SHREDDED CHICKEN TACOS ON YOUR TABLE IN 15 MINUTES!
These Shredded Chicken Tacos recipe is epic! They are quick, easy, healthy, flavorful and everything you love about tacos. The warmed tortillas are loaded with juicy, shortcut fiesta shredded chicken then piled with all your favorite toppings from fresh guacamole to vibrant pico de gallo to crunchy lettuce and creamy sour cream. The chicken and toppings can all be prepped ahead (or use store bought toppings) for an easy weeknight dinner that everyone will clamor for week-LY. The Mexican shredded chicken also reheats and freezes exceptionally well so you can enjoy these shredded chicken tacos at a moment’s notice.
Shredded Chicken Tacos Recipe
We all have our favorite quick and easy, last-minute, back-pocket recipes that take less than 30 minutes and minimal effort; those kinds of dinners that are your answers to your too tired to cook, don’t want to cook, sick of cooking days.
Some of my favorite culinary answers are Turkey Tacos, Buffalo Mac and Cheese (no roux!), Chicken Tortilla Soup, Coconut Curry Chicken, Korean Beef Bowls, Sausage Tortellini Soup, and Broiled Honey Dijon Chicken (see a full list of 30 minute meals HERE), and now I’m excited for this Shredded Chicken Tacos recipe to join the list!
While my Crockpot Shredded Mexican Chicken is mega popular (just made it yesterday), sometimes you don’t plan ahead and need dinner in a hurry – enter this Shredded Chicken Taco recipe! You will be blown away at just how easy these chicken tacos are while still exploding with melt-in-your mouth tender, juicy chicken that creates a symphony of flavors with each blissful bite.
The astonishing 15-minute prep required for these Shredded Chicken Tacos is achieved by beginning with shredded chicken. I like to use rotisserie chicken that I’ve grabbed or frozen from Costco, but you can certainly use your own shredded chicken as well.
The rotisserie chicken is generously seasoned with your favorite taco seasonings along with some chicken broth, fire roasted tomatoes and green chiles so you get the juicy shortcut of rotisserie chicken with all the flavor and tenderness of chicken that’s been simmering all day. Now, all that’s left to do is pile on your favorite Shredded Chicken Taco toppings and EAT!
INGREDIENTS FOR SHREDDED CHICKEN TACOS
- Chicken. You can use either rotisserie chicken or make your own shredded chicken with chicken breasts, or chicken thighs.
- Rotisserie Chicken: is my first choice because it is a mixture 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 our Shredded Chicken Tacos recipe. I like to purchase rotisserie chicken from Costco, portion into chicken taco servings and freeze.
- Chicken Breasts or Thighs: You can make your own shredded chicken with either chicken breasts or chicken thighs so you can always make these Shredded Chicken Tacos with whatever chicken you have on hand – they will just require the extra step of cooking the chicken. Chicken thighs will give you juicer, more flavorful shredded chicken, but chicken breasts will work as well. I’ve included instructions below on how to make our own shredded chicken.
- Seasonings: these Shredded Chicken Tacos are seasoned with a delectable homemade taco seasoning consisting of chili powder, ground cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, dried oregano, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. You may use additional cayenne pepper if you like more heat. You may also sub these seasonings with pre-made taco seasoning but I haven’t experimented with this so I can’t tell you the amount.
- Chicken broth: infuses the chicken with juicy flavor. You may also substitute with water but broth is ideal.
- Fire roasted diced tomatoes: I usually prefer these over traditional diced tomatoes because fire roasted tomatoes have been roasted which gives them a complex smokiness. Fire roasted tomatoes are located next to the traditional diced tomatoes. If you can’t find them, then traditional diced tomatoes work just fine.
- Chopped green chiles: these come from a can and add an irresistible tang. Take care you choose MILD chopped green chiles because the hot can is HOT. Mild green chiles, however are more tangy than hot so you don’t have to worry about them making your Shredded Chicken Tacos spicy. You may also replace the fire roasted tomatoes and chopped green chiles with one can Rotel tomatoes (tomatoes with green chiles), I just use them separate because I prefer the fire roasted aspect of the tomatoes.
- Tomato paste: adds a concentrated tomato YUM that mixes with the broth to unite the seasonings and coat the chicken.
WHAT ARE THE BEST TORTILLAS FOR sHREDDED CHICKEN TACOS?
I am constantly getting messages asking what my favorite tortillas are. And I’m glad you’re asking because quality tortillas make a HUGE difference between good tacos and the BEST tacos!
I LOVE corn tortillas for these Shredded Chicken Tacos because I’m partial to the roasted corn flavor, but you are more than welcome to use flour if you prefer.
The following recommendations are not affiliates, just my affections:
I love La Tortilla Factory Corn Tortillas. They are thicker, homemade tortillas that never break or tear even when charred and piled with toppings. I find mine at Sprouts. They come in 8 per package which means you will need 2 packages for this Shredded Chicken Taco recipe. They are definitely more expensive BUT less than dining out!
Also, be aware that this brand of corn tortillas is not gluten free as it does contain corn AND wheat.
I am less picky when it comes to flour tortillas because most brand won’t crumble, unlike corn tortillas. Still, for flour tortillas, I prefer uncooked tortillas like tortilla Fresca or Tortilla Land. I also like Guerro tortillas which is probably the easiest brand to find at your local grocery store.
What TOPPINGS FOR SHREDDED CHICKEN TACOS?
Now that we’ve coverer the chicken and the tortillas, it’s time for the fun – TOPPINGS! You can top your Shredded Chicken Tacos with anything your heart desires. Keep it simple with just some lettuce and sour cream and a drizzle of hot sauce or pile on all the goods!
