Chicken Tinga Tacos

with smoky chipotle

I’m a little late on this recipe, but this week has been really busy. Leave me alone. I’ve got way too many photos to edit and work is non-stop, but I suppose it’s better than having too much free time. Maybe? I don’t know. I forgot what free time looks like. BUT that’s beside the point. I made these insanely good chicken tinga tacos from Whip It Up! by the ever-talented Billy Green of Wit & Vinegar. If you like fun recipes with great descriptions and colorful photos, you’ve gotta get this book. Plus, there are about one million ice cream and frozen treat recipes in there for you, which I find really exciting. Billy’s blog has been one of my favorites for years now, and I’m so happy that I’ve finally got this book in my grubby little hands. CONGRATS dude! You did it. Kramer, our friend Taren, and I got down with these tacos (and, of course, a side of guacamole) last week while we watched The Leftovers. I think we all went back for seconds or thirds, and being the genius that I am, I doubled the recipe so that we’d have plenty for lunches throughout the week. This tinga is smoky, spicy, and super flavorful. It’s obviously great with tacos, but I also heated some up and put it on top of a salad, which was equally delicious. It could even work as a chili, too, eaten straight from the pot as is. I threw in an extra chipotle pepper for some added heat, which I highly recommend doing. So go ahead and make this the spicy tinga of your dreams. It’s cold outside but it can be warm in your belly.

chicken tinga tacoschicken tinga tacosThese are some totally unrelated photos that I took of my office’s roof garden earlier this month – just thought I’d share.

chicken tinga tacoschicken tinga tacoschicken tinga tacosYour ingredients.

chicken tinga tacosGet your sauce cookin’.

chicken tinga tacosPureé everything.

chicken tinga tacosAdd your browned chicken back in.

chicken tinga tacosShred and eat some tacos!

chicken tinga tacoschicken tinga tacoschicken tinga tacos

Chicken Tinga Tacos
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 15 tacos
Smokey, spicy slow-cooked chicken tinga tacos with all the fixin's.
For the Chicken Tinga:
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 28 ounce can crushed or chopped tomatoes
  • ½ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • ½ medium onion, quartered
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt (plus more for seasoning the chicken)
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chipotle pureé or paste (and a pepper or two, if you're feeling it)
  • 1 bay leaf
For Serving:
  • corn tortillas (my preferred method of heating corn tortillas is to place them on a plate between layers of paper towels, wet one sheet of paper towel, wring it out, and place it on the plate next to the tortillas, then microwave for 15-30 seconds until warm. Of course, you can toast the tortillas as well, but I find that this dries them out)
  • radishes (fresh or pickled)
  • fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • cotija cheese (or feta if you can't find cotija)
  • jalapeños, thinly sliced
  1. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat your vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken thighs in batches, sprinkling with a little salt as you go, and brown on both sides, setting aside each batch on a plate until you've browned all of your thighs.
  2. Once the chicken is browned, you can make your sauce one of two ways: A) Combine the tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, onion, salt, pepper, and chipotle pureé (and pepper, if you're using it) in a blender and blitz until smooth, then add it to the pot OR B) Add everything to your pot and use an immersion blender to blend everything - this is what I did because it saves having to wash another dish.
  3. Scrape up any bits of browned chicken from the bottom of the pan, reduce the heat to medium, and stir the sauce until it's gently simmering. Add your chicken back to the pan, along with the bay leaf, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover the pot and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every so often. Remove the lid, stir again, and simmer for an additional 30 minutes, until the chicken is fall-apart tender.
  4. When ready, remove the tinga from the heat and use two fork to gently shred the chicken. I like to keep some pieces a little bigger than others, so don't shred everything to teeny, tiny bits. Texture is good! Set up your taco-building station by laying out your tortillas, radishes, cilantro, cheese, jalapeños, and whatever else you like to put on your tacos (avocado, anyone?). Build and devour!
Adapted From


8 Responses

  1. I absolutely love chicken tinga tacos. It’s the recipe that made me start blogging. I made it so often to try to perfect it that when I had them in Puebla, Mexico, I was actually transported back to my own kitchen. How crazy is that? My recipe is very similar to yours. I hope you loved them! Whenever anyone gives chicken tinga some love I’m all about it. Wonderful dish!

  2. Wow, you know I’ve had chicken tinga tacos in restaurants, but I’ve never actually made chicken tinga. Looks really amazing!

  3. […] Sydney from the Crepes of Wrath made tacos happen with the chicken tinga tacos (one of my favorites that we’ll talk about next week) and she kicked up the spice a little because she’s a spicy gurl. […]

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