These Crock Pot Chicken Tinga Tacos are restaurant quality, but made SO EASY with your slow cooker! The flavors of smokey chipotle peppers, rich tomato sauce, southwestern seasoning, and tender chicken slow cook to absolute perfection to make these tacos irresistible!
Chicken Tinga – The EASY Way!
Chicken Tinga is famous for its amazing flavor. It might be hard to believe that you can get this same amazing flavor out of your very own kitchen, but not only is it TRUE, but is is also EASY!
The two things that make creating Chicken Tinga Tacos so easy are your trusty slow cooker, and a hand blender. (If you don’t have a hand blender, you can use a regular blender or food processor, but the hand blender is easier and less messy!)
When I say EASY I mean EASY! With only 4 spices, plus chicken, onion and peppers, you are on your way to amazing flavor! Your friends and family are going to be seriously impressed!
What is Chicken Tinga
Chicken Tinga is a rich and flavorful dish of shredded chicken in a sauce made with chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, tomato sauce, onions, and spices.
The chicken can be simmered slowly on the stovetop or is perfectly prepared in the slow cooker.
Chicken Tinga is traditionally served as tacos or tostadas, but can make a filling for many Mexican dishes. The recipe is thought to have originated in Puebla, Mexico.
Is Chicken Tinga Spicy?
Chipotle peppers do carry some heat, so Chicken Tinga does have a kick to it. The recipe as written here is probably a spiciness level 5 on a scale of 10.
You can increase the heat of this recipe by leaving in the seeds of the peppers, or adding additional peppers.
You can make this recipe more mild by using half the amount of peppers.
How to Serve Chicken Tinga
Since this recipe makes a big crock pot full of shredded chicken tinga, you can make them as traditional tacos, or keep it light, low calorie, or low carb by doing lettuce wrap tacos.
Fill them up with your favorite toppings and you have a winning weeknight dinner.
- Pico de gallo
- Cheese – try cojita for a more authentic flavor or just go with a shredded cheddar or Mexican blend.
- Sour cream or Mexican crema
- Chopped onions
- Chopped cilantro
- Mango salsa
Side Dish Ideas
As for sides, this recipe will pair well with many of your favorite Mexican style side dishes. I have suggestions for both classic options and some healthy options to keep it light.
- One Pan Mexican Rice
- Mexican Corn Salad
- Refried Beans
- Side salad with jalapeño ranch
- Mexican Street Corn Casserole
- Chips and salsa
You can choose one or add a few sides to make a wholesome, well rounded dinner.
Other ways to serve Chicken Tinga
This Chicken Tinga crockpot recipe is as simple as promised! Just a few ingredients and a slow cooker for a family friendly meal.
In this section I am going to go through a few tips and tricks I use when making this recipe to get the absolute best and most delicious results.
Make sure to scroll to the bottom for the FULL recipe card.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Chicken breast– This will also work with chicken tenderloins or chicken thighs as long as they are boneless, skinless.
- Onion– I like to roughly dice it so it blends more easily.
- Tomato sauce– You will use one small can
- Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce– These can generally be found in a can in the Mexican food section, or near the canned vegetables.
- Garlic– Use fresh for the best flavor! You don’t even have to press, or mince it if you want because once it is cooked it will be soft enough to blend right into the sauce
- Dried oregano
- Ground cumin
- Chili powder
- Don’t over-cook the chicken – It is a common misconception that you can cook things as long as you want in the crockpot and they will be just fine. While the dish generally doesn’t burn because of the liquid being retained, it can still be over-done which results in a more dry chewy texture.
Chicken breast should be cooked to an internal temp of 165˚F to be done (food safe.) Once it starts to cook above that, it will start to get more chewy and dry. The best way to have perfect, delicious, tender and juicy chicken is to make sure you are cooking it to done, and not continuing to cook beyond that. For this recipe that is about 2.5-3 hours on high or 3.5-4 hours on low, but can vary from cooker to cooker.
- Adjust the spice level– This recipe does have a kick to it. Chipotle peppers have quite a bit of spice to them and contribute the heat to the dish. An important part of this recipe is removing the seeds from the chipotle peppers before cooking. This allows the Chicken Tinga to be spicy, but not overly hot.
To make the Chicken Tinga more spicy you can leave in the seeds, or add additional chipotle peppers.
To make Chicken Tinga less spicy, you can use half the amount of chipotle peppers in the recipe.
- Blend to perfection– After the chicken cooks in the slow cooker, it will seem “watery,” however, once the onion and peppers are blended in, it makes a thick, rich Tinga sauce to coat the chicken.
I recommend an immersion blender (also called a hand blender, or stick blender) to blend the sauce for the chicken tinga. It makes the process super easy and mess free, as it can be done right in the slow cooker. Just remove the chicken and shred. Then blend the sauce, and return the chicken to the crockpot and mix into the sauce.
If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can remove the chicken from the pot, then transfer the sauce to a traditional blender or food processor and blend until liquified. Then shred the chicken and combine with the sauce back in the slow cooker.
