Best Chicken Tinga Recipes
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Chicken Tinga Shopping Tips
Buy whole chickens and ask the butcher to quarter them for you. You will save an average of $5 per pound, or more.
Chicken Tinga Cooking Tips
Legs take longer than breasts to cook. For more consistent results, mark the chicken on the grill and then finish cooking them in an oven.
Chicken Tinga Recipe
Tinga is the perfect combination of chicken, sliced onions, and a tomato chipotle sauce. Just enough heat from the chipotle to tickle your taste butts. So are you ready to learn how to make chicken tinga recipe? Let’s get started!
Mexican chicken tinga is a classic recipe that is served throughout Mexico and also known as Tinga de Pollo.
Chicken tinga is made with shredded chicken and a spicy red sauce.
The main ingredient for the tinga sauce is chipotle with adobo sauce. Chipotle is a smokey dried jalapeño that has a very strong and spicy flavor.
The adobo sauce initially was used as a way to preserve raw food like meats and vegetables. They used it when refrigerators were not readily available.
Over time this was not necessary anymore but as an added bonus the adobo sauce now gives ingredients a nice flavor.
Adobo sauce’s primary use became to flavor recipes like this chicken tinga recipe. The adobo sauce is made with ingredients like:
I used chipotle in adobo from La Costeña. I love spicy food and can handle quite some heat but chipotle is something different.
The heat comes as an afterthought. So if you are not the one for spicy food then just take one small chipotle.
If you can handle some heat take two chipotles like in this recipe. Still, my advice is to be careful and start with one.
You can always add more if you want.
Want to see how you can shred a chicken breast to use in your chicken tinga recipe? Watch the recipe video with step by step instructions on how to shred a chicken breast.
What is tinga
During the colonial period, cooks in the state of Puebla, Mexico, invented the tingas, which are a true marriage between Spain and Mexico.
Using a mixture of European and Mexican foods with a European cooking method, tinga became one of the most popular dishes in Mexico.
Onions and garlic are sauteed. Tomatoes are added, then stock, herbs, and spices are put in. The mixture is simmered to make a sauce.
The precooked meat and sometimes chorizo sausage are added, with canned chipotle chile.
A tinga is really a stew, prepared in a special way. Chiles, onions, garlic, and tomatoes are NEVER ground and cooked in fat as they are in moles.
This dish is as authentic as it can be, and if you learn how to make it, you will never need another chicken tinga recipe.
Tinga can be made with all kinds of meat like chicken (pollo), beef (res), or pork (puerco) in a spicy, smoky sauce made with tomatoes, chiles, Chipotle in adobo, and lots of onions.
It makes a great taco or tostada filling.
What is a Chile Chipotle?
Chipotles are jalapeno chiles that are picked when fully ripe and red. They are left to dry on mats in the sun, then smoked. After that, the chiles are rehydrated and pickled in a rich adobo sauce made with vinegar and spices.
There are many good brands out there, and every one of them tastes different, so make sure you taste a few of them before choosing your favorite.
The recipe below uses Chipotle peppers in Adobo, and you can buy them in any grocery store that carries Mexican products.
Chile chipotle is one of the most popular ingredients in Mexican cuisine. Because I cook a lot of Mexican food, I always have a can of Chipotle in Adobo in my pantry.
What is Adobo?
Adobo means in Spanish a pickle sauce, but it is used in Mexico to mean a very thick chile sauce which usually, but not always, contains a little vinegar. The Adobo itself varies from recipe to recipe.
According to Wikipedia, &ldquochipotles (smoked ripe jalapeño peppers) are stewed in a sauce with tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, salt, and spices. The spices vary but generally include several types of peppers (in addition to the chipotle and most likely those on hand), ground cumin, and dried oregano. Some recipes include orange juice and lemon or lime juices. They often include a pinch of brown sugar just to offset any bitter taste.&rdquo
For the ones who do not live in the United States, look for dried chipotle. It is a powerful spice, so a little goes a long way.
What kind of ingredients you need for this Authentic Mexican Chicken Tinga or Tinga de pollo:
- Chicken&ndash the traditional Mexican recipe uses chicken breast, but thighs are great to use as well. For the ones out there who would like shortcuts, rotisserie chicken works beautifully. You just need to shred it.
