Cafe Rio Chicken Recipe

Cafe Rio is a Mexican grill located mostly on the West Coast, with a few exceptions around the country. If you’ve never been, don’t worry because this Cafe Rio Chicken recipe can be made very simply from home. It doesn’t require a lot of ingredients, and it can basically be thrown in your slow cooker and left alone for a few hours.

The flavors are a blend of Mexican and Italian flavors, but it can be used as the base meat for lots of Mexican dishes, such as tacos, burritos, or salads. Cooking the chicken in a slow cooker gives the chicken a depth to the flavor, and it’s so versatile, you’ll probably want to add this to your list of simple weekly recipes.

I like to serve this chicken with a buffet of toppings that each person in my family can choose from – rice, beans, cilantro, avocado, tomatoes, cheese, and pico de gallo. Sometimes I even double the recipe and freeze half of it to use one week when we are crunched for time. It’s very easy to thaw overnight and reheat on low the next day.

Check out our recipe for Cafe Rio Chicken below, and be sure to check our notes for tips on serving and storing leftovers.

Prep Time Cook Time Total Time
5 min 3 hours 3 hours & 5 min


  • 2 pounds of chicken breasts
  • 1 cup zesty Italian dressing*
  • 1 packet ranch dressing mix* (mixed with 1/2 cup of water)
  • 1/2 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 cup of water
  • Olive oil

For Toppings (optional)

  • Cilantro
  • Lime
  • Tomatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Avocados
  • Cheese
  • Salsa
  • Pico de gallo
  • Avocado
  • Cheese


Preparing the Chicken

  • First, coat the inside of the slow cooker with olive oil. Then add the chicken breasts.
  • In a bowl, mix the zesty Italian dressing, minced garlic, chili powder, cumin, ranch dressing mix, and water. Pour this mixture on the chicken and cook on high for 3-4 hours, or low for 5-6.
  • Monitor the chicken, and add water if needed. You want the water to at least cover the chicken.
  • Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and shred with two forks. When the chicken is completely shredded, transfer it back to the slow cooker and stir in the delicious juices.

Serving the Chicken

  • The meat is so versatile that it can be served in many ways, including salads, burritos, or tacos. You can serve Cafe Rio Chicken with rice, cilantro, lime, tomatoes, lettuce, avocados, cheese, salsa, pico de gallo, avocado, cheese, and any of your other favorite toppings.


  • This Chicken will freeze well for up to 4 months. Simply place the shredded chicken and juice into an airtight container. when you’re ready to eat it, thaw the soup overnight, then place it in the slow cooker on low heat for a couple of hours.
  • If you serve the chicken in a burrito, be sure to use large flour tortillas, so all the toppings hold well.
  • If you serve the chicken as a salad, drain as many of the juices as you can first, and place it over a bed of lettuce. Crispy tortilla strips are a nice tough to sprinkle over the top.


Leave a Reply