Made with tender, shredded chicken that has been simmered in a perfectly seasoned sauce, these Easy Chicken Tacos make a quick and healthy dinner recipe.
Tacos are a universally loved food. From vegetarian tacos like Cauliflower Tacos and Sweet Potato Tacos to classic Beef Tacos, or light and bright Fish Tacos there is a taco for everyone! And these Shredded Chicken Tacos will quickly become a favorite!
These Shredded Chicken Tacos are similar to my recipe for Instant Pot Chicken Tacos and Crockpot Salsa Chicken, but instead of needing a special piece of equipment to make perfectly tender, seasoned chicken taco meat, this recipe uses the stovetop to produce the same results.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Quick & Easy. Shredded Chicken Tacos come together in under 30 minutes to create a simple meal perfect for any night of the week.
- Allergy-Friendly. This recipe for chicken taco meat is gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free, and soy-free.
- Flavorful. The combination of salsa, taco seasoning, and fresh lime juice makes these chicken tacos absolutely irresistible.
- Versatile. Whether served as tacos, on a taco salad, over rice, or in the meat for chicken enchiladas, this Mexican chicken can be served in endless ways.
Notes on Ingredients
- Chicken: You can use either boneless, skinless chicken breasts or boneless, skinless chicken thighs to make chicken taco meat. I prefer using chicken breasts, as they tend to shred easier than chicken thighs.
- Water: While you can opt to poach the chicken in chicken stock, we will be adding so much flavor to the chicken once poached, there is absolutely no need to use anything but water and salt.
- Taco Seasoning: This recipe calls for dried spices that mimic homemade taco seasoning. While you can use packaged taco seasoning, I highly recommend using the homemade blend for the best results.
- Salsa: In place of using canned tomato sauce, as I do in my recipe for taco meat made with ground beef, I prefer using salsa when making chicken tacos, as chicken tends to need more flavor than beef and the salsa works perfectly well to give the chicken that flavor. Use homemade salsa or your favorite store-bought salsa.
- Lime: One of the reasons this recipe stands out above other recipes for chicken tacos is the addition of fresh lime juice. It elevates the flavor and makes everything pop. Don't overlook this addition.
How to Make Shredded Chicken Tacos
The following tips are provided to help you achieve perfect results. You will find the detailed instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Step One: Poach the Chicken. Place the chicken into a large saucepan and sprinkle the chicken evenly with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Cover the chicken with cold tap water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Then reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the chicken is no longer pink. This will take 12-15 minutes.
Step Two: Shred the Chicken. Transfer the cooked chicken to a large bowl. Allow it to cool slightly, then shred it with two forks. Alternatively, you can use a handheld or stand mixer to make quick work of shredding your chicken.
Step Three: Season the Chicken. In a large skillet, combine the shredded chicken with the salsa, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and chili powder. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 5 minutes, or until the chicken has warmed through. Remove the skillet from the heat. Add the lime juice and toss to coat.
How to Serve with Shredded Mexican Chicken
Shredded Mexican Chicken is an obvious choice for tacos, but there are multiple ways you can use this seasoned chicken meat.
- Create a shredded chicken taco by serving the chicken on warmed corn or flour tortillas, topped with your favorite toppings, such as shredded lettuce, cotija cheese, and/or sour cream.
- Use the shredded chicken to create a burrito by filling it in a large burrito with a scoop of Instant Pot Cilantro Lime Rice, shredded cheese, and any other toppings you like.
- Top Instant Pot Brown Rice or Instant Pot Jasmine Rice with shredded Mexican chicken and cheese to create a simple burrito bowl.
- Spread the shredded seasoned chicken over tortilla chips, cover with cheese, and broil until the cheese is melted. Top with guacamole, sour cream, and hot sauce to create chicken nachos.
- Use the seasoned chicken taco meat as a filling for Chicken Enchiladas or in Chicken Enchilada Casserole.
This Shredded Chicken Taco Meat is a fabulous meal to make in bulk and keep on hand in the freezer or refrigerator to make a quick lunch or dinner.
- Refrigerate: Store leftover shredded Mexican Chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Freeze: Freeze the cooled, shredded chicken in a freezer-safe bag or container for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator and then warm through in the microwave or in a dry skillet over low heat until warm.
FAQs About Shredded Mexican Chicken
Yes! You can safely poach frozen chicken by simmering it for about 10 minutes longer than if your chicken was defrosted, to fully cook the chicken through. Alternatively, you can use my recipe for Instant Pot Chicken Tacos, which can also be used safely to cook frozen chicken.
You can control the level of spice with the salsa you use to flavor the chicken. Select a mild salsa for mildly spicy chicken tacos or use hot salsa for spicy chicken tacos.
More Favorite Taco Recipes
If you enjoyed this easy recipe for Shredded Chicken Tacos, I would love for you to leave a comment and review below.
Shredded Chicken Tacos
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or chicken thighs
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- water for poaching
- ¾ cup prepared salsa
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 lime
- tortillas, avocado, cheese, sour cream, jalapenos, etc for serving
- Place the chicken into a large saucepan and sprinkle the chicken evenly with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Cover the chicken with cold tap water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Then reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the chicken is no longer pink. This will take 12-15 minutes.
- Once the chicken has reached 165℉, remove the chicken from the saucepan and transfer the cooked chicken to a large bowl. Allow it to cool slightly, then shred it with two forks.
- In a large skillet, combine the shredded chicken with the salsa, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and chili powder. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 5 minutes, or until the chicken has warmed through.
- Remove the skillet from the heat. Juice the lime over the skillet and toss to coat.
- Serve the shredded chicken taco meat on warmed corn tortillas or flour tortillas, with desired toppings of your choice.