Chicken Tinga is a traditional Mexican dish that’s best served in tacos with a squeeze of lime juice and a smile! This seriously flavorful taco meat is made with bold ingredients like chipotle chilis in adobo sauce, cayenne pepper, fire roasted diced tomatoes and more. If you’re looking for a mouthwatering way to shake up your taco Tuesday, you’ve found it!

A chicken tinga taco is presented with lime wedges.

Chicken Tinga

It’s hard to think of taco meat that’s more flavorful than Chicken Tinga. This stuff is seriously bold and not for picky eaters! If you like bland food, this is not the taco meat for you.

Chicken thighs are seared until golden brown before being slowly cooked for about half an hour in the most mouthwatering concoction of ingredients. The end result is chicken that’s easily shredded and flavor-packed!

Chicken Tinga tacos are great for making not only on weeknights at home with family, but for parties! After all, tacos are one of the best party foods you can serve, and these really make their mark.

They’re bold, vibrant, and the fresh garnishes they’re served with send them right over the top. Cilantro and red onions add the best touch of freshness to balance the savory flavors.

So, what does Chicken Tinga actually taste like? While there are some spicy ingredients in the mix, the end result isn’t overwhelmingly spicy at all.

In fact, I think the most noticeable flavor here is the smoky note created by the smoked paprika and the adobo sauce. It’s complimented perfectly by the other ingredients at play to make every bite seriously flavorful in the BEST way!

A skillet is filled with cooked chicken tinga.

How to Make Chicken Tinga

Sear the chicken thighs. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken thighs with a little salt and pepper, then add them to the pan and cook until golden brown on both sides. Transfer to a plate and keep warm with foil tented on top.

  1. Make the sauce. Sauté the onions and garlic, then transfer them to a blender. Add the tomatoes, chipotle chili, adobo sauce, chicken stock, cumin, cayenne and paprika to the blender. Puree until smooth and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Slowly cook the chicken. Place the chicken back into the pan and cover it with your blended sauce. Cover the pan and let it cook for about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Shred it. Remove the chicken from the pan and shred it with two forks. Return it to the pan and let it warm back up in the sauce for about 5-10 minutes.
  4. Enjoy! Serve your Chicken Tinga over rice or on corn tortillas to make Chicken Tinga Tacos (my favorite way to serve it)! Sprinkle with cilantro, drizzle with lime juice, and add any other toppings your heart desires.
Tacos are garnished with cilantro, cheese, onions and limes.

What to serve with Chicken Tinga Tacos

Round out your taco dinner with the BEST side dishes! With an entree this good, you’ll need some sides that can also hold their own. Oh, and of course you can’t forget to wash it all down with a Classic Margarita! Here are some Mexican-inspired sides to consider when serving Chicken Tinga:

And if you really want to impress, finish you meal with Chocoflan… and don’t forget to invite me over!

Is Chicken Tinga spicy?

There are definitely ingredients in the mix that lend a spicy flavor, but I still wouldn’t describe Chicken Tinga as overly spicy at all. There are so many other ingredients that get blended up to help tame the heat and create more of a savory and smoky flavor. If you’re really worried about the spice, omit the cayenne.

A lime is being squeezed over a taco.

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A skillet is filled with cooked chicken tinga.

Get the Recipe: Chicken Tinga Recipe

Easy shredded Chicken Tinga is an easy, flavor packed recipe that makes a great topping for a burrito bowl or a taco filling.
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  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 28 ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce
  • 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Chopped Cilantro, optional
  • 8 corn tortillas, for serving, optional


  • 1 skillet


  • Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium high heat.
  • Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper on both sides.
  • Add the chicken to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes until golden brown. Flip the chicken over and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.
  • Add the onion to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes or until beginning to soften.
  • Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.
  • Transfer the onion mixture to the pitcher of a blender.
  • Add the tomatoes, chipotle chili, adobo sauce, chicken stock, cumin, cayenne and paprika to the blender. Close the lid and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Return the chicken to the pan and pour the sauce over the chicken.
  • Cover and cook over low heat for 20-30 minutes or until the chicken shreds easily with a fork.
  • Remove the chicken to a cutting board or platter. Using two forks, shred the chicken and return to the pan.
  • Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes uncovered.
  • Serve over rice or on corn tortillas to make Chicken Tinga Tacos and sprinkle with cilantro, if desired.
Calories: 341kcal, Carbohydrates: 22g, Protein: 36g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 0.02g, Cholesterol: 98mg, Sodium: 1476mg, Potassium: 751mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 431IU, Vitamin C: 5mg, Calcium: 65mg, Iron: 2mg