This Mexican Chicken Street Tacos recipe brings the irresistible flavor of Mexican street food to a recipe easy enough to make on a busy weeknight! Juicy marinated chicken thighs and a simple homemade salsa are all these tacos need to be a standout.
When Taco Tuesday rolls around, my family is always happy to have Easy Baked Ground Turkey Tacos and Hawaiian Chicken Tacos, but if you’re looking for a taco recipe with authentic flavor, these Mexican chicken street tacos are perfect!
The chicken is marinated in tangy lime juice with herbs and spices, making it extra juicy and flavorful. Other than the extra time for the marinade, these street tacos are surprisingly simple to prepare. Once the chicken is cooked, it’s just a matter of nestling it into warm corn tortillas and adding the toppings!
Why I LOVE this recipe!
- Authentic Mexican-style street tacos – The combination of spices, fresh ingredients, and juicy chicken thighs make these tacos taste just like the ones you’d buy from your favorite Mexican food truck.
- Versatile – This recipe can be easily customized to suit your preferences. You can add more or less spice, switch up the toppings, or even serve the flavorful chicken in a salad or bowl.
- Quick and easy – There’s very little hands-on time needed for this dinner and because the chicken can be marinated in advance, it’s great for a busy weeknight.
- Perfect for entertaining – While I love these street chicken tacos for a weeknight dinner, they’re also great for a party! Set up a build-your-own taco bar with all kinds of fillings and toppings.
What are street tacos?
Street tacos are a popular type of taco sold by street vendors and food trucks in Mexico and the United States. Unlike traditional tacos served on hard shells or soft flour tortillas, street tacos are typically smaller, made with two small corn tortillas, and filled with a variety of meats (like chicken, pork carnitas, and carne asada), vegetables, and fresh, simple toppings.
This Mexican chicken street tacos recipe is as simple as promised! Just a few minutes of prep work for a family friendly meal.
In this section I am going to go through a few tips and tricks I use for how to make chicken street tacos to get the absolute best and most delicious results.
Make sure to scroll to the bottom for the FULL recipe card.
Ingredients + Substitutions
Make sure to see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full quantities and ingredients list.
For the Mexican Chicken Marinade:
- Boneless skinless chicken thighs – Thighs are the traditional choice for street tacos, which results in tender, juicy meat.
- Vegetable oil – You’ll need some for the marinade and some for cooking.
- Herbs and spices – Chili powder, garlic powder, dried chopped onion, dried oregano, ground cumin, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper make for a flavorful chicken street taco marinade.
- Limes – Lime juice adds that perfect tangy flavor.
For the tacos:
- Corn tortillas – You can use single tortillas or double up!
- Red onion – Dice this very finely.
- Chopped cilantro – Not a cilantro fan? You can leave it out!
- Jalapeño pepper – For some heat. Use more, less, or omit it for milder chicken street tacos.
- Salt – Just a bit.
- Lime – Fresh lime juice brings it all together.
If you love this recipe as much as we do and want some quick ways to change it up for variety, these little tips will do the trick!
- Grilled chicken street tacos – Instead of cooking the chicken thighs on the stovetop, you can cook them on the grill for a smoky flavor.
- Shredded chicken street tacos – You can use forks to shred the chicken instead of cutting it into pieces. Or use our baked chicken breast recipe to make shredded chicken.
- Spicy chicken street tacos – Add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper to the marinade for extra-spicy tacos.
Recipe Step by Step
I am going to highlight a few key steps in the recipe here, but make sure to jump down to the recipe card for comprehensive instructions on how to make Mexican chicken street tacos.
- Step 1– Cook the marinated chicken thighs in a skillet.
- Step 2– Cut the cooked chicken into bite-sized pieces.
- Step 3– Mix the salsa ingredients together.
- Step 4– Assemble the chicken street tacos by adding the chicken to warmed tortillas, then topping with the salsa.
- Don’t over-marinate – Be sure to stick to the recommended marinating time! Marinating for more than 8 hours will start to break down the protein in the chicken, giving it an unappetizing texture.
- Make sure pan is super hot – To get that perfect sear on the chicken, make sure your pan is hot before adding the meat. This will also help keep the chicken from sticking to the pan.
- Don’t crowd the pan – When cooking the chicken, be sure to leave enough space between each piece in the pan so they can cook evenly and develop a nice sear.
- Use a meat thermometer – To ensure that your chicken is cooked through, use a meat thermometer to check for an internal temperature of 165°F.
- Heat the tortillas before filling – Heating the tortillas in a skillet makes them more pliable so they won’t fall apart when you’re eating your chicken street taco!
- Chop the onion very small – To get the best texture in your onion salsa topping, be sure to finely mince the onion.
Recipe Short Cuts
If you need to make this recipe, but are extra short on time, here are a few ideas that can help make this recipe even faster!
- Use store-bought salsa – If you don’t have time to make the onion salsa topping, simply use your favorite store-bought salsa as a quick and easy alternative.
