Copycat Cafe Rio Chicken (Slow Cooker)

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Cafe Rio Shredded Chicken Copycat in Slow Cooker

Made in the slow cooker, this Copycat Cafe Rio Chicken can be prepped in 5 minutes. Plus, it adds delicious flavor to any Mexican dish you can think of!

Don’t let the pictures deceive you… Even though this looks like a basic chicken recipe, this Copycat Cafe Rio Chicken is so delicious! If you ever need a quick and easy protein to add to any Mexican-flavored dish, this will be your go to recipe!

Another thing I love is that the chicken is so juicy and moist since it cooks gently in the slow cooker. And you don’t need to babysit it while it cooks. Win-win!

What Is Cafe Rio?

If you have never heard of it, Cafe Rio is a Mexican fast food restaurant based out of Salt Lake City, Utah. They are known for an assembly line style of food preparation. So, you can quickly order anything from enchiladas, to burritos, to nachos, or salads. Take a quick look at their Facebook photos to see how delicious their food is!

Their sweet pork nachos are my favorite food to order. And, I also love their shredded chicken breast in a salad. But, their smothered chile verde burrito is amazing too. You really can’t go wrong.

One of the great things about their food is how much flavor it has. Even better, it’s SO easy to make at home! Which is great news if you want to dupe it yourself. Or if you’re not as lucky to live near a Cafe Rio yourself.

One of the most versatile proteins, is this Copycat Cafe Rio Chicken. You can go all out and make all the other copycat components from your favorite entree. Or, you can keep it simple and use it for your favorite nachos, or burritos, or tacos, etc.

I debated not posting this recipe until I can also post a recipe for Cilantro Lime Rice, and their Tomatillo Dressing. However, I decided not to wait since you can find other recipes for them. If you’re interested, let me know if you want me to post those recipes too!

Copycat Cafe Rio Chicken Equipment

Copycat Cafe Rio Chicken Shredded on Cutting Board

Preparing this Copycat Cafe Rio Chicken recipe is so easy because all the ingredients are added to a slow cooker. Then, the slow cooker does all the hard work. As it cooks, the chicken will soak up all the yummy flavors from the marinade.

Lately, I have been using my Hamilton Beach 3 Quart Slow Cooker to meal prep proteins on Sunday mornings. It’s just the right size for recipes like this that don’t have a lot of ingredients. However, I’ve also made it in my Hamilton Beach 6 Quart Slow Cooker just fine. The bigger size is also great if you want to double the recipe.

TIP: Double or triple this recipe for an easy pot luck protein! It makes a great taco a bar option. Plus, you can keep it warm in the slow cooker.

To mix the marinade, I use a 2-cup glass measuring cup. But just about any small mixing bowl you have will work. The only other equipment you may need for this recipe is a cutting board a few forks.

Copycat Cafe Rio Chicken Prep Tips

One of the great things about this recipe is it can be scaled up or down depending on your needs. For me, I love making an extra batch for meal prep. Then, whenever I need a quick protein, I can pull some out of my freezer.

Copycat Cafe Rio Chicken Process Shot

To make the Copycat Cafe Rio Chicken, first, spray your slow cooker with cooking spray. Or you can line your slow cooker with a slow-cooker liner.

Next, mix all the marinade ingredients together in a small mixing bowl. I like to use premade Zesty Italian Dressing. You’ll need about half a regular sized bottle (8 oz, or 1 cup). If you have the dry mix, you could also use half of the seasoning packet and one cup of water.

Next, add the chicken to the slow cooker and top with the marinade. Cook the chicken on low for 4 hours. Then, remove the chicken onto a cutting board, and shred the chicken with two forks. Return the chicken to the slow cooker, and continue cooking for another hour. This allows all of the chicken to soak up the flavors from the marinade.

Want More Mexican Meat Prep Recipes?

Do you love making your favorite restaurant dishes at home? If so, be sure to check out my full collection of Copycat Recipes!

Also, if you’re looking for another yummy salad dressing idea, try this recipes for Easy Mexican Ranch Dressing. It’s very similar to Cafe Rio’s tomatillo dressing.

Or if you’re looking for another quick and versatile protein, try my recipe for Salsa Verde Chicken. Honestly, it’s one of my favorite recipes on the blog! I will often alternate making this and the Copycat Cafe Rio Chicken.

Stay tuned because over the next few weeks because I’ll be posting two more Mexican Slow Cooker recipes!

Love what you are seeing, and want more? I typically publish a new recipe once or twice per week. If you want to be the first to know what’s new at Clean Fingers Laynie, SUBSCRIBE here, and never miss another recipe!

Copycat Cafe Rio Chicken

Made in the slow cooker, this Copycat Cafe Rio Chicken can be prepped in 5 minutes. Plus, it adds delicious flavor to any Mexican dish you can think of!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword Chicken, Copycat, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Low Carb, Meal Prep, Slow Cooker
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Total Time 5 hours 5 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 232kcal
Author Clean Fingers Laynie


  • 2 lbs Chicken Breast Boneless, Skinless
  • 1 cup Zesty Italian Dressing
  • 2 tsp Fresh Garlic about 2-3 cloves minced
  • 1/2 tbsp Cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp Chili Powder


  • Spray the inside of a 6 quart slow cooker with cooking spray, or line slow cooker with a protective liner.
  • In a small mixing bowl, combine Italian dressing, garlic, cumin, and chili powder.
  • Place chicken in the bottom of slow cooker and pour wet mixture on top of the chicken.
  • Cover slow cooker and cook, on low, for 4 hours until chicken is tender and easily flakes with a fork.
  • Remove the chicken and place on cutting board. Shred chicken with two forks. Return chicken to the slow cooker, and cook for an additional hour.
  • Use in burritos, tacos, nachos, quesadillas, soups, and more!


Estimated Nutrition, Per Serving (Chicken Only, about 2/3 cup): Calories 232, Fat 10 g, Carbohydrate 5 g, Dietary Fiber g, Protein 31 g, Sodium 926 mg

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