Tacos, everyone’s favourite Mexican street food fix. Top them with everyones favourite Mexican chicken, Chipotle Chicken (it just is, ok!), and we have reached Mexican food heaven!
This recipe teaches you how to make some incredible Chipotle Chicken using real, whole chipotle peppers and a quick and easy homemade coriander garlic paste. It takes the chicken to a whole new level you never thought you could achieve at home, and it’s roasted on the bone to just to add that little extra boost of flavour and to retain the juiciness.
We also go through some really quick and super easy toppings for you to add to the Chipotle Chicken Tacos – these toppings are designed to be made whilst the chicken is cooking in the oven, and also designed to balance out the spice and acidity brought by the chipotle’s.
How to make The Best Tacos 101
To make the best, most authentic (as possible here outside of Mexico) Tacos follow these key steps:
- Use soft corn tacos. We’ve been to Mexico, and tried real street market tacos. They mainly use homemade small round soft corn based tortillas. Now, we’re not expecting anyone to make their own Tacos (although will show you at some point), but you can buy soft corn taco tortillas from the supermarket. As of writing this, in the UK Sainsburys stocks Old El Paso Soft Corn Street Tortillas.
- For the chipotle chicken, try and get a can of Chipotle Peppers in Adobo sauce. It’s a game changer.
- Again, for the chicken, roasting on the bone develops so much more flavour than boneless. It’s worth the extra hassle when shredding – plus they’re cheaper too.
- Use the Pestle and Mortar to extract as much flavour as possible – for example from the Garlic and the Coriander stalks.
- Use fresh ingredients for the toppings – fresh guac, fresh onions that you’ve pickled yourself and fresh coriander. Try not to buy shop bought guac or pickles, they are so simple and quick to make and taste 10x better.
- The yoghurt (or sour cream) is a must to balance out the acid and spice from the onions and chipotle chicken.
We have developed the perfect components to top the Chipotle Chicken Tacos, ones that completely balance out the flavour and let the chicken really sing.
A must with chicken tacos, as it adds the fatty element sometimes missing from white meat. It’s a simply recipe with only the addition of garlic, lime and salt to a perfectly ripe avocado. Nothing else is needed – please, please, please don’t add onions or tomatoes. They are just not needed.
Pink Pickled Onions
Don’t stress. We’re not pickling in the traditional sense. These take 15 minutes, and will blow your mind. Slice the onions wafer thin, squeeze over a generous amount of fresh lemon juice, sprinkle some salt and let them sit there. Done. That’s it. They work so well here.
Chicken Skin Crisp
Sounds fancy a chef-y, but it’s really simple. We start out with 4 whole chicken thighs, skin on and bone in. We only need the chicken meat and bones for roasting in chipotle spices. So, to use all of the product and reduce waste, we take off the skins, place them on a baking tray, sprinkle with salt and roast alongside the chipotle chicken until golden and crispy. Drain the fat (and reserve that fat for cooking with another day!) and you are left with a very chicken-y crisp.
Yoghurt, Lime and Coriander
Each their own element in all honestly, but work together in harmony. The yoghurt balances out the acid from the chipotle peppers and the pickled red onion. The coriander adds a fragrant freshness and the lime tops it off with a fresh Mexican zing.
The Chipotle Chicken
Right listen up! This is how you make an incredible Chipotle Chicken, not just for Tacos, but for burrito bowls, meal prep, birthdays – you name it!
The spice mix
The most important part. We mix together freshly minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, ground cumin, smoked paprika, dark brown sugar, salt and a freshly made garlic and coriander paste. For us, this hits the brief fully – smokey, spicy, salty and fragrant with an underlying sweet element.
Thighs are used here due to their flavour and higher fat content – those of you more Kcal focused, switch to breast. Thigh will always produce better results. For best results, use skin on, bone-in thighs. The skins will be used for the Chicken Crisps, and the bone remains in during cooking to add more flavour and retain juiciness. It’s imperative you use bone-in thighs. They need a little more effort and focus when shredding to avoid unwanted fat/cartilage , but oh so worth it.
Marinate the chicken overnight if you can. It will allow the spices to really cling to the meat and enhance the flavour more than if you were to cook right away. With that said though, the marinade will not penetrate into the meat. Only brining does this.
Cooking / Resting Juices
The chicken will release a lot of juice during the cooking process and during resting. Drain the juices once cooked just before resting and reserve them. Similarly, add the resting juices to the cooking juices, as not to waste anything. The juices will be full of smokey chipotle flavour. The trick here is to reduce this liquid down until syrupy and pour all over the chicken once shredded.
Once the chicken is cooked, let it cool for at least 10 minutes. This is because we are going to shred it by hand – it by far yields the best results, and allows you to ensure no unwanted gristle ends up on your tacos! Remember once shredded, pour over that reduced juice and mix it all up well.
Follow these steps and we guarantee you’ll have made the best Homemade Chipotle Chicken this side of the Atlantic.
For more tips and tricks check out our step by step video below to go with our recipe card.
As always tag us on social media if you make this one, we love to see what you’re making!
