Skip the takeout and do Taco Tuesday at home
Delicious ranch chicken also works in soup later in the week
Our days can get pretty busy, but I always have time for Taco Tuesday in our house, no matter what day it is.
My go-to Crockpot Ranch Chicken Tacos take five minutes and three ingredients in the morning, and I get to come home to dinner being nearly ready to go. Seriously, we can’t get enough of them!
My youngest even owns several shirts proclaiming his love for tacos, and he is always asking if he can invite his neighborhood friends for dinner when he knows tacos are on the menu! He gets it from his mama.
This is a perfect recipe to double for larger crowds or for future meal prep, and the extra freezes great too.
I use this meat for everything: tacos, quesadillas, nachos, salads, or soup. I don’t know what we like best, but what I do know is this entire crockpot of meat was gone in the blink of an eye!
Slow Cooker Ranch Chicken Tacos
- 3 pounds chicken breasts
- 1 cup water
- 2 envelopes taco seasoning
- 3 tablespoons ranch dressing powder mix
Place the chicken in a crockpot . Add water and seasonings. Cook on low for 6 hours. Using two forks, shred the chicken. Stir until all the shredded chicken is evenly coated in the taco seasoning. Serves 10 (about 20 tacos)
To go with the tacos, I like to serve a side of beans, not only because I was raised by a bean farmer, but also because of the additional protein, fiber, and other nutrients they bring to the table. Beans play an important part in our diet. I find that cooking them in the Instant Pot is much more economical than opening cans all of the time, and convenience is often a large part of my decision-making process.
Often, if I know there will be a taco night during the week, I will prep my beans ahead of time (usually on Sunday) so I can just reheat them at dinner time.
Instant Pot Black Beans
- 3 cups black beans, rinsed and picked through for stones
- 6 cups water
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt, lime, cilantro for seasoning
Place the beans, water, and seasonings in the instant pot. Set pressure cooker to cook on high for 35 minutes and then let the beans rest for 20 minutes after cooking to let the steam release naturally.
Once the pressure is released, carefully remove the lid. The beans will be tender and cooked through. If they are not, you can seal the lid again and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes. Season the beans with salt, lime juice, and cilantro if desired.
Another one of our favorite sides is Cilantro Lime Rice. We love the fresh flavor that it brings to the plate, and it pairs nicely with the black beans on top in addition to the cumin and chili flavors of the tacos.
Rice is usually a favorite item with the kids, and something about this combination gets them running to the table. I like to think that it’s the brightness of the lime and cilantro, but it could also be that it’s white rice.
While this recipe is made for the Instant Pot, you can certainly make this rice on the stove and just add the lime, salt, garlic, and cilantro once it’s done cooking.
Instant Pot Cilantro Lime Rice
- 1 cup white rice
- 1 1/4 cups water or vegetable stock
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/3 cup lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (or 1 clove fresh chopped garlic)
- Zest from one lime (optional)
- 1/4 cup cilantro, fresh chopped
Place your rice, water, and salt into your pressure cooker. Seal the lid and cook on manual high pressure for 7 minutes.
While the rice is cooking, whisk together the lime juice and garlic powder. When the time is up, use the quick release method to release the pressure. Carefully remove the lid and add in the lime juice. (Serves 4 to 6)
Later in the week or on a busy weekend, you can use your leftover chicken to make Black Bean Chicken Tortilla Soup.
This isn’t the usual cheesy kind, but more of a traditional version with a slightly spicy broth. It’s loaded with chicken, black beans, sweet corn, and tomatoes. In traditional fashion, the soup contains corn tortilla strips in the broth. It may seem odd to some, but trust me: you can’t have traditional tortilla soup without tortillas. They dissolve right into the broth, give it a wonderful sweet taste, and help to thicken the broth.
If you would like to make this soup vegetarian, sub out the chicken for 2 more cups of cooked pinto beans.
Chicken Black Bean Tortilla Soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 3 bell peppers, diced, any color
- 2 tablespoons garlic
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1.5 tablespoon chili powder
- 1.5 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
- 28 ounces fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 can (10 oz.) sweet corn, drained
- 3 cups cooked black beans
- 2 cups cooked, shredded or diced chicken
- 10 corn tortillas, cut in half and then into small strips
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
In a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add onions, pepper, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until onions and peppers are soft.
Add spices, broth, tomatoes, corn, beans, chicken, and tortilla strips. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally to encourage the tortilla strips to dissolve.
Taste the soup and season with salt as desired. If the soup seems too thick, add more water or broth.
Serve with crispy tortilla strips, crushed chips, cheese, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, cilantro, and lime wedges.