Chicken Flautas

These Chicken Flautas are easy, cheesy, shatteringly crispy and on your table in 30 minutes!

These flautas are about to become your family’s favorite quick and easy dinner, appetizer or snack!  Flour tortillas are stuffed with fiesta spiced chicken, cheese, salsa and sour cream, rolled up then fried or baked to golden, crispy perfection. You can also swap the chicken for other favorite proteins such as beef barbacoa, carnitas, crockpot Mexican etc.  Serve the flautas with shredded lettuce, salsa and guacamole and prepare to fall in love!  These chicken flautas can also be made and frozen for later – all instructions included!

If you love crispy and creamy Mexican food, you will love our jalapeno popper taquitos, honey buffalo chicken taquitos, chipotle bbq pork taquitos, tostadas and smothered baked chicken burritos!

up close of chicken flautas showing how cheesy and creamy they are

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FLAUTAS RECIPE

This flautas recipe is so insanely delicious, it will have everyone excited for dinner – again, and again and again.  From the juicy chicken, to the creamy sour cream, to the layers of spices, to the bubbly cheese, to the golden, crispy tortillas – these chicken flautas are perfection.  They are simple yet irresistibly delicious dinner made with pantry friendly ingredients perfect for busy weeknights.

WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS FLAUTAS RECIPE:

  • QUICK AND EASY.  To make these chicken flautas, all you have to do is combine shredded rotisserie chicken (or any pre-cooked chicken), salsa, sour cream, cheese and seasonings in a bowl, roll and cook – that’s it!    
  • BAKED OR FRIED.  I’ve included methods for baking or shallow pan frying the flautas as well as my secret method of how to toast them in a skillet with hardly any oil!
  • VERSATILE.  Flautas are always a good idea whether for lunch, dinner, snacks, appetizers, or to impress at your next fiesta. The flautas can be stuffed with virtually any protein or you can skip the protein all together and go vegetarian with beans, cheese and veggies – the possibilities are endless!  You can even swap the flour tortillas for corn tortillas, although then they’re technically taquitos.  As far as the toppings – there is no right or wrong as long as you don’t skip the sour cream!  Line up whatever you have on hand and let everyone layer their own flautas.
  • PANTRY FRIENDLY.  This flautas recipe is a great back pocket dinner because you can keep every single ingredient stocked.  Just keep some shredded chicken portioned into sealable bags in your freezer (I just use rotisserie chicken from Costco) along with your favorite tortillas and you’re all set!
  • DELICIOUS.  These flautas are delightfully crispy on the outside, cheesy on the inside and bursting with flavor all over dunked in contrasting silky, cooling sour cream or guac. Just try and stop at two, three, four…
  • GREAT FOR A CROWD.  This flautas recipe is a crowd pleaser at potlucks, parties, Cinco de Mayo, etc. and ideal because they can be made just ahead of time and kept warm in the oven AKA, they deliver all the flavor and addicting crunch without all the stress! 
  • MAKE AHEAD.  The chicken filling can be made ahead of time and then just assembled when you’re ready to roll – literally.  You can also prep all of your toppings in advance.
  • Freezer friendly.  You will also love that these chicken flautas are freezer friendly so all you have to do is heat and eat!

What is a flauta?

You are probably familiar with taquitos, but what exactly is a flauta – besides delicious? Flautas are made out of flour tortillas filled with seasoned shredded chicken or beef and cheese.  The tortillas are rolled up tightly and fried in a small amount of oil on the stove (although I’ve included baking instructions as well) until they are golden and crispy.

Flautas are an iconic Mexican street food, antojitos Mexicanos, that can be served as a snack, appetizer, or entrée AKA ALL the time because they are so good!

Flautas are often served with shredded iceberg lettuce, chopped or sliced tomatoes, sliced avocados or guacamole, sliced onions, sour cream, queso fresco or cotija, and salsa but you can serve them with anything your belly desires.

top view of  flautas on a white plate with shredded lettuce, guacamole and chopped tomatoes

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FLAUTAS AND TAQUITOS?

Before we dive more into this flautas recipe, I’ve been asked what the difference between flautas (meaning flute in Spanish) and taquitos are? The differences are extremely subtle:

  • Tortillas: taquitos are generally made with corn tortillas; flautas are made with flour tortillas.
  • Size: taquitos are smaller because they are made with small corn tortillas; flautas are larger because they are made with taco-size flour tortillas which are about 7-8 inches (or larger).
  • Course: taquitos are often served as an appetizer because of their size; flautas are often served as the main dish but can also be served as an appetizer.

WHERE DID FLAUTAS ORIGINATE?

