Cafe Rio Chicken

I LOVE Cafe Rio!  It is one of my favorite places to eat!  Cafe Rio’s chicken is DELICIOUS to say the least so when I saw this recipe from Mandy’s Recipe Box, it went on my dinner menu for the week.  It was amazing!  My picky 2 year old had 3 helpings of this herself. The flavor in this chicken is perfect!  This is a very versatile recipe and you can use this chicken however you want.  My favorite is in a salad like they have at the restaurant, but your possibilities are endless!  Another great thing about this recipe is you can freeze the leftovers for a later time!

Copy Cat Cafe Rio Chicken.. my go-to chicken recipe for almost any mexican meal! So easy to make up and it tastes so good! Plus it is great to make large batches and freeze for later uses.

4.3 from 4 reviews
Cafe Rio Chicken
An easy and delicious chicken recipe that compliments any mexican meal! Easy to freeze for a later time.
Recipe type: Dinner
  • 2 lbs chicken breasts
  • 8 oz. zesty Italian dressing
  • ½ Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 packet ranch dressing mix (mixed with ½ cup of water)
  • ½ Tablespoon chili powder
  • ½ Tablespoon ground cumin
  1. Place all ingredients in a crock pot. Cook on LOW for about 5 hours or until chicken is done.
  2. Shred with fork and serve in salads, burritos, tacos...etc.
You can also double or triple this to make extras for freezing. Then simply thaw and reheat.

(found recipe at: Mandy’s Recipe Box)

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #chefintraining and/or #chefintrainingblog. I would love to see how these recipes take shape in your kitchens.

Filed under: chicken, crock-pot, dinner

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  1. Cerrisse

    Yum! I LOVE Cafe Rio one of my top 5 favorite places to eat!

  2. Kristin

    Watch the ranch dressing mixes. The 2nd ingredient on hidden valley's is MSG, a horrible chemical that is carcinogenic and terrible for children.

    1. jaime

      thanks for pointing that out! exactly why I don't use packaged mixes! anyone have a recipe for the chicken that doesn't involve using MSG laden packets?

    2. Emmy

      It's certainly easy enough to find recipes to sub the packaged mixes for. Just do a quick Google search and you can make any recipe you want sans MSG. For example,

    3. Amy Elliott

      I have to make my own ranch dressing mix because my daughter has so many food allergies. I have it on a PDF document. If you'd like me to send it to you, please give me your email address and I'll send it straight away.

    4. Petera

      You've got to be kidding me. Show me one scientifically backed article that shows MSG as a 'carginogen.' You stay at home moms are insane.

  3. Jennifer

    YUM! This is going on my menu this month...sounds delish!

  4. Leila

    I found you on pinterest and am now following you from Thank you for sharing all these recipes! I can't wait to start cooking some of them!

  5. poppilinnstudios

    I'm always looking for new chicken recipes. I'll have to give this a try.

  6. lisa

    I made this last night and it was FANTASTIC. Will definitely become one of my go to recipes.

  7. Sharon

    Sounds great, found your blog for the Solw Cook Girls on facebook!! Can't wait to see what else you've got cooking up!!

  8. Kelli @ The Turquoise Piano

    Thanks! I'm walking to the kitchen to make this for dinner right now.

  9. Carrie

    Sounds delicious!

  10. Life With Lucy

    This looks delicious! Definitely saving it to my "to make" list! Thanks for sharing!

  11. Emily

    I've never heard of Cafe Rio, but this chicken looks delicious. I'm pinning this right now to try soon. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Amy's Kitchen

    Love Cafe Rio. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Jennifer

    Sounds tasty!!Thanks again for linking up to Show & Share!

  14. Anonymous

    Found the Cafe Rio Chicken recipe on Pinterest...can't wait to try it!

  15. Sarah at Becoming Sensible

    This chicken is delicious! I shared it on my blog today- in my weekly meal plan- thanks for the recipe!!

