salsa…

  36. Do you add all the liquids from diced tomatoes beans and corn?

  37. I felt I had to add a comment after reading the negative ones. This is DELICIOUS! The lime juice at the end really makes it. I followed the recipe to a T and have shared it with many others already. Don’t let those few people who didn’t like it dissuade you- do yourself a favor and make it tonight! 

  38. This is delicious!

  39. This is delicious! 

  40. Thanks for the inspiration. I clean and chop lots of veggies on market days in Baja Mexico so packing them with meat or legumes and seasonings would be a natural in my Baja kitchen. More time to play in the sea or hike! 

    Tracey @MyBajaKitchen 

  41. Is there are reason you only suggest it being in the freezer for only a month? I am due with my third child the middle of September, and am starting on some freezer ideas now. Do you think it would last 2 months?

    • As I am not an expert on food safety, I cannot really say with certainty – sorry, Jolene! Methods for optimal food storage and shelf life should be based on good judgment and what you are personally comfortable with.

      • Yes you can store the food in freezer for a long time if you use food savor bags which is expensive but trust me it’s worth it some machines is expensive but others aren’t but you will save mony in the long run

  42. More recipes like this please! Freezer, little prep, fast, and damn delicious is everything I need!

  43. I made this for dinner last night and it was really good. I didn’t plan ahead so I skipped the freezing and slow cooker and just put all the ingredients in my instant pot for 8 minutes. We ate it as burrito bowls with brown rice, cheese, sour cream, lettuce and avocado. I also added the cilantro at the end with the lime juice for even extra freshness. It was delightful. Love the freezer option, this will be a freezer meal that I can get excited about. My husband thought the Chicken was so good he wanted to skip the other fixings. Thanks for a great quick and easy meal option that is also healthy!

  44. I have to admit, this meal was simply nasty. I am an at home chef and thought I would try it. I’m not sure who test these meals out ahead, or if they even are, but I would not recommend any to waste their time and money on this one. Sorry.

    • ​I’m sorry that this recipe did not turn out the way you had imagined. I only post recipes that have been successfully (and professionally) tested and re-tested by my team, and as you can see from the comments here, many of these readers have had great outcomes in the final dish as well. But I really appreciate your honesty and feedback.

  45. This came out awful. Super watery I guess because of the various cans of vegetables (even though I drained them). And zero flavor.

    • ​I’m sorry that this recipe did not turn out the way you had imagined. I only post recipes that have been successfully (and professionally) tested and re-tested by my team, and as you can see from the comments here, many of these readers have had great outcomes in the final dish as well. But I really appreciate your honesty and feedback.

    • Chicken dishes in the slow cooker can get watery sometimes especially if you buy chicken infused with broth (which it is a lot) just dump off the water half way through cooking time and adjust spices depending on if you use no salt veggies

  46. I made this over the weekend and had meal prepped for several days. This was delicious and super easy. I ate it over brown rice, cauliflower rice and wrapped into a tortilla. Add a little cheese and guacamole–outstanding!
    Thanks for another great recipe

  47. Super tasty! I left out the jalapeño because I am a baby when it comes to spices, and I used a bottle of lime juice instead of squeezing limes, but otherwise followed the recipe. Very easy and very tasty!

  48. Umm what if I put the lime juice with all the food to cook I didn’t read that you put that in after it’s cooked is it going to ruin it?

  49. Looks yum! Def adding this to my list.
    Can you post more of these? I need freezer meals

  50. Oh my goodness, YUMMY! I made this tonight – but I couldn’t wait to freeze it first – and it was so delicious, and easy! I made one change and salt & peppered my chicken, then browned it in a frying pan first with a bit of avocado oil and butter before putting it in the crock pot with the other ingredients.

    So amazing with the sour cream and avocado! Will definitely do this one again.  Thank you for sharing it!

  51. This was so good thank you

  52. Would chicken thighs work instead of boneless skinless chicken breast?

  53. Winner winner – slow cooker lime chicken dinner!

  54. Another winner recipe! I used pork tenderloin instead of chicken and it was SO good and tender! My family loved it!!

  55. I’m not in the US, what can I use to replace the tomato/chilli mixture? Tinned tomatoes and add in some chillies?

  56. How about skipping the freezing part

  57.  If you wanted to use beef instead what kind of cut a beef do you suggest “?

  58. Can you not include the corn? 

  59. I’m trying this one tomorrow! Thanks!

  60. Why do I have to thaw it if I’m cooking it in a slow cooker? Can’t I just increase to 10 to 12 hours cook time?

    • Yes, you can increase cooking time if it is still in its frozen state. Some people just prefer the 7-8 hour time frame so it’s ready after work.

    • Cooking from frozen in a slow cooker means the meat will spend too much time in the temperature danger zone where bacteria can grow.

    • Kaitlyn is right about the danger zone for the frozen chicken. It’s only safe to cook from frozen if it’s completely covered in water, and some will argue even then it’s not safe. Best to just thaw first!

  61. Is it ok to put raw chicken next to fresh veggies???? Also do you have any Instant Pot recipes like this?

    • Yes, and no. I don’t have any instant pot recipes at this time. Sorry!

    • Instant Pot directions for boneless, skinless chicken thighs, all ingredients defrosted – put all ingredients (except lime juice) in the pot, manual setting 9 minutes, manual release – delicious!!! This is a wonderful recipe.

      • Timing for 8-oz boneless breasts is 8 minutes. 10 minutes if they’re frozen.

        You can also poach chicken using the same timing, covered halfway with chicken broth and a little seasoning. Easier than buying a rotisserie chicken for shredded chicken, and you can re-use the tasty broth. 

  62. Simply brilliant!  What an awesome idea and time saver. You’re a Rockstar!