Do you LOVE flautas like me? I can never grow tired of the crunchy tortilla giving way to juicy chicken. So, who do we have to thank for this brilliant culinary concoction?

Mexico appears to be the undisputed originator of flautas but the exact origin is unknown.  The state of Sinaloa, Mexico, however, claims flautas as their unique food specialty.  Sinaloa is located in the northwest region of Mexico, which helps explain the popularity of flautas in the United States.

WHAT CHICKEN IS BEST?

You have three options when it comes to which chicken to use to make chicken flautas: 1) cooked rotisserie chicken, 2) make your own shredded chicken by cooking a whole chicken or 2) make your own shredded chicken by cooking chicken breasts or chicken thighs.

  • Rotisserie Chicken.  If you’re looking for the quick and easy chicken flautas experience, use a rotisserie chicken.  It’s a big-time saver for a quick weeknight meal and taste fabulous.  Rotisserie chicken is a combination of light and dark meat so it’s extra juicy and flavorful.  It is also beautifully tender, delicately seasoned and delicious plain, so it makes a fabulous starting point for flautas 
  • Whole Chicken.  Like rotisserie chicken, a whole chicken will give you the winning combo of both light and dark meat. Cooking a whole chicken on the stove takes about 30-35 minutes including chopping the chicken into pieces (most of that is hand’s off simmering), so it is also relatively quick, tastes great and you get the added bonus of homemade chicken stock. 
  • Chicken Breasts or Thighs:  You can make your own shredded chicken with either chicken breasts or chicken thighs so you can always make this flautas recipe with whatever chicken you have on hand.  Chicken thighs will give you juicer, more flavorful chicken, but chicken breasts will work as well.  You will need about 1 ½ pounds chicken breasts or thighs for this recipe.
side view of crispy fried or baked flautas stacked on a white plate with shredded lettuce, guacamole and chopped tomatoes

HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN SHREDDED CHICKEN

This chicken flautas recipe comes together quickly with rotisserie chicken, but if you don’t have it on hand, no fear!  You can easily make your own shredded chicken, here are two options:  

TO MAKE SHREDDED CHICKEN WITH BREAST OR THIGHS:

  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add chicken and cook 3-5 minutes, or until golden brown on one side.
  • Flip chicken and add 2 cups chicken broth.
  • Cover and reduce heat to medium and simmer 10 minutes, then flip chicken over and continue to cook 5-10 minutes (thighs will take less time) or until chicken is cooked though and tender enough to shred. Add additional chicken broth or water if the liquid absorbs before the chicken is cooked through.
  • Cooking time will vary depending on thickness of chicken and actual temperature. If your chicken does not shred easily, then continue to cook, adding additional broth/water if needed.
  • Remove chicken from skillet and let rest 5 minutes before shredding.

HOW TO MAKE SHREDDED CHICKEN WITH A WHOLE CHICKEN:

If you’ve never cooked a whole chicken before, it’s easy!  You will need:

  • 1 4 5-pound whole chicken cut into pieces
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 bay leaf

You can ask the butcher to cut the chicken up into pieces or you can do it yourself.  If you’ve never cut up a chicken before, do a quick google search and watch a HOW-TO video.  You really can’t go wrong and you don’t need to worry about it being pretty because we are shredding the chicken anyway.

To make:

  • Add chicken, onions, garlic, bay leaf, salt and pepper to a Dutch Oven or large stock pot. 
  • Add water until it reaches about 1-inch above the chicken.  Cover and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer (covered) until chicken is cooked through and tender enough to shred, about 25 minutes.
  • Transfer chicken pieces to a cutting board using tongs.  Once cool enough to handle, discard skin and bones and shred chicken with your fingers into bite size pieces.

FLAUTAS INGREDIENTS

This flautas recipe is loaded with multiple flavors and textures in every bite – crispy, crunchy, creamy, juicy, earthy, robust, and as spicy as you want it.  In addition to the chicken (or whatever protein you choose), you will need:

  • Sour cream: silky, creamy sour cream adds a depth of creaminess to the filling.  You may also use half sour cream and half softened cream cheese.
  • Salsa:  makes the filling juicier while pumping it with flavor.  Use mild to hot depending on your preference.  We like it hot at our house. 
  • Green chiles:  one 4 oz. can mild diced green chilies please.  Make sure they are MILD and not HOT.
  • Cheese:  use both sharp cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheese for the best flavor and texture.  Monterey Jack melts beautifully with a mild buttery flavor and sharp cheddar adds the needed kick of flavor.
  • tortillas: use 7-8 inch flour tortillas or raw tortillas.
  • seasonings: chili powder, ground cumin, smoked paprika, dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder  – no bland chicken taquitos here!

