Chicken Tinga is one of my favorite and simple taco filling recipes. Shredded chicken is smothered in a red sauce made with fire roasted tomatoes and smoky chipotle peppers. So much flavor, yet so simple!
Smoky Shredded Chicken with Chipotle Sauce
This Tinga de Pollo (or Chicken Tinga) is going to blow you away. It will easily become one of your favorite ways to use shredded chicken.
It’s no secret that making Chicken Tinga is by far one of my favorite ways to eat shredded chicken. Shredded chicken is so versatile. I like to make a big batch of shredded chicken and use it throughout the week. You can make chicken salad, chicken chili, quesadilla filling…the options are endless. But this recipe is one for the books.
The tender shredded chicken is moist and delicious when served in a bright red sauce that has authentic Mexican flavors. Also, the sauce is so flavorful yet it only has three ingredients! It’s a little bit sweet from caramelized onions and fire roasted tomatoes. Plus, there’s a lot of smokiness from chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. It’s the perfect taco filling or topping for tostadas and nachos!
What You’ll Need
Here’s the rundown on what you need to make Chicken Tinga at home. Don’t forget, that the amounts for the ingredients are in the recipe card below.
- Cooking Oil: You can use any cooking oil that you have on hand. Vegetable, canola, and avocado oil work well.
- White Onion: These sliced onions develop an incredible sweetness when they are slowly caramelized in the pan. Take your time on these and it will be well worth it during that first bite!
- Fire Roasted Tomatoes: Using fire roasted tomatoes adds to the smokiness of the dish. Regular stewed canned tomatoes would also work in a pinch.
- Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce: This is where more smokiness comes in. I love this recipe because you use the whole can, so there’s less waste.
- Shredded Chicken: You can make your own shredded chicken for this recipe. Use my Shredded Chicken in the Instant Pot or my favorite Stove Top Shredded Chicken. Or just grab a rotisserie chicken to save yourself some time.
What Are Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce?
Chipotle peppers are smoked and dried jalapeno peppers. The adobo sauce is made with vinegar, sugar (usually piloncillo which is a bit like brown sugar), and spices. The chilis are slightly cooked in the sauce and then stored in the refrigerator until used.
Chipotle sauce is usually made by blending chipotles with the adobo sauce, or sometimes it is combined with onions and garlic.
It’s really pretty simple to put this recipe together. Here’s what you need to do.
Caramelize the onions. First, you’ll cook the sliced onions slowly in a large skillet.
Then, puree the tomatoes and chipotle peppers. This is how you make the flavorful bright red sauce for the shredded chicken.
Next, add the sauce to the onions. Stir the sauce and onions and then add the chicken. Finally, stir everything together. And that’s it! Your Chicken Tinga is ready to be served!
This recipe is pretty simple, but here are a few tips to help you along the way.
- Cooking the onions adds sweetness to the dish. I like to caramelize the onions in my Chicken Tinga. But if you like your onions to have more bite, then you can only saute them for a few minutes until they become translucent. Then, go ahead and continue with the rest of the recipe.
- Not loving the spiciness? That’s ok! You can cut back on the chipotle peppers and adobo sauce. Just use only half, or even less, to adjust the spice level. Alternatively, throw in some green chilies if you like more heat.
What to Serve with Chicken Tinga
Chicken Tinga is a great filling for tacos and gorditas. It’s also a great topping for nachos and tostadas. Here are some of my favorite dishes to help you figure out how to serve your Tinga de Pollo!
- Taco night begins with good tortillas! Make your own taco shells with my Homemade Flour Tortilla recipe.
- Top your Chicken Tinga tacos with these flavorful recipes – Tomatillo Avocado Salsa and Authentic Guacamole.
- All good Mexican food should be served with a sweet and tangy margarita. Try my Mango Margarita.
Storing and Reheating
Please keep those leftovers! In my opinion, the chicken might even taste better the next day. Any leftover shredded chicken can be stored in an air-tight container and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Can I Freeze This?
Better yet, this recipe is 100% freezer-friendly. Go ahead and make a few batches and pop them in the freezer. I like to use a large freezer bag so that I can lay them flat in the freezer space. It makes it so much easier to stack and store more things.
Make sure that you label and date the chicken. It can be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- 4 tablespoons oil
- 2 white onion, sliced
- 2 15 oz cans fire roasted tomatoes
- 1 7 oz can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
- 4 cups shredded cooked chicken
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the onions. Cook until translucent and then lower the heat to medium low, and cook, stirring often, until the onions are nice and lightly caramelized. This will take about 15 minutes.
- While the onions are cooking, add the tomatoes and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce to a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth.
- Add the sauce to the onions and stir. Then add the chicken and cook for 10 minutes.
- Serve on tostadas, or in tacos or gorditas, as desired.
More Flavorful Chicken Recipes
- Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad
- Easy BBQ Oven Pulled Chicken
- Green Chicken Chili Tamales
- Crockpot BBQ Chicken
- Crockpot Salsa Chicken
- Mississippi Chicken
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