  16. Anonymous

    Can I start with frozen chicken? What would the flavors be like for pork loin?Thanks! Sara

  17. Sabrina

    Alrighty then, guess what I'm making tomorrow? Gonna shove it in a tortilla with some green pepper sticks.. the kids will love it! Thanks!

  18. Kristen

    Thanks for the recipe. I had to modify it a bit since I was out of cumin and chili powder (subbed a half a pack of taco seasoning instead) and it was awesome! Working into the monthly menu rotation since the kids enjoyed it so well.

  19. Nancy C.

    What brand of dressings did you use? Kraft? Hidden Valley?

  20. Nancy C.

    half a small bottle of zesty italian dressing. what's the ounces of the bottle?

  21. paula

    OMG.....we had this for dinner tonight. It was AWESOME!!!!

  22. Anonymous

    Nancy...I found a small bottle which is 8 ounces

    1. Brooke

      Just to confirm, did you use half of the 8 oz bottle or the full 8 oz bottle?

  23. Anonymous

    If you like to cook in a slow cooker, cook lots of chicken and keep it frozen in ziplock bags. You can make lots of recipes by doing this. Take a look atthe e-book-you can download it in seconds (Over 470 Delicious Crockpot Recipes)

  24. Anonymous

    Do you cook the chicken first or is it raw?

  25. Anonymous

    I made this yesterday and altho it smelled awesome, it was completely dried out after 6 hours on low. I highly recommend using a whole bottle of dressing or using frozen chicken breasts for the extra moisture. I'm going to try this one again b/c it really smelled amazing.

  26. Jenn Grosse

    I put my chicken in frozen and it turned out just fine.

  27. Anonymous

    My husband did a whole research project on MSG and though I'd let you know it's not as harmful as you think and definitely not a carcinogenic.

    1. Jacquie

      Just saw this post and wanted to say that MSG can be a horrible trigger for those of us who suffer chronic migraines. Certain allergies can be triggered by MSG. It's all about knowing and understanding your own body.

    2. Danielle

      Love this recipe. I substitute the ranch packet with 2 tbs of homemade ranch mix(no MSG). I found the recipe on pinterest. Yum! My husband has requested this as part of his father's day dinner. Thanks for the recipe!

  28. Anonymous

    Are the chicken breasts boneless or bone-in?

  29. Chef in Training

    You put it in the crock pot raw and let it cook for the specified times

  30. anne

    Yummy, made it and loved it! Pinning it now!

  31. dazymae2

    I added a can of mild rotel and used the drained chicken in my fav chicken enchilada recipe

  32. Amy @MoMomma

    I make this often with a can of ro-tel and some taco seasoning (you can do it with salsa too). Super yummy!

  33. Anonymous

    This is trash, the book is not listed on this site and the ones that are there are "infomercial" self help crap.

  34. Anonymous

    Thank you for posting this amazing recipe... it was delish. I even made the rice recipe with the lime and cilantro and used my rice cooker. Perfect for a weeknight meal. My husband is excited about left overs.

  35. mysbhvn

    Made this chicken yesterday. One comment I have is to maybe put the ounces in the recipe. The smallest bottle of Italian in my store was 16 ounces which meant I used too much in the sauce but......when this chicken came out of the crock pot...OMG!! I had a hard time keeping my husband out of it lol I used it in your Bubble Up Enchiladas and they too were to die for! Next up...Chicken Tortilla soup...can't wait! Thanks for the yummy recipes!

  36. Anonymous

    I got the smallest bottle at our store, too (the Commissary has really limited selection) and it was 16 oz, so the recipe was very salty. Good to know that a small bottle is about 8 oz. This next time around I will use that or go with 1/4 bottle. We all loved it, though!

  37. Anonymous

    Planning to make this many chicken breasts should I use? The recipe calls for 2 lbs, but wasn't sure how many that would be. Thanks!

  38. Shannon

    Making this for dinner tonight. I am excited to try it out. :) I have tried several of the recipes that you have posted and they are becoming my families favorites.