WHAT ARE THE BEST TORTILLAS FOR FLAUTAS?

You can use cooked or raw flour tortillas in this flautas recipe. I did a side by side taste test using my favorite brand of cooked flour tortillas, La Fe Tortilleria and my favorite brand of raw tortillas, La Tortilla Land. They both created spectacular flautas with a very slight edge to the raw tortillas.  The raw tortillas become lighter, puffier and slightly crunchier (you can see the difference in the level of blistering).  But honestly, the difference was subtle, I had to taste then taste each one several times.

If you choose raw tortillas, the method of making the flautas is the same. You do NOT cook the tortillas first; you simply layer the raw tortillas with the chicken filling then roll up.   

You can find raw Tortilla Land Tortillas or raw Mission Tortillas in the refrigerated section at most grocery stores. 

Can I use Corn Tortillas?  How do I keep my flautas from falling apart?

You will not have a problem with you flautas falling apart unless you use corn tortillas.  Corn tortillas will technically transform these flautas into taquitos, but you can certainly use them if you wish.  Corn tortillas are more temperamental than flour, so there are a few things to look out for to prevent your flautas from falling apart:

  • Corn tortillas split easily when rolled unless you use quality tortillas. I recommend La Tortilla Factory Corn Tortillas for easy-to-roll tortillas that won’t easily split or tear (be aware this brand is not gluten free). If you don’t have access to quality tortillas, please stick with flour tortillas or you will be incredibly frustrated.   
  • Look for corn tortillas made of a corn/flour blend because they roll easier.
  • If your corn tortillas don’t roll easily, microwave them first to make them more pliable. To microwave corn tortillas, place 6 tortillas in between two damp paper towels on a microwave safe plate, and microwave 30 to 40 seconds or until warm and pliable.  Proceed to fill and roll tortillas before microwaving the second batch.
  • Use toothpicks to secure the tortillas closed then remove after frying. 
  • You will need less filling when using corn tortillas because the tortillas are smaller than flour tortillas.  This also means corn tortillas will make many more flautas.
 flautas recipe stacked on a white plate with shredded lettuce, guacamole and chopped tomatoes

Flautas RECIPE VARIATIONS

Flautas can be made differently every time!  There is no limit to what you can stuff them with, just take care that the protein is well seasoned because it will lose potency when combined with the cheese and cocooned in the tortilla.  You also want to make sure the filling isn’t dry; not wet, but not dry.  Here are some ideas to play with:

CHEESE

I wouldn’t swap out the sharp cheddar as it adds tons of flavor, but you can swap the Monterrey Jack for:

  • Pepper jack:  is a derivative of Monterey Jack, flavored with sweet peppers, rosemary, garlic, habanero chilies and jalapeños – yum!  Like Monterey Jack, it also melts well. 
  • Colby Jack:  is produced almost identically to Monterrey Jack but is seasoned with annatto (derived from seeds of the achiote tree) so its mild, slightly sweet and nutty. 
  • Oaxaca cheese: has a mellow, buttery flavor similar to Monterey but melts more easily with a mozzarella-like texture.
  • Asadero:  is Oaxaca’s cousin that isn’t quite as moist.  It’s a mild, excellent melting cheese with a creamy-smooth, velvety texture. 
  • Cream cheese:  you can swap ¼ cup of the sour cream for ¼ cup softened cream cheese for extra richness.

PROTEIN

Flautas are traditionally made with pulled chicken or beef, but don’t let that stop you! You can use any type of protein you like when it comes to this flautas recipe.  If you start off with a plain protein like ground beef or turkey, season it with the seasonings listed in this chicken flautas recipe.  If you swap the chicken for an already seasoned protein such as beef barbacoa, then omit the seasonings from the flautas recipe but still add the salsa, sour cream, green chilies and cheeses.

Here are some of my favorite Mexican proteins that are tasty in flautas:

CHICKEN

  • Shredded Mexican Chicken (Crockpot):  simmered with Mexican spices, salsa and green chilies for amazingly flavorful chicken that’s dripping with flavor and SO tender.   
  • Honey Lime Salsa Verde Chicken (Crockpot):  tangy, flavorful with just the right amount of kick all balanced by a hint of honey. 
  • Chicken Tinga: is another super quick and easy recipe made with shredded rotisserie chicken tossed in a saucy, smoky, spicy tomato chipotle sauce.
  • Quick Ground Turkey (from my tacos):  quick, easy, healthy and packed with flavor – you won’t even miss the beef with my secret ingredient!

