Shredded Chicken Tacos – Carlsbad Cravings

Cooked chicken taco recipe


This shredded chicken taco recipe is epic! They’re quick, easy, healthy, tasty, and everything you love about tacos. Hot tortillas are loaded with juicy party-grated chicken and then stacked with all your favorite ingredients, from fresh guacamole to vibrant pico de gallo, crispy lettuce, and creamy sour cream. Chicken and ingredients can be prepared ahead of time (or use store-bought ingredients) for an easy weekday dinner that everyone will clamor for LY week. Mexican shredded chicken also reheats and freezes exceptionally well so you can enjoy these shredded chicken tacos at any time.


Shredded chicken

taco recipe

We all have our favorite quick and easy, last-minute, back-pocket recipes that take less than 30 minutes and minimal effort; Those kinds of dinners that are your answers to your days too tired to cook, they don’t want to cook, tired of cooking. Some of my favorite culinary answers are turkey tacos


Buffalo Mac and Cheese (without roux!), Chicken tortilla soup, coconut curry chicken, Korean meat bowls, Tortellini sausage soup, and Dijon chicken with roast honey (see a full 30-minute meal list HERE), and now I’m excited for this shredded chicken taco recipe to join the list!

While my crumbled Mexican chicken Crockpot is mega popular (I just made it yesterday), sometimes you don’t plan ahead and need to have dinner in a hurry – enter this shredded chicken taco recipe! You’ll be amazed at how easy these chicken tacos are as they explode with tender, juicy chicken that melts in your mouth and creates a symphony of flavors with every blissful bite.

The astonishing 15-minute preparation required for these shredded chicken tacos is achieved starting with shredded chicken. I like to use roast chicken I’ve grabbed or frozen from Costco, but you can certainly use your own shredded chicken too.

The roast chicken

is seasoned generously with your favorite taco seasonings along with some chicken broth, fire-roasted tomatoes, and green chiles so you get the juicy roast chicken shortcut with all the flavor and tenderness of chicken that’s been simmering all day. Now, all that’s left to do is hoard your favorite shredded chicken taco ingredients and EAT!


  • Chicken. You can use roast chicken or make your own shredded chicken with chicken breasts or chicken thighs.
    • Roast chicken: it is my first choice because it is a mixture of light and dark meat so it is extra juicy and tasty. It’s also beautifully tender, delicately seasoned and delicious, making it a fabulous starting point for our shredded chicken taco recipe. I like to buy roast chicken from Costco, portion in portions of chicken taco and freeze.
    • Chicken breasts or thighs

    • : You can make your own shredded chicken with chicken breasts or chicken thighs so that you can always make these shredded chicken tacos with any chicken you have on hand, they will only require the extra step of cooking the chicken. Chicken thighs will give you a tastier shredded chicken juicer, but chicken breasts will work too. I’ve included instructions below on how to make our own shredded chicken.
  • Condiments: These shredded chicken tacos are seasoned with a delicious homemade taco seasoning consisting of chili powder, ground cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, dried oregano, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. You can use additional cayenne pepper if you like it hotter. You can also sub these seasonings with pre-made taco seasoning, but I haven’t experimented with this, so I can’t tell you the amount.
  • Chicken broth – infuses the chicken with a juicy taste. You can also substitute with water, but the broth is ideal.
  • Diced tomatoes roasted on fire: I usually prefer these to traditional diced tomatoes because the flame-roasted tomatoes have been roasted, which gives them a complex smoking. Fire-roasted tomatoes are found alongside traditional diced tomatoes. If you can’t find them, then traditional diced tomatoes work well.
  • Chopped green chili peppers: These come from a can and add an irresistible flavor. Be careful to choose SOFT chopped green chiles because the hot can is HOT. Soft green chiles, however, are more spicy than spicy, so you don’t have to worry about them making your shredded chicken tacos spicy. You can also replace fire-roasted tomatoes and chopped green chiles with a can of Rotel tomatoes (tomatoes with green chilies), I only use them separately because I prefer the fire-roasted look of tomatoes.
  • Tomato paste: Add a concentrated tomato YUM that is mixed with the broth to bind the seasonings together and cover the chicken.
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constantly get messages asking what my favorite tortillas are. And I’m glad you ask because quality tortillas make a BIG difference between good tacos and the BEST tacos!

I love the corn

tortillas for these shredded chicken tacos because I like the taste of roasted corn, but you’re more than welcome to use flour if you prefer


The following recommendations are not affiliated, only my affections:


I love La Tortilla Factory Corn tortillas. They are thicker homemade tortillas that never break or tear, even when charred and stacked with toppings. I find mine on Sprouts or you can pick them up on Amazon here. They come in 8 per pack, which means you’ll need 2 packs for this shredded chicken taco recipe. They are definitely more expensive BUT less than dining out!

