Chicken Tinga is spicy shredded chicken with chipotle chilies, adobo sauce, tomatoes, and onions. It’s perfect for tacos and quesadillas!
I ate at a Mexican restaurant while on vacation with friends, and when we tasted their jalapenos poppers, we were blown away! We made our own version of the jalapeño popper bites, but they were missing the chicken tinga like the restaurant’s version. Now we finally have a chicken tinga recipe, and it can be used for so many dishes.
What You’ll Find In This Post
Ingredients Needed and Substitutions
- Aromatics are vegetables, herbs, and spices that are cooked in oil and add aroma and flavor to the dish.
- In this recipe, you will cook diced onions and minced garlic in olive oil.
- For the best flavor, we recommend using the fresh version over the dried seasonings, but they could be used in a pinch.
- You’ll need a can of diced tomatoes with green chilies such as Rotel and tomato paste as well.
- If you want spicier chicken tinga, choose extra hot canned tomatoes with green chilies. Or, for a milder, choose the mild can.
- Tomato paste adds additional tomato flavor. It is concentrated, so you’ll need a little water to help thin it out.
- Do not drain the liquid from the can of diced tomatoes. The liquid adds additional flavor and helps keep the chicken tender.
- If you prefer smooth sauce, you can put the tomatoes in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth before adding them to the skillet.
Chipotle Peppers In Adobo Sauce
- To make this tinga chicken recipe, you’ll need a can of chipotle peppers canned in adobo sauce. The contents of the can will be used in two ways: one pepper and some of the adobo sauce from the can.
- Remove one of the chipotle peppers and dice it. The chipotle peppers are pretty spicy, so you can remove the seeds from the pepper before dicing it. Or you can skip the diced chipotle pepper and only use the adobo sauce for milder version.
- For the adobo sauce, simply move the chipotle peppers aside and scoop out the sauce.
- We seasoned the meat with ground cumin, salt, and coarse ground black pepper.
- You can also add oregano, smoked paprika, chili powder, cayenne pepper, or ground coriander.
- This recipe calls for three cups of cooked, shredded chicken.
- Rotisserie chicken is a great timesaver, and it works well in this recipe. You can often find it pre-shredded in the deli section of the grocery store.
- You can also cook chicken breasts and shred them yourself.
- We do not recommend using canned chicken in this recipe since it has added sodium and a softer texture.
How To Make Chicken Tinga
Start by sautéing the diced onions and minced garlic in olive oil.
Next, stir in a can of diced tomatoes with green chilies with the liquid from the can, water, tomato paste, one diced chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, ground cumin, salt, and black pepper.
Then, add shredded chicken and stir until the chicken is coated in the sauce.
Bring the tinga de pollo to a simmer over low heat. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring often.
Make Ahead and Storage
- Make Ahead: You can make this tinga recipe ahead of time and reheat it when you need it. The flavors come together overnight, so it can even taste better the next day!
- Fridge: Allow leftovers to cool and then store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave before serving.
- Freezer: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to four months. Thaw it overnight in the fridge and reheat it before serving.
Ways To Use Chicken Tinga
This spicy chicken can be used in any of the recipes you typically add shredded chicken to! It’s a great way to add flavor and a little spice to a meal. Here are a few ideas:
- This tinga chicken is fabulous in tacos which are called tacos de tinga at Mexican restaurants.
- Use a kitchen torch to toast corn tortillas lightly. You can also brown them in a greased skillet over medium heat.
- Then we layer on shredded lettuce, chicken tinga, corn salsa, cilantro, cotija cheese, avocados, and a squeeze of lime juice.
- Spread the spicy chicken on one side of a tortilla, then top with shredded cheese and another tortilla.
- Cook in a skillet over medium heat until the cheese is melted and the tortillas are crispy. Flip it over halfway through cooking to brown both sides.
- Then slice the quesadilla into wedges and serve with salsa, guacamole, and sour cream.
- Add it to the cheesy filling in jalapeno popper bites.
- Put it on top of nachos along with queso and pico de Gallo.
- Make loaded nacho fries with chicken instead of taco meat.
What Goes With Chicken Tinga
If chicken tinga is the main dish, you can serve chips with salsa, queso blanco, and cowboy caviar as an appetizer. For side dishes, serve Mexican street corn, cilantro-lime rice, taco soup, or taco salad. And for dessert, deep-fried churros and fried ice cream are popular choices.
Frequently Asked Questions
Tinga de Pollo, which translates to chicken tinga in English, is a Mexican chicken dish flavored with chipotle chilies, adobo sauce, tomatoes, and onions.
To make this recipe in a slow cooker, you will need 1 1/2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts instead of cooked, shredded chicken.
Put all of the ingredients, except the chicken breasts, into a slow cooker and stir to combine. Add the chicken breasts and coat them with the sauce. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours.
Remove the chicken, shred it, and return it to the crockpot. Stir to coat it with the sauce, replace the cover, and cook for an additional 30 minutes.
Yes, tinga chicken is spicy. You can make it more of less spicy depending on the ingredients you add while making it.
Additional Mexican Recipes
Chipotle Chicken is a flavorful and versatile dish that can be used in tacos, burritos, and nachos. The easy marinade makes the chicken tender and flavorful.
Taco Casserole is a family-friendly meal that is easy to make and customize. It’s like having tacos, but everything is made in one dish.
Juicy Cilantro Lime Chicken is a flavorful and easy weeknight meal. Simply cook it on the grill or stovetop and serve with rice and vegetables.
Oven Baked Tacos are a quick and easy, family-friendly meal that can be made in one pan. Serve with all your favorite taco toppings.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ cup diced onion
- 2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 10 oz can diced tomatoes and green chilies do not drain
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 1 chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce remove seeds for less heat
- 2 tablespoon adobo sauce see note 1
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 3 cups shredded chicken see note 2
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add the onions and garlic. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
- Then, add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring often.
- Turn heat to low, simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring often.