BEEF

  • Beef Barbacoa (Crockpot): crazy juicy beef slow cooked until melt-in-your-mouth tender infused with a tangy, chipotle sauce spiked with cumin, oregano and lime juice – one of my favorites of all time!
  • Carne Asada: is the quintessential Mexican steak marinated in orange juice, lime juice, soy sauce and a splash of liquid smoke then spice rubbed with cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, garlic and onion. It’s juicy, flavorful and crazy good.  Take care to finely dice the steak so it’s easy to eat in the flautas.

PORK

  • Carnitas (Crockpot):  juicy pork smothered in a dynamic fiesta spice rub then slow cooked with orange juice and lime juice all finished in the oven to create glorious caramelized crispy burnt ends. 
  • Salsa Verde Pork (Crockpot):  inspired by the aforementioned chicken but in juicier pork version.  It is tangy, flavorful with just the right amount of kick all balanced by a hint of honey. 
  • Ancho pork (from my tacos):  quick and easy 10 MINUTE recipe that’s exploding with flavor; chopped pork tenderloin is smothered in spices then cooked in skillet until golden then finished off with green chiles and lime juice.  Take care to finely dice the pork so it’s easy to eat in the flautas.

VEGETARIAN ALTERNATIVES: 

  • Tofu: use extra firm tofu that is well drained; you will need 3 cups.  To drain tofu, place it in a pie plate, top with a heavy plate and weigh down with 2 heavy cans (to release water). Set aside for 10 minutes then saute with the flauta seasonings before combining with the rest of the filling ingredients.
  • Veggies: use 3 cups of any combo of your favorite veggies such as cooked sweet potatoes, black beans, zucchini and/or corn.  Saute them with the flauta seasonings before combining with the rest of the filling ingredients.
  • Beans:  mix black beans or chickpeas with any of your favorite cooked veggies to equal 3 cups.

BEANS & VEGGIES

  • Beans:  refried beans, pinto beans or black beans add a delightful creaminess.  You will want to swap out an equal amount of chicken for the beans otherwise it will throw the ratio of seasonings off.
  • Veggies:  bell peppers, fresh sweet corn, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, onions, chayote, zucchini, cherry tomatoes are all tasty.  You’ll want to sauté all of the ingredients first so they’re cooked before you adding them to the filling OR use your favorite roasted veggies.  Like the beans, swap out an equal amount of chicken for the veggies otherwise it will throw the ratio of seasonings off.
  • Jalapenos:  I love pickled jalapenos!  They will instantly amp up the heat and the flavor.  You can also add additional heat with minced chipotle chile peppers, hot sauce, cayenne pepper or chipotle chile powder.

HOW TO MAKE FLAUTAS

These flautas are an excellent example of minimal effort, huge reward.  Here’s how easy they are to make:

  • Make filling:  Add the salsa, sour cream, green chilies and all seasonings to a large bowl (except cayenne); stir to combine. Stir in chicken followed by cheeses.  Season with cayenne pepper to taste (optional), keeping in mind the flavor will mellow in the tortillas.
a collage showing how to make flautas by adding salsa, sour cream, seasonings, chicken and cheese to a glass bowl
  • Assemble flautas: Lay 12-14 tortillas on a flat surface.  Add approximately 3 tablespoons filling to the bottom third of each tortilla then tightly roll up tortillas and place them seam side down.
a collage showing how to make flautas by adding chicken filling to a flour tortilla and staring to roll
showing how to make flautas by rolling chicken filling in a flour tortilla

HOW TO COOK FLAUTAS

You have four options to cook your flautas: shallow pan fry, toast, bake or air fry. Baking is great for a large batch of hands-off cooking but they don’t get quite as crispy, toasting is great for crispy taquitos without very much oil but they aren’t quite as flavorful, air frying also creates crispy flautas but pan frying is the ultimate indulgence for the BEST flautas, AKA the most flavorful and shatteringly crispy.  I’m not going to pretend any other methods are as good. Still good, but not as good.  

  • Heat 1 cup oil in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat until 325 degrees F.  Once hot, add 2-4 flautas seam side down in oil.   Fry, turning as needed until golden brown on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes, adjusting burner as necessary to maintain oil temperature so they don’t fry too quickly. 
showing how to make flautas by frying flautas in a black skillet

TOAST IN THE SKILLET

  • This method works best with raw tortillas but will still work with cooked tortillas.  Heat one teaspoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, add flautas and cook, until golden brown on all sides, rotating as needed.

BAKE IN THE OVEN

  • Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F.  Place a baking rack in a baking pan and spray with nonstick cooking spray.  Add flautas in a single layer without touching then brush with olive oil. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until taquitos are golden (add an extra 5 minutes if taquitos have been refrigerated). Broil for extra crispiness.
showing how to make flautas by lining flautas on a baking rack in a baking sheet

AIR FRY

  • Preheat air fryer to 400 degrees F.  Working in batches, brush flautas all over with olive oil and place seam side down in the air fryer basket so they aren’t touching. Cook for 6-8 minutes or until they’re golden and crispy, turning halfway through the cooking time.