There really is no right or wrong way to add toppings as long as you add something creamy to marry all of the flavors together – sour cream, guacamole, avocado crema, Greek yogurt, Cilantro Lime Dressing or Tomatillo Avocado Ranch.
- Lettuce: chopped Romaine lettuce or iceberg lettuce – anything with a nice crunch and neutral flavor.
- Tomatoes: chop up 3-4 Roma tomatoes or you can 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 de gallo recipe or store bought. You can make the pico de gallo ahead of time and store it in an airtight container in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before serving.
- Avocado Crema: is my addiction and my preference over chopped avocados or guacamole. Avocado crema is a marriage of avocados, sour cream and lime juice, is wonderfully silky, tangy and just takes minutes in your blender. The luscious, refreshing tanginess cuts through and compliments the robust, smoky flavors.
- Guacamole: use your favorite recipe or the recipe I share with my Street Tacos recipe or you can even use store bought.
- Avocados: chopped or sliced avocados are the easiest avocado option and add a wonderful creaminess.
- Sour cream: you can use easy sour cream or you can get creative and use the Crema I use in my Baja Fish Taco recipe here. It’s refreshing tanginess also cuts through and compliments the robust, rich flavors.
- Greek yogurt: is a great creamy alternative to sour cream if you are trying to save some calories.
- Cheese: melt cheddar, Monterrey Jack or Pepper Jack directly in the shredded chicken before adding it to the tacos, or melt the cheese on the shredded chicken tacos in the microwave, pan or oven. You can also garnish with Cotija or queso fresco.
- Cilantro: if you skip the pico de gallo, you can load on fresh cilantro and tomatoes instead for a fresh, zesty flair.
- Hot Sauce: spice up your chicken tacos with your favorite hot sauce.
- Jalapenos: you can also amp up the heat with chopped or sliced jalapenos.
- Pickle onions: I can’t believe I haven’t shared a recipe for this yet, but I love pickled onions on tacos! Tangy, punchy fantastic.
- Mexican French Fries: Although French fries are typically reserved for California Burritos, they don’t have to be!
- Salsas: so many to choose from! Store bought salsa is always an easy topping or get fancy with my homemade restaurant salsa, salsa verde, black bean corn salsa, avocado salsa, charred corn salsa, mango salsa, or pineapple salsa.
HOW TO MAKE SHREDDED CHICKEN TACOS
Now for what you’ve been waiting for – let’s see just how easy these Shredded Chicken Tacos are to make!
- First, add shredded chicken to a skillet along with seasonings and stir to evenly coat.
- Stir in diced tomatoes, chicken broth, tomato paste and green chilies. The chicken broth infuses the chicken with moisture and combines with the tomato paste to create a light saucy coating.
- Cook for approximately 5 minutes or until heated through. Add additional chicken broth for moister chicken if needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cayenne pepper or hot sauce to taste if desired.
- Warm tortillas in the microwave, in a skillet or char on the grill or open gas stovetop flame until warm but still pliable (detailed directions below).
- Load chicken in tortillas and top with your favorite toppings!
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 WARM OR CHAR TORTILLAS FOR CHICKEN TACOS
Before you begin piling your chicken and toppings on your Shredded Chicken Toppings, I HIGHLY recommend warming the tortillas first.
Warm tortillas elevate any tacos. Not only are the tortillas – whether corn or flour – softer and the ideal non-jarring, melt-in-your mouth temperature, but the flavors are accentuated when warmed. Lower quality corn tortillas are also likely to break if not warmed.
You can easily warm your tortillas for these Shredded Chicken Tacos in SECONDS using any of my below methods: open flame, skillet, microwave or oven. I am partial to the open flame method and is how I achieve the satisfying char on my tortillas.
- 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.
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.
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.
The possibilities of what you can add to Shredded Chicken Tacos Chicken are endless, but remember, it can be as simple as piling on a tortilla with sour cream!
WHAT TO SERVE WITH SHREDDED CHICKEN TACOS?
- Rice: is a must-have-side in my book for almost every taco recipe. We love serving these Shredded Chicken Tacos with cilantro lime rice, Mexican rice, or avocado rice. You can also serve with quinoa, or low carb cauliflower rice.
- Salads: salad is always a win and a great way to stretch your chicken tacos if you’re serving a crowd. These Shredded Chicken Tacos pair well with a big green salad, southwest salad, corn salad, or southwest orzo salad.
- Veggies: I HIGHLY encourage you to go with authentic elote (Mexican Grilled Street Corn) – you will not regret it! Other alternatives include grilled corn on the cob, baked asparagus, roasted broccoli, roasted potatoes, roasted cauliflower.
- Fruit: you can keep it simple and serve these chicken tacos with cantaloupe, or grapes or any of these fabulous options: pina colada fruit salad, fruit salad with honey lime vinaigrette, grape salad, winter fruit salad, or caramelized grilled pineapple.
- Carbs: add some green chiles and or/ jalapenos to my sweet cornbread recipe and watch it disappear (one of my all-time favorite recipes I bring to everything!). Mexican Street Fries are also a favorite that disappear in a flash.
HOW TO FREEZE CHICKEN for CHICKEN TACOS
This Mexican chicken freezes exceptionally well so all you have to do is heat it up and Shredded Chicken Tacos are served! To freeze:
- Prepare Shredded 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 MEXICAN CHICKEN
- 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.
LOOKING FOR MORE MEXICAN DINNER FAVORITES?
- Slow Cooker Carnitas
- Beef Barbacoa
- Chicken Fajita
- Creamy Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas
- Cilantro Lime Chicken Taco Salad
- Tacos Al Pastor
- Cheesy Taco Soup
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