  39. Stephanie

    Yum! Made these tonight and they made some GREAT chicken tacos! I ate my chicken in a whole-wheat tortilla topped with some cheese, guacamole, sour cream, lettuce, and tomato and it was awesome! Everyone in my family really loved it so I'll definitely be making more again soon! I actually halved the recipe because I only had 1 lb of chicken. Next time I'll plan to make the whole recipe so I can freeze some. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  40. Kaitlin MacDonald

    Wondering if you can just use 1/2 a bottle of ranch dressing rather than the package of ranch dressing mix?

  41. Anna G

    In the crock pot right now. Smells great! I had to make a few modifications to use what I had available so we'll see! Thanks for sharing! (found you on Pinterest)

  42. Lauren

    This sounds yummy!!! An idea I use for chicken recipes is to put chicken breasts in my crockpot and cook them on low for 6 to 8 hours. When finished shred and place one to two cup servings in freezer bags to have on hand for chicken spaghetti, chicken pot pie and other things that require cooked chicken. It makes it so easy.

  43. Tina

    Love your site/blog and looking forward to trying out the Cafe Rio recipe this Holiday weekend.

  44. Melissa

    I made this tonight for my boyfriend who LOVED it (I am a vegetarian so I am learning how to cook meat meals for him)!!!!! He went for thirds before I told him to stop, haha!! He ate his in tortillas. I followed the exact recipe except I added a can of HOT Rotel (since I read a few reviews about adding it) since my boyfriend likes spicy/hot foods. I found this recipe on Thanks!!!

  45. Mckayla

    I made this last night for dinner and it absolutely amazing!!!! My husband named this his new favorite chicken Meal! Big deal considering his love for crockpot lemon chicken! Thanks for the recipe!!

  46. Kathy

    Is the chicken bone in or boneless? Is the chicken skinless? Is the chicken frozen when put in the crockpot?

    1. Chef in Training

      I used boneless skinless chicken breasts :) I also used thawed chicken breast, but you can do frozen too, it might just change the cook time slightly. Hope that helps!

  47. abigail

    Can the chicken be frozen when it goes in the crockpot? So excited to try!

  48. Kim

    Can you make this in a dutch oven? I dont see why it cant be done i am going to try .. thanks for this recipe

  49. Sue Bullis

    This sounds great, I am thinking about starting a blog myself.
    I will look for you on facebook !

  50. Jan Mike Cain

    This is a great recipe! It made a big hit over the Holidays!

  51. Kara! Adding this to my menu this week!

  52. Katie

    We made this last night and had it for dinner tonight in quesadillas... Best chicken I've ever made. We will be making it again this week! My husband is making happy noises as he eats. :)

  53. Robin

    Love this! quick, easy and delicious...

  54. Laura

    This was super yummy and my kids gobbled it up! I served it over brown rice topped with jack cheese and it was delicious! It was juicy and flavorful. I cooked it on low for 5 hrs and it was perfect! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  55. Kim

    What did I do wrong? I followed the exact recipe and did low for 8 hrs and when I got home, exactly 8 hrs later, the chicken was burnt to a crisp and all sauce was black and stick to the crockpot.

    1. Jacquie

      The recipe may say 8 hours on low, but I have never done it more than 6 and it is nice and moist. Sometimes I cut the breasts in half before cooking if they are thick so they cook thoroughly.

    2. Chef in Training

      Hi Kim. I am so sorry. I have been meaning to update the directions to say low for about 5 hours then to check its doneness. Every slow cooker cooks differently. It has since been updated. I am so sorry for your burnt and dry chicken. I hope you will try it again an adjust the cook time because it is so worth it! This chicken is so delicious and freezable!

    3. Kim

      Thanks! I most definitely will try again!

  56. Tyleena

    So, this has been in the crock pot for about 4 hours now, my mother-in-law asked what I plan to do with it when its done, and it was then that I realized not only do I not have a plan for it, but I also have no cheese, no shredded lettuce, sour cream, beans, rice, or anything TO DO with it. Dinner tonight is going to be interesting :)

  57. Bonnie

    What would be a good substutuion for the Italian dressing?