How Do I Serve Flautas?

The two things that vary by region when it comes to flautas are the filling and the toppings.  The most traditional flauta toppings include shredded iceberg lettuce, sliced tomato, sliced avocado, sliced onion, sour cream, queso fresco or cotija, and salsa.  The fun thing about homemade flautas, however, is everyone gets to customize their toppings for their own perfect explosion of fresh, tangy, crunchy, and creamy.  You can go as simple as just sour cream or as loaded as your belly desires. Here are some ideas to choose from: 

  • Sour cream or Mexican Crema: is a must in my book for flautas!  Its refreshing, bright, silky creaminess compliments and cuts through the crunchy, cheesy richness.
  • Greek yogurt: is a great creamy alternative to sour cream if you are trying to save some calories. 
  • Avocado Crema: is my addiction and my preference over just chopped avocados. It’s a marriage of avocados, sour cream and lime juice to create a wonderfully silky, tangy sauce and just takes minutes in your blender.  
  • Guacamole:  use my homemade guacamole recipe (amazing!) or your favorite recipe or even use store-bought.
  • Avocados: chopped or sliced avocados are the easiest avocado option and add a wonderful creaminess.
  • Tomatoes: seeded, chopped or sliced Roma tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes for a simple, juicy, vibrant win or, better yet, substitute with pico de gallo.
  • Pico de gallo:  is fresh tomato salsa that adds a vibrant, punchy freshness.  You can use my homemade pico de gallo recipe or store bought. You can make the salsa ahead of time and store it in an airtight container in the fridge.  Bring to room temperature before serving.
  • Salsa:  go with traditional restaurant style salsa, or chunky salsas with  varying textures and flavors like my black bean corn salsaavocado corn salsacharred corn salsapineapple salsa, or mango salsa– all SO good!
  • Cilantro:  if you skip the pico de gallo, you can load on fresh cilantro and tomatoes instead for a fresh, zesty flair.
  • Pickle red onions:  I can’t believe I haven’t shared a recipe for this yet (coming soon!), but I love pickled red onions!  They are bright, tangy, and punchy fantastic.
  • Jalapenos: amp up the heat with fresh jalapenos or I love pickled jalapenos. 
  • Hot Sauce: pass around the hot sauce for an easy, delicious way to customize heat.

