May 04, 2023, Updated May 11, 2023
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Chicken tinga is a traditional Mexican dish known for its bold and smoky flavors. It consists of shredded chicken cooked in a flavorful tomato-chipotle sauce, resulting in a deliciously spicy and tangy filling. The dish originated in the state of Puebla and has gained popularity throughout Mexico and beyond!
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Shredded Chicken in Chipotle Sauce
The key ingredients in chicken tinga include chicken, tomatoes, onions, garlic, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, and a variety of spices such as cumin, oregano, and smoked paprika. The chicken is typically simmered in the sauce until it becomes tender and infused with the rich flavors.
The tomato-chipotle sauce provides the signature smoky and tangy taste of chicken tinga. The chipotle peppers add heat and depth, while the tomatoes bring a hint of sweetness and acidity to balance the flavors. The onions and garlic contribute aromatic notes, while the spices elevate the overall taste profile.
Chicken tinga is incredibly versatile and can be enjoyed in various ways. It is commonly used as a filling for tacos, tostadas, or burritos. It can also be served over rice or in a sandwich for a hearty and flavorful meal. Garnishes such as fresh cilantro, diced onions, crumbled cheese, and a squeeze of lime juice add extra layers of taste and texture.
With its robust flavors and tender chicken, chicken tinga is a crowd-pleasing dish that is perfect for gatherings or family meals. It offers a delicious taste of authentic Mexican cuisine and is sure to satisfy both spice lovers and food enthusiasts alike.
How To Make Chicken Tinga
To make this recipe, you will need the following ingredients:
- Shredded Chicken: The main protein component of chicken tinga, shredded chicken adds texture and substance to the dish.
- White Onion: White onion is commonly used in Mexican cuisine for its mild flavor and ability to enhance the overall taste of the dish. It adds a subtle sweetness and depth to the chicken tinga.
- Chipotle Peppers in Adobo: Chipotle peppers are smoked and dried jalapeno peppers that are rehydrated and canned in a tangy and slightly sweet adobo sauce. They provide the smoky and spicy flavor that is characteristic of chicken tinga. The adobo sauce also adds a rich, savory element.
- Olive Oil: Olive oil is used for sautéing the onions and garlic, providing a smooth base and imparting a subtle fruity flavor to the dish.
- Cumin: Cumin is a warm and earthy spice commonly used in Mexican cuisine. It adds depth and complexity to the chicken tinga, enhancing its overall flavor profile.
- Oregano: Oregano lends a distinct herbaceous and slightly floral note to the dish. It works in harmony with the other spices to create a well-rounded flavor.
- Garlic: Garlic adds aromatic and savory notes to the chicken tinga. It enhances the overall depth of flavor and complements the other ingredients.
- Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes: Fire-roasted diced tomatoes add a smoky and slightly charred flavor to the dish. They also contribute a tangy sweetness and help create a rich tomato-based sauce for the chicken tinga.
- Chili Powder: Chili powder is a spice blend that typically includes ground chili peppers, cumin, garlic powder, and other seasonings. It adds a mild heat and robust flavor to the chicken tinga, enhancing its overall spiciness and complexity.
Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, we will use the following process:
- Cook vegetables. Heat olive oil in a large skillet or pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic, chipotle peppers, cumin, oregano, and chili powder to the skillet. Stir well to combine and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes to release the flavors. Pour in the fire-roasted diced tomatoes, including the juices. Stir everything together and bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Blend. Blend sauce well until smooth.
- Add chicken. Add the shredded chicken to the skillet and mix well to coat the chicken with the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to low and let the chicken tinga simmer for 15-20 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together. If the mixture becomes too thick, you can add a splash of water or chicken broth to adjust the consistency.
- Enjoy! Serve the chicken tinga warm with your choice of accompaniments, such as warm tortillas, rice, beans, guacamole, salsa, or any other toppings of your liking.
Tips and Tricks to Perfect Chicken Tinga
Balance the flavors: Chicken tinga typically has a combination of smoky, spicy, tangy, and slightly sweet flavors. Adjust the amounts of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and other seasonings to achieve the desired balance of flavors.
Sear the chicken: Before simmering or boiling the chicken (if you’re not using a rotisserie or leftover shredded chicken), sear it in a hot skillet with a bit of oil. This step adds an extra layer of flavor and helps to brown the chicken slightly.
Slow cooking: For the best results, cook the chicken tinga on low heat for a longer period of time. This allows the flavors to meld together and results in tender, juicy chicken.
Adjust the heat level: If you prefer a spicier tinga, you can add more chipotle peppers or a pinch of cayenne pepper. Conversely, if you prefer a milder version, reduce the amount of chipotle peppers or use a smaller can of chipotles in adobo sauce.
Let it rest: Like many dishes, chicken tinga benefits from a brief resting period before serving. Allowing it to sit for 10-15 minutes after cooking helps the flavors to meld and develop further.