- Onions- white onions are the typical onions used in Mexico in a lot of recipes.
- Tomatoes- I will soon describe how to prepare the tomatoes for the salsa we will use in this chicken tinga. I like fresh tomatoes, but I know that many of you out there will use whatever type of tomatoes you have in hand. Canned tomatoes are great to use, especially in the winter when tomatoes are not in season. Use fire-roasted tomatoes in a can, crushed tomatoes, or even tomato sauce or paste.
- Chipotle chiles&ndash see my explanation above
- Garlic cloves
- VegetableOilor lard&ndash both are very popular
- Salt, pepper
- Oregano, thyme, marjoram
How to make the Chicken Tinga or Tinga de Pollo:
Bring a pot of water and salt to a boil and add the chicken breast to cook. Allow the chicken breast to simmer until it is cooked through.
This is a basic recipe, but you can add other things to the pot, an onion cut in quarters, some Mexican dried oregano, 1-2 garlic cloves. Make sure you skim the foam that forms on top of the water as it starts simmering.
Tip: If you already have cooked chicken or even rotisserie chicken in the fridge, use that one. You will put dinner on the table faster. If not, continue with the recipe.
Prepare the other ingredients. While the chicken is cooking, slice the onions.
Heat up the oil in a large pan and add the onion.
Cook the onion until soft and translucent for about 5-6 minutes. The authentic Mexican chicken tinga has lots of onions that give sweetness and flavor to the dish, so if you do not love onions, this dish might not be for you.
Step three- The Tomato Sauce
Place the tomatoes in a medium saucepan, cover with water, bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes are soft and mushy but not falling apart.
In a blender, place the tomatoes, garlic, salt, pepper and 2-3 chiles chipotle from the can.
Tip: If you do not have fresh tomatoes, use diced tomatoes or tomato sauce in a can instead.
Be careful with the chiles. The original Mexican recipe calls for the entire can of Chipotle, but I found it to be too powerful and spicy for us, so I added fewer chiles in the blender.
Of course, you can play with how spicy the dish will be, so if you feel like it is not spicy enough for your taste, you can add more Chipotle.
I personally look more for flavor and less for making it too spicy.
You can only add more, but you cannot take out the chiles as soon as you blend them all together. If you can handle the heat, go for it.
So, after blending the ingredients, taste the salsa for salt and pepper and adjust the seasoning if you need to.
Step four- Bringing the sauce together
Mix the salsa with the onions. Add oregano, marjoram, thyme.
Mexican oregano is the traditional spice, so feel free to add or skip the marjoram and the thyme entirely if you don&rsquot like them.
Let it simmer on low heat while you take the chicken out of the water. Be careful as the sauce will steam and bubble.
Stir occasionally, partially covered, until the sauce becomes darker and thicker.
NOTE: DO NOT discard the chicken stock. You can make a beautiful Mexican white rice for this dish, using the stock to boil the rice.
Or, you can make a soup or simply freeze it and use it later for different recipes.
Step five- Shred the chicken and mix it with the sauce.
You can also use two forks for this operation.
Add the chicken to the salsa and mix.
Taste again for salt and pepper. Let it simmer for only a minute so the ingredients get acquainted with each other.
The traditional way to eat this dish is with white rice.
However, feel free to serve it hot on warm corn or flour tortillas, with sliced avocados, shredded lettuce, Mexican crema (or sour cream if you don&rsquot have access to the Mexican one), fresh onion, etc.
This recipe is very suitable for a picnic, potluck, or even tailgating as you can make it in advance and serve it warm from a crockpot.
Some other ways to eat this Authentic Mexican Chicken tinga:
Tostadas: These are crispy corn tortillas. Tostadas are a sturdy base for various Mexican toppings and very easy to find in grocery stores.
Traditional tostadas start with a layer of refried beans. Add chicken tinga, then top with shredded lettuce, avocado, or radishes slices. Crumbled cheese, Mexican crema, and salsa work well too.