TIPS to make the best flautas

  • Use rotisserie chicken for this flautas recipe to help it come together in minutes.  I like to keep 3 cup portioned bags of rotisserie chicken in my freezer for this flauta recipe and other recipes calling for rotisserie chicken like soups, chicken tinga, chicken divan, etc. This is also a great recipe for using up leftover chicken or any of your favorite Mexican proteins.
  • Make a double batch of your favorite Mexican protein so you can freeze some to use later in this flautas recipe.
  • Use a good quality salsa for this flautas recipe. The salsa can add tons of flavor if you use a good one. I love my homemade salsa recipe or Mateo’s salsa (often at Costco).  
  • Use freshly shredded cheeses because pre-packaged cheeses contain chemicals designed to prevent the strands from clumping in the packaging – these same chemicals inhibit their melting ability.  Only freshly grated cheese will melt in the couple minutes it takes for the flautas to crisp up.   
  • Use two cheeses.  Monterrey provides the ooey gooey factor and sharp cheddar adds the oomph of flavor.  
  • Adjust the heat of the filling to suite your personal tastesThe heat of the salsa will dramatically affect the end result, so use mild if you don’t like very much heat.  You can also use mild salsa and add cayenne pepper to taste.  I used hot salsa and didn’t add any cayenne pepper and they were spicy – just how we like them.  
  • Warm tortillas in the microwave if they are not very pliable to prevent them from cracking or falling open when rolling.  To do this, stack 6 tortillas together and top with a dampened paper towel.  Microwave for 60 seconds, fill, roll and repeat.
  • Roll the tortillas tightly so there isn’t any open spaces in the chicken flautas. This prevents oil from leaking into the flautas and bubbling.  It also will help the flautas stay closed and fry up more easily and evenly.
  • Use a toothpick to secure the flautas closed before frying if they are peaking open.  Fry them with the toothpicks intact then remove before eating.   You shouldn’t have to use toothpicks with quality flour tortillas.
  • You can use smaller flour tortillas, but I wouldn’t use larger than 8″ tortillas or else they are more difficult to fry evenly.  If you use smaller tortillas, you will need less filling per tortilla and your recipe will yield more flautas.
  • Use a nonstick skillet to fry the flautas.  Typically, a cast iron skillet is used for frying, but we are not deep frying, we are shallow frying and only heating the oil to 325 degrees F.  A nonstick skillet allows you to use less oil and still reap all the benefits of deep frying.  You are welcome to use a cast iron skillet if you fill it 1” deep with oil.
  • Use the correct oil for frying.  Our goal of deep frying the flautas is to create a deeply golden, crunchy exterior.  To do this, you need an oil with a high smoking point and neutral flavor.  If you select an oil with a low smoking point, not only will you have an incredible amount of smoke, but the oil will break down creating an unpleasant odor and unappetizing taste. Oils suitable for frying include: vegetable oil, peanut oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil and sunflower oil.
  • Make sure you test the oil first, especially if frying without an instant read thermometer.   To do this, tear off a bit of unused tortilla and add it to the oil.  If it boils, your oil is ready but if it boils and turns dark within a minute or so, your oil is too hot. You will have to remove from the heat, wait a few minutes, return to heat and try again.
  • Adjust heat as needed so the flautas cook up golden and crispy.  If you find your flautas are cooking too quickly and surpassing the golden brown before the cheese is melted, then lower the heat.  You may need to start off at medium-high heat and lower to medium heat.
  • Don’t overcrowd the pan so the flautas can cook evenly and so you have plenty of room to flip the flautas over with tongs.  This also helps you keep a close eye on them so they don’t overcook.
  • Drain flautas on paper towels in a single layer without touching after they’re done frying.  You don’t want them sitting in oil or touching or they will lose their extreme crunch.  
  • To that end, resist the urge to stack the flautas or they won’t be as crispy.  I know I didn’t follow my own advice in the photos so I can speak from personal experience that stacked flautas will steam and you will lose that coveted crispy exterior very quickly.  It is best to serve the chicken flautas lined in a single layer with a little breathing room in between each flauta.
  • Keep the cooked flautas warm as you fry them in batches by transferring them to the oven.  Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Set a wire baking rack in a baking pan; set aside.  Let flautas drain briefly on paper towels, then transfer to the prepared baking pan and keep warm in oven while frying remaining flautas.
  • Serve Chipotle style:  Create a toppings bar like they do at Chipotle and let everyone top their own flautas for zero lag time.

HOW TO STORE FLAUTAS

  • Let flautas cool completely before packaging to prevent them from becoming as soft.
  • Transfer flautas to a large sheet of foil or an airtight container and line them together with a little breathing room.  If you need to stack them, stack them with parchment paper in between each layer to help prevent them from becoming as soggy. Wrap up or enclose completely.
  • Store flautas in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months (instructions to follow). 
up close of flautas on a white plate with cheesy chicken come out the ends of the flautas

HOW TO REHEAT FLAUTAS

You can reheat flautas in the microwave, oven, stove or in the air fryer. 

  • Air fryer:  this is my #1 preferred method for reheating anything crispy – or formerly crispy.  It restores the flautas to their former crispy glory as if they were freshly made – seriously amazing!  Place your flautas in the air fryer basket and air fry at 400 degrees F for 6-8 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  • Stove:  heat a large nonstick skillet to low then add the flauta(s). Cook until heated through, rotating as needed.  Once the inside is warm, you can crank the heat to medium-high to quickly toast the outside.
  • Oven:  place flautas on a baking rack placed over a baking pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until warmed through. 
  • Microwave:  this is my least favorite method because the exterior doesn’t crisp up, but it’s convenient for hands off reheating. Transfer flautas to ta microwave safe plate and microwave on high or 60 seconds then at 15-second intervals as needed.

CAN I MAKE CHICKEN FLAUTAS AHEAD OF TIME?

YES.  Chicken flautas are a great recipe to make in advance to have on hand for a quick snack or meal. The best way to make flautas ahead of time is to assemble, cook, and freeze.  When ready to eat, simply warm flautas in the air fryer, toaster oven or oven until hot and crispy (instructions to follow).

You can also get a jump start on the flauta prep if you’re planning on making within 24 hours:  

  • Make filling.  Combine filling ingredients per recipe instructions.  Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.  Let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes before assembling flautas. 
  • Prep toppings. The toppings such as lettuce, tomatoes, onions, etc. can be chopped and stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator or small covered serving bowls.  The guacamole and avocado crema (if using) will keep for up to a day without changing color very much – just make sure to press a piece of plastic wrap directly against the surface of the guac/crema to prevent oxidation. 

