Easy Chicken Tinga Tacos

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Everyone loves a good taco, right? Well, get ready to make (and eat) one of the best in town.

These tacos are always such a hit whenever we serve them. They are great in tacos, but they are also great on tostadas, enchiladas, and flautas. You can poach the chicken as we do, or you can absolutely use a rotisserie chicken from the market. And they are so easy to prepare!

A row of easy chicken tinga tacos sitting next to each other on a wooden platter topped with crumbled cheese and garnish with lime wedges.

How To Make Chicken Tinga Tacos

Mexican cuisine has a deep and colorful history and is loved around the world, especially in North America.

This chicken tinga recipe is easy to bring together but tastes like you’ve been slow-cooking it for hours or days.

 

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How to Prepare the Chicken

As mentioned, you can absolutely skip poaching the chicken and purchase a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket. Nowadays, you can even find shredded and/or cubed roasted chicken in the prepared food section of many well-stocked supermarkets. If you go this route, you’ll also need some chicken broth for making the tinga.

We love, however, to poach 6 chicken thighs to get incredibly delicious chicken. Our favorite is to go with skin-on, bone-in thighs, however, you could certainly opt for chicken breasts, with or without skin and bones.

EXPERT TIP: After you’ve poached the chicken in simmering water (with skillet covered), you’ll want to carefully remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and let rest until cool enough to handle. Strain the liquid into a heat-proof bowl and keep a cup reserved for the tinga. Save the remaining broth for chicken noodle soup, chicken pot pie, or any recipe that calls for chicken stock.

We love to shred the chicken with our fingers, but a couple of forks will do the trick, too.

A large saucepan filled with skin-on chicken thighs and simmering water and then that same chicken that has been shredded on a cutting board.

The Ingredients You Will Need

Obviously, chicken is a key ingredient for chicken tinga. We’ve already covered that.

Another key ingredient is chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. These peppers are actually a form of jalapenos and do carry a decent amount of spice. If you like your tacos to have some heat, use two peppers and include the seeds. After chopping the peppers, we use our knife to scrape away most of the seeds. This provides a slightly spicy sauce but is not too hot at all. 

The other ingredients include:

  • Chopped onion
  • Minced garlic
  • Canned diced fire-roasted tomatoes (or just regular diced tomatoes)
  • Dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • Bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chipotle peppers and adobo sauce

EXPERT TIP: Chipotle peppers are typically canned and can be found in the Hispanic section of most well-stocked supermarkets or Latin food markets. You’ll only use one or two, but the remaining peppers and sauce and be transferred to a baggie and frozen until the next time you need chipotle.

After you’ve simmered the tinga sauce, you can purée it or leave it chunky. We pull out our trusty blender and purée the mixture. It coats the shredded chicken beautifully.

Now, it’s time to bring finish up the tinga.

If you’ve puréed the sauce, carefully add it back into the skillet and stir in the shredded chicken.

Stir in the chicken and then let simmer for only about 5 to 10 minutes.

A large stainless steel skillet filled with puréed tinga sauce with shredded chicken sitting the middle of the pan.

What You Need to Make the Perfect Chicken Tinga Tacos

Tortillas: You can go with flour or corn tortillas. To get maximum flavor, crank up your gas stove or fire up your grill and place the tortillas over the flame for just a few minutes. Get the edges a little charred and then place them on a plate covered with a damp kitchen towel. This adds flavor and slightly steams the tortillas making them nice and pliable.
Toppings: You go with your favorite taco toppings, but our favorites for these tacos are chopped fresh cilantro, crumble cheese (such as Cojita), and finely chopped red onion. Top with your favorite hot sauce. A slice or two of fresh avocado is a wonderful touch, too.
Fresh Limes: These tinga tacos are just begging for a fresh squeeze of lime. Cut a couple of limes into wedges and serve alongside the tacos.

We love to place all of these ingredients in bowls on the table or kitchen island and let family or guests build their own easy chicken tinga tacos.

A large oval wooden platter that is filled with six chicken tinga tacos with cut limes surrounding them and crumbled cheese sprinkled over the top.

Other Easy Taco Recipes

We love all kinds of tacos! Here are some of our other favorites:

Crispy Beef Tacos
Pork Carnita Tacos
Mahi Mahi Tacos
Baja Fish Tacos
Korean Beef Tacos with Kimchi

Tostadas are delicious, too! Check out our Best Beef Tostada and Black Bean, Chicken, and Corn Tostada!

But in the meantime, don’t you want to sink your teeth into this gem?

A person holding a chicken tinga taco in a grilled flour tortilla.

Ready to make the best chicken tinga tacos this side of Puebla, Mexico? Go for it!

And when you do, be sure to take a photo of them, post it on Instagram, and tag @HowToFeedaLoon and #HowToFeedaLoon

A row of easy chicken tinga tacos sitting next to each other on a wooden platter topped with crumbled cheese and garnish with lime wedges.

