Chicken Tinga
This Chicken Tinga recipe is one of the easiest dinners you will ever make – on your table in less than 25 minutes! Chicken Tinga, or tinga de pollo, is a Mexican dish consisting of shredded chicken in a saucy, smoky, spicy tomato chipotle sauce. It’s not only quick and easy, but healthy, exploding with flavor and wonderfully versatile. It’s the ideal weeknight dinner and can be made into tacos, burritos, burrito bowls, tortas, tostadas, etc. or serve it buffet style and let everyone choose their chicken tinga adventure. This Chicken Tinga recipe also freezes and reheats beautifully for meal prep lunches or dinners the whole family will love!
Servings Prep Time
6-8 servings 10minutes
Cook Time
10minutes
Servings Prep Time
6-8 servings 10minutes
Cook Time
10minutes
two tongs scooping up chicken tinga to serve
Ingredients
  • 4cups shredded Rotisserie chicken(see Notes)
  • 1tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 sweet onionhalved and thinly sliced
  • 4cloves garlicminced
  • 2tablespoons chipotle peppers in adobo saucechopped
  • 1tablespoon adobo sauce (from above can)or to taste
  • 1teaspoon chicken bouillon
  • 1tsp EACH dried oregano, dried cumin
  • 3/4teaspoon salt
  • 1/2tsp EACH dried coriander, smoked paprika
  • 1 14 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes with juices
  • 1 4 oz. can mild diced green chiles
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the onions and sauté for 4-5 minutes (If you’ve made your own shredded chicken, you can skip sautéing the onion and instead use a slotted spoon to scoop out the onion simmered with the chicken.)
  2. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Stir in all remaining ingredients EXCEPT the chicken. Bring to a gentle simmer, and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer the tomato mixture to a blender and blend until smooth, taking care to let some of the steam escape or it can explode.
  4. Return sauce to the skillet and stir in chicken. Heat over low heat for 3-5 minutes. Taste and season with additional salt, pepper or minced chipotles. Stir in 1/2-1 teaspoon sugar if desired to mellow the acidity of the tomatoes.
  5. Serve over plain rice, on tostadas or in warmed tortillas along with refried beans, sour cream, avocado slices, pickled red onions, cilantro, cotija etc. OR see the post for ALL the different ways to serve chicken tinga.
Recipe Notes

SHREDDED CHICKEN

You have three options when it comes to which chicken to use to make Chicken Tinga.  You can use 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.

TO MAKE SHREDDED CHICKEN FROM WHOLE CHICKEN

  • 1 4 – 5 pound whole chicken cut into pieces
  • 1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

DIRECTIONS

  • Add chicken, onions,  garlic, 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.

TO MAKE SHREDDED CHICKEN WITH THIGHS OR BREASTS

  • 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 or water.
  • Cover and reduce heat to medium and simmer 10 minutes, then flip chicken over and continue to cook 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.

SLOW COOKER CHICKEN TINGA

This Chicken Tinga can also be made in the slow cooker using boneless chicken and the same sauce ingredients/method.

  • Lightly grease slow cooker with cooking spray.   Add two pounds of raw boneless chicken breasts or thighs.
  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Once hot, add the onions and sauté for 4-5 minutes. Stir in all remaining ingredients.
  • Transfer the tomato mixture to a blender and blend until smooth.  Pour over chicken and stir to coat.
  • Cover and cook on HIGH for 2-4 hours, or on LOW for 6-7 hours or until the chicken is tender enough to shred. 
  • Shred chicken directly in the crockpot (or you can shred on cutting board) and turn heat to LOW. Continue to let chicken cook an additional 20-30 minutes.

TIPS AND TRICKS 

  • Rotisserie Chicken: I like to purchase my rotisserie chicken from Costco because you get almost twice the amount of chicken on one bird for the same price. If you have leftover shredded chicken that you aren’t going to use in this recipe, you can freeze it for later.
  • Frozen Chicken.  In anticipation of making this recipe or any other using shredded chicken, you can portion chicken into sandwich bags and freeze for later.  When ready to make Chicken Tinga, simply defrost and stir into the sauce.  
  • Customize heat.  Add 1 tablespoon chopped chipotle pepper for mild heat, 2 for medium and 3 if you love spicy.  After you add the chicken, you can taste and stir in additional minced chopped chipotle pepper if you would like it spicier.  Just make sure to finely mince the peppers so the heat is evenly distributed.
  • Add sugar:   Just like tomato-based sauces marinara and Bolognese, I find it helpful to add some sugar to mellow the acidity of the tomatoes.  You can make the sauce completely then taste and decide if you would like to add sugar or not.
  • Double Batch:  This Chicken Tinga is a fabulous recipe to double, or break out your Dutch oven and triple!  Freeze leftovers in portion size bags for a quick thaw and heat dinner.
  • Serve buffet style:  Line up chicken tinga, rice, tostadas and/or tortillas along with all the favorite toppings (lettuce, pickled red onions, cilantro, avocados, jalapenos, sour cream, cotija cheese or queso fresco etc.,).  Let family or guests pile on all their favs.  

HOW TO FREEZE 

  • Prepare chicken according to directions.
  • Cool to room temperature.
  • Add chicken to a freezer size plastic bag OR portion into smaller size sandwich bags.
  • Press bag flat, squeeze out excess air to prevent freezer burn.
  • Seal, label and freeze for up to 3 months.
  • When ready to use, defrost chicken in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Remove chicken and reheat in a skillet or in a microwave-safe container in the microwave.