Spicy Chicken Tostadas

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Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 250 minutes
Servings: 6 to 8

The sauce for this Latin-inspired dish comes together in 10 minutes or less and is packed with fiery flavor. The spicy shredded chicken can also be used to make tacos or burritos or eaten in a salad with lettuce, cherry tomatoes, diced avocado, black beans and lime vinaigrette. If your slow cooker doesn’t have a flameproof insert, sauté the onion and garlic in a fry pan, then transfer them to the slow cooker after pureeing them with the tomatoes, chipotles and lime juice.


  • 3 lb. (1.5 kg) bone-in chicken thighs, skinned (about 8 large thighs)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbs. canola oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved and sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 can (15 oz./470 g) diced fire-roasted tomatoes with juice
  • 1 can (7 oz./220 g) chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, seeded if you want a less spicy dish
  • Juice of 1 lime

For serving:

  • Crema or sour cream
  • Queso fresco or feta cheese
  • Sliced avocado
  • Fresh cilantro leaves
  • Shredded cabbage or lettuce
  • Lime wedges for serving
  • 12 tostada shells, each about 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter


Season the chicken with salt.

Put the flameproof insert of a slow cooker on the stove top over medium-high heat, then add the oil and warm until hot. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until golden, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Transfer the onion and garlic to a blender and add the tomatoes with their juice, the chipotle chiles and adobo sauce, and the lime juice and process to a smooth puree.

Transfer the insert to the slow cooker and add the chicken. Pour the pureed sauce over the chicken thighs and turn them to coat evenly. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours. The chicken should be very tender and opaque throughout.

Transfer the chicken to a cutting board. When just cool enough to handle, bone the chicken and discard the bones and any fat or gristle. Using your fingers or 2 forks, shred the meat into small bite-size pieces. Transfer the meat to a serving bowl and add enough sauce (about half) to coat the chicken, turning the chicken in the sauce. (Let the remaining sauce cool, then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Toss it with noodles or drizzle over roasted pork or grilled steak or chicken.)

To serve, put the crema, queso fresco, avocado, cilantro, cabbage and lime wedges in separate bowls and set on the table to use as toppings. Spoon some of the chicken and sauce onto each tostada shell, then invite diners to top them as desired. Serves 6 to 8.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Quick Slow Cooking, by Kim Laidlaw (Weldon Owen, 2014)

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