Also, keep in mind that this brand of corn tortillas is not gluten-free, as it contains corn and wheat.

I’m less picky when it comes to flour tortillas because most brands don’t fall apart, unlike corn tortillas. Still, for flour tortillas, I prefer raw tortillas like Tortilla Fresca or Tortilla Land. I also like Guerro tortillas, which is probably the easiest brand to find in your local supermarket.


Now that we’ve covered the chicken and tortillas, it’s time for fun: TOPPINGS! You can top your shredded chicken tacos with anything your heart desires. Keep it simple with just a little lettuce and sour cream and a splash of hot sauce or a pile on all products!

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There’s really no right or wrong way to add ingredients, as long as you add something creamy to match all the flavors: sour cream, guacamole, avocado cream, Greek yogurt, lime and cilantro dressing, or Tomatillo Avocado Ranch


Toppinging ideas


  • Lettuce: chopped romaine lettuce or iceberg lettuce – anything with a good crunch and neutral taste
  • .

  • Tomatoes: Chop 3-4 Roma tomatoes or you can substitute them for pico
  • de

  • gallo. Pico de gallo: is a fresh tomato sauce that adds a vibrant and forceful freshness. You can use my homemade pico de gallo recipe or buy it at the store. You can make the pico de gallo in advance and store it in an airtight container in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before serving.
  • Avocado cream: It’s my addiction and my preference over chopped avocados or guacamole. Avocado cream is a marriage of avocados, sour cream and lemon juice, it is wonderfully silky, spicy and only takes minutes in your blender. The delicious and refreshing acidity cuts and complements the robust and smoky flavors.

<img src="×975.jpg" alt="

  • silver bowl in a white bowl of the best pico de gallo
  • ” />

  • Guacamole: Use my homemade guacamole recipe (incredible!) I use in my street tacos, your favorite recipe or even use shop shopped.
  • Avocados: Chopped or sliced avocados are the easiest avocado choice and add wonderful creaminess.
  • Sour cream: You can use easy sour cream or you can get creative and use the cream I use in my Baja fish taco recipe here. Its refreshing acidity also cuts and complements the robust and rich flavors.
  • Greek yogurt: It’s a great creamy alternative to sour cream if you’re trying to save a few calories
  • .

  • Cheese: Melt cheddar, Monterrey Jack or Pepper Jack directly into shredded chicken before adding it to tacos, or melt cheese in shredded chicken tacos in the microwave, pan or oven. You can also decorate with Cotija or queso fresco.
  • Cilantro: If you skip pico de gallo, you can load fresh cilantro and tomatoes for a fresh, spicy touch
  • . Hot sauce:

  • Season your chicken tacos with your favorite hot sauce
  • .

  • Jalapeños: You can also increase the heat with chopped or sliced jalapeños.
  • Onion pickles: I can’t believe I haven’t shared a recipe for this yet, but I love pickled onions in tacos! Spicy, forceful fantastic.
  • Mexican fries: Although potato chips are usually reserved for California burritos, they don’t have to be
  • !

  • Salsas: so many to choose from! Store-bought salsa is always an easy dressing or gets fancy with my homemade restaurant sauce, salsa verde, black bean corn sauce, avocado sauce, charred corn sauce, mango sauce or pineapple sauce.
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  • How to make mango sauce for shrimp tacos with lime and cilantro<img src
  • =”” alt=”Sweet and smoked grilled pineapple

  • sauce not only with grilled pineapple but also with grilled red peppers, red onions AND jalapeño! sweet and smoky and possibly the best E-V-E-R sauce alone, with chips, tacos or on fish/chicken. #pineapple #salsa #pineapplesalsa #grill” />


Now, For

what you’ve been waiting for, let’s see how easy these shredded chicken tacos are! First


  • add the shredded chicken to a pan along with the seasonings and stir to cover evenly
  • .

  • Add diced tomatoes, chicken broth, tomato paste, and green chili peppers. Chicken broth infuses moisture into the chicken and combines with tomato paste to create a light, spicy layer.
  • Cook for about 5 minutes or until warm. Add additional chicken broth for wetter chicken if necessary. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cayenne pepper or hot sauce to taste if desired.
  • Heat tortillas in the microwave, in a pan or charcoal on the grill or open the gas stove flame until it is hot but still flexible (detailed instructions below).
  • Load chicken into tortillas and top with your favorite ingredients!

showing how to make Mexican chicken by adding chicken to a pan

  • showing how to make Mexican chicken by adding seasonings to chicken in a pan
  • <img src="×975.jpg" alt="showing how to make Mexican chicken by adding tomatoes and green chiles to chiicken
  • ” />

  • top view of easy Mexican chicken in a pan garnished with cilantro
  • How to make

your own If


don’t want to start with roast chicken, or don’t have it on hand and need these shredded chicken tacos NOW, you can easily make your own shredded chicken. You will need about 1 1/2 pounds of chicken or 2-3 chicken breasts depending on your size.

