Deliciously seasoned and moist Shredded Chicken Tacos are super easy to make! No special equipment is needed to make this chicken for tacos recipe – we’re making it right on the stovetop.
Is it taco Tuesday? Or maybe it’s taco Monday or taco Saturday? Tacos make a simple dinner any day of the week. At my house, nobody ever has any complaints about taco night.
Tacos with chicken are a slightly out of the ordinary way to serve tacos, especially if you’re more of a ground beef taco kind of family. We always enjoy Baked Chicken Tacos, but these are a bit different. Pulled chicken tacos are a taco option with less fat than beef tacos, and they are packed with bold Mexican flavors.
You’ve come to the right place if you are looking for a chicken for tacos recipe. Check out my others as well: Grilled Chicken Street Tacos, Instant Pot Chicken Tinga, and Grilled Chicken with a Mexican Marinade.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Stovetop Meal. There are lots of ways to make shredded chicken, but here we are doing it the simplest way, poached right on the stovetop.
- Customizable. Add any and all of your favorite Tex-Mex toppings to make these pulled chicken tacos your own.
- Flavorful. Chicken breast on its own is sort of boring. These chicken tacos are jazzed up with salsa, onions, and taco seasonings to make boring chicken fun again.
- Easy to Make Ahead. Do you like to meal prep? This shredded chicken taco filling works perfectly for taco salads or burrito bowls, and is delicious as leftovers.
Complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.
- Chicken Breasts: One pound is the perfect amount for this recipe, it should be 3 or 4 breasts, depending on their size. Make sure that you get boneless and skinless chicken for this recipe.
- Onion: I love adding fresh diced onion to all of my taco fillings. It adds tons of extra flavor plus moisture and some bulk.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic rather than garlic powder is so much more flavorful and pungent. 2 cloves is the perfect amount, but you can add a bit more if you like.
- Taco Seasonings: Follow the instructions in the recipe to create a taco seasoning featuring cumin, oregano, and chili, or make up a batch of my homemade taco seasoning ahead of time so you always have some on hand. Homemade taco seasoning has so much more flavor than the packaged stuff, and it has other ingredients in it that make it really special.
- Salsa: Any jarred salsa that you like will work really well in this recipe. The tomatoes in the salsa add moisture and flavor and help to create a sauce.
How to Make Chicken Tacos
- Poach Chicken: Place chicken breasts in a saucepan, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer for 10-12 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F/74°C. I use the kitchen thermometer to check as overcooked chicken will be dry.
- Shred Chicken: Remove the chicken to a cutting board and shred it using two forks.
Avoid the urge to use your hands to shred the chicken. It will be extremely hot in the center even after cooling for a bit. Use forks instead.
- Make Chicken Taco Sauce: In a skillet, heat oil and sauté the onion until it’s soft and translucent. Then add the garlic and sauté for just 30 seconds. Add cumin, chilli powder, and salt. Cook for 1 minute to combine. Add salsa, and cook to warm through.
- Add Chicken: Add the shredded chicken to the sauce. Simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- Serve: Serve chicken tacos in warmed tortillas or taco shells with your favorite toppings.
Shredded Chicken Taco Tips
- Cover the Chicken with Water: Make sure that your chicken is completely covered by water while poaching. If not, it will turn out dry.
- Don’t burn the garlic: The garlic only needs to cook for about 30 seconds. Any longer and it can burn, so be ready to add the other ingredients quickly.
- Adjust the heat: Like spicy chicken tacos? Use a hot salsa, or add a few shakes of your favorite hot sauce to the mixture.
Toppings for Shredded Chicken Tacos
I haven’t included any toppings with this recipe, because I believe that taco toppings are a personal choice and have to do with your family’s preferences. Here’s some guidance though:
- Cheese: Shredded cheddar or mexican blend cheese, cotija cheese, or your favorite cheese.
- Vegetables: Shredded lettuce or cabbage, fresh tomatoes, onions, and avocado. Make fresh Pica de Gallo salsa for a special treat, or whip up some easy guacamole.
- Something Creamy: Plain sour cream or a homemade Lime Crema adds creaminess and balances any spiciness.
- Citrus: A squeeze of lime or lemon juice can be the perfect finishing touch to your pulled chicken tacos.
What to Serve with Shredded Chicken Tacos
Chips and Dip: Tortilla Chips are always welcome at a Mexican themed dinner! Make up some Black Bean Dip, Pineapple Salsa, or Salsa Ranchera for dipping. For dessert try Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips.
Other Ways to Make Shredded Chicken Tacos
Making tacos with chicken is so easy! Here I’m showing you how to make simple Poached Chicken Breasts for chicken tacos, but there are other methods you can use to get the same result. Use your crockpot to make shredded chicken that cooks low and slow all day, or use your Instant Pot to make Mexican Shredded Chicken that only tastes like it cooked all day.
Cook a Whole Chicken using any of these Whole Chicken Recipes and shred to use in tacos.
Yes, you can use this method to boil frozen chicken breasts, it will take longer for the water to boil, and additional simmering time to cook them completely.
Making tacos with chicken breast rather than ground beef makes this meal lower in fat than a traditional taco dinner.
Pollo is the word for chicken in Spanish. These shredded chicken tacos might be called Tacos de Pollo in Mexico or at a Mexican restaurant.
Yes, these are the same thing. Both names come from the action used to break the chicken into small pieces, and are used interchangeably in some recipes.
Hold a fork in each hand. Place a cooked, still warm chicken breast on a cutting board, and use the forks to pull the breast into two pieces. Then take the forks and pull each of those pieces into two pieces. Continue this way until the chicken is shredded into the size pieces you desire.
Enjoy this out of the ordinary taco night recipe! Shredded Chicken Tacos will soon be a regular staple on your weeknight dinner menu, I just know it.
- 1 ½ pounds chicken breasts skinless boneless
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- ½ yellow onion minced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup salsa
- Poach chicken. Place chicken in a saucepan, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer for 10-12 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F/74°C. I use the kitchen thermometer to check as overcooked chicken will be dry.
- Transfer the chicken to a cutting board or bowl, and shred it with 2 forks.
- In a skillet, heat oil and sauté the onion until it’s soft and translucent (3 minutes).
- Add the garlic, and sauté for 30 seconds. Add cumin, chilli powder, and salt. Cook for 1 more minute.
- Add salsa, and just mix it in (if necessary, you can add a splash of water) and let it warm up.
- Add the chicken, and mix it in with the sauce. Simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- Serve in warmed up tortillas or taco shells with your favorite toppings.
- Frozen Chicken. You can use this method to boil frozen chicken breasts, it will take longer for the water to boil, and additional simmering time to cook them completely.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
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