This Chicken Tinga makes outstanding tacos, but also makes a great filling for other dishes as well. These are especially great if you need some creative inspiration to use leftovers.
Here are some favorites:
- Tostadas– This is another traditional preparation for Chicken Tinga. Place about 2 tbsp of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Place a corn tortilla in the hot oil for about 30 sec-1 minute per side. Remove and let drain on a paper towel. Layer tostada with refried beans, meat, lettuce, pico de gallo and cheese.
- Enchiladas– Fill tortillas with shredded Chicken Tinga, add cheese if desired. Roll tortillas and place in a casserole dish. Cover with extra sauce from the chicken, or enchilada sauce, and top with cheese. Bake at 350˚F 20-30 minutes or until cheese is melted.
- Salads– Top chopped romaine with Chicken Tinga, pinto beans, thinly sliced onions, avocado, pico de gallo, and cojita cheese. Top with a dollop of sour cream and fresh lime juice.
- Burritos– Fill a large tortilla with refried beans, rice, Chicken Tinga, pico de gallo, sour cream, cheese and guacamole. Roll and eat! If you want a wet burrito, spread some of the Chicken Tinga sauce over the top, cover with cheese and broil for 3-5 minutes.
- Bowls– Add a grain (white or brown rice or quinoa), Chicken Tinga, black or pinto beans, sliced avocado, pico de gallo, and sour cream or cojita cheese if desired.
If you have special dietary needs, this recipe meets some and can be easily modified to comply with others.
As always, check all store bought ingredients for compliance on specific dietary needs. The notes below are a general guide.
- Gluten free: This Chicken Tinga recipe is naturally gluten free. You will need to use gluten free taco shells/tortillas and toppings if making tacos.
- Dairy free: This Chicken Tinga recipe is dairy free when tacos are prepared without cheese
- Egg free: This recipe is naturally egg free
- Low carb/Keto: The Chicken Tinga without the taco shell or toppings has about 6g net carbs. When served over greens or in a low carb wrap this can be a keto friendly meal.
- Macros: The approximate macro calculation for the Chicken Tinga Tacos recipe is- P: 29g C: 33g F: 1g
Freezer Meal Instructions
Crockpot Chicken Tinga makes a wonderful freezer meal. It can be frozen both before or after cooking to suit your needs.
To freeze before cooking:
- Place the chicken in a freezer bag or freezer friendly container. Cover with diced onions, garlic, oregano. cumin, and chili powder.
- Remove the chipotle peppers from the can. Split them open with a knife and scrape the seeds out. Then add the tomato sauce, chipotle peppers and remaining sauce in the chipotle peppers can to the freezer bag and massage to combine.
- When ready to cook, thaw in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours.
- Place in the slow cooker and continue as directed in the recipe.
For best flavor, freeze up to 6 months.
Chicken Tinga Leftovers
If you have leftovers after making Slow Cooker Chicken Tinga, then it is your lucky day! They save and reheat well, and can make the start of another delicious dish.
To save leftovers, separate 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 Tinga Quesadillas– Heat butter in a pan over medium heat. Spread chicken tinga and cheese on half of a large tortilla and cook on each side until golden brown. Serve with sour cream and guacamole.
- Chicken Tinga Flautas– Roll chicken (cheese, black beans, or corn can also be added) tightly in flour tortillas and place on a baking sheet, seam side down. Bake at 425˚F for 10-15 minutes flipping half way through until each side is golden brown. Serve with salsa or sour cream for dipping.
- Chicken Tinga Casserole– Mix leftover chicken with prepared rice, pinto beans, corn, and monterey jack cheese. Spread the mixture in a casserole dish and cover with additional cheese. Bake at 350˚F for 20-30 minutes or until heated through.
More Easy Crockpot 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 Crockpot recipes here, or see a few of our readers favorite recipes below.
For the Meat:
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast
- 1 onion, diced
- 8 oz tomato sauce, 1 small can
- 7 oz chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, 1 can
- 3 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp salt
For the Tacos
- 16 corn tortillas
- 2 cups romaine lettuce, shredded
- 1/2 cup pico de gallo
- 1/4 cup cotija cheese, crumbled
To prepare the meat:
- Lay the chicken in the bottom of the slow cooker. Cover with diced onions, garlic, oregano. cumin, and chili powder.
- Remove the chipotle peppers from the can. Split them open with a knife and scrape the seeds out. Then add the tomato sauce, chipotle peppers and remaining sauce in the chipotle peppers can to the slow cooker.
- Cook on high for 2.5-3.5 hours.
- Once done, remove the chicken from the crockpot. Optional: Use an immersion blender to blend the sauce until smooth.
- Shred the chicken, and then stir it back into the sauce.
To assemble tacos:
- Heat both sides of each tortilla over high heat until it just starts to brown.
- Fill each tortilla with meat. Add lettuce, pico de gallo, and a sprinkle of cotija cheese. Serve immediately.