  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat
  • . Add the chicken and

  • cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until golden brown on one side
  • .

  • Turn the chicken over and add 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth.
  • Cover and reduce heat to medium and simmer 10 minutes, Then turn the chicken over and continue cooking 5-10 minutes (the thighs will take less time) or until the chicken is cooked and tender enough to crush. Add extra chicken broth or water if the liquid is absorbed before the chicken cooks.
  • The cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the chicken and the actual temperature. If your chicken is not easily crushed, continue cooking, adding extra broth/water if needed.
  • Remove the chicken from the pan and let stand 5 minutes before crumbling.


Before you start stacking your chicken and toppings on your shredded chicken toppings, I highly recommend heating tortillas


Hot tortillas elevate any taco. Tortillas, whether corn or flour, are not only softer and the ideal temperature for not jarring melts in the mouth, but the flavors are accentuated when heated. Lower-quality corn tortillas are also likely to break if not heated.

You can easily heat your tortillas for these shredded chicken tacos in SECONDS using any of my methods below: open flame, pan, microwave, or oven. I am partial to the open flame method and it is how I achieve satisfactory charcoal in my tortillas.

  • Open Flame (gas stove or grill): Add tortillas directly to your gas stove burner and then flip with tweezers once they are charred on one side. You can also achieve this on the grill as well. If you’re using lower quality tortillas, you’ll want to be especially careful not to carbonize too much or they’ll become brittle and break. You still want the soft, flexible tortillas.
  • Skillet: Heat a skillet (or griddle if you have one) over medium-high heat (do not grease). Working with one tortilla at a time (more for one griddle), heat each side of the tortilla for about 20-30 seconds until it is hot and soft. You are not looking for character marks with this method.
  • Microwave: Working with about 5 tortillas at a time, stack tortillas on a microwave-safe plate and cover them with a damp paper towel. Microwave for 20 seconds up, then repeat at 10-second intervals if necessary until heated.
  • Baking: Create separate stacks of about 5 tortillas each, then wrap each stack in aluminum foil. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until heated (you can bake all the piles at once).


your tortillas are hot (by any method), keep them warm and flexible by stacking them on a plate and covering them with a paper towel or lightly moistened kitchen towel

. How to Make Shredded Chicken Tacos

in the Oven These shredded chicken tacos

can also be made

with hard taco shells and then baked:

  • Line a 9×13 baking dish with hard taco
  • shells.

  • Fill each shell with 2 tablespoons of refried beans (optional
  • ).

  • Evenly divide the chicken between the shells and top with cheese (like this recipe).
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes or until cheese is completely melted.
  • Top chicken tacos with lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, etc.


Roast chicken

  • : I like to buy my roast chicken from Costco because you get almost twice the amount of chicken in a poultry for the same price. If you have shredded chicken scraps that you won’t use in this recipe, you can freeze it for later.
  • Different protein: Although this recipe is called “Shredded Chicken Tacos,” these seasonings and ingredients work well for ground beef, ground turkey, ground chicken as well.
  • Tomato paste: This shredded chicken only requires 2 tablespoons of tomato paste. I often don’t use a whole can of tomato paste in a week, so I always freeze it with a tablespoon. To do this, place parchment paper on a small baking sheet or plate, something that can easily fit in your freezer. Drop the tomato paste by the tablespoon on parchment paper a few inches apart in rows and then freeze until solid, about 1 hour. Cut a rack around the tomato paste so that each tablespoon has its own square of parchment. Wrap the parchment paper around the tomato paste and place it in a plastic bag. Freeze for up to 6 months, taking out a tablespoon of tomato paste as needed.
  • Sauce: If you’re in a bind and don’t have tomato paste, you can replace chicken broth and tomato paste with sauce, but you’ll want to use less cayenne pepper and possibly other seasonings so the flavor isn’t too strong/spicy.
  • Spice it up. The level of spices as written is not very spicy, just tasty. If your chicken feels like it’s missing something, it’s probably a depth of heat. You’ll want to try the chicken once it’s made and add hot sauce to taste or people can add hot sauce to their own portions. Personally, I love the extra hot sauce and add it straight to my tacos instead of the chicken, and I really think it makes all the flavors stand out.
  • Double Batch: This Mexican chicken is a fabulous recipe for doubling or breaking your Dutch oven and tripling it! Freeze leftovers in portion-sized bags for a quick, hot thawing dinner.
  • Quality tortillas

  • . try and use QUALITY corn tortillas – you can taste the difference! I have discussed this in greater detail below.
  • Prepare in advance. You can make the chicken in advance and simply reheat when ready to serve. You can also prepare all your ingredients in advance. Guacamole and avocado cream will keep for up to a day without changing much color, just be sure to press a piece of plastic wrap directly against the surface of the guac/cream to prevent oxidation.