- Take advantage of the grocery store salad bar – Buy chopped cilantro, onions, and other toppings prepared and ready to go at the grocery store to save yourself some prep time.
Freezer Meal Instructions
Making this chicken street tacos recipe into a freezer meal is simple! Follow the steps below and you can store this recipe in the freezer for up to 6 months.
To freeze before cooking
- Combine the marinade ingredients in a large zip-top freezer bag.
- Add the chicken thighs.
- Freeze for up to 3 months.
- Thaw in the refrigerator for 8 hours, then cook according to the recipe instructions.
How to Freeze Chicken Street Taco Filling After Cooking
- Transfer the chicken to a freezer bag.
- Freeze for up to 1 month.
- Thaw in the refrigerator, then reheat in a skillet over medium heat with a splash of chicken broth.
What to Serve with Mexican Chicken Street Tacos
Since this delicious taco dinner has the delicious flavors of Mexican cuisine, it will pair well with many of your favorite Tex-Mex side dishes.
Choose one or several of these side dishes to create a wholesome, well-rounded dinner. There are both classic options and some healthy options to keep it light.
Side Dish Ideas
- Mexican Style Crock Pot Refried Beans
- Mexican Street Corn Casserole
- Chipotle Cilantro Lime Rice
- Chips with Black Bean Corn Salsa
Mexican Chicken Street Taco Leftovers
If you have leftovers after making this recipe, then it is your lucky day! They save and reheat well, and can make the start of another delicious dish.
To save leftovers, keep the meat separate from the tortillas and salsa and divide into meal sized portions and then place in an airtight container and store:
- in the refrigerator for 3-4 days
- in the freezer up to a month
Here are a few ways to repurpose those leftovers and give them a delicious makeover!
- Chicken Burrito Bowls – Add the leftover chicken to a bowl of rice and beans to make delicious burrito bowls topped with the leftover salsa and your other favorite toppings.
- Chicken Quesadillas – Shred the leftover chicken and add it to a quesadilla with cheese; use any leftover salsa for serving.
- Chicken Taco Salad – Top a bed of greens with the leftover chicken, black beans, corn, and Jalapeno Ranch Dressing.
- Chicken Enchiladas – Use the leftover chicken to make enchiladas inspired by my Chicken and Spinach Enchiladas with Sour Cream Sauce.
What makes a street taco a street taco?
Street tacos are typically smaller in size and are served on soft corn tortillas. They also tend to have more simple toppings such as onions, cilantro, and lime juice.
How do you cook street taco shells?
The most common method is to heat the tortillas on a hot skillet, griddle, or grill until they are slightly charred and pliable. They can also be heated in the microwave for a few seconds or wrapped in foil and heated in the oven.
Are street tacos usually corn or flour?
Traditionally, street tacos are served on soft corn tortillas, but if you prefer flour tortillas, you can definitely use those instead!
Why do Mexican street tacos have two tortillas?
Serving street tacos on double stacked tortillas is a common practice to prevent any mess or breakage when eating. When I’m making these chicken street tacos at home, I usually just use one tortilla!
More EASY Chicken Recipes
If you enjoyed this recipe, I really hope you will take a moment to grab a few more easy recipes for another busy night!
You can check out all of my easy chicken recipes here, or see a few of our readers favorite recipes below.
For the Mexican Chicken Marinade
- 1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, 6-8 chicken thighs
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 1.5 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoons dried chopped onion
- 1 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoons cumin
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 2 limes
For the tacos
- 12 corn tortillas, or 24 (see note)
- 1/2 large red onion, finely diced
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced (optional)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 lime, juice of
To make the Chicken Street Taco Meat
- Pour 1 tablespoon of the oil over the chicken thighs and toss to coat. Add the seasonings and work the chicken until the seasoning is evenly coated.
- Squeeze lime juice over the top and then place the chicken in a container, or zip top bag and allow the chicken thighs to marinate for 20 minutes, or up to 8 hours.
- Once ready to cook, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, olace the chicken thighs in a single layer in the pan. Let the chicken cook 4-6 minutes without turning, then flip the chicken thighs, reduce the heat to low, and cover the pan and cook on the other side for an additional 4-6 minutes.
- The chicken is done when it reached 165˚F internal temperature. Remove the chicken from the heat. Let it rest for 5 minutes, then chop into small bite sized pieces.
To make the salsa topping
- Combine the onion, cilantro, and jalapeno. Sprinkle with salt, then pour the lime juice over and stir to coat.
To assemble the tacos
- Heat a few drops of the remaining oil in a large skillet over high heat. Once hot add one or more tortillas to the skillet so they are not overlapping. Allow the tortilla to heat for about 20-30 seconds then flip and heat an additional 20-30 seconds. Remove from the skillet. Repeat with each tortilla adding a few drops of oil between each batch.
- Lay each tortilla out. Add a scoop of the chicken street taco meat, then a scoop of the onion salsa. Fold and repeat until all street tacos are made.