This creamy chipotle shredded (pulled) chicken tacos recipe takes just 10 minutes to make with leftover chicken! It’s a great way to keep Taco Tuesdays (or any quick weeknight dinner) exciting, and it's also the perfect game night food.
Here in St Pete, there’s a restaurant that makes the best creamy chipotle chicken tacos. It’s called Grumpy Gringo (haha!), and like many fine establishments here in Florida, it’s in a strip mall and doesn’t look like anything special.
But their food is actually pretty great. And those creamy chipotle chicken tacos take the cake!
They have the perfect balance between creamy texture and spicy flavor. And I admit, I go through phases where I order them way too often!
I wanted to try my hand at making a version at home and this recipe nails it. Mexican crema, chipotles in adobo, and a blend of Mexican spices come together beautifully.
I like to cook the chicken mixture until most of the liquid is evaporated off and the sauce is nice and thick. It develops a delicious intense flavor as the sauce reduces. And also, the tacos aren’t as messy to eat! But you can look the chicken mixture less and you’ll end up with finger-licking-delicious saucy tacos.
For this recipe you can use poached chicken breast, rotisserie chicken, leftover roast chicken, etc. for the shredded chicken. This meal is a great way to reinvent leftovers with a whole different flavor profile!
Pulled chicken tacos are perfect for a quick weeknight dinner. If you start with cooked leftover chicken, you can get this meal on the table in just 10 minutes!
And keep this recipe in mind for game day parties or potlucks too. You can easily make a double (or triple) batch and set up a toppings bar so people can customize their own tacos.
Easy Pulled or Shredded Chicken Tacos Recipe
In this section I explain the ingredients and give substitution ideas. For the full recipe (including ingredient amounts), please see the recipe card below.
Creamy Chipotle Shredded Chicken Tacos Ingredients:
- Shredded chicken – I usually make poached chicken breast, but you can use 2 ½ to 3 cups of shredded or pulled rotisserie chicken
- Mexican crema – this is a creamy Mexican condiment that’s similar to sour cream, but a bit less tangy and a little more thinned out/pourable; in the recipe card below, I give substitution ideas if you can’t find this
- Chipotles in adobo – use 2 for a mild-ish spicy heat level, and work up from there if you like your food spicier
- Adobo sauce – use the sauce from the can of chipotles in adobo
- Chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, Mexican oregano, salt, and chipotle chili powder – this is the spice mix we use to season our chicken tacos; if you prefer, you can use about 1 ½ tablespoons of your favorite Mexican seasoning blend, just note that if your spice mix is salt-free, you will still need to add the ¾ teaspoon salt
- Soft corn tortillas – look for the tortillas that are about 5 ½ to 6 inches in diameter; you will need 3 per person for a total of 12 for this recipe
Optional Topping Ideas for Pulled Chicken Tacos:
- Crumbed queso fresco – queso fresco is a soft, mild, slightly salty white cheese with a slightly tangy flavor that crumbles well; if you can’t find queso fresco, you can use queso blanco, cotija, or even feta in a pinch
- Fresh cilantro leaves – I love the pop of vibrant green color and fresh herby flavor that cilantro adds to shredded chicken tacos
- Diced red onion – for savory flavor and piquancy; if red onion is too strong for you, substitute with sweet white onion or sliced scallion instead
- Lime wedges – I like serving tacos with lime wedges to squeeze on top; fresh lime juice brightens the flavor and the acid helps cut the spicy heat level
How to Make Shredded Chicken Tacos
Add the shredded chicken, crema, chipotles in adobo, adobo sauce, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, Mexican oregano, salt, and chipotle chili powder to a large skillet. Cook over medium to medium-high heat until the sauce is thickened, about 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently.
If desired, briefly char the corn tortillas in a hot, dry skillet or on a grill.
Serve the tacos warm, with any toppings you like.
Shredded Chicken Tacos Recipe FAQs
What Cut of Chicken is Best for Shredding?
Boneless skinless chicken breasts are the easiest cut of chicken for shredding or pulling. Once cooked, chicken breast shreds easily with two forks.
Chicken thighs are also easy to shred if you prefer dark meat.
How Many Pounds of Shredded Chicken Per Person for Tacos?
If you’re weighing the chicken before cooking, you will need around 1 pound (16 ounces) for 4 servings. However, if you’re weighing the chicken after cooking, it will be less than 1 pound (somewhere around 12 to 14 ounces) for 4 servings.
One pound of raw boneless skinless chicken breasts is equivalent to about 3 cups of shredded chicken when cooked. This is enough for 4 servings, and each serving is about ¾ cup.
What is Creamy Chipotle Sauce Made Of?
For this recipe, we use a combination of Mexican crema and chipotles in adobe for the perfect creamy chipotle sauce.
What are Chipotles?
A chipotle is a ripe red smoke-dried jalapeno pepper. In addition to adding spicy heat, it also adds smoky flavor that lends great depth to a recipe.
More Mexican Inspired Recipes to Make
- 30 Minute Authentic Sopa de Fideo (Mexican Noodle Soup)
- Mexican Corn Salad
- Pico de Gallo (Mexican Salsa Fresca)
Creamy Chipotle Shredded (Pulled) Chicken Tacos Recipe
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast poached and shredded (or leftover roast chicken or rotisserie chicken)
- ¾ cup Mexican crema see Notes
- 2 chipotles in adobo minced (or more to taste)
- 2 tablespoons adobo sauce from the can of the chipotles in adobo
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
- 12 soft corn tortillas about 5 ½ to 6 inches in diameter
Optional Topping Ideas:
- Crumbed queso fresco
- Fresh cilantro leaves
- Diced red onion
- Lime wedges to squeeze on top
- Add the shredded chicken, crema, chipotles in adobo, adobo sauce, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, Mexican oregano, salt, and chipotle chili powder to a large skillet. Cook over medium to medium-high heat until the sauce is thickened, about 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently.
- If desired, briefly char the corn tortillas in a hot, dry skillet or on a grill.
- Serve the tacos warm, with any toppings you like.
- Nutritional Information: The nutrition information for this recipe was calculated without the optional topping ideas.
- Recipe Yield and Serving Size: This recipe makes 12 tacos, which is 4 servings. Each serving is 3 tacos, and each taco has about ¼ cup of the chicken mixture.
- Poached Chicken Breast Substitute: You can use about 3 cups of shredded roast chicken or rotisserie chicken.
- Mexican Crema Substitute: You can use crème fraiche instead, or you can use a mixture of ¼ cup sour cream + ¼ cup half and half.
- Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months.