Dinner in a hurry is no worries when you have Shredded Chicken Tacos. Simple shredded chicken gets a juicy, flavorful Tex-Mex makeover with sautéed onion, homemade taco seasoning, chipotle peppers, tomatoes, and lime juice. You’re just 20 minutes away from taco night with this easy recipe!
In an ideal world, I’d have unlimited time to spend leisurely cooking dinner, accompanied by snappy background music, a glass of wine, a relaxed husband, and my dog quietly observing.
This sadly often cannot be the case (well except maybe the glass of wine part); I blame responsibilities.
We all need quick and simple dinners in our back pocket that are tasty, nutritious, and won’t solicit complaints from our loved ones.
Enter shredded chicken tacos.
We all know the salsa + chicken + slow cooker trick for fixing chicken for simple shredded chicken tacos.
- When I developed these Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Tacos, I discovered Mexican shredded chicken can be infinitely much more flavorful than the jar-o-salsa version with just a few extra ingredients and steps.
- This recipe is even faster than the Instant Pot version, as we’re simply gussying up pre-cooked shredded chicken, like in this Chicken Quesadilla recipe, another dinner 911 solution.
How to Cook Shredded Chicken for Tacos
There are multiple ways to prepare shredded chicken for chicken tacos. The choice is yours!
Each of these posts contains ALL the details and tips on how to perfectly prepare shredded chicken that is not dry.
How to Make the Best Shredded Chicken Tacos Recipe
Taking the one extra step of sautéing the onion to soften and sweeten it and the spices to bloom their flavors is well worth the flavor payoff.
- Shredded Chicken. Cook this lean protein according to your preferred method. See above for options.
- Onion. Adds more flavor to the chicken.
- Chicken Taco Seasoning. Chili powder, salt, and cumin add the perfect Tex-Mex flavor to our chicken. This seasoning is just as easy to mix together as opening a pre-made taco seasoning packet, and you’ll love the simple ingredients.
- Garlic. I recommend freshly mincing your garlic.
- Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce. These peppers come in a can and can typically be found by Mexican food ingredients at the grocery store.
Be warned that canned chipotle peppers are HOT. You only need one or two of these little babies and a few teaspoons of sauce for a whole lot of smoky flavor.
- Diced Tomatoes. A can of petite diced tomatoes adds more juiciness to the chicken.
- Lime Juice. Freshly squeezed lime juice is the final zip to the warm taco flavoring.
- Tortillas or Taco Shells. For serving!
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, sauté onion in olive oil with chili powder, salt, and cumin. Stir in the garlic.
- Add the shredded chicken, chipotle peppers, diced tomatoes, and lime juice. Let cook until chicken is heated through.
- Fill taco shells or warm tortillas with the chicken and your favorite toppings. ENJOY!
Shredded Chicken Taco Toppings
Taco night is all about the toppings, right? Load up your Mexican chicken tacos with any of the following, or lay them out taco-bar style:
- Guacamole. See How to Make Guacamole for my famous guac recipe. You could also top your shredded chicken tacos with diced avocado.
- Shredded Cheese. A tip I always give cooks is to shred your own cheese rather than buy pre-shredded. Cotija cheese would be authentic, and cheddar cheese would also taste great.
- Red Onion. Quick Pickled Red Onions are one of those secret, super flavorful ingredients that should not be so secret.
- Greek Yogurt. My favorite healthy swap for sour cream is nonfat plain Greek yogurt.
- Lettuce. Shred Romaine lettuce for a delightful crunch atop your shredded chicken taco.
- Sliced Radish. Adds a nice crunch and a little zing.
- Salsa. For dipping chips and topping your taco.
- Jalapenos. Sliced jalapenos will add some kick if you like it hot.
- Fresh Cilantro. Cilantro adds a pretty garnish and more fresh flavor.
- To Store. Before building tacos, place leftover shredded chicken in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Gently rewarm shredded chicken in the microwave until hot, topped with a splash of water or chicken broth to keep it from drying out, then build fresh tacos.
- To Freeze. Store shredded chicken in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
This Mexican shredded chicken is not only easy to make, but also versatile to serve and awesome for leftovers, such as the as following:
- Mixed with rice and beans as burrito bowls, with toasted corn tortillas. Make Brown Rice or White Rice for your bowl base.
- As a filling for enchiladas.
- On top of this Skinny Taco Salad.
- Rolled up in a jumbo, low-carbohydrates tortilla or flour tortillas as a burrito.
What to Serve with Shredded Chicken Tacos
Here are the essentials to serve along with your shredded chicken tacos:
- Meat Shredder. Super handy “claws” make shredding meat easier than using forks.
- Taco Stand. Taco holders make taco night at home feel like a restaurant.
- Garlic Press. The one and only garlic press I like.
This easy shredded chicken taco recipe takes pre-cooked, shredded chicken from bland to WHAM for the ultimate chicken taco.
May you now always have an answer to “What’s for dinner?”
Frequently Asked Questions
Use chicken breasts if you prefer white meat for shredded chicken tacos, and chicken thighs for dark meat. I used boneless skinless chicken breasts for this shredded chicken taco recipe.
Boneless is easier to shred, while bone-in tends to stay moister than boneless and have more flavor than boneless. You do not want or need any skin in shredded chicken, so discard it if needed.
Do not use chicken wings or legs for shredded chicken as neither contain a significant amount of meat.
Yes! Store bought rotisserie chicken is a fabulous dinner shortcut. You can follow this recipe for the best shredded chicken tacos using rotisserie chicken.
This recipe can absolutely be scaled for large groups. 3/4 to 1 cup of meat per person is a good estimate, so if you were serving tacos for 20 people, for example, I would make 15-20 cups of shredded chicken. One medium chicken breast yields about 1 cup of shredded chicken.
Chicken should be shredded after it is cooked. The chicken will retain its moisture this way. Be sure to let it rest for 5 minutes before shredding.
FOR THE TACO SHREDDED CHICKEN
- 3 cups cooked shredded chicken* (about 3 medium breasts)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion or 1/2 large yellow onion diced
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 4 cloves garlic minced (about 4 teaspoons)
- 1 to 2 chipotle peppers in adobo individual peppers NOT whole cans, finely chopped (if you love heat, feel free to add an extra pepper or stir in a few teaspoons of sauce from the can)
- 1 15-ounce can petite diced tomatoes in their juices
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice from about 1 medium lime
- Warm tortillas or hard taco shells of your choice
- Toppings of choice: fresh cilantro, diced avocado, diced jalapeno, pickled onions, thinly sliced radishes, cheese, salsa
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high. Add the onion, chili powder, salt, and cumin. Sauté until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic and let cook for 30 seconds.
- Add the shredded chicken, chipotle peppers, diced tomatoes, and lime juice. Let cook, stirring every minute or two, until the chicken is heated through, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.
- To serve: Fill the shells or warm tortillas with the chicken and add any desired toppings. Enjoy immediately.
- TO STORE: Before building tacos, place leftover shredded chicken in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm shredded chicken in the microwave until hot, topped with a splash of water or chicken broth to keep it from drying out, then build fresh tacos.
- TO FREEZE: Store shredded chicken in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Serving: 1of 4 (chicken only)Calories: 280kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 28gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 79mgPotassium: 528mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 472IUVitamin C: 17mgCalcium: 64mgIron: 3mg