Easy One-Pot Chicken Tinga (Spicy Mexican Shredded Chicken) Recipe

Two street tacos topped with chicken tinga, diced onion, and cilantro. There are radishes and cut limes on the plate and a dish of chicken tinga nearby.
Spicy, smoky, and easy chicken tinga.

Serious Eats / J. Kenji López-Alt

Why It Works

  • Using skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts produces plenty of flavor while maintaining a juicy, shreddable texture.
  • Using a thermometer to cook the chicken to 145°F ensures that it stays juicy even after shredding and reheating.
  • Saving the chipotle chilies until the end helps them retain their smoky flavor.

Though tinga is traditionally flavored with chorizo, this quick and easy version still packs in the flavor, without forcing you to seek out special ingredients. The chicken is gently poached in broth, then shredded and tossed with a puréed sauce for extra-juicy texture and flavor.

Recipe Facts

4.7

(25)

Active: 35 mins
Total: 70 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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Ingredients

  • 2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves (about 1 1/4 pounds; 550g)

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) lard or vegetable oil

  • 6 ounces tomatillos, peeled (170g; about 2 medium)

  • 6 ounces ripe plum tomatoes (170g; about 2 medium)

  • 4 medium garlic cloves

  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped

  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano (preferably Mexican)

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) cider vinegar

  • 2 cups (475ml) homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock (or water)

  • 2 to 3 canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, plus 1 tablespoon (15ml) sauce from can

  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) Asian fish sauce

Directions

  1. Season chicken generously with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over high heat until shimmering. Add chicken skin side down and cook, without moving, until well browned, 6 to 8 minutes. (Lower heat if pot is smoking excessively or chicken starts to burn.) Flip chicken and cook on second side for 2 minutes. Transfer to a large plate and immediately add tomatillos, tomatoes, and garlic to pot. Cook, flipping occasionally, until blistered and browned in spots, about 5 minutes.

  2. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add oregano and bay leaves and cook, stirring, until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add vinegar and stock. Return chicken to pot, bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a bare simmer. Cover the pot and cook, turning chicken occasionally, until chicken registers 145°F when an instant-read thermometer is inserted into the center of the thickest part, 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer chicken to a bowl and set aside. Continue cooking the sauce at a hard simmer, stirring, until reduced to about half its original volume, about 5 minutes longer.

    A collage of four photos that shows adding onions to the pan with the tomatoes and tomatillos, adding bay leaves, adding vinegar, and adding cooked chicken breast back to the pan.

    Serious Eats / J. Kenji López-Alt

  3. Add chipotle chilies and adobo, remove and discard bay leaves, and blend the sauce using an immersion blender or by transferring to a countertop blender. Sauce should be relatively smooth, with a few small chunks. When chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones and finely shred the meat. Return it to the sauce. Add fish sauce and stir to combine.

    A collage of four photos showing adding chipotles to the pan, blending the sauce with an immersion blender, adding shredded chicken to the blended sauce, and stirring the sauce and chicken.

    Serious Eats / J. Kenji López-Alt

  4. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until sauce thickens and coats chicken. It should be very moist but not soupy. Season to taste with salt and pepper (if necessary). Chicken tinga can be served in tacos; stuffed into enchiladas or burritos; on top of nachos, tostadas, and sopes; or on its own.

Special equipment

Instant-read thermometer, immersion blender or countertop blender

This Recipe Appears In

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
382 Calories
18g Fat
9g Carbs
44g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 382
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 18g 23%
Saturated Fat 4g 18%
Cholesterol 116mg 39%
Sodium 1094mg 48%
Total Carbohydrate 9g 3%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 44g
Vitamin C 15mg 75%
Calcium 65mg 5%
Iron 3mg 15%
Potassium 740mg 16%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)