Crispy Baked Chicken Tacos with juicy shredded chicken and oozing cheese are the easier cousin to chicken birria!
These Baked Chicken Tacos are mouthwatering flavor fireworks in each cheesy, saucy, crispy bite. They’re the easier cousin to chicken birria in more accessible weeknight dinner form! This taco recipe is made with shredded chicken smothered in rich, bold, smoky, earthy homemade enchilada sauce, stuffed into tortillas along with ooey gooey cheese then baked to crispy, crunchy perfection. Finish them off with cool and creamy cilantro lime ranch and pico de gallo or your favorite toppings like guacamole and corn salsa. These chicken tacos are an easy dinner or crowd pleaser, and great for meal prep because the chicken and toppings can be made ahead of time. Serve the handheld heroes along with a side of Cilantro Lime Rice and finish them off with Tres Leches Cake!
Chicken tacos are a favorite weeknight dinner around here and a company crowd pleaser! Don’t miss Honey Chipotle Chicken Tacos, 15 Minute Shredded Chicken Tacos, Buffalo Chicken Tacos, Chili Lime Chicken Tacos, Thai Chicken Tacos, Teriyaki Chicken Tacos or Jerk Chicken Tacos.
How to Make crispy chicken tacos Video
WHY YOU’LL LOVE this chicken taco recipe
They’re easier to make than chicken birria tacos. While quesabirria tacos are worth the effort, sometimes you just don’t have the time, patience or ingredients to make chili sauce from scratch with fresh chilies and pan fry each taco. Instead, this Baked Chicken Taco recipe requires a fraction of the time by utilizing flavor packed shortcuts like easy homemade enchilada sauce made with chili powder.
The homemade enchilada sauce has TONS of rave reviews. Its rich, smoky, enticing complexity of flavor makes this recipe, so please don’t let the term “homemade” scare you! The sauce is EASY and takes less than 15 minutes to make! As one reader said: “This sauce has changed my life! Seriously the best red enchilada sauce I’ve ever had.”
You will be blown away at how crispy these BAKED tacos become! The tortillas are lightly coated in olive oil, folded over the shredded chicken then baked to crispy gloriousness, without the extra fat. This technique is SO easy and you’ll love that all the tacos emerge from the oven at once.
chicken taco ingredients
This chicken taco recipe is easy to make thanks to store-bought rotisserie and a handful of pantry friendly ingredients to whip up the sauce. Here’s what you’ll need (full recipe in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):
For the chicken
This recipe will work with any of your favorite Mexican chicken recipes (outlined under variations), but I highly recommend trying this version as pictured. It’s rich, bold, smoky, saucy, earthy and fabulous.
For the tortillas:
We love corn tortillas in this recipe for their robust, nutty, sweet corn flavor that becomes crispy when baked. In order for your corn tortillas not to tear when folded, you must choose from the following two options, dry run-of-the-mill tortillas will not work:
Can Flour Tortillas Be Used Instead of Corn?
You can use flour tortillas and should use flour tortillas if you can’t find white corn tortillas or homemade corn tortillas as discussed (because others will tear). Just be aware that flour tortillas won’t become as crispy.
For the Cheese
Use any good melting cheese that you shred yourself such as Oaxaca, Monterey, Pepper Jack, or sharp cheddar. I love combining cheddar with one of the white cheeses.
HOW TO MAKE crispy baked chicken tacos
toppings for crispy chicken tacos
Adding toppings to these Baked Chicken Tacos can completely change the flavor profile from fresh pico de gallo to sweet corn salsa to tangy pickled red onions. Feel free to be as minimalistic or as over the top as you’d like! Here are a few ideas:
Chicken Taco Toppings
possible recipe variations
Make these crispy chicken tacos your own with different chicken fillings, different toppings, etc. Here are a few ideas:
More Chicken Options:
Side Serving Suggestions
These Crispy Chicken Tacos pair well with a side of beans, cilantro lime rice, and a fresh salad. Here are a few ideas:
The tacos will be the crunchiest when freshly made unless you have an air fryer to reheat them. The good news is the shredded chicken can be made 100% ahead of time and just reheated so the taco assembly can be done in minutes. Here’s how to prep the prep the beef to different stages:
-Chicken: can be made and stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days. You can also make the enchilada sauce ahead of time and refrigerate or freeze.
