Jan 11, 2021

Baked Crispy Chicken Tinga Tacos

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr
Chicken breasts are slowly simmered in a mixture of tomatoes, chipotles, onion, oregano, thyme and bay leaf until they can be easily shredded for the filling of these tacos.

These crispy baked tacos are filled with tender shredded chicken cooked in a spicy, flavorful mixture with refried beans and cheese with green onion and cilantro. This chicken tinga recipe is easy and can be prepped ahead of time for weeknight dinners. Serve the shredded chicken tinga can be served over a burrito bowl for a flavorful twist.

Baked Crispy Chicken Tinga Tacos

What is tinga?

Chicken breasts are slowly simmered in a mixture of tomatoes, chipotles, onion, oregano, thyme and bay leaf until they can be easily shredded for the filling of these tacos. Chicken tinga, or tinga de pollo, is a flavorful Mexican dish similar to a stew with a good amount of spice.

What are chipotles anyway?

The spice comes from dried chipotle chiles and sometimes chorizo, though I chose to keep it simple using canned chipotles in adobo in this recipe. Chilies are given different names once the peppers are dried and the flavor profile changes; chipotles are jalapeño peppers picked when they are fully ripe and red then dried and smoked.

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What you need to make this recipe

  • Onion – I use yellow onion in this recipe for its mellow flavor when cooked. These onions with a brownish yellow papery skin are a great all-purpose cooking onion.  
  • Garlic – As the garlic is sautéed the flavor mellows so it’s not very pungent but adds a base flavor that complements the sautéed onion. I add the garlic after sautéing the onion so it doesn’t burn and turn bitter. 
  • Diced tomatoes – I use canned diced tomatoes for this recipe though chopped fresh Roma tomatoes can be substituted.
  • Chipotles in adobo – Canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are the main flavor profile in this sauce. Smoked and dried jalapeño peppers are rehydrated in a tomato, vinegar and garlic puree. It adds the spice in this recipe.
  • Chicken broth – The chicken broth is used to braise the chicken so it doesn’t dry out. In a pinch the chicken broth can be substituted with water though it takes away some of the flavor.
  • Seasoning – The mixture is simmered with a combination of dried oregano, thyme and bay leaf. Fresh herbs can be used in place of dried herbs.
  • Chicken breasts – Because the meat is slowly simmered in this recipe, a lean cut of chicken like the breasts remains tender rather than drying out as it would if it were roasted. You can always substitute boneless, skinless chicken thighs or even a broken down whole chicken in this recipe. The mixture can also be braised in the oven rather than simmered on the stove.

How to make this recipe

  1. Make the sauce. Sauté the onion in a saucepan. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, chipotles, chicken broth, oregano, thyme and the bay leaf, stirring to combine.
  2. Cook the chicken. Add the chicken breasts to the pot. Cover the pan and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and tender.
  3. Let the chicken cool. Remove the chicken to a plate and let cool until the chicken can be shredded.
  4. Reduce the sauce. Return the pan to medium-low heat and continue to simmer until the sauce reduces and thickens. Return the shredded chicken to the sauce, stirring to combine. Season with salt to taste and set aside until ready to use.
  5. Warm the tortillas. Heat oven to broil on high. Warm the corn tortillas over a gas flame or in the microwave. Rub the tortillas on both sides with the oil and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  6. Assemble the tacos. Spread a spoonful of the beans on half of each of the tortillas and top with a spoonful of the chicken tinga mixture. Sprinkle with the cheese and fold the other half of the tortillas over the filling.
  7. Broil the tacos. Broil the tacos until the first side is crispy. Carefully flip the tacos with a spatula and continue to cook until the cheese is melted and the tortillas are crisp.
  8. Garnish the tacos. Serve the tacos topped with cilantro and green onions and serve immediately with lime wedges.
Baked Crispy Chicken Tinga Tacos

Can I make this ahead of time?

The chicken tinga filling can easily be made ahead of time for meal prep, or frozen to be reheated later. For a shortcut, shredded rotisserie chicken can be added to the simmering tinga sauce. While I love using the meat in the crispy tacos, they are frequently served on top of crispy tostadas and taste great served as the protein on burrito rice bowls.

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:

Baked Crispy Chicken Tinga Tacos

Print Pin
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the chicken tinga:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 canned chipotles in adobo, drained and chopped
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1½ pounds total)
  • Kosher salt, as needed

For assembly:

  • 12 small 6” corn tortillas
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 16-ounce can refried beans, warmed
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • ¼ packed cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions
  • Lime wedges, for serving

Instructions:

For the chicken tinga:

  • Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the oil and heat through. Add the onion and sauté, simmering until tender, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, chipotles, chicken broth, oregano, thyme and the bay leaf, stirring to combine.
  • Add the chicken breasts to the pan, nestling them into the sauce. Cover the pan and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and tender, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate and let cool until the chicken can be shredded.
  • Return the pan to medium-low heat and continue to simmer until the sauce reduces and thickens, about an additional 10 minutes. Return the shredded chicken to the sauce, stirring to combine. Season with salt to taste and set aside until ready to use.

For assembly:

  • Heat oven to broil on high. Warm the corn tortillas for 30 seconds over a gas flame or in the microwave. Rub the tortillas on both sides with the oil and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  • Spread a spoonful of the beans on half of each of the tortillas and top with a spoonful of the chicken tinga mixture. Sprinkle with the cheese and fold the other half of the tortillas over the filling, pushing to adhere.
  • Broil the tacos until the first side is crispy, checking them frequently, about 2 minutes. Carefully flip the tacos with a spatula and continue to cook until the cheese is melted and the tortillas are crisp, about an additional 2 minutes.
  • Serve the tacos topped with cilantro and green onions and serve immediately with lime wedges.

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  1. I lived in Williamsburg BK for just over 5 years , there is the smallest taco spot on Berry. I was there nearly weekly! it was such a special spot for me. Anyway ! They’re chicken tinga is insane. I was stoked to make this! The heat , taste and consistency was on point. so happy ! Already planning on making this in a few weeks for some friends.

    We skipped the beans (personal choice).

    AND repurposed the leftovers the next morning (with a fried egg and kale) and the following lunch (with chips, liek a dip situation.

    • I love when recipes transport me to specific times so I am so happy my taco recipe brought back happy memories! Thank you for sharing! Love your recommendation for the leftovers too!! xx