Shredded Chicken Tacos

Shredded chicken tacos are the perfect way to spice up your typical taco night. And it doesn't take all too much more effort! This recipe is inspired by chicken tinga, a Mexican guisado (or stew) that is tender chicken, shredded and added to a tomato sauce spiked with chiles, onion, garlic and spices. This preparation is a little more weeknight friendly by relying on the ever versatile and delicious canned chipotle chiles in adobo.

This pantry staple will add a bit of complex, smoky spice to any dish and they work wonderfully here. The dish's spice level will be determined by how many chiles you add so you can add as little or as much as you want.

This recipe revolves around some gently poached chicken that's cooked with some aromatics and then we use that cooking liquid along with those aromatics and tomatoes to be the base of our sauce. It is a great way to not waste any ingredients that are chock full of flavor. Top the tacos with cilantro, creamy avocado and good squeeze of lime!

Made this recipe? Let us know how it went in the comments below! 

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Yields: 4 - 6 servings
Prep Time: 0 hours 15 mins
Cook Time: 0 hours 0 mins
Total Time: 1 hour 0 mins

large boneless, skinless chicken breasts


large white onions, one peeled and halved, the other thinly sliced


cloves garlic, smashed and peeled


bay leaves

1 tsp.

black peppercorns

Kosher salt


small plum or Roma tomatoes

2 to 3 chipotles in adobo, plus 1 tbsp adobo sauce

1 1/2 tsp.

ground cumin

1 tsp.

dried oregano

1 tbsp.

extra-virgin olive oil

Corn tortillas, warmed for serving

White onion, minced for serving

Cilantro, for serving

Avocado, sliced for serving

Radishes , thinly sliced for serving

Lime wedges, for serving

  1. Into a medium-size pot, add chicken breasts, the halved onion, garlic cloves, bay leaves, black peppercorns, and 2 teaspoons of salt. Cover with water by about ½” and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the internal temperature reaches 165º at the thickest part of the breast, about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer breasts to a cutting board.
  2. Add the tomatoes to the simmering cooking liquid. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the tomatoes have slightly softened and the skin begins to peel away. Transfer the tomatoes to a plate or bowl to cool, then peel them.
    Drain the cooking liquid, reserving ½ cup of liquid. Discard peppercorns and bay leaves, but reserve onion halves and garlic cloves.
  3. Into a blender, add the peeled tomatoes. cooked onion halves, garlic cloves, chipotles, adobo sauce, cumin, oregano, and ½ cup of the cooking liquid. Blend until smooth, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. In a large skillet over medium high heat, heat oil until it shimmers. Add sliced onion and cook until slightly softened and beginning to take on some color, 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, shred the chicken breasts.
  6. Into the skillet, carefully pour in the tomato mixture. (There may be some splattering, but the more you stir the less there will be.) Bring the sauce to boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the sauce reduces a bit and thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add the shredded chicken and stir, breaking up the bigger shreds. Cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes, or until the chicken has heated through. Occasionally stir to coat chicken in the sauce.
  8. Spoon chicken onto corn tortillas and top with minced onion, cilantro and avocado. Serve with lime wedges.

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Photographer: Joel Goldberg ; Food Styling: Micah Morton

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