Shredded Chicken Tacos Made Easy

Shredded Chicken Tacos Made Easy, 3.8 out of 5 based on 152 ratings
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Rating: 3.8/5 (152 votes cast)

Shredded chicken tacos seasoned Mexican style, just like the taco shops in San Diego. Stuffed with lettuce, cheese and tomatoes. Add rice and beans, guacamole, sour cream, salsa, hot sauce… whatever you like and you’ve got a great Mexican dinner!

Shredded Chicken Tacos Plate 1Ingredients: Shredded Chicken

1 1/2lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs ( about 4-5 )

4 cups water

1 teas. salt

1/3 teas. pepper

1/2 teas. garlic powder

1 teas. onion powder

2 teas. chili powder

1 teas. dry oregano

1/4 teas. cumin powder

Method: Shredded Chicken

Shredded Chicken CookingShredded ChickenThoroughly wash your chicken and then simply add all of the ingredients to a medium to large skillet, or,  sauce pan big enough to hold everything. Bring it to a boil and boil for about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low to medium low and simmer for about 30 minutes with the lid cracked. You’re looking for a nice little bubble.

After about 40 minutes, most but not all of the liquid should have evaporated and the chicken should be falling apart when poked with a spoon or spatula. Go ahead and shred it with your spatula or spoon and remove from heat to cool slightly. It should look like the picture. It’s ready for tacos.

Note: If there is still a lot of liquid left simply take the lid off and turn the heat to high. This will boil off any excess liquid but be sure to watch it closely. You don’t want to dry it out.

Ingredients: Shredded Chicken Tacos

shredded chicken

10-15 corn tortillas ( 6in.)

1/2 head lettuce ( shredded )

1 tomato ( small dice )

6 oz. shredded cheddar cheese ( or whatever you like )

3-4 cups oil ( for frying )

wood toothpicks

Method: Shredded Chicken Tacos


Shredded Chicken Tacos Assembly 1Shredded Chicken Tacos Assembly 2Shredded Chicken Tacos Assembly 3Shredded Chicken Tacos FryingAdd your oil to a medium size skillet to fill about a 3/4 in. up the side and heat to 350 degrees. Carefully place 1 tortilla at a time into the hot oil and fry for about 5 to 10 seconds a side. All you’re doing at this stage is getting the tortillas pliable. Remove and stack them on a plate. After all of your tortillas are done, flip the whole stack over to allow the excess oil to drain evenly.

These can be done while your chicken is cooking.

When your chicken and tortillas are ready, add about 2 to 3 tbsp. of the shredded chicken across and just above the center of a tortilla and fold it over. “Sew it up” with 2 toothpicks as shown in the picture. Continue until all of your tacos are done.

Note: Turn the heat on your oil down to low while you’re assembling the tacos. Heat it back up just before you finish with your tacos.

Once your tacos are done, place 3 or 4 into the hot oil (350) and fry for about 2 to 4 minutes a side or until they turn the color of corn chips ( golden ).  Remove and drain on paper towels or a cooling rack. Removing the toothpicks is easier while they’re still hot, right out of the fryer is easiest but be careful, they’re hot!

Now, just open them up and add your toppings! Add beans and rice and make it a meal.

Shredded Chicken Tacos Plate 2The crunchy shells, the spicily flavored chicken topped with “salad fixings”, whats not to love, these are awesome shredded chicken tacos! Rice and beans added to your plate… reminds me of the drive-thru or walk-up window at most any taco shop in San Diego. Enjoy!! HAPPY COOKING!


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Shredded Chicken Tacos Made Easy — 142 Comments

  1. VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

    Hi David,
    This the second recipe of yours that I have made. The first one I made was your chili colorado and it’s fantastic. As a family we are no longer eating beef, so I needed a good chicken taco recipe. Yours seemed very easy so I wanted to give them a try. Another home run with me, my husband and 7 year old! I used chicken breast. I am just not a fan of thigh meat. This is the second time I have made your tacos. The first time I used water and this weekend I decide to use chicken stock for the liquid. I found that the stock did not make a difference at all. No need to waste good chicken stock if you don’t need to. Anyway, these are delicious!

    I do have a question for you. Why do you fry your tortillas with the meat in them? I have always fried my tortillas by themselves. Do you find there is an advantage to this extra step?

    Thank you again for sharing your recipes. I can’t wait to try something else!


    • VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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      Hi Rachel,

      Thanks for trying some of my recipes and so nice to hear you like them.

      Chicken breast is a great substitute for thighs and you’re right about the chicken broth. There is no significant difference when using water or chicken stock except an extra cost. There is enough flavor in the seasonings that stock really doesn’t change the flavor.

      As for why I fry the shells with the meat inside, it’s just easier than frying shells from scratch unless you have a taco shell frying mold. I do often fry my own shells using nothing more that hot oil and a pair of tongs. There is an art to this and can be difficult for some so by “sewing” them up with toothpicks makes it easier.