How to Freeze Flautas

Flautas are a great make ahead, have on hand snack or meal. To freeze:

  • Let flautas cool completely in a single layer.
  • Line flautas on a baking sheet so they aren’t touching.
  • Freeze for 1-2 hours or until solid. This flash freezing will prevent the flautas from freezing together in a clump.
  • Add chicken flautas to a large freezer bag and squeeze out any excess air.
  • Freeze for up to 3 months.

HOW TO REHEAT FROZEN FLAUTAS

TO REHEAT:

  • Air fryer: spray the air fryer basket with cooking spray.  Place desired amount of frozen flautas in the air fryer basket in a single layer so they aren’t touching.  Air fry at 400 degrees F for approximately 10 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  • Oven:  place flautas on a baking rack placed over a baking pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until warmed through. 
  • Microwave: transfer desired number of frozen flautas to a microwave safe plate and microwave on high or 2 minutes seconds then at 15-second intervals as needed.

WHAT TO SERVE WITH CHICKEN FLAUTAS?

These chicken flautas make a tasty dinner with the help of a few sides.  Here are some of our favorite sides to serve with flautas:

up close of chicken flautas topped with  guacamole

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Chicken Flautas

These flautas are about to become your family’s favorite quick and easy dinner, appetizer or snack! Flour tortillas are stuffed with fiesta spiced chicken, cheese, salsa and sour cream, rolled up then fried or baked to golden, crispy perfection. You can also swap the chicken for other favorite proteins such as beef barbacoa, carnitas, crockpot Mexican etc. Serve the flautas with shredded lettuce, salsa and guacamole and prepare to fall in love! These chicken flautas can also be made and frozen for later – all instructions included!
Servings: 14 flautas
Total Time: 30 mins
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup salsa (medium or hot for more of a kick)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 oz. can mild chopped green chiles
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 tsp EACH ground cumin, garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp EACH onion powder, smoked paprika, dried oregano, salt
  • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken I like to use rotisserie chicken
  • 1 cup freshly shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
  • 1 cup freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Cayenne pepper or hot sauce to taste
  • 12-14 medium (7-8-inch) flour tortillas
  • vegetable oil (optional for frying)

Instructions

  • Add the salsa, sour cream, green chilies and all seasonings to a large bowl (except cayenne); stir to combine. Stir in chicken followed by cheeses. Season with cayenne pepper to taste (optional), keeping in mind the flavor will mellow in the tortillas.
  • If using lower quality tortillas, stack 6 together and top with a dampened paper towel. Microwave for 60 seconds so they’re more pliable and easier to roll. Fill, roll and repeat.
  • To assemble, lay 12-14 tortillas on a flat surface. Add approximately 3 tablespoons filling to the bottom third of each tortilla then tightly roll up tortillas and place them seam side down.

TO SHALLOW PAN FRY (Recommended)

  • Optional to keep flautas warm: Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Set a wire baking rack in a baking pan; set aside.
  • Heat 1 cup vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until 325 degrees F. Once hot, add 2-4 flautas seam side down in oil. Fry, turning as needed until golden brown on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes, adjusting burner as necessary to maintain oil temperature so they don’t fry too quickly.
  • Let flautas drain briefly on paper towels, then transfer to the prepared baking pan and keep warm in oven while frying remaining flautas
  • Serve with sour cream, guacamole, salsa, pico de gallo, shredded iceberg lettuce, etc.

Notes

TO BAKE FLAUTAS

  • Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F.  Set a wire baking rack in a baking pan and spray with nonstick cooking spray. 
  • Add flautas in a single layer without touching then brush with olive oil.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes or until flautas are golden. Broil for extra crispiness.

TO TOAST FLAUTAS IN THE SKILLET

This method works best with raw tortillas but will still work with cooked tortillas. 
  • Optional to keep flautas warm: Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Set a wire baking rack in a baking pan; set aside.
  • Heat one teaspoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  • Working in batches, add taquitos and cook, until golden brown on all sides, rotating as needed.
  • Transfer flautas to the prepared baking pan and keep warm in oven while cooking remaining flautas

TO AIR FRY

  • Preheat air fryer to 400 degrees F. 
  • Working in batches, brush flautas all over with olive oil then place seam side down in the air fryer basket so they aren’t touching.
  • Cook for 6-8 minutes or until they’re golden and crispy, turning halfway through the cooking time.