Loaded Chipotle Chicken Tacos
- Baking dish
- Pestle and Mortar
- Large mixing bowl
- 4 Skin on, bone in Chicken Thighs buy free range, high welfare
- 2 Large Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, plus 2tsp of extra adobo can use 1 tbsp of chipotle paste if you can't get these whole peppers
- 1 tbsp Ground Cumin
- 1 tbsp Smoked Paprika essential for added smokiness
- 1 tsp Dark Brown Sugar
- 2 Large Garlic Cloves
- 1 Bunch Coriander Stalks reserve the leaves for garnish
- 4 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 tsp Maldon salt
- 1 Large Ripe Avocado
- 1 Small Garlic Clove or half normal sized clove
- 1/4 Fresh Lime Juice
- Large Pinch Maldon Salt
Chicken Skin Crisps
- 4 Large Chicken Thigh Skins from the Chipotle Chicken
- 1 tbsp Maldon Salt
15 Minute Pink Pickled Onions
- 1 Medium Red Onion
- 1 tsp Maldon Salt
- 1/2 Large Fresh Lemon Juice pips removed
- 1 Lime, cut into 1/8ths
- 4-5 tbsp Natural yoghurt
- 10 Soft corn street Tacos
Chipotle Chicken and Chicken Skin Crisps
- Using a sharpe knife and a chopping board you don't mind getting stained, finely chop the chippotles in adobo sauce until minced.
- In a large mixing bowl add the minced chipotles and the adobo sauce, add the cumin, paprika, sugar and salt.
- In a pestle and mortar, add corrainder stalks that have been roughly chopped, and some roughly chopped garlic cloves. Grind into a fine paste, and a dash of oil to help it along.
- Add the corriander garlic paste to the mixing bowl. Add 4 tbsp of olive oil and mix well.
- Remove the skin from the chicken and set aside.NOTE - It will just pull off by hand. NOTE 2 - if marinating the chicken put the skins into their own tupperware and leave until the thighs are ready to be cooked, as we'll be cooking these together.
- Add the now skinless, but bone in, chicken thighs to the mixing bowl full of spices. Using tongs, mix them well until each chicken piece is fully coated.
- Optional - Place the chicken and all the spice mix into glass tupperware with an air tight lid and let marinate in the fridge overnight or at least 30 minutes.
- Once marinated, remove from the fridge and place in a glass/porcelain high rim baking dish and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180C for around 40 minutes or until the thickest part of the thigh is around 80C internal. At the same time, remove the skins from the fridge and place on a foil covered baking tray and lay absolutely flat. Dust evenly with the salt and bake until golden and crispy ( about 25-30 minutes )NOTE - whilst this is cooking, make the Guac and pickle the Onions.NOTE 2 - when the chicken skins are cooked, drain the oil into a small glass dish and save for cooking.
- After 25 minutes, or when crispy and golden, remove the Chicken Skins from the oven, drain and reserve the liquid. Rest on some kitchen paper to absorb more fat. Also, after 40 minutes, or when the chicken thigh has reached 80C internal temperature, remove from the oven. Place the dish on a trivet / heat proof mat and let cool for at least 10 minutes before handling. Make sure you drain the liquid into a jug and reserve for later.
- When the chicken thigh has cooled enough to handle it, shred by hand into a clean bowl being carful not to include any bone, chewy fat or cartilage. Discard of the bone and unwanted piecees.Add any resting liquid and juices to the jug of reserved cooking juices.
- In a small sauce pan add the reserved chipotle chicken resting / cooking juice. Turn the heat up to high and reduce until syrupy. Add this to the shredded chicken to enhance the flavour and keep it juicy. Cover the shredded chicken bwol with a tea towel to keep warm until ready to use.
15 Minute Pink Pickled Onions
- Thinly slice a small red onion - try and get it paper thin for best results.NOTE - remove the skin and first layer of the onion
- Add the salt and squeeze over the lemonNOTE - carefull of lemon pips, remove if you seed any, or squeeze through a sieve.
- Add to some tuperware, place on the lid and shake well to combine.
- Place in the fridge and let pickle for at least 15 minutes whilst the chicken is cooking, only remove when ready to serve.
- Whilst the chicken is baking, make the Guac.
- Make sure your avocado is ripe - if you are able to easily remove the stem (little woody bit) and the udnerneath is green you're good. If you can't easily remove it, the avocado is not ripe.
- Slice the ripe avocado in half and remove the large seed.
- Slice each half into a criss cross pattern and squeeze into a bowl. NOTE - the bowl should be filled with little cubes of soft bright green avocado
- Mince some garlic using a press/pestle & mortar/back of a kinfe and add to the avocado.
- Add the maldon salt and the lime NOTE - add these to taste. Use less than you think, taste it and adjust to add more if needed to get how you like it - for us, it's a tsp of salt and quarter of a lime.
- Mash the avocado with the back of a fork until smooth and no large lumps remian. This will be easy if the avocado is perfectly ripe.
- Cover and set aside until ready to use.
Constructing the Taco
- Roughly chop the corriander leaves
- Add the yoghurt to a serving bowl
- Cut half a lime into 4 wedges
- Toast each taco before constructing it - shoudl be able to toast three at a time.On a medium heat, toast them for about 10-15 seconds on each side.
- Add a heaped tsp of guac to a freshly toasted taco and smooth out onto the surface using the back of the spoon.
- Add a thin layer of yoghurt and a little suqeeze of lime
- Add a pinch of the pickled onions
- Using tongs, add a generous amount of the still warm shredded chipotle chicken
- Top with a chicken skin crisp and some fresh corrianderNOTE - break each skin into 4 pieces to serve
- Try and get the Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, they really do make a difference to the Chipotle paste. Be careful though, they're hot!
- Try and marinate overnight is possible to get the best flavour
- Do not throw away the cooking/resting juices - use these to create a sauce for the shredded chicken.
- Keep the Guac simple - don't use tomato or onion as it spoils the fresh avocado taste, and adds unnecessary crunch. Make sure the avocado is ripe for best results.
- Remember to let the onions pickle for long enough - 15 minutes should do it. Best prepared as soon as the chicken goes in the oven.
- Everything to be prepared whilst the chicken is cooking - this keep the construction of the Tacos stress free!
- Best served with a group of friends in the middle of the table - let them construct their own!