      You can use those pre-made shells from the store but they don’t have the same authentic flavor or freshness of making your own. There is a health advantage of adding the meat to a preformed shell as they are less greasy. But, for authenticity, you’ll find most good Mexican restaurants fry their tacos with the meat inside :-)

      Either way you do them works great and thanks for asking.

      Happy Cooking!

      • VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
        Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

        Oh boy, what I would do for a restaurant style taco frying mold at home! Haha. Thanks for your explanation. I just fry my tortillas with a pair of tongs. I have gotten pretty good at it, too. Also, if I were to bring home those pre-made shells you can get at the grocery store my family wouldn’t let me live it down! They are spoiled. Thanks again!

        • VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
          Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

          Hi Rachel,

          You are very welcome for the explanation, I fry mine like you do and I don’t get the pre-made shells either but hey, I have an idea I think we both can use.

          I just found something to fry your shells with on here’s a link to some taco frying molds as well as taco bowl molds. These you can use at home to make your life easier :-)

          Here’s the link Taco Shell Molds

          Hope that helps,

  2. VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

    I had to come on here and tell you David that these are fantastic. I always make ground beef tacos for my family and we aren’t huge fans but don’t know how else to make tacos so I decided to look up chicken tacos online. After I found your recipe I ran to the store to buy some thighs ( I am a chicken breast girl but your pictures pulled me in ) – I made the mistake and bought the thigh with bone / skin. I was so bummed so I decided to go with the breast I had on hand. I was nervous because an hour in my chicken still wouldn’t shred but I just let it cook and kept poking at it until I was able to shred it entirely. I served it and my boyfriend loved it – I honestly found it very bland but was still a fan. I packed away the left overs and the next day reached for it because I dreamt about it all night and to my surprise – it was sooooooo much better the next day after soaking in all the juices!!!! I literally ate the entire container and here I am back again to make it today. I can’t resist – it’s absolutely amazing! My only question was if you used white or yellow corn tortillas – I am assuming white but mine didn’t look like yours after frying. Thanks for the great recipe, keep up the good work!

    • VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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      Hi Caitlyn,

      Thank you so much, I really enjoy reading what you have to say. Sorry to hear you got the bone in – skin on chicken thighs but great choice substituting with chicken breast, they work great too.

      As far as the blandness of the first night you ate them I would recommend that after the chicken shreds, turn up the heat and boil uncovered until about 95% of the liquid evaporates. This will concentrate the flavors and will taste like it did on the second day without the wait.

      With the tortillas I just used the regular yellow corn tortillas you get from just about any store, nothing special here. Also, when frying, make sure the oil reaches 350 degrees. I just use a candy thermometer to check the temp. but any “stick” type thermometer that goes to at least 350 is fine :-)

      And if you like these chicken tacos that much let me recommend the shredded beef tacos as well. They’re sooo much better than hamburger meat tacos.

      Anyway, thanks again for your amazing comment and Happy Cooking!

  3. VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

    Hi! I was searching for a great chicken taco recipe and came across this one. By all the reviews it sounds amazing. My question is can you use a whole chicken?

    • VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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      Hi Samantha,

      Great question! You can use a whole chicken but it requires a lot more work. You would need to simmer the chicken in salted water for about 1 to 1:15 hours first. Let it cool, remove the skin and bones so you’re left with just the meat. Season and cook it down some more (in water) until it shreds. The seasoning amount would have to be adjusted for the extra meat you’ll have.

      I would recommend just following the recipe as is, it will save you time and work :-)

      If you already have a whole chicken you can contact me and I’ll give you more detailed instructions for how to make this recipe with a whole chicken.

      Hope that helps and I hope you’ll try the tacos.
      Happy Cooking!

  4. VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)

    This recipe is perfect. So many recipes ask for too many ingredients and authentic, good Mexican food (at least here in AZ) have very few, simple ingredients. I trippled the amount in my dutch oven on the stove and covered with water to make for a wedding. I removed most of the broth before shredding in the pot. I also used equal parts b/s thighs and breast. Thanks so much for this post. I’ll be back to view your others for sure :)

    • VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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      Hi Ash,

      I agree, there are a lot of recipes out there that add too many ingredients which in my view is overkill. Sometimes the simplest recipes are best.

      I like what you did to the recipe by adding both thighs and breasts, that sounds awesome!

      I’m also happy to hear you used this recipe for a wedding! I hope it was a big success :-)

      And, you are very welcome and come back anytime for more, I look forward to hearing from you again.

      Take care for now and Happy Cooking!

  5. VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

    Do you shredd chicken first then cook with all the ingredients or do u cook whole chicken then shredd after

    • VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
      Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

      Hi Sandy,

      The chicken shreds during cooking so just put the chicken and seasonings in the water and cook. You’ll notice after about 20 to 30 minutes it will start to fall apart when you “poke” at it. At that point just use your spatula or spoon to break it all up. Let any excess water boil off until you’re left with shredded chicken and it’s ready to go!

      Hope that helps and thanks for asking :-)
      Happy Cooking!

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