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Published May 15, 2020. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
This Chicken Tinga Recipe is a delicious blend of roasted vegetables and chipotle peppers braised with chicken to make an unbelievable tinga taco.
I absolutely love Latin food and more often than not you’ll find some rendition of it on our dinner table at least once a week. Whether it’s making salmon fajitas or an arroz con pollo, we can’t get enough!
Chicken tinga simply translates from Spanish to English as shredded chicken or beef in a zesty red sauce with chipotle peppers. It’s a simple dish that originated in Puebla, Mexico, and is frequently on Mexican restaurant menus all over the world.
What’s In it
There are a few variations of this recipe depending on where in Mexico you are. This is my take on the classic recipe as I always look to pull out as much flavor as possible. Here is what’s in the braising sauce:
- Tomatoes: I prefer to use what’s freshest and in season, which always tends to be vine-ripe tomatoes.
- Tomatillos: These tangy nightshade family fruits add awesome flavor and help cut some of the heat from the spicy peppers.
- Onions: I prefer to use sweet onions but any onion will work.
- Garlic: This is optional but I believe it really adds to the flavor of the tinga sauce.
- Jalapeños: I seed them before roasting but if you like spice, leave the seeds on or upgrade to a spicier pepper.
- Chipotle Peppers: These smoked jalapeños in a ground pepper mixture known as adobo sauce is a staple in this recipe.
- Oregano: Use dry oregano but if you opt for fresh, use it at the very end and finish the chicken tinga with it.
- Cumin: The earthy flavors in cumin are going to help balance out all of the flavors in the sauce.
How to Make Chicken Tinga
You start making chicken tinga by preparing the zesty tomato and tomatillo based sauce that the chicken will be braised in. It’s almost like a version of sofrito.
Follow these easy steps to make this recipe:
Add some tomatoes, tomatillos, garlic, jalapeños, and onions onto a sheet tray lined with parchment paper and roast in the oven until they got a nice char on them, which takes about 30 minutes at 425°.
After the vegetables are all roasted up, pop them in a blender along with the chipotle pepper, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper, and puree until smooth but still has some small chunks in it. Set aside.
Pan roast a broken-down whole chicken that has been seasoned with salt and pepper in olive oil in a rondeau pot until golden brown on all sides, which takes about 8-10 minutes per side.
Add the pureed sauced right over the top of the chicken along with some good chicken stock and stir to mix.
Place a lid on the pan and braise away over low heat for about 90-120 minutes.
Remove the skin and bones of the cooked chicken, shred with your hands, and add back to the sauce and serve.
How to Serve It
When they are served as tacos, the most common topping to use is simply shredded lettuce. Here are a few things I like to put on top, but please feel free to get creative:
- Diced onions
- Queso fresco
Recipe Chef Notes + Tips
Make-Ahead: You can make this recipe up to 1 day ahead of time, just simply reheat before serving.
How to Reheat: Add the desired amount to a medium-size saucepot with a lid and cook over low heat until hot. You can also heat in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave until hot.
How to Store: Cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days. This will freeze very well covered for up to 3 months. Thaw for 1 day in the refrigerator before reheating.
You can absolutely use whatever tomatoes you’d like in this recipe. In the summer all different types are fair game and if making in the winter, stick to Roma or cherry tomatoes.
To make this in a slow cooker, simply use the sauté function to brown the chicken and then add the sauce and then slow cook on high for 6 hours.
More Latin Recipes
Delicious Chicken Tinga Recipe
- 6 vine ripe tomatoes sliced into wedges
- 5 tomatillos
- 1 peeled sweet onion sliced into wedges
- 2 jalapeños sliced in half seeds removed
- 10 garlic cloves
- 5 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
- 2 teaspoons of cumin
- 2 teaspoons of dry oregano
- 1 whole chicken broken down into parts
- 3 cups of good chicken stock
- 12 corn tortillas
- 1 peeled seeded and diced avocado
- 1 cup queso fresco cheese
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- Chicken: Place the tomatoes, tomatillos, onions, garlic, and jalapeños on a non-stick cookie sheet tray and toss in 3 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast in the oven at 425° for 30 to 35 minutes or until everything is lightly charred.
- Next, add all roasted ingredients into a blender along with chipotle pepper, ground cumin, dry oregano, salt, and pepper to a blender and puree until smooth.
- Season the chicken on all sides with salt and pepper and in a large rondeau pot over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil sear the chicken until golden brown on both sides, about 8-10 minutes per side.
- Add the tomatillo mixture along with the chicken stock, stir and cover and simmer over low heat for 2 hours.
- Remove the skin and bones from the chicken and shred. Keep warm.
- To Plate: Place some shredded chicken in a heated corn tortilla and garnish with avocado, red onion, cilantro, and Oaxaca cheese.
- Make-Ahead: You can make this recipe up to 1 day ahead of time, just simply reheat before serving.
- How to Reheat: Add the desired amount to a medium-size saucepot with a lid and cook over low heat until hot. You can also heat in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave until hot.
- How to Store: Cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days. This will freeze very well covered for up to 3 months. Thaw for 1 day in the refrigerator before reheating.
- You can absolutely use whatever tomatoes you’d like in this recipe. In the summer all different types are fair game and if making in the winter, stick to Roma or cherry tomatoes.
- To make this in a slow cooker, simply use the sauté function to brown the chicken and then add the sauce and then slow cook on high for 6 hours.