Baked Chicken Tacos

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Baked Chicken Tacos are a flavor explosion! The meat is robustly seasoned and then loaded in crispy corn tortillas with plenty of cheese. We bake these tacos and then serve them with all the toppings, including the best creamy cilantro-lime sauce.

Overhead image of the baked chicken tacos

Baked Chicken Tacos

These baked chicken tacos are an easy dinner weeknight win especially if you employ some of the short-cut methods discussed below! They’re also a great way to enjoy tacos in a more nutritious way — we’re using ground chicken, adding in veggies, and whipping up our own taco seasoning. Good, nutritious ingredients with loads of flavor!

Use Chicken Taco Meat In Other Recipes

If you aren’t feeling like tacos, the base seasoned ground chicken is a great recipe to use however you would like!

  • Build a chicken taco salad. Use the meat in this recipe, chopped romaine lettuce, grated cheese, tomatoes, and the cilantro-lime sauce as a dressing. 
  • Make lettuce wraps: Fold the chicken taco meat and any of your favorite taco toppings into some butter lettuce leaves.
  • Add the seasoned chicken meat to nachos. Add the meat and some freshly grated cheese to chips; bake and then load up with taco toppings and drizzle the cilantro-lime sauce over everything.
  • Make a chicken burrito bowl. Prepare some cilantro-lime rice from this recipe, top it with the meat, add in some black beans and corn, and finish it with a few more taco toppings. Drizzle with the cilantro-lime sauce.

Process shots: sauté onion and garlic; combine seasonings and add to the pan; continue to sauté. Process shots: add the ground chicken to the pan; brown and crumble; stir in tomato sauce.

Baked Chicken Tacos Tips

  • Start with olive oil, garlic, and onions. These ingredients not only contribute a lot of flavor, but they also add moisture into the ground chicken — don’t leave them out!
  • Keep the ground chicken cold and avoid overcooking.  Store the chicken in the fridge right up until it’s time to cook it. Don’t set it out or let it come to room temperature. Because of the low fat content, ground chicken isn’t too forgiving when it’s overcooked; it will become dry, crumbly, and lose flavor. Use a food thermometer and cook it until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
  • Add tomato sauce. A little of this sauce at the end of cooking makes the meat incredibly moist and adds a deep, rich flavor to these Baked Chicken Tacos.
  • Use freshly grated cheese. To avoid a greasy dinner, I recommend freshly grating the cheese; pre-grated cheese has a cellulose coating that can lead to greasiness.

QUICK TIP

Cooked taco meat freezes well when stored in a labeled freezer bag. Freeze spread out and flat so it’ll thaw quickly. This will make a speedy dinner choice!

Process shots-- images of the shells being stuffed with the filling and baked and all the toppings being added on top

Speedy prep ideas

  • Seasoning blend make-ahead: While it does take a few minutes to assemble and measure out the seasoning blend used in this recipe, it is so much better than anything you can find in a store! But I get it, those packets are easy and convenient! And that’s why I’ve started making my own packets. When I make this recipe, I’ll typically make 5 or 6 more “packets” of the seasoning. Since all the spices are out and I’m measuring anyways, it takes just a few extra minutes. Measure out the spices, put them in labeled individual snack-size bags, and store those packets with your spices. Next time you’re craving Baked Chicken Tacos–or any other Mexican-themed dish– they’ll be ready to go.
  • For the fastest-possible prep time on this recipe: use pre-diced onions (either from the produce section in the grocery store or freezer aisle), pre-minced garlic, and a packet of taco seasoning in place of the seasoning mix (or even better — a homemade version you made ahead of time :)) indicated in the recipe. Make sauce ahead of time or enjoy the tacos without it and keep other toppings to a minimum.

Process shots-- images of the sauce being made for these baked chicken tacos

Baked Chicken Tacos Health Concerns

  • Gluten Free: If you use gluten-free crispy corn tortillas, these Baked Chicken Tacos can easily be made gluten free — simply check all the seasonings/packaged ingredients to ensure they weren’t processed in a facility with gluten. Typically, chicken bouillon powder does contain gluten, so simply leave that addition out. 
  • Dairy Free: Try this vegan sour cream instead of regular sour cream and leave off the sauce (or you could try making it with dairy-free mayo and the vegan sour cream). Use dairy free cheese in the tacos.

