How to Make Your Own Shredded Chicken
If you don’t want to start with rotisserie chicken – or don’t have it on hand and need these Shredded Chicken Tacos NOW, you can easily make your own shredded chicken. You will need approximately 1 ½ pounds of chicken or 2-3 chicken breasts depending on their size.
- 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 1 1/2 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 FREEZE Mexican Chicken:
- Prepare Mexican 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.
HOW TO REHEAT:
- 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.
- If your chicken seems dry, stir in some salsa.
HOW TO WARM OR CHAR TORTILLAS
Before you begin piling your chicken and toppings on your Shredded Chicken Toppings, I HIGHLY recommend warming the tortillas first using any of the following methods:
- Open Flame (gas stove or grill): add the tortillas directly to the burner of your gas stove then flip with tongs once they are charred on one side. You can also accomplish this on the grill as well. If you are using lower quality tortillas, you will want to take special care not to over-char or they will become brittle and break. You still want the tortillas soft and pliable.
- Skillet: heat a skillet (or griddle if you have one) to medium high heat (do not grease). Working with one tortilla at a time (more for a griddle), heat each side of the tortilla for approximately 20-30 seconds until warm and soft. You are not looking for char marks with this method.
- Microwave: working with about 5 tortillas at a time, stack tortillas on a microwave safe plate and cover with a damp paper towel. Microwave for 20 seconds on high, then repeat at 10 second intervals if needed until warmed through.
- Oven: create separate stacks of about 5 tortillas each, then wrap each stack in foil. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until heated through (you can bake all stacks at once).
HOW TO KEEP TORTILLAS WARM
Once your tortillas are warmed (with any method), keep them warm and pliable by stacking on a plate and covering with a slightly dampened, paper towel or kitchen towel.
TIPS AND TRICK TO SHREDDED CHICKEN TACOS
- 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.
- Different Protein: Although this recipe is called “Shredded Chicken Tacos,” these seasonings and ingredients work well for ground beef, ground turkey, ground chicken as well.
- Tomato Paste: This shredded chicken only requires 2 tablespoons tomato paste. I often don’t use a whole can of tomato paste in a week, so I always freeze it by the tablespoon. To do this, place parchment paper on a small baking sheet or plate – something that can easily fit in your freezer. Drop tomato paste by the tablespoon on parchment paper a few inches apart in rows then freeze until solid, about 1 hour. Cut a grid around the tomato paste so each tablespoon has its own parchment square. Wrap up the parchment paper around the tomato paste and place in a plastic bag. Freeze for up to 6 months, taking out one tablespoon of tomato paste as needed.
- Salsa: If you’re in a bind and don’t have tomato paste, you can replace the chicken broth and tomato paste with salsa, but you’ll want to use less cayenne pepper and possibly other seasonings so the flavor isn’t too strong/spicy.
- Spice it up. The spice level as written is not very spicy, just flavorful. If your chicken feels like it’s missing something, it is probably a depth of heat. You will want to taste the chicken once it’s done and add hot sauce to taste or individuals can add hot sauce to their own servings. I personally love additional hot sauce and add it directly to my tacos as opposed to the chicken, and really think it makes all the flavors pop.
- Double Batch: This Mexican Chicken 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.
- Quality tortillas. try and use QUALITY corn tortillas – you can taste the difference! I’ve discussed this in greater detail below.
- Prep Ahead. You can make the chicken ahead of time and just reheat when ready to serve. You can also prep all of your toppings ahead of time. The guacamole and avocado crema 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.
ShredDED CHICKEN TACOS VARIATIONS
Shredded Chicken Tacos are fabulous with just chicken and toppings, but here are some tasty add-ins to mix things up!
- Add Beans. Add your favorite beans – some refried beans, black, pinto, etc. are all fabulous. You can add them directly to the chicken or warm in a separate pan and add them to individual tortillas.
- Add Veggies. You can add any veggies your heart desires from corn, bell peppers, zucchini, sweet potatoes, spinach etc. You can sauté the veggies separately or cook them with the chicken.
- Add Fajita Peppers. Stir fried bell peppers are always tasty. You can follow the instructions for the peppers in my Pork Fajitas recipe.
- Add More Green Chiles: This Shredded Mexican Chicken recipe calls for 2 tablespoons mild diced green chiles but you are welcome to add more – even the whole 4 oz. can if you want tangier chicken.
- Add Jalapenos: I LOVE canned jalapenos and always keep them stocked. If you like heat, add a few tablespoons directly to the chicken. For FIRE heat, you can add habaneros.
- Add cheese. Stir in shredded Mexican cheese blend, cheddar or pepper Jack cheese for CHEESY Mexican Chicken.
- Add rice or quinoa. Stir in cooked rice or cooked quinoa for added texture. If you do this, you may also want to add additional salt and salsa as well.
- Add pineapple. Pineapple is a favorite of mine with robust, smoky taco filling so why not add it directly to the chicken? You can caramelize some chopped pineapple in a separate skillet or skip caramelizing altogether and add the chopped pineapple directly to the shredded chicken.
How to Make Baked Shredded Chicken Tacos
These Shredded Chicken Tacos can also be made with hard taco shells then baked:
- Line a 9×13 baking dish with hard taco shells.
- Fill each shell with 2 tablespoons refried beans (optional).
- Evenly divide chicken between shells and top with cheese (like this recipe).
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes or until cheese is completely melted.
- Top chicken tacos with lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, etc.