  58. Kate

    I LOVED this chicken and definitely plan to make it again! If I double the recipe, do I need to adjust the cooking time? Any tips on this?

  59. Reagan

    So I've made your version of cafe rio chicken before and loved it! Tonight I went searching for it again and thought I found it (I recognized your picture). It wasn't it! Someone is using your picture and has just cropped it down! It's pin on pinterest and is sending people to keyingredient dot com. I thought you'd want to know!

  60. Hannah

    I made this last week for my picky boyfriend. WE BOTH LOVED IT! I've been experimenting with different crockpot chicken recipes. They are easier to deal with for us working folks. This is definitely one of our favorites so far. It was in the crockpot for about 8 hours, but it was not overcooked.

  61. Linda B

    This is so fantastic! I used it to make Crockpot Enchilada Dip and a pasta salad with Bowtie Pasta and Cherry Tomatoes and a Vineagrette Dressing. The uses are only limited by your imagination. It is easy to make and hard to resist. Thanks for sharing.

  62. Joy Absalon

    Just curious.....I looked at the recipe on Mandy's site and the cook times are TOTALLY different. You say 5 hours on LOW and she says 8 HOURS On LOW. So now I'm confused?????

    1. Chef in Training

      I noticed mine was perfectly cooked at 5 hours. Any longer and it got tougher. Just make sure you check for doneness. Every crock pot cooks differently.

  63. Mrs. Metro

    I make this all the time and I throw my chicken in when it's still frozen. We love this recipe and I've been making it since you posted it. My Crock Pot is a little older so 8 hours on low is just right. I like the Crock Pot liners as I teach and coach after school which means that I'm not always home 8 hours after I leave for work. A little chicken broth would also add enough liquid so the chicken won't burn.

  64. Michelle

    A super quick trick if you cook a lot of chicken is (after it is cooked) to throw it in your stand mixer and let the beater shred it!

  65. Sharon

    I want to try this recipe it sounds great, but when I cook meat in my slow cooker it turns out dry, I would love a suggestion on how to cook it so it is juicy when done. thanks in advance :)

  66. Lynne Bauereiss


    I love this recipe! It's so easy and delicious that I make it often. Lately I've started using Sister Schubert's yeast rolls and serving the chicken as sliders. Oh my goodness - are they ever yummy!! Thank you for posting this recipe, and I look forward to more. Merry Christmas!

  67. Joe


    I'm sorry, but I sincerely doubt that Cafe Rio uses Italian Dressing as part of their seasoning for their chicken :/ This looks more like a Betty Crocker fail than an accurate version of anything they'd serve there, considering their focus on fresh food and veggies.

    For something similar but not exact on their flavor (but more true to the Mexican flavorings), use the same cooking method but in place of the dressing and ranch packet, try:

    2 TBSP Chili Powder
    1 TBSP minced garlic
    1/4 to 1 TSP red pepper (to taste)
    1/2 TSP Cumin
    1/2 medium white onion, minced
    1/4 Cup cilantro, stems removed
    1 TBSP fresh-cracked black pepper
    EITHER 1 cube tomato-chicken bullion OR 3 oz tomato sauce OR 2 fresh finely chopped Roma tomatoes
    Zest of 1/2 lime (optional)

  68. Pamela

    I have left over chicken can I use just add ingredients and warm?

  69. Manuela

    I don't know what café rio chicken is... but this recipe was on point. So good, toddler approved and all! I made burritos from the chicken. Next time I'll double the batch so I can freeze some for a quick dinner. Thanks for posting.

  70. Leigh Ann


    I have made this recipe 10 times since I found it! Simply divine.

  71. Evan


    This chicken has become a staple at our house. We triple the recipe and freeze the majority in "week-sized" glass containers. That way we can thaw enough without committing to a zillion chicken dishes. It tastes great cold or hot. I put it in egg scrambles, salads, tacos and my mouth directly.

  72. Ashley Bracey

    How many people will this recipe feed?