Cafe Rio Shredded Chicken

Cafe Rio Shredded Chicken is incredibly flavorful and perfect for tacos, burritos, enchiladas, bowls, salads, and wraps. It’s easy to make at home in an Instant Pot with this copycat recipe.

Overhead view of copycat Cafe Rio shredded chicken in a bowl.

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What Makes Cafe Rio Shredded Chicken So Good? 

This fall-apart tender chicken from Cafe Rio is additively delicious. This copycat recipe blends classic Mexican flavors of cumin, chili powder, and garlic with zesty Italian dressing and Ranch seasoning. The result is an incredibly satisfying meal that you and your family will love. 

Why You Should Try This Recipe

Do you want to simplify your dinner prep while still serving healthy and delicious meals to your family? This set-it-and-forget-it recipe is both easy to make and incredibly versatile.

Use the shredded chicken for tacos, burritos, over rice, or in soup — there are countless ways to enjoy it! Check out the “How to Use It” section below for more ideas.

Cafe Rio Shredded Chicken Ingredients

To make this Cafe Rio Shredded Chicken Recipe, you’ll need:

  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts, fresh or frozen
  • Zesty Italian dressing
  • Chili powder
  • Ground cumin
  • Garlic cloves
  • Dry Ranch salad dressing mix
  • Water

The Hidden Valley Original Ranch Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix Packet works well in this recipe. 

Copycat Cafe Rio shredded chicken ingredients and an Instant Pot.

How to Make Cafe Rio Shredded Chicken

To cook shredded chicken in a pressure cooker:

  1. Crush the garlic cloves with the side of a knife and mince finely.
  2. Combine the chicken breasts, zesty Italian dressing, chili powder, cumin, minced garlic, dry ranch dressing mix, and water in an Instant Pot. If you don’t have an Instant Pot, you can use any pressure cooker. See the note below for cooking in a slow cooker.
  3. Place the lid on the cooker, seal the pressure release valve, and set the timer for 12 minutes at high pressure. Increase the cooking time to 17 minutes if you are using frozen chicken. 
  4. After the timer goes off, quickly release the pressure.
  5. Use two forks to shred the chicken and return it to the Instant Pot.
  6. Stir and allow the shredded chicken to soak up some of the cooking liquid before serving. 

NOTE: You can also cook this dish in a Crock Pot or slow cooker. After adding all the ingredients and stirring well to combine, cook for six to eight hours on low or four hours on high. 

Collage of making Cafe Rio shredded chicken in an Instant Pot.

How to Use the Chicken

There are almost endless options when it comes to finding new ways to use Cafe Rio chicken Sure, it makes an excellent base for the filling of tacos, quesadillas, burritos, or enchiladas, but you can get more creative that:

  • Stir some salsa or diced tomatoes with the chicken and serve over rice or grits.
  • Simmer carrots in chicken stock and add the shredded chicken for a quick soup. 
  • Mix the chicken with mayonnaise and turn it into a chicken salad. 
  • Use it as a topping for baked potatoes. 
Overhead view of a bowl of copycat Cafe Rio shredded chicken.

What to Serve With It

Whichever of the suggestions above you choose to use, adding a sprinkling of shredded cilantro and a squeeze of lime to the chicken will add a bit of freshness and really bring out the flavors. 

How to Store It 

Drain the chicken and transfer it to an airtight container. Keep the chicken in the fridge or the freezer. If you want, you can save the liquid separately.

The best method to reheat the chicken depends on how you will use it, but the quickest way is in the microwave. 

How Long Does It Last

Refrigerated chicken will last up to three days, while frozen chicken will remain fresh for up to two months.

Copycat Cafe Rio shredded chicken on a salad and in a bowl.

Favorite Mexican Recipes

Check out more of my easy Instant Pot recipes and the best Mexican food recipes on CopyKat!

Overhead view of copycat Cafe Rio shredded chicken in a bowl.

Cafe Rio Shredded Chicken

Cafe Rio Shredded Chicken is perfect for tacos, burritos, enchiladas, bowls, and salads. It's quick and easy to make in an Instant Pot.
4.50 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Cafe Rio Recipes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 22 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 194kcal


  • 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts fresh or frozen
  • ½ cup zesty Italian dressing
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 packet Hidden Valley Original Ranch Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix Packet (1-ounce packet)
  • ½ cup water


  • Add the chicken breasts, zesty Italian dressing, chili powder, cumin, minced garlic, Ranch seasoning packet, and water to the Instant Pot. Cover and turn the valve to ‘sealing’.
  • Cook on high pressure for 12 minutes if using fresh chicken breasts or 17 minutes if using frozen.
  • When the time is up do a quick release. Shred the chicken and return it back to the Instant Pot and stir in the juices.
  • Serve immediately.


Crockpot Instructions: Add all ingredients to a crockpot or slow cooker and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.


Calories: 194kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 683mg | Potassium: 454mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 144IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 1mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of's Dining Out in the Home, and's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Chelsea

    3 stars
    It tastes okay, it’s just nothing like Cafe Rio in my opinion. The Zesty Italian dressing flavor is throwing it off. I know all the copy cat Cafe Rio chicken recipes are all the same, so no shade to this recipe, it’s just doesn’t come out tasting like Cafe Rio. It still would be good in tacos or burritos though. Just don’t expect Cafe Rio flavor.

4.50 from 4 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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