Tortas: French-style bread is used in Mexico to make sandwiches since the 1800s. The sandwiches are called &ldquotortas.&rdquo The bread is called &ldquobolillos.&rdquo
Slice the bread in half horizontally, spread refried beans on each side, add chicken tinga, a thick slice of cheese, avocado and tomato slices, pickled jalapenos, etc.
Wrap the sandwich and take it with you for a hearty lunch or on the go.
Tacos with corn tortillas: Warm up the tortillas first. There are 2 ways to do that: warm up the tortillas in a skillet, then cover them with a clean towel until ready to serve.
The other way is to place them directly over a gas flame to char them a little bit. Again, place them on a plate and cover them with a clean towel. Tacos made with tinga this way are called tacos de guisado, very popular in Mexico, usually made out of different home-style dishes.
Wait, what? what is a taco de guisado?
Guisados are home-style dishes, anything from stews to stir-fries. They are extremely popular in every household and on the streets where you can find taco stands.
There are tacos de guisados for breakfast and lunch and great for workers who stop to get their lunch during the day. Every busy corner has at least a couple of street stands in any Mexican city.
These tacos are not served with any toppings besides maybe a little bit of salsa. They are simple, delicious, and satisfying. Another example of taco de guisado on my blog is this recipe of Mexican Picadillo.
Do you want to finish this meal in style? Make this wonderful bread pudding Mexican style for the entire family.
I want to make this chicken tinga in a slow cooker, can I do that?
Absolutely! I would start cooking the onions first, in a separate pan, blend the ingredients for the salsa together, then place everything in a slow cooker/crockpot and add the uncooked chicken.
Set the slow cooker on high for 4 hours, or on low for 6 hours and you are good to go.
It is effortless and will not take away from the dish&rsquos authenticity, as the ingredients will really have time to get friendly with each other in the crockpot.
Can I freeze leftover chicken tinga?
Yes, you can. Any cooked chicken tinga leftovers can be placed in the freezer and used later. It would be good for up to 3 months.
If you want to freeze uncooked tinga, I would make the salsa in the blender separately, freeze, then just cook the chicken on the day you want to serve it. Another option would be to make it quickly with roasted chicken.
I would not add the onions to the blender as the beauty of this dish is the texture of sliced onions and chicken mixed with the salsa.
Can I make this chicken tinga in an Instant pot?
From frozen salsa and chicken&ndash If you start with frozen chicken mixed with salsa(see the method above), place the sliced onions and oil in the Instant pot and press the Saute button. Cook the onions until soft and translucent, then add the frozen salsa with chicken in the pot.
Cook for 12 minutes on high pressure, then allow a 10 minutes natural release. Keep in mind that the pot will need a little bit more time to build pressure with frozen ingredients.
Roasted Red Pepper and Mozzarella Sandwich
This sandwich makes an excellent lunch or dinner, and can be ready in minutes. Most grocery stores carry roasted red peppers in the canned vegetable aisle, making this recipe as easy as can be. Roasted red peppers and pesto is truly a match made in heaven! This recipe especially nice if you are avoiding turning on the oven during those hot summer months.
Chicken Tinga for Tacos
In a small saucepan, combine the piloncillo (or brown sugar), vinegar and 1/3 cup water. Bring to a simmer and stir until the piloncillo dissolves. Add the garlic, chiles and ½ teaspoon salt, then simmer for a couple of minutes. Cool. You’ll want to weight the mixture with a small plate to keep the chiles submerged. Let stand for a couple of hours and let the sweet-sour liquid to soak into the chiles until they're softened.
Set a very large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high heat and film the bottom liberally with oil. When hot add the onion. Stir for several minutes until it softens, then scatter the chicken over the pan. Nestle it down to the bottom of the pan so that it will brown. Cook until everything is richly browned, then stir in the garlic and cook a minute longer.