TIPS to make the best flautas

  • You don’t have to make chicken flautas!   See the post for all sorts of filling ideas.  
  • Use freshly shredded cheeses because pre-packaged cheeses contain chemicals designed to prevent the strands from clumping in the packaging – these same chemicals inhibit their melting ability.  Only freshly grated cheese will melt in the couple minutes it takes for the flautas to crisp up.   
  • Roll the tortillas tightly so there isn’t any open spaces in the chicken flautas. This prevents oil from leaking into the flautas and bubbling.  It also will help the flautas stay closed and fry up more easily and evenly.
  • Use a toothpick to secure the flautas closed before frying if they are peaking open.  Fry them with the toothpicks intact then remove before eating.   You shouldn’t have to use toothpicks with quality flour tortillas.
  • Make sure you test the oil first, especially if frying without an instant read thermometer.   To do this, tear off a bit of unused tortilla and add it to the oil.  If it boils, your oil is ready but if it boils and turns dark within a minute or so, your oil is too hot. You will have to remove from the heat, wait a few minutes, return to heat and try again.
  • Adjust heat as needed so the flautas cook up golden and crispy.  If you find your flautas are cooking too quickly and surpassing the golden brown before the cheese is melted, then lower the heat.  You may need to start off at medium-high heat and lower to medium heat.
  • To that end, resist the urge to stack the flautas or they won’t be as crispy.  I know I didn’t follow my own advice in the photos so I can speak from personal experience that stacked flautas will steam and you will lose that coveted crispy exterior very quickly.  It is best to serve the chicken flautas lined in a single layer with a little breathing room in between each flauta.

HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT 

You can reheat flautas in the microwave, oven, stove or in the air fryer. 
  • Storage:  store flautas in a single layer (with parchment paper in between layers if stacked) in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 
  • Air fryer:  this is my #1 preferred method for reheating anything crispy – or formerly crispy.  It restores the flautas to their former crispy glory as if they were freshly made – seriously amazing!  Place your flautas in the air fryer basket and air fry at 400 degrees F for 6-8 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  • Stove:  heat a large nonstick skillet to low then add the flauta(s). Cook until heated through, rotating as needed.  Once the inside is warm, you can crank the heat to medium-high to quickly toast the outside.
  • Oven:  place flautas on a baking rack placed over a baking pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until warmed through. 
  • Microwave:  this is my least favorite method because the exterior doesn’t crisp up, but it’s convenient for hands off reheating. Transfer flautas to ta microwave safe plate and microwave on high or 60 seconds then at 15-second intervals as needed.

How to Freeze 

  • Let flautas cool completely in a single layer.
  • Line flautas on a baking sheet so they aren’t touching.
  • Freeze for 1-2 hours or until solid. This flash freezing will prevent the flautas from freezing together in a clump.
  • Add chicken flautas to a large freezer bag and squeeze out any excess air.
  • Freeze for up to 3 months.

HOW TO REHEAT FROZEN FLAUTAS

  • Air fryer: spray the air fryer basket with cooking spray.  Place desired amount of frozen flautas in the air fryer basket in a single layer so they aren’t touching.  Air fry at 400 degrees F for approximately 10 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  • Oven:  place flautas on a baking rack placed over a baking pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until warmed through. 
  • Microwave: transfer desired number of frozen flautas to a microwave safe plate and microwave on high or 2 minutes seconds then at 15-second intervals as needed.

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12 Comments

  1. Janet Bradley says

    If I wanted to make this as just a taco, could I do that. Everything sounds like it would make a FANTASTIC taco?

    • Jen says

      Absolutely! If you make them into tacos, I would gently warm the filling so the cheese melts. Good luck!

  2. Gaylene Weil says

    I made these tonight and they are amazing! I made half with ground beef and my daughter made the pulled pork ones. Delish!!

    • Jen says

      YAY! Thanks so much Gaylene! I’m so happy they were a hit and you were able to customize them!

  3. Jakalyn Helling says

    Hello Jen, another great recipe! I love how light and flaky the flour tortillas are after cooking for a few minutes in the vegetable oil. Served with your avocado crema – perfect dinner! Thank you for sharing.
    Best to you and your family.

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Jakalyn, I’m so happy you loved them! And great call serving with avocado crema! All the best to you and yours as well!

  4. Patsy murdock says

    Loved them. Now my daughter wants me to make her some. Making today. Thank you for a great recipe

    • Jen says

      You’re so welcome Patsy, I’m so pleased they will be on repeat!

  5. Pat says

    Question: you specified flour tortillas in the recipe; is that a preference or a must? We have a celiac and a gluten sensitive in the family so wheats an issue…

    • Jen says

      Hi Pat, it is just a verbal technicality because flautas are made with flour tortillas and taquitos are made with corn tortillas. You can certainly make this with corn tortillas as well, just make sure they are homemade/high quality like La Tortilla Factory so they roll without tearing. Enjoy!

  6. SHEILA RASMUSSEN says

    I made these last night with leftover grilled chicken. They were so good. I think for us, I will reduce the chili powder, otherwise they were fantastic.

    • Jen says

      Thanks Sheila, I hope they’re perfect for you next time!

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