Chicken Tinga – an easier version of the classic Mexican shredded chicken in a flavorful smoky, sweet tomato-chipotle sauce. Great as a make-ahead regular weeknight dinner or a buffet-style meal when entertaining. Serve it over tortillas, salads, rice, pizzas, or veggies. An easy, saucy, and incredibly versatile chicken dish!
Welcome to our 2nd day of Mexican-themed food parade just in time for Cinco de Mayo. If you missed out on our Monday’s recipe, go ahead and check out our Homemade Tortillas that will easily topple down the store-bought ones. You’ll never have store-bought again once you try it!
And what could be a better pair to our very own tortillas than this saucy smoky-sweet Chicken Tinga?
Ahhhh…If you’re still on the fence though about this, I’ll make sure that by the end of this blog post, you’ll going to check your pantry for the ingredients. Coz this chicken recipe will give those Mexican restaurants a good run for their money!
What is Chicken Tinga?
This Chicken Tinga recipe here may not be the traditional Mexican Tinga, but it doesn’t mean that there’s anything less to it. It still has that same punch from the tomato-chipotle sauce and added flavor from my homemade Taco Seasoning.
In its simplest form, a Tinga is made with shredded chicken, pork or beef, and a combination of tomatoes, chipotle peppers, onion, garlic, and oregano. It is commonly served over tortillas or as fillings for Tostadas, Empanadas, Burritos, and more.
If you’re into meal prepping, this one will be your new best friend!😉
Reasons Why You’ll Love This Recipe
I’m not kidding when I tell you that this one will always be on repeat. Let me tell you why.
- Many layers of flavor – It has fantastic layers of flavor that will truly please your taste buds.
- Convenient dish – Super quick and easy dinner that is also very straightforward.
- Advanced cooking – Great make-ahead dinner.
- So versatile – You can serve it with just about anything. From bread to tortillas, to rice to veggies – name it!
- Freeze it! – And it’s freezer-friendly.
Chicken Tinga Ingredients
Aside from those mentioned, this chicken recipe is also made with pantry-friendly ingredients. You may not have all of them right now due to our current situation, but you can easily find them in grocery stores on your next grocery trip.
- Chicken Breast – is a lean cut of meat taken from the pectoral muscle on the underside of the chicken. This versatile cut can be grilled, baked, roasted, fried, barbecued, and boiled in countless ways.
- Taco Seasoning – an easy homemade seasoning mix with big bold warm flavors made from pantry staple ingredients. It comes together in no time and it’s more affordable and tastier.
- Chicken Stock (or water) – This is the perfect kitchen companion as they are easy to prepare and utilizes scraps that would otherwise be wasted. It is used instead of plain water for cooking certain dishes, and for making soups and sauces
- White Onion – These onions tend to have a sharper and more pungent flavor than yellow onions. They also tend to be more tender and have a thinner, more papery skin.
- Garlic – A pungent ingredient that adds an earthy and aromatic tone to the whole dish.
- Diced or crushed fire-roasted Tomatoes – It’s a fruit! but it most certainly goes well with savory dishes.
- Cumin – has earthy, pungent, and mildly bitter taste but makes any dish flavorful
- Oregano – is an herb with a pungent smell and taste but creates lovely flavors when added to a dish
- Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce – They’re great thrown into an Adobo sauce you already love or into some mayo to get you to that intersection of spicy and fatty.
As for serving options, you can also add these to your grocery list:
- Tortillas – is a round, soft, thin, flatbread from Mexico. It accompanies most Mexican dishes to scoop up sauce or stew dishes, hold up meat, veggies, or cheese for wraps, and are sometimes cut up into pieces and fried to crisp perfection.
- Avocados – This is high in monounsaturated oleic acid, a heart-healthy fatty acid that is believed to be one of the main reasons for the health benefits of olive oil.
- Fresh Cilantro – add freshly cut pieces and sprinkle them in. I personally love the aroma and fresh flavor but if you are one of those who doesn’t like cilantro, just leave it out completely.
- Crumbled Cotija or Queso Fresco – The milkiness offsets the heat from chiles and spices typically found in Mexican food, and its bright, slightly sour taste complements fresh salads and balances the richness of heartier dishes.
- Lime – a nice tangy citrus flavor to add some acidity to the meat
Can You Make Chicken Tinga in a Slow Cooker?
Absolutely! To make this Chicken Tinga in a slow cooker…
- Season the chicken: Use salt and Taco Seasoning then lay it in a single layer in a slow cooker.