Serve with traditional accompaniments: Chicken tinga is often served on tortillas as tacos or tostadas. Consider topping it with traditional garnishes like crumbled queso fresco, diced avocado, chopped cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice.
Experiment with variations: While the traditional chicken tinga recipe calls for chicken, you can also try making tinga with other proteins like pork or beef. Additionally, you can customize the recipe by adding other ingredients such as black beans, corn, or bell peppers.
Chicken tinga is a traditional Mexican dish made with shredded chicken cooked in a smoky and spicy tomato-based sauce. It is typically served in tacos, tostadas, or as a filling for other Mexican dishes.
While shredded chicken breasts are preferred for their ease, you can use chicken thighs if you prefer, for an even better flavor. However, chicken breasts tend to be less juicy, so be cautious not to overcook them.
For the easiest way to shred chicken, add to the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and mix on medium until shredded. It really works, and it is SO easy! If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can shred the chicken using two forks, pulling them apart in opposite directions. Alternatively, you can use your hands to shred the chicken into smaller pieces.
Chicken tinga can have varying levels of spiciness depending on the amount of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce you use. Chipotle peppers are smoked jalapenos and can add a moderate level of spiciness. Adjust the amount according to your taste preferences.
Yes, chicken tinga can be made ahead of time. In fact, the flavors tend to develop and intensify when the dish is allowed to sit overnight. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator and reheat it gently on the stovetop when ready to serve.
Chicken tinga is commonly served in tacos, tostadas, or as a filling for burritos, enchiladas, or quesadillas. You can also serve it alongside rice, beans, guacamole, salsa, and other traditional Mexican side dishes.
Yes, chicken tinga can be frozen. Allow it to cool completely, then store it in a freezer-safe container or freezer bags. It can be kept frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
Absolutely! The flavorful tomato-based sauce from chicken tinga can be used as a base for soups, stews, or even as a sauce for pasta or rice dishes. It’s a versatile sauce that can add a delicious kick to various recipes.
What to Serve With Chicken Tinga
Tortillas: Chicken tinga is commonly served on warm tortillas as tacos. You can use either soft corn tortillas or flour tortillas.
Rice and Beans: A classic combination, serve chicken tinga with Mexican-style rice and refried beans. The rice and beans provide a satisfying and flavorful side dish.
Guacamole: Creamy guacamole pairs well with the smoky and spicy flavors of chicken tinga. Serve it as a topping for tacos or as a side dip.
Salsa and Pico de Gallo: Fresh and vibrant salsas or pico de gallo add a burst of flavor to the dish. Choose your favorite salsa, whether it’s a fiery salsa roja or a tangy salsa verde.
Mexican Street Corn: Grilled corn on the cob slathered with mayo, cotija cheese, chili powder, and lime juice is a fantastic side dish to accompany chicken tinga.
Cilantro Lime Rice: Add some brightness to your meal with cilantro lime rice. The fresh flavors complement the smoky chicken tinga.
Mexican Slaw: A crunchy and refreshing slaw made with cabbage, carrots, and a tangy dressing can provide a contrast in textures and flavors.
Avocado Slices: Creamy avocado slices are a fantastic accompaniment to chicken tinga. They add richness and help balance the spiciness.
Queso Fresco or Cotija Cheese: Sprinkle crumbled queso fresco or cotija cheese on top of the chicken tinga for a salty and creamy touch.
Mexican Street-Style Cornbread: Instead of traditional cornbread, consider making a Mexican street-style version with corn, jalapenos, and cheese. It complements the flavors of chicken tinga beautifully.
Chicken Tinga Recipe
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- 2 cups shredded chicken
- 1 white onion, finely chopped
- 2 chipotle peppers in adobo, minced
- 2 tablespoons adobo sauce (from the can of chipotle peppers)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 can (14 ounces) fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon chili powder (adjust to taste)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet or pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the minced garlic, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, cumin, oregano, and chili powder to the skillet. Stir well to combine and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes to release the flavors.
- Pour in the fire-roasted diced tomatoes, including the juices. Stir everything together and bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Blend sauce well until smooth, return to pan.
- Add the shredded chicken to the skillet and mix well to coat the chicken with the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Reduce the heat to low and let the chicken tinga simmer for 15-20 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together. If the mixture becomes too thick, you can add a splash of water or chicken broth to adjust the consistency.
- Serve the chicken tinga warm with your choice of accompaniments, such as warm tortillas, rice, beans, guacamole, salsa, or any other toppings of your liking.
Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 212Total Fat 12gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 9gCholesterol 51mgSodium 251mgCarbohydrates 7gFiber 2gSugar 3gProtein 18g
Nutrition is automatically calculated by Nutritionix - please verify all nutrition information independently and consult with a doctor or nutritionist for any and all medical and diet advice.