Easy Chicken Tinga Tacos

Chicken Tinga Tacos are so easy to prepare and perfect for a weeknight taco dinner as well as a fun taco party. The poached chicken thighs are wonderful, but you could also go with a rotisserie chicken from the store, just be sure to grab some chicken broth, too.
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Entree
Cuisine: Mexican / TexMex
Keyword: easy chicken tinga tacos recipe, how to make chicken tinga, Mexican cuisine recipe
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 491kcal

Equipment

  • 1 large (12-inch) skillet
  • Blender

Ingredients

For the Poached Chicken and Broth

  • 6 chicken thighs bone-in, skin-on
  • 1 large onion roughly cut up
  • 4 cloves garlic pressed, or minced
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • Water

For the Chicken Tinga Tacos

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tsp oregano dried, preferably Mexican
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 14.5 oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes with juices
  • 1 cup chicken broth reserved from the poaching, or purchased
  • 2 tbsp chipotle peppers chopped with some of the seeds removed
  • 2 tbsp adobo sauce from the chipotle can
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 6 flour tortillas or corn, heated over a gas flame and then covered
  • ½ cup Cotija cheese crumbled, for topping (optional)
  • ¼ cup cilantro fresh, chopped, for topping (optional)
  • ½ cup red onion chopped, for topping (optional)
  • hot sauce for topping (optional)

Instructions

Poach the Chicken with Broth

  • Place the chicken, roughly cut onion, pressed garlic, and 1 tsp salt in a large skillet. Add enough water to just cover the chicken.
  • Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Cover the pan and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken to a platter. Let rest until cool enough to handle. Use your fingers, or two forks, to remove the skin and then pull the meat from the bones and roughly shred it. Set aside.
  • Carefully strain the broth through a colander into a heat-proof bowl and remove 1 cup of the broth to use for cooking the tinga chicken. Save the remaining broth for another use. (It freezes perfectly!).

Make the Chicken Tinga Tacos

  • In a large skillet (can be the same one use poached the chicken in), heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, for another 30 seconds.
  • Stir in the oregano and cumin. Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute.
  • Add the tomatoes (with juice), chicken broth, peppers, and adobo sauce. Stir in the salt and add the bay leaves. Let simmer for about 15 minutes.
  • Remove the bay leaves, and then carefully transfer the tinga sauce to a blender (a ladle helps). Purée for about 1 minute until smooth. Add the puéed sauce back into the skillet. Stir in the chicken and cook, stirring often, until fully heated through, about 5 minutes.
  • Serve at once with warmed tortillas (see NOTES), cheese, cilantro, red onions, and hot sauce, if desired.

Notes

See the video near the top of the blog post for visual guidance. If you liked the video, please subscribe to our YouTube Channel. 
If you use rotisserie chicken, then you'll need to grab some chicken broth. In a pinch, you could just add 1 cup of water to the sauce. 
We love to place each tortilla over a gas flame on our stove and lightly char the edges. Then place them on a plate with a dampened kitchen towel to steam them. You could also do this on your grill. Or, just heat them in damp paper towels in the microwave. 
The tinga sauce can be made up to 48 hours in advance.  Reheat in a large skillet and stir in the chicken. 
Leftovers will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge. Reheat in a medium skillet over medium heat (you may need to add a little more broth). Leftovers can be frozen for up to 2 months. 

Nutrition

Calories: 491kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 184mg | Sodium: 3612mg | Potassium: 622mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 315IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 229mg | Iron: 4mg
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14 Comments

    • Hi Kendra! YES! So so glad you made these tacos! Aren’t they the best? And rotisserie chicken works like a charm! Thanks so much for sharing and for the GREAT review. That means the world to us! Please stay in touch! xoxo Kris & Wesley

  • 5 stars
    Omg were these really amazing chicken tacos. Best we’ve ever had. Note to self…..regular diced tomatoes and not Rotel Habanero! Tell Loon that he wouldn’t need any of his hot sauce on these babies. Nose running and head sweating hot! They were so delicious though. Great flavor and easy to make. After watching the video I remembered the towel over the blender. Nice stock left after poaching. May be close to tops on our list. Thanks a million for another fabulous recipe and making me look like a way better cook than I really am. These may go on the menu for next week already. Keep making me laugh, guys.

    • Hi Diane! You just keep on hitting these recipes out of the park! And YES…we bet they did pack some heat with Rotel Habanero! But in a good way! We are so so happy you liked the tinga tacos and thank you as always for sharing and for the great review. Diane…you just need to accept it…You are a FANTASTIC cook!!!!! xoxo

  • I cannot wait to try this on Saturday. I’ve been ensuring I’ve got the ingredients. But none of the Chipotle peppers in the can. No worries! I go right to Amazon. And they are not expensive at all. Winner Winner Chicken (Tinga) dinner.

    Well, the peppers showed up today. And BAM! I now have 6, yes 6 cans of the Chipotle peppers in that sauce. . I’m going to have to get creative and find other ways to use these.

      • 5 stars
        Hi Kris,
        I finally made these yesterday for dinner last night. I used boneless/skinless chicken thighs as it’s what I had and needed to be cooked. I made it in the afternoon and reheated for dinner due to time available. So delicious! My partner has already asked when I am making it again.

      • Hi Annika! Woo hoo! We are so so happy you made the tinga taco and you and your partner loved them! They do reheat very nicely, right? Congrats on making them perfectly! And thanks as always for letting us know and for the GREAT review. It just means so so much to us! All the best, Kris & Wesley

      • Hi Kris,

        I had a bit leftover so this morning I reheated it and through it in a tortilla with cheese, scrambled eggs, and leftover crispy roast potatoes for a breakfast burrito. Excellent! Thank you for another wonderful recipe.

        Cheers,
        Annin

      • Hi Kris,

        I had a bit leftover so this morning I reheated it and through it in a tortilla with cheese, scrambled eggs, and leftover crispy roast potatoes for a breakfast burrito. Excellent! Thank you for another wonderful recipe.

        Cheers,
        Annika

  • Hi Kris, this sounds delicious! Can you please clarify Step 1 under poach the chicken? Two questions: 1. I don’t see the pressed onion you reference in the step in the ingredients list. Did I miss it? 2. Add 1tsp of what please?
    Thank you so much. I love your recipes!

    • Hi Annika! Thanks for the heads up: It should be pressed garlic and 1 tsp salt. We’ve updated the recipe to reflect this. Thanks again and we hope you make the tinga tacos and love them as much as we do!! Best, Kris & Wesley

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