It's a Wrap! Easy Slow-Cooker Chicken & Veggie Burritos
Have a few minutes? Fabulous—you’ve got plenty of time to whip up a tasty, belly-filling pot of spiced brown rice, beans, veggies, and tender shredded chicken. Simply toss the ingredients in a slow-cooker and be on your way (full recipe below). Reminiscent of thick chili or stew, the resulting mixture makes a great all-in-one filling for burritos. Littles will love it and bigs will think your cooking skills are positively gourmet. Even better? You probably have most or all of the ingredients in your kitchen already.
A handful of simple ingredients combine for a hearty, nutritious meal starter. The chicken is packed with lean protein; black beans provide more protein along with fiber and folate (which helps make DNA and red blood cells); brown rice features protein, fiber, and zinc (which boosts the immune system); and all the colorful veggies hold a wealth of essential vitamins. Feel free to change up the vegetables—we also like chopped mushrooms, carrots, or celery.
Scoop the burrito filling into a large bowl and place it on the table along with a plate of warm tortillas and a variety of toppings, like cheese, olives, avocado, pico de gallo, shredded lettuce, and radishes. Diners can build their own burritos however they like!
For warm but soft and pliable flour tortillas, try one of these heating methods:
1. Microwave: Place a tortilla on a large plate and cover with a damp paper towel. Stack the rest of your tortillas on the plate, covering each with a damp paper towel. Microwave for 30 seconds or until warm (up to 1 minute). Microwaving for too long will yield stiff or chewy tortillas.
2. Oven: Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Wrap a stack of tortillas in a damp dish towel and place in a casserole dish. Cover and seal the dish with a piece of aluminum foil. Heat for 20 minutes.
In our centers, we embrace family-style eating—encouraging children to serve themselves teaches them important social skills (like passing items, sharing, being patient, and saying “please” and “thank you”) and how to listen to their own hunger cues. Sure, there will likely be some spills when little ones take the lead, but also lots of smiles.
Bonus: Allowing kiddos to get in on the serving action can also inspire them to try new foods, and gives them a second chance to try foods they haven’t liked in the past. Don’t underestimate the appeal that brown rice and veggies can have for a preschooler when she gets to plop them on her plate herself and wrap them up with olives, sour cream, and cheese!
Your crew’s littlest members might have an easier time with a “deconstructed” burrito—i.e., all the elements served separately and then eaten with a fork or fingers.
Fresh out of tortillas? No problem. Take inspiration from your toddler and serve the filling as a burrito-bowl or taco-salad base for everyone at the table. You can also use it in tacos, quesadillas, an enchilada casserole, or your breakfast scramble.
Our batch of burrito filling makes about 14 cups—which is a lot! Feed a crowd, or have a family dinner and then save the leftovers for busy nights when a quick meal would come in handy (which is pretty much every night, right?). The filling will last up to a week in the refrigerator or for 3 months in the freezer.
Have a little extra time after your sweetie goes to sleep? Use your leftover filling to make freezer burritos. They’re cheaper and tastier than packaged frozen burritos, but ready to eat just as quickly—use a microwave, oven, or griddle to heat them. Your future self will thank you.
SLOW-COOKER CHICKEN & VEGGIE BURRITOS
* Recipe slightly adapted from The Kitchn.
Yields: Approximately 14 cups
Total time: 6–8 hours
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- ½ of a medium onion, diced
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 1 red, yellow, orange, or green bell pepper, diced
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained—you can also use 2 (14.5-ounce) cans
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock, divided, plus more if needed
- 1½ tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 cups brown rice
- 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups frozen or fresh corn kernels
- Combine the chicken breasts, onion, zucchini, bell pepper, canned tomatoes, 1 cup of chicken stock, chili powder, salt, and cumin in the bowl of a 7-quart slow cooker. Make sure the chicken is covered, and add additional stock if needed. Cover with the lid and cook on low for 3 to 4 hours.
- Remove the lid and add the rice, black beans, corn, and remaining chicken stock. Replace the lid and continue cooking on low for another 3 to 4 hours. Check the rice periodically in the last hour of cooking, stirring once or twice to make sure the rice cooks evenly and adding more chicken stock if the mixture seems dry. Cooking is done when the rice is tender—if the rice is done while there is still liquid left in the slow cooker, remove the lid and cook on high to let the liquid evaporate. Note: If you plan to let this dish cook while you’re out for the day, go ahead and add the beans and corn at the start. Cook the rice in a separate pot when you get home and stir into the mixture before serving.
- Leaving the chicken in the slow cooker, use two forks to shred it into bite-size pieces. Stir to combine.
- Serve in a big bowl family-style with flour tortillas and an assortment of toppings so that diners can build their own burritos.