- Sauté the ingredients: In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium heat and sauté onions and garlic or until onions are wilted.
- Make the sauce: Pour in tomatoes cumin and oregano, continue cooking for about 7-8 minutes. Add chipotle peppers and cook for about 1-2 minutes.
- Combine the sauce with the chicken: Transfer the sauce over the chicken, add chicken stock or water and do a quick stir. Then cover and cook the chicken for 2-3 hours on LOW or 1-2 hours on HIGH setting.
- Shredding time: Once cooked through, turn off the slow cooker and transfer the chicken to a clean chopping board. Shred the chicken with two forks and return it back to the slow cooker. Stir to coat the chicken with the sauce before serving.
Ways to Serve Chicken Tinga
There are tons of ways to serve this absolutely delicious Mexican shredded chicken. In fact, you can create a week-long menu just out of it. Here are just a few ideas to start with.
- Serve it over plain warm rice and even quinoa or cauliflower rice for healthier options
- Top your greens with this or make this as a filling for your chicken lettuce wraps
- An alternative to Pulled Pork for your sliders (see my Hawaiian Sweet Rolls HERE)
- Fillings for your empanadas, quesadillas, burritos, and more
- Layer it with black or pinto beans, chopped lettuce, cheese, and tortilla chips for your burrito bowls
- Top your homemade pizzas with it instead of pepperonis
- Make it as chicken toppings for your favorite nachos
Other Mexican Dishes to Try
And if you think you are now in for a Mexican food trip, you can explore these other popular recipes.
How To Make Chicken Tinga
Cook the Chicken
- Salt and Seasoning. Season chicken with salt and taco seasoning.
- Start Cooking. Heat about 1-2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet on medium heat and place the chicken in the skillet. Cook chicken for 4- 5 minutes, then use tongs to flip the chicken.
Add and Shred
- Add the chicken broth. Cover the skillet with a lid and cook for 15 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken is 165 degrees F and the chicken can be easily shredded.
- Start shredding. Remove and shred using two forks. Reserve any liquid from the chicken. Set aside chicken.
Saute the Onions and Garlic
- Start sauteing. Add remaining oil to the pan followed by onions and garlic. Stir for about 2-3 minutes or until onions are wilted. Pour in tomatoes, cumin, and oregano.
- Add chipotle pepper. Continue cooking for about 7-8 minutes. Add chipotle peppers and cook for about 1-2 minutes.
- Mix. Lastly, add shredded chicken and mix to fully combine with the sauce. Continue cooking for about 3-4 more minutes until the flavors come together. Add broth from the cooked chicken as needed, to prevent the chicken from burning.
- Season and Garnish. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve with tortilla, Avocados, cheese, rice, and beans or use as filling.
- 1 - 1 ¼ pound chicken breast
- 1-2 tablespoons taco seasoning
- 2-3 tablespoons cooking oil, divided
- 2-3 cups chicken stock or water
- 1 medium white onion, sliced
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 12 ounce diced or crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
Optional for Serving
- corn or flour tortillas
- avocados, sliced
- fresh cilantro
- crumbled cotija
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- Season chicken with salt and taco seasoning.
- Heat about 1-2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet on medium heat and place the chicken in the skillet. Cook chicken for 4- 5 minutes, then use tongs to flip the chicken.
- Add the chicken broth, cover the skillet with a lid and cook for 15 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken is 165 degrees F and chicken can be easily shredded. Remove and shred using two forks. Reserve any liquid from the chicken. Set aside chicken.
- Add remaining oil to the pan followed by onions and garlic. stir for about 2-3 minutes or until onions are wilte
- Pour in tomatoes, cumin and oregano, continue cooking for about 7-8 minutes. Add chipotle peppers and cook for about 1-2 minutes.
- Add shredded chicken and mix to fully combine with the sauce. Continue cooking for about 3-4 more minutes until the flavors come together. Add broth from the cooked chicken as needed, to prevent the chicken from burning. Season with salt and pepper.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve with tortilla, Avocados, cheese, rice, and beans or use as filling.
Tips & Notes:
- Fire-roasted Tomatoes can be found next to traditional diced tomatoes. This kind of tomatoes has been roasted that gives its wonderful complex smokiness flavor. If you can't find fire-roasted canned tomatoes, then you may use the traditional diced or crushed canned tomatoes.