There’s nothing better than a tasty, gut-warming soup when it’s cold outside. Add a little fresh bread, maybe some cheese, and a glass of wine (see our story on winter wines), and you’ve got the perfect winter feast. This Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe, courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen, is and easy-to-make crowd pleaser! 

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup
Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup
Photo: Joe Keller, courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen.

Why this recipe works: This turbocharged take on chicken soup features a spicy, tomatoey broth overflowing with garnishes and tender shredded chicken. To replicate the traditionally deep, smoky, roasted flavor of the broth in a slow cooker, typically achieved by charring the vegetables, we browned some of the vegetables in a skillet before adding them to the slow cooker. Using chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (which are dried, smoked jalapeños in a spicy chile sauce) also added some smokiness along with a spicy kick. For even more heat, include the jalapeño seeds. Don’t omit the garnishes; the flavor of the soup depends heavily on them.

Serves: 6 to 8
Cooking time: 4 to 5 hours on low
Slow cooker size: 5 to 7 quarts


    • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    • 2 tomatoes, cored and chopped
    • 1 onion, chopped fine
    • 2 jalapeño chiles, stemmed, seeded, and minced
    • 6 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 tablespoon minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
    • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
    • 6 cups chicken broth
    • 10 (6-inch) corn tortillas (4 torn into ½-inch pieces, 6 halved and cut crosswise into ½-inch strips)
    • 1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
    • Salt and pepper
    • 8 ounces Cotija cheese, crumbled (2 cups)
    • 1 avocado, halved, pitted, and cut into ½-inch pieces
    • ½ cup sour cream
    • ½ cup minced fresh cilantro
    • Lime wedges


    1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add tomatoes, onion, half of jalapeños, garlic, 2 teaspoons chipotle, and tomato paste and cook until onion is softened and beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in 1 cup broth, scraping up any browned bits; transfer to slow cooker.
    2. Stir remaining 5 cups broth and tortilla pieces into slow cooker. Season chicken with salt and pepper and nestle into slow cooker. Cover and cook until chicken is tender, 4 to 5 hours on low.
    3. Meanwhile, wipe skillet clean with paper towels. Heat remaining 1 cup oil in skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add tortilla strips and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer tortilla strips to paper towel-lined plate; discard remaining oil. Season tortilla strips with salt to taste and let cool slightly to crisp.
    4. Transfer chicken to cutting board, let cool slightly, then shred into bite-size pieces using 2 forks. Whisk soup vigorously for 30 seconds to break down tortilla pieces. Stir in chicken, remaining jalapeños, and remaining 1 teaspoon chipotle and let sit until heated through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, passing tortilla strips, Cotija, avocado, sour cream, cilantro, and lime wedges separately.

Complete Slow Cooker book

Want more slow cooker recipes from America’s Test Kitchen?
Check out The Complete Slow Cooker Cookbook… it’s got 400 of them!


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