In a blender, process the tomatoes to a very coarse puree. Add to the browned chicken in the skillet, along with the chiles and oregano. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the chicken is tender and the mixture is thick. Taste and season with salt
Serve your chicken tinga on warm tortillas with slices of avocado, a sprinkling of fresh cheese (queso fresco) and leaves of cilantro
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 small chipotle chile, canned in adobo
- ¾ cup chopped tomato
- ¼ cup unsalted chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
- 2 cups shredded chicken breast
- 1 cup shredded dark meat chicken
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed
- ¼ cup reduced-fat sour cream
- ½ cup cilantro
- 1 ripe peeled avocado, sliced
- 1 ounce queso fresco, crumbled
- 4 lime wedges
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic sauté 4 minutes. Add oregano, cumin, and chipotle chile cook 1 minute. Add tomato, stock, and adobo bring to a simmer. Cook 7 minutes. Place tomato mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape) secure blender lid on blender. Cover opening with a kitchen towel (to avoid splatters) blend until smooth. Return sauce to pan over low heat. Add chicken and salt cook 1 minute. Divide mixture among tortillas. Top evenly with sour cream, cilantro, avocado, and cheese. Serve with lime.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, cut into rings
- 1 (15 ounce) can stewed tomatoes
- 1 (7 ounce) can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, or to taste
- 2 pounds shredded cooked chicken meat
- 16 tostada shells
- ½ cup sour cream
Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions cook and stir until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, puree the tomatoes with chipotle peppers and adobo sauce to taste. Pour into the onions, and add chicken. Cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
To serve, mound the chicken onto tostada shells, and garnish with a dollop of sour cream.
Here are a few more variations that you are welcome to try with this chicken tinga recipe…
- Use fresh tomatoes: Use 1 pound of diced Roma tomatoes in place of the canned tomatoes and let the tomato sauce simmer for an extra 5 minutes before adding the chicken and bay leaf.
- Leave the onions unblended. Many traditional tinga recipes do not blend the onions, so feel free to leave the sautéed onions and garlic in the stockpot instead of blending them in with the tomato sauce mixture.
- Add chorizo: Chorizo is often added to tinga in traditional Mexican cooking and adds amazing flavor to this dish too! (Here is an authentic chicken tinga recipe you are welcome to try that uses chorizo.) To add chorizo to this recipe, simply sauté between 1/2 to 1 pound of Mexican chorizo (removed from its casing) until browned, drain off any excess grease (or you can use it to sauté the onion and garlic), and add the chorizo at the same time that you add the chicken.
- Add beans: Rinse, drain and add 1 can of pinto or black beans at the same time that you add the chicken.
- Make it spicier: Sauté a diced jalapeño or serrano chile along with the onion and garlic to add some extra heat.
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 1/2 pounds trimmed, skinless, bone-in chicken thighs
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 2 canned chipotles in adobo, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 24 corn tortillas
- 2 ounces Cotija cheese, crumbled
- Sliced scallions and chopped cilantro, for garnish
Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper, add it to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned, about 12 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and pour off the fat in the skillet.
Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet along with the onion. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is lightly browned and softened, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices, the chipotles and the broth and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened and slightly reduced, 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Transfer the sauce to a food processor and let cool for 15 minutes. Puree until smooth and season with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Bake the chicken uncovered in the center of the oven for about 45 minutes, until the meat is tender and the sauce is very thick and darkened around the edges. Wrap the tortillas in foil and warm them in the oven for about 10 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the sauce and shred the meat discard the bones. Return the chicken meat to the sauce. Spoon about 3 tablespoons of chicken onto each tortilla and sprinkle with the crumbled cheese. Garnish the chicken tacos with the scallions and chopped cilantro and serve hot.
Traditional Mexican chicken tinga, very few ingredients and so flavorful. You’ll love this easy recipe. You can serve it with rice, in tacos, tostadas or even nachos for a twist.
We usually serve it with rice (you can use the white mexican rice) or with tortillas or corn tostadas to make tacos or tostadas with chopped lettuce, sour cream or Mexican crema, tomato and some lime juice.
Serving Up Chicken Tinga
As mentioned, chicken tinga is super versatile. You can serve it up pretty much any way you&rsquod like.
Consider it for chicken tinga tacos, burritos, flautas, topping tostadas, chicken tortas, even over rice with other fixings for a satisfying burrito bowl. Try Chicken Tinga Nachos! Add in extra ingredients like refried beans, black beans, sour cream or Mexican crema, extra sliced roasted jalapenos, shredded cheese, all your favorites.