Chicken Tinga Tacos

Tacos de Tinga de Pollo
Servings: 12tacos


  • For the pickled morita/chipotle chiles:
  • 2ounces piloncillo (unrefined sugar) OR a generous ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3cup vinegar (a fruit one like apple cider vinegar is typical in Mexico)
  • 2ounces dried morita/chipotle colorado chiles, stemmed
  • 3garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • Salt
  • For the tinga:
  • Vegetableor olive oil to coat the pan
  • 1large white onion, sliced a little less than ½ thick
  • 1pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into half-inch pieces
  • 3garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • One15 -ounce can diced tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted), lightly drained
  • 3to 4 pickled morita/chipotle chiles, thinly sliced, plus some of their pickling liquid OR 3 to 4 canned chilpotle chiles en adobo, thinly sliced
  • About1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • Alittle additional vinegar, if you think the dish needs it
  • 12warm corn tortillas
  • 1ripe avocado
  • About3/4 cup Mexican queso fresco or other fresh cheese like farmers cheese, mild feta or fresh goat cheese
  • Ahandful of cilantro leaves for garnish


Make pickled moritas. In a small saucepan, combine the piloncillo (or brown sugar), vinegar and 1/3 cup water.  Bring to a simmer and stir until the piloncillo dissolves. Add the garlic, chiles and ½ teaspoon salt, then simmer for a couple of minutes.  Cool.  You’ll want to weight the mixture with a small plate to keep the chiles submerged.  Let stand for a couple of hours and let the sweet-sour liquid to soak into the chiles until they're softened.

Make the chicken tinga. Set a very large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high heat and film the bottom liberally with oil.  When hot add the onion.  Stir for several minutes until it softens, then lay the chicken over the pan. Nestle it down to the bottom of the pan so that it will brown.  Cook until everything is richly browned, then stir in the garlic and cook a minute longer.

In a blender or food processor, process the tomatoes to a very coarse puree.  Add to the browned chicken in the skillet, along with the chiles and oregano.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the chicken is tender and the mixture is thick.  Taste and season with salt.

Serve. Serve your chicken tinga on warm tortillas with slices of avocado, a sprinkling of fresh cheese and a few cilantro leaves.


  1. I had trouble “browning” skinless chicken in the “liberal” amount of oil called for in recipe, so I wound up scooping out some of the oil, but still “deep brown” was not happening – anybody have this issue?

    1. Pat the chicken dry, don’t overcrowd the pan- and wait to stir or move the chicken until it crisps up/ browns on the bottom-.

    2. Was your chicken wet? If the exterior was wet, it’s difficult to achieve browning. Also, the temperature in the pan must be high enough at the beginning of the sauté to create the browning.

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