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Mexican Chicken Tinga Recipe

Cuisine: Mexican

Chicken tinga is a traditional Mexican-style taco or tostada filling with a robust savory and smoky flavor. It is prepared using the chipotle tomato sauce that is rich in flavor and spicy together with sliced onions.  The sauce gives the chicken tinga its bright red color and a delicious taste. You will find tinga being served all over Mexico in homes and restaurants alike. It comes together very fast with very minimal effort. This authentic delicacy can also be referred to as “Tinga de pollo”. The recipe will work out well during meals and can be a quick fix for picnics.

Important keywords

 Tinga– A stew made specially.

 Adobo- A Spanish pickle sauce used in Mexico to refer to a very thick Chile sauce that may contain a bit of vinegar but not necessarily.

Ingredient List

4 Servings

  • I pound, boneless chicken breast.
  • 4 ripe plum tomatoes
  • 2 large white onions, sliced
  • 2 tbsp, canned chipotle
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
  • 1 tsp, Mexican oregano
  • 1 cup, chicken broth
  • 3 tbsp, cooking oil or olive oil
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • Salt to taste



  • Blender
  • Cutting or chopping board
  • A deep or large frying pan
  • Kitchen knife
  • A deep skillet
  • A skillet or pan lid
  • Kitchen spoon
  • Plate
  • Tongs to serve
  • Forks

Preparation Method and Cooking Instructions

Difficulty: Easy

Preparation time: Approx. 20 minutes

Cook time: Approx. 50 minutes

Total time: Approx. 1 hour 10 minutes


Preparing the shredded chicken 

  1. In the skillet, put the chicken and add water that covers the chicken by approx. an inch, season, and then bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes or until it is thoroughly cooked.
  2. Take the chicken out and set it aside for it to cool to the touch. Keep the broth.
  3. To shred the chicken, cut it into one-inch pieces and then pull the pieces apart. You can use the forks to shred or your fingers.


Preparing the chipotle tomato sauce

  1. Clean the tomatoes thoroughly, roughly chop them, and add them to a regular or high-powered blender.
  2. Add in 2 tbsp of the chipotle or a little bit more if you like it spicier.
  3. Into the blender, put a clove of garlic, a tsp of the Mexican oregano, and a ¼ tsp of the black pepper. Add a cup of the reserved chicken broth and pulse for approx. 1 minute or until smooth.


Preparing the chicken tinga


  1. Preheat your large pan using medium-low heat, and then proceed to add the cooking oil.
  2. Into the pan, add the sliced onions. Cook the onions until they start to run translucent for approx.. 4 minutes. Do not let them brown.
  3. Add in the crushed or finely chopped garlic to the pan and cook for about 45 seconds to a minute while stirring.
  4. In medium heat, slowly pour the chipotle sauce into the pan containing the onion and garlic combination.
  5. Allow to cook for five minutes for the sauce to start reducing. Reduce the heat to low.
  6. Take the shredded chicken and add it in. Mix the chicken and the sauce properly.
  7. Now cover the pan and allow the chicken and sauce mixture to simmer for around 20 minutes. The sauce should reduce even more to coat the onion and chicken.
  8. Season with salt to taste or to your liking. Your filling is now ready.


Serving Instructions and Suggestions

 Course: Main dish

  • Chicken tinga is mainly used as a filling. It can be used as a tostada, empanada, burrito, or taco filling. Chicken tinga tacos are made using warm corn or flour tortillas. It can also be used as a topping for sopes.
  • Chicken tinga is not limited to filling only but can also be served as a main dish together with Mexican rice. A salad on the side won’t hurt.

Tricks and pro tips

  • The recipe will require you to use canned chipotle in adobo sauce. These are readily available in any chile market and in the salsa or Hispanic grocery store section. Be careful with the chipotle sauce added as it is powerful and can be very spicy.
  • When reheating, be it in a microwave or a saucepan, sprinkle a splash of water for it not to dry out or stick on the pan.
  • White or yellow onions are typical and the best for Mexican cooking.


Ingredient Substitutions

  • The traditional recipe will use chicken breast. However, you can choose to use chicken thighs. Anyone who likes shortcuts, shredded rotisserie chicken will work excellently too.
  • When tomatoes are not in season or low in supply, you can use canned tomatoes. Tomato paste or sauce, crushed tomatoes, or canned fire-roasted tomatoes can be used too.
  • You can use Italian oregano in place of the Mexican oregano.

Additions and extra touches

  • When preparing the chicken broth, you can add other ingredients such as onions and preferred spices for more flavor.
  • To add a twist when using the chicken tinga filling, you can add extra fillings such as sliced avocados, sour cream or the Mexican crema, extra fresh sliced onion, and shredded lettuce. Or you can simply use guacamole. The variance in ingredient combination of freshness, the flavors, texture, and temperature are perfect!
  • You can also sprinkle chopped coriander leaves and stalks.
  • For the salsa, you can add lemon zest for that tangy taste.



Serving size: 1 cup

  • Calories: 218kcal
  • Protein: 28g
  • Carbohydrates: 8g
  • Fat: 8g
  • Sodium: 450mg
  • Sugar:4g


You can store your chicken tinga by refrigerating it for 2-3 days. Make sure to use airtight containers for the chicken not to dry out and also to preserve its freshness. It will also freeze very well. This is ideal when you have prepared a huge batch that you need to have in hand for a quick meal. Use freezer-proof bags, and when you need to use thaw the chicken tinga, reheat, and it is ready.