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Chicken Tinga

A few choice canned ingredients—like smoky chipotles in adobo and fire-roasted tomatoes—and a store-bought rotisserie chicken make this easy chicken tinga recipe a weeknight go-to.

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chicken Tinga tacos on a platter topped with avocado and radishes

Spicy, Smoky and Super Easy, Our Quick Chicken Tinga Recipe is a Weeknight Keeper!

Let us just say right away that this is NOT an authentic Mexican chicken tinga recipe. This chicken tinga recipe is inspired by the smoky, peppery flavors that we love so much in chicken tinga, but it’s built for busy weeknights. We take nearly every shortcut in the book, and while the methods and results are absolutely inauthentic, they’re also absolutely tasty! And as far as meals that are ready in under 30 minutes go, it’s hard to beat this super easy chicken tinga recipe.

tomatoes, shredded chicken, lettuce, onions, oil, chipotle pepper in adobo sauce and spices for chicken Tinga with tortillas

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An Easy Chicken Tinga In Just 7 Ingredients

Brick red and inviting, chicken tinga is simply chicken that’s flavored with smoky chipotle peppers, tomatoes and onions. Beyond that basic formula, tinga recipes vary quite a bit! Often, chorizo is added to double down on that spicy, smoky flavor, but like we mentioned, this chicken tinga is all about keeping things as simple as can be. With deeply flavorful ingredients like chipotle peppers in adobo sauce—and yes, you’ll definitely want to use all of the heady, spicy, smoky adobo sauce that’s left in the can—and taco seasoning, you’ll end up with a dish that’s bursting with boldness, despite the short cook time. Here’s everything you’ll need to make chicken tinga:

  • Cooked chicken (this can be leftover Shredded Chicken, or use the meat from a grocery store rotisserie chicken.)

  • Onion

  • Garlic

  • Chipotles in adobo sauce

  • Taco Seasoning

  • Fire-roasted canned tomatoes

  • Chicken bouillon (cubed bouillon is fine, or you can use a jarred version like Better Than Bouillon.)

chopped onions cooked in oil in a 12-inch cast iron skillet
tomatoes, onion, garlic, chipotle, taco seasoning and chicken bouillon in the base of a blender for chicken Tinga
tomatoes, onion, garlic, chipotle, taco seasoning and chicken bouillon blended in the base of a blender for chicken Tinga
homemade chicken tinga sauce mixed with shredded chicken in a cast iron skillet

How To Make Our Easy Chicken Tinga Recipe

If you have poached chicken breast—maybe you prepped it over the weekend, or its leftover from another meal—use those. But a store-bought rotisserie chicken will work, too. If you opt for the rotisserie chicken method, you can use thigh or leg meat, too, for an even heartier chicken tinga. Our chicken tinga recipe is as easy as:

  1. Sauté the onions for a bit until they’re soft, then add the garlic for a few more minutes until fragrant.

  2. Blend the onions, garlic chipotles in adobo, taco seasoning, tomatoes bouillon until you’ve got a nice, smooth, brick red sauce.

  3. Pour the sauce into a skillet with the shredded, cooked chicken and simmer to let the chicken absorb all of that saucy goodness! And you’re done!

chicken Tinga with sauce in a bowl with a serving spoon

How To Serve Chicken Tinga

  • Chicken tinga tostadas are maybe our favorite way to enjoy chicken tinga! Just grab some store-bought tostada shells, load them up with your quick homemade chicken tinga and garnish as you please!

  • Chicken tinga tacos are another classic.

  • The sky’s the limit! Chicken tinga is so juicy and flavorful, it’s great on just about anything. Top a salad with it to turn that leafy bed into a complete meal, or mound it into a burrito with beans and rice for an ultra-filling dinner.

chicken tinga tacos on a platter with avocado and radishes
close up of chicken tinga tacos

Tools You’ll Need:

What To Serve With Chicken Tinga

chicken Tinga tacos on a plate next to bowls of beans and rice served with lime, radishes and shredded lettuce

Weeknight Deliciousness, In Just 30 Minutes!

With mostly pantry ingredients, it just doesn’t get much more “throw it together” than this Chicken Tinga recipe! If you make this ultra easy version of chicken tinga, let us know how you like it! Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

Chicken Tinga

  • Serves: 8
  • Prep Time:  10 min
  • Cook Time:  20 min
  • Calories: 265

Ingredients

For Serving

  • 8 Tostada shells (optional)
  • 16 corn tortillas, warmed (optional)
  • Mexican rice (optional)
  • Refried beans (optional)
  • 3 cups shredded green cabbage
  • ½ cup thinly sliced, radishes
  • ½ cup crumbled cotija or queso fresco
  • 1 avocado, sliced

Method

  1. Add the oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is glistening, add the onions and cook, stirring, until softened, about 6 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute longer.

  2. Transfer the onion mixture to a blender. Add the chipotle pepper, adobo sauce (see Note), taco seasoning, tomatoes and bouillon. Blend the sauce on high until smooth, about 1 minute.

  3. Transfer the sauce back to the skillet, bring to a smiler over medium heat and cook until slightly thickened, about 8 minutes. Add the chicken to the sauce and stir until the chicken is warmed through. Season with salt, more taco seasoning or adobo sauce, if desired.

  4. Serve the chicken tinga warm, alongside tostada shells, tortillas or over rice. Garnish with cabbage, radishes, cotija and avocado.


Instant Pot Method:

  1. Set the Instant Pot on the sauté mode. Add the oil and heat until glistening. Add the onions and cook, stirring until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook stirring, until fragrant, about 1 more minute.

  2. Transfer the onion mixture to a blender. Add the chipotle pepper, adobo sauce (see Note), taco seasoning, tomatoes and bouillon. Blend the sauce on high until smooth, about 1 minute.

  3. Place the (raw) chicken breasts in the instapot. Pour the tinga sauce over the chicken.

  4. Secure and lock the lid in place making sure the vent is in the sealed position. Set on ‘manual’ or ‘pressure cook’ mode for 10 minutes. Let naturally release for 10 minutes, before manually releasing the remaining pressure.

  5. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and shred it using two forks. Transfer the chicken back to the sauce, stir to combine. Season with salt, more taco seasoning or adobo sauce, if desired.

  6. Serve the chicken tinga warm, alongside tostada shells, tortillas or over rice. Garnish with cabbage, radishes, cotija and avocado.


Note: Adobo sauce is the purée of tomato, vinegar, garlic, and other spices found in the can along with the Chipotle Peppers. Use 1-3 teaspoons of adobo sauce in this Chicken Tinga recipe depending on how spicy you would like the final results to be.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories265
  • Protein33 g
  • Carbohydrates4 g
  • Total Fat12 g
  • Dietary Fiber1 g
  • Cholesterol101 mg
  • sodium428 mg
  • Total Sugars2 g

Chicken Tinga

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

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  • Stephanie F

    Do you have an instapot adaptation for this recipe?

    We don't currently, we will add it to our list this week to test and get that method added! Thanks for the request Stephanie!

  • Jessica Lundy

    So flavorful and easy!

    Thanks Jessica, we are so happy you loved it!

  • Hayley Beltran

    I made these tonight and WHOA - what a return on investment! Flavor power punch in every bite and SO easy to throw together. Love love love!

    Thanks for the great feedback! We are so happy you enjoyed it!