Save money with this juicy copycat Cafe Rio chicken made in the slow cooker! Made with pantry ingredients, this is the the perfect base for bowls, tacos, and burritos.
Why you want this recipe:
- made from pantry staples
- delicious Mexican chicken recipe
- low carb, healthy, and gluten-free
- so easy; so good!
What do I need for Cafe Rio Copycat Chicken?
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
This recipe is made with 2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts. While you can use other cuts of chicken, including chicken thighs, the white meat of breasts is the closest dupe you’ll find for the real deal cafe rio chicken recipe.
Zesty Italian dressing gives you the best flavor, but you can use regular or House as well. The oil in the dressing helps create that juicy tenderness, while the seasonings add flavor.
The secret to this tasty chicken is this ingredient. Ranch dressing powder mix is just the right mix of seasonings to create that delicious Cafe Rio taste!
Adding warmth to the mix is cumin. You’ll want ground cumin for this recipe.
This recipe uses garlic powder, but you can sub minced garlic or garlic cloves for this. For minced garlic, you’ll need 1 tablespoon. For garlic cloves, you’ll want at least 3, chopped finely.
Chili powder lends a gorgeous smokiness to this recipe.
How do I make Cafe Rio Copycat Chicken?
Step 1 | Cook
Start by spraying your crock pot with cooking spray. Then, lay the chicken breasts on the bottom, and sprinkle them with the powder and spices. Finally, pour the Italian dressing and water on top.
Turn your slow cooker to low and leave the chicken to cook for 5-6 hours. you can also cook this on high for 3-4 hours, but the chicken will be less juicy.
Step 2 | Shred
Once your chicken is completely cooked, you can remove it from the slow cooker and use a knife and fork to shred it.
Step 3 | Enjoy!
And that’s it! You can enjoy your chicken in a number of ways. You can create burrito bowls by putting some of this chicken on Mexican rice, then topping with sour cream, pico de gallo, shredded lettuce, cotija cheese, salsa, guacamole, and anything else that floats your boat!
Ways to Serve Your Chicken
Wrap your Cafe Rio chicken in a flour tortilla, along with rice, refried beans, and any veggies and salsa you’d like for an easy lunch or dinner!
Shredded Chicken Salad
For the healthier minded among us, shredded chicken salad is absolutely delicious. Start with a bed of lettuce, then top with tomatoes, corn, black beans, cotija cheese. Pico de gallo or guacamole make a great dressing as well!
For Taco Tuesday or any day of the week, you can top a corn tortilla with this chicken, then add your favorite taco toppings!
Storing Your Leftovers
This copycat recipe is a fantastic choice for meal prepping. You can make this and eat it all week. To store your chicken, place it in an airtight container. It will keep for one week in the fridge.
Your chicken may become dry when you reheat it. To avoid this, wet a paper towel, then place it over the chicken before putting it in the microwave. The water from the towel will help the chicken to remain juicy and tender!
More Mexican Dinners
Yes! Frozen chicken breasts work great in this recipe.
As long as your ranch powder and Italian dressing are gluten-free. Kraft Italian Dressing is gluten-free, as is Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix. I’m not sure about others, so make sure to check whichever brand you choose to use!
The Italian dressing is the key to making this keto. Most large-brand Italian dressings are not keto, but there are some fantastic homemade versions you can sub to keep things keto-friendly.
Yes! To make this in the Instapot, put all the ingredients in the pressure cooker, then set it to “Poultry.” Cook for 7 minutes. Then, allow the pressure to release naturally, pull the chicken out, and shred it.
Please check the recipe notes (“What do I need for Cafe Rio Copycat Chicken” section) for notes on substitutions. If you are interested in a substitution we have not covered there, either use our Contact Us form or leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!
Cafe Rio Copycat Chicken
- ½ cup Zesty Italian dressing
- 2-3 chicken breasts
- 3 Tbsp dry ranch dressing mix powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp chili powder
- ½ cup water
- Place all ingredients for chicken into slow cooker and allow to cook on low for 6-8 hours.1/2 cup Zesty Italian dressing, 2-3 chicken breasts, 3 Tbsp dry ranch dressing mix powder, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp chili powder, 1/2 cup water
- Remove chicken from slow cooker and shred.