Smoky Chicken Tinga Tacos Recipe

Flavor-packed tacos feature smoky chicken thighs in a tomato and chili-based sauce. Joshua Bousel

This smoky, spicy, and earthy chicken tinga takes less work than the flavor would lead you to believe—chipotles add most of the depth, while meaty chicken thighs, canned fire-roasted tomatoes, tomatillos, and onion add layers of flavor to the sauce.

Why this recipe works:

  • Browning chicken thighs first and then cooking them in the sauce produces a richer, more deeply flavored tinga.
  • Using canned fire-roasted tomatoes complements the smoky and earthy chipotles in adobo.
  • Adding a tomatillo to the dish creates a background tartness that further deepens the overall flavor.

Recipe Facts

Active: 40 mins
Total: 60 mins
Serves: 4 to 6 servings

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  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 1/2 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs

  • 1 cup medium diced white onion

  • 2 medium cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

  • 1 large tomatillo, husk removed, rinsed, and roughly chopped

  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

  • One (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted diced or crushed tomatoes

  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped chipotles plus 2 tablespoons adobo sauce from one (7-ounce) can

  • 1/2 cup homemade chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth

  • 1 bay leaf

  • Kosher salt

  • Warm corn tortillas, tomatillo salsa, onion, cilantro, grated cotija cheese, and lime wedges for serving


  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chicken thighs skin-side down and cook until well browned, about 6 minutes. Flip thighs and continue to cook until other side is lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate, leaving fat in pan, and set aside.

  2. Add onions and garlic to Dutch oven and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions have browned around the edges, about 5 minutes. Add tomatillo and cook until browned around the edges, about 4 minutes. Add oregano and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, chipotle, and adobo sauce and stir to combine. Remove from heat.

  3. Transfer sauce to the jar of a blender and puree until smooth. Pour sauce back into pan, stir in chicken stock and bay leaf, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Nestle chicken thighs in sauce, reduce to a simmer, and cook until meat registers 165°F in thickest part of thigh on an instant-read thermometer. Transfer chicken to a plate and let sit until cool enough to handle. Remove sauce from heat and discard bay leaf.

  4. Pull chicken meat into strips, discarding skin, any large pieces of fat, and bones. Stir chicken into sauce and cook over medium heat until warmed through, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt to taste.

  5. Spoon chicken into warm tortillas and top with tomatillo salsa, onion, cilantro, and cotija cheese. Serve with lime wedges.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
350 Calories
13g Fat
29g Carbs
32g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 350
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 13g 17%
Saturated Fat 3g 17%
Cholesterol 138mg 46%
Sodium 740mg 32%
Total Carbohydrate 29g 11%
Dietary Fiber 5g 19%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 32g
Vitamin C 15mg 75%
Calcium 88mg 7%
Iron 2mg 14%
Potassium 651mg 14%
*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.)