Chicken Tinga Tacos

When I was kid, we ate Mexican food every Friday night. That was sort of unusual for a midwestern family in the 70s and 80’s.  But my dad grew up in southern Arizona, and after they were married, my mom learned to cook the dishes he remembered from home. Mom simmered pinto beans in a crock pot all day, flavoring them with a whole onion, a pinch of cumin, and a chunk of bacon.   We ate homemade chimichangas, tacos, and tostadas, sometimes with the seasoned ground beef that everyone thought was taco meat, but as often as not with slow braised shredded beef or chicken. Then we ran off to high school football games, midwinter movies with friends, or someone’s basement den … leaving our parents with the mess.


Forty years later, I still make Mexican food almost every Friday night – though often that ends up as nachos on the couch instead of Mom’s spread of beans, rice, salad, and a choice of different tacos, and other dishes. 

This recipe isn’t my moms, though it’s similar to some of the chicken she often prepared on Friday nights.

Chicken tinga is an all-purpose chicken preparation originating from Puebla in central Mexico. It is quick and easy to make, and makes a wonderful taco filling … It is equally at home as a topping for nachos, a filling to enchiladas, or piled on a fried tortilla along with beans and avocado for a crispy, crunchy tostada. This recipe varies slightly from some traditional recipes in that we are using dried chipotle and California peppers rather than canned chipotles in adobo sauce. I find that the flavor combination better complements the chicken, and that dried peppers are easier to keep in the pantry than canned chilis.

Chicken Tinga Tacos

Recipe by DrewCourse: MainCuisine: MexicanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time


Total time




  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

  • 2 cups chicken stock

  • 1 small can tomato sauce

  • 1 medium onion, diced

  • 4 cloves garlic

  • 2 dried chipotle peppers

  • 2 dried California peppers

  • 1 tsp olive oil

  • 1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped

  • 1 tsp ground cumin

  • 1 tsp kosher salt


  • Season the chicken well with salt.
  • Sauté the onions and cumin in olive oil over medium heat until just softened.
  • Add chicken stock and the remaining salt to the pan and poach the chicken in the stock and onions until falling off the bone.
  • Remove and set aside to cool slightly.
  • Remove stems and seeds from dried peppers.
  • Tear the peppers into small pieces and allow them to soak in hot chicken broth for at least 10 minutes.
  • Transfer the cooked peppers and chicken stock into the blender, and blend until smooth.
  • Return the pepper mixture to the pan, add tomato sauce and oregano.
  • Simmer until slightly thickened.
  • Shred the cooled chicken, discarding the skin, bones, and cartilage.
  • Add the shredded chicken to the sauce and simmer to heat through and coat the chicken.
  • Serve on good corn tortillas with freshly diced white onion, cilantro leaves, and Mexican sour cream.

Be sure to check out my other food project, The Weekly Menu!

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