Variations of shredded chicken tacos

The shredded chicken tacos


fabulous with only chicken and toppings, but here are some tasty add-ons to mix things up!

  • Add beans. Add your favorite beans: some refried beans, blacks, pintos, etc. are all fabulous. You can add them directly to the chicken or heat them in a separate pan and add them to individual tortillas.
  • Add vegetables. You can add any vegetable your heart desires from corn, peppers, zucchini, sweet potatoes, spinach, etc. You can sauté the vegetables separately or cook them with the chicken.
  • Add the fajita peppers. Sautéed peppers are always tasty. You can follow the instructions for peppers in my Pork Fajitas recipe.
  • Add more green chiles:

  • This shredded Mexican chicken recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of soft diced green chiles, but you can add more, even the entire 4-ounce can if you want more acidic chicken
  • . Add jalapeños

  • : I love canned jalapeños and always keep them stocked. If you like heat, add a few tablespoons directly to the chicken. For the heat of the FIRE, you can add habaneros.
  • Add the cheese. Add the grated Mexican cheese, cheddar cheese or Jack pepper mix for the CHEESY Mexican chicken.
  • Add rice or quinoa. Add cooked rice or cooked quinoa to add texture. If you do this, you may also want to add extra salt and sauce.
  • Add the pineapple. Pineapple is one of my favorites with a sturdy, smoked taco filling, so why not add it directly to the chicken? You can caramelize some chopped pineapple in a separate pan or skip the caramelization altogether and add the chopped pineapple directly to the shredded chicken.

The possibilities of what you can add to Shredded Chicken Tacos Chicken are endless, but remember, it can be as simple as stacking an omelet with sour cream!


  • Rice: It’s a must-have side in my book for almost every taco recipe. We love serving these shredded chicken tacos with cilantro and lime rice, Mexican rice or avocado rice. You can also serve with quinoa or low-carb cauliflower rice.
  • Salads – Salad is always a win and a great way to stretch your chicken tacos if you’re serving a crowd. These shredded chicken tacos pair well with a great green salad, southwest salad, corn salad or southwest orzo salad.
  • Vegetables: I strongly encourage you to go with the authentic Mexican Grilled Street Corn – you won’t regret it! Other alternatives include grilled corn on the cob, baked asparagus, roasted broccoli, roasted potatoes, roasted cauliflower.
  • Fruit: You can keep it simple and serve these chicken tacos with melon, or grapes or any of these fabulous options: piña colada fruit salad, fruit salad with honey and lime vinaigrette, grape salad, winter fruit salad or caramelized pineapple grilled.
  • Carbs: Add some green chili peppers and/or jalapeños to my sweet cornbread recipe and watch it disappear (one of my all-time favorite recipes that I bring to everything!). Mexican street fries are also a favorite that disappear in an instant.

<img src="×975.jpg" alt="

  • This sweet cornbread is AMAZING! Super moist and tender with just the right amount of sweetness. Everyone always asks me for this recipe because it’s the best there is!” /><img src
  • =”

  •×975.jpg” alt=”top view of Easy Pina Fruit salad strained with pineapple, coconut, tangerines, strawberries and blueberries in a white bowl” />


This Mexican chicken freezes exceptionally well, so all you have to do is heat it and shredded chicken tacos are served. To freeze:

  1. Prepare shredded Mexican chicken according to instructions
  2. .

  3. Cool to room temperature
  4. .

  5. Add chicken to a freezer-sized plastic bag OR portion in smaller sandwich bags
  6. .

  7. Press the flat bag, squeeze out excess air to avoid frostbite
  8. .

  9. Seal, label and freeze for up to 3 months.


  1. When ready to use, thaw the chicken in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. Remove the chicken and heat it back in a pan or microwave-safe container in the microwave.
  3. If your chicken looks dry, add some sauce.


  • Slow cooker Carnitas
  • Beef Barbecue
  • Chicken

  • Fajita
  • Creamy Green Chile Chicken enchiladas
  • Cilantro and lime Chicken
  • taco salad Tacos

  • Al Pastor
  • Taco soup with cheese

Want to try this Shredded Chicken Tacos RECIPE?

Put it on your CHICKEN board or DINNER to SAVE

for later!

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