-Cheese: shred the cheese and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
-Cilantro Lime Ranch: can be made and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container three days ahead of time.
-Toppings: prep all your toppings and store in airtight containers in the refrigerator until ready to use.
How do I reheat baked chicken tacos?
The best way to reheat chicken tacos to get them crispy again is in the air fry fryer:
-Air fryer: Place your tacos in the air fryer basket and air fry at 400 degrees F for 6-8 minutes, flipping halfway through.
-Stove: Heat a skillet to low then add the taco(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 tacos on a wire rack placed over a baking pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until warmed through.
-Microwave: The microwave won’t crisp up the exterior again, but it’s convenient for hands off reheating. Transfer tacos to a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high or 45 seconds then at 15-second intervals as needed.
HOW long are chicken tacos good for?
Store chicken tacos in a single layer (with parchment paper in between layers if stacked) in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Can I freeze chicken tacos?
Yes! Line the tacos in a single layer on a baking sheet; freeze for 1-2 hours until solid. Wrap tacos individually in plastic wrap, then store together in a freezer safe bag.
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- 1 recipe Homemade Enchilada Sauce <–click for recipe
- 4 cups shredded chicken <–click for recipe or use rotisserie
- 12 soft white corn tortillas (see notes)
- 2 cups favorite shredded cheese (cheddar, Monterrey, Oaxaca, or a combo)
CILANTRO LIME SOUR CREAM (OPTIONAL)
- 1 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1-2 tablespoons milk
- 1/2 cup packed cilantro, finely chopped (measure before chopping)
- 2-4 tablespoons chopped pickled jalapenos (optional)
- 1/2 tsp EACH garlic powder, onion powder, dried parsley, dried chives, dried dill
- salt and pepper to taste
TOPPINGS (PICK YOUR FAVS!)
- Cilantro Lime Ranch: Whisk all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Oven: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Sauce: Prepare Enchilada Sauce according to recipe directions (click HERE for recipe).
- Chicken: Add desired amount of sauce to the shredded chicken in a large bowl (more or less depending on how "saucy" you like your tacos), and stir to combine.
- Prep tortillas: Working in 2 batches, place 6 tortillas between two damp paper towels and microwave for 30-60 seconds, or until pliable. Lightly brush the top of the tortillas with olive oil then flip over (the oiled side should now be face down, touching the baking sheet so it gets crispy).
- Assemble: Add a layer of cheese to the bottom half of the tortilla and top it with about ⅓ cup chicken. Fold the tortillas over in half and lightly press so they stay folded, you may need to flip the whole taco over so it stays. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
- Bake: Bake at 425 degrees F for 8 minutes, flip the tacos over and bake an additional 8 minutes. If the tortillas aren’t crispy, then flip and bake an additional 5 minutes OR until crispy. Stuff with desired toppings and dig in!
- White corn tortillas: are made with white masa harina as opposed to yellow masa harina and tend to be softer, more tender, with a higher moisture content, which makes them more pliable. White corn tortillas can be easily rolled and folded without cracking or breaking. Look for “super soft” white corn tortillas (like Mission brand).
- Use a light hand when brushing the olive oil over the tortillas. If you use too much oil, then the tortillas will be too wet and have a difficult time getting crispy.
- Bake until crispy. I have experimented with a couple different types of tortillas and some take longer to crisp up than others – so be flexible and patient and bake until crispy.
- Meal Prep: The tacos will be the crunchiest when freshly made unless you have an air fryer to reheat them. The good news is the shredded chicken can be made 100% ahead of time and just reheated so the taco assembly can be done in minutes. All of the toppings can be prepped ahead of time.
- Storage: Store chicken tacos in a single layer (with parchment paper in between layers if stacked) in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
How to Reheat Baked Chicken TacosThe best way to reheat chicken tacos to get them crispy again is in the air fry fryer:
- Air fryer: Place your tacos in the air fryer basket and air fry at 400 degrees F for 6-8 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- Stove: Heat a skillet to low then add the taco(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 tacos on a wire rack placed over a baking pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until warmed through.
- Microwave: The microwave won’t crisp up the exterior again, but it’s convenient for hands off reheating. Transfer tacos to a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high or 45 seconds then at 15-second intervals as needed.
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