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Fresh Food Recipe Makeover: Crock Pot Chicken with Salsa

February 28, 2012

The recipe I made over today is what inspired me to focus on fresh food recipes in the first place. It calls for chicken breasts, a jar of salsa, a can of corn, and a block of cream cheese. The recipe kept popping up on Pinterest and I must admit that every time I saw it, all I could think was “That could taste so much better with real ingredients!” I may have had some grumblings about processed food overkill, but I’ll keep those to my self. Plus, the recipe called for frozen chicken breasts. For those of who you who are not familiar with crock-pot rules, this is an absolute disaster waiting to happen! Using frozen meat in crock-pot is basically like inviting salmonella over for dinner. (Not a pleasant dinner guest in most cases.)

There were a few variations of the recipe out there as well. A few called for black beans, a couple others called for pre-mixed taco seasoning. And mine just calls for fresh food deliciousness.

Recipe Results

Cons: Added 7-10 minutes of prep time (making your own spice rub and slicing the peppers and onions), for a total of 15 minutes of prep.

Pros: Reduced calories by 51%, fat by 88%, cholesterol by 52% and sodium by 66%. Pretty amazing.


Crock Pot Chicken
Yields: 4 Servings

2 teaspoons Ground cumin
1 teaspoon Garlic powder
1 teaspoon Onion powder
1/2 teaspoon Chili powder
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon Salt
4 Skinless, boneless chicken breast
2 Bell peppers (seeded and sliced)
1/2 Red onion (sliced, about 1 cup)
1 14.5-ounce can Diced tomatoes (drained, or 2 cups fresh tomatoes seeded and chopped)
1 15-ounce can Reduced-sodium black beans
1/2 Lime (juiced)
Fresh cilantro (chopped, optional garnish)

1. Combine first six ingredients (through salt) in a small bowl. Rub spice mixture over chicken and set aside.
2. Layer sliced bell peppers and onion in bottom of crock pot. Place chicken on top of pepper and onions, then top with diced tomatoes and black beans. Squeeze lime juice across entire mixture.
3. Cook on high in crock pot for 4-5 hours (depending on size of chicken breasts) or until chicken is cooked.

Kate’s Thoughts

I wish I could incorporate some sort of scratch and sniff feature into my bog, because my house smelled amazing all day long. The flavors of the fresh vegetables combined with the smoky, spicy flavors of the rub were mouth-watering.

You could serve this dish a variety of ways. One option is over rice or quinoa. The juicy flavors created from slow-cooking the vegetables lend itself well to being served over a grain. You could also serve it as whole breasts of chicken along side toasted pita wedges or tortilla strips. Or you could shred the chicken to create perfect home-made fajita or burrito filling. The truth is, you really can’t go wrong with any of these options.

For those of you who like to set up your crock-pot at the start of your day or before you head to work, the shorter cooking time is not a problem. Just ensure your crock-pot switches to “warm” after the programmed cooking time. I prepared my chicken early in the day, photographed it just after lunch time, and it was still moist and flavorful by the time dinner rolled around.

I incorporated jalapeno pepper into my test recipe, but found the heat was lost by the time the meal finished cooking in the crock-pot. I want to try this dish again in the summertime with some corn off the cob for added fresh bite. Fresh tomatoes would also be a favorable addition.

I chose to omit cream cheese from my recipe version, because I did not feel it would enhance the natural vegetables. I contemplated adding in a touch of heavy cream at the end to create more of a soup consistency, but did not feel there was enough liquid to make this a suitable option. I would recommend adding 1-2 cups of chicken broth at the onset if you intend on incorporating heavy cream in the last 30 minutes.


Crock Pot Chicken with Black Beans and Cream Cheese
Yields: 4 Servings

4 Skinless, boneless chicken breast
1 15-ounce can Black beans
1 jar Salsa
1 can Corn (drained)
1 8-ounce package Cream cheese

1. Take 4 frozen, yes, frozen, boneless chicken breasts put into crock pot.
2. Add 1 can of black beans, drained, 1 jar of salsa, 1 can of corn drained.
3. Keep in crock pot on high for about 4-5 hours or until chicken is cooked.
4. Add 1 package of cream cheese (just throw it on top!) and let sit for about 1/2 hour.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 2, 2012 7:38 am

    I like you recipe MUCH more. I love the crockpot, but I hate recipes that include cans of cream of something soup and frozen meat. Everything is a gooey mess of tasteless, overcooked food that my family would never eat. I like your recipe and I am going to make it for dinner tonight. Thanks for sharing.

    • May 2, 2012 9:40 am

      Please let me know if you try the recipe! I could not agree with you more about the cans of soup and I was pleasantly surprised at how much fresh flavor can come from a crock-pot meal when you use the right ingredients. Enjoy!

  2. May 19, 2012 8:57 pm

    Reading your recipes and they all look amazing! This is one that I cannot wait to share with my friends and family members who use the staple of jar o salsa to live by. I am sure they will love it 🙂

    • May 21, 2012 10:18 am

      I am so glad to hear that you are excited about it! Please let me know if you try it. I love to hear success stories!

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