Baked Chicken Taco Toppings

These tacos are great on their own but phenomenal with the toppings! 

  • Avocado: We love a thinly sliced or chopped ripe avocado. If you prefer, make a quick guacamole by mashing the avocado with a few pinches of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a squeeze of lime juice. 
  • Cherry tomatoes: Chop up a few to top the tacos with or you could add a few spoonfuls of pico de gallo.
  • Cilantro-lime sauce: You may recognize this sauce from these wildly popular Shrimp Tacos. It also goes so well with Baked Chicken Tacos; it adds a cooling, contrasting, and fresh flavor to the tacos.
  • Cilantro: We love fresh cilantro, and it pairs so well with the other flavors. You can finely chop some to top tacos with or leave it out if you aren’t a fan.
  • Lime: A few wedges of lime to squeeze over everything adds a nice hit of acid and freshness. 
  • Sour cream: lite or fat-free sour cream keeps these tacos on the lighter side while also adding loads of flavor, acidity, and creaminess. You can also use Greek yogurt.
  • Pickled red onions: Try this quick pickled red onion recipe used on these Chicken Tinga Tacos.
  • Green onions: If you aren’t a fan of cilantro and want some fresh herbs, slice some green onions!
  • Jalapeno: a thinly sliced jalapeno adds a nice hit of heat.
  • Cotija cheese: If you’re a total cheese lover, add a sprinkle of cotija cheese on top. It’s a very salty cheese, so it works double purpose as a final seasoning!

If I could only pick four toppings, I’d highly recommend avocado/guac, cherry tomatoes, sour cream, and the cilantro-lime sauce.

Overhead image of the baked chicken tacos in a casserole dish

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Baked Chicken Tacos

5 from 1 vote
These Baked Chicken Tacos are a flavor explosion! The meat is robustly seasoned and then loaded in corn tortillas with plenty of cheese. We bake these tacos and then serve them with all the toppings including the best creamy cilantro-lime sauce.
Print Recipe

Baked Chicken Tacos

5 from 1 vote
These Baked Chicken Tacos are a flavor explosion! The meat is robustly seasoned and then loaded in corn tortillas with plenty of cheese. We bake these tacos and then serve them with all the toppings including the best creamy cilantro-lime sauce.
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American, Mexican
Keyword baked chicken tacos
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 16 minutes
Total Time 51 minutes
Servings 4 servings (12-13 tacos)
Calories 854kcal
Cost $7.24

Ingredients

Baked Chicken Tacos

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup (66g) finely diced yellow onion (~1/2 of 1 onion)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (~2 cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon ground chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon EACH: ground cumin, paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon EACH: onion powder, garlic powder, dried oregano, salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon chicken bouillon powder
  • 1 pound (16 oz.) ground chicken (thigh meat if possible)
  • 1/2 cup (132g) tomato sauce
  • 1 and 3/4 cups freshly grated Colby jack or extra-sharp Cheddar cheese (or a blend of the 2)
  • 12 stand up hard (crispy) corn tortilla shells

OPTIONAL: Cilantro-Lime Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juiced (and 1/4 teaspoon lime zest)
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup (7g) loosely packed fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced jalapeno
  • 1/4 cup (60g) regular full-fat mayonnaise (we love Hellman's/Best Foods)
  • 1/4 cup (62g) sour cream (lite or fat-free is great)
  • Fine sea salt and pepper

Toppings

  • Whatever toppings you'd like! We love a ripe thinly sliced avocado, diced cherry tomatoes, sour cream, and lots of the cilantro lime sauce
  • Other topping ideas: guacamole, pico de gallo, jalapeno, cilantro, green onions, fresh lime, cotija cheese, pickled red onions

Instructions

  • PREP: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Use a very large (15x21 inches) sheet pan or two smaller ones.
  • CILANTRO LIME SAUCE: Add all the sauce ingredients to a food processor. Add salt and pepper to taste (I add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper) and blend or pulse until smooth. Transfer sauce to a Mason jar and refrigerate while preparing everything else so flavors can intensify.
  • CHICKEN TACO MEAT: Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a large cast iron skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add in the diced onion. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add in the garlic and cook for 20-30 seconds. Add in all of the seasonings: 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 tablespoon chicken bouillon powder. Cook and stir the spices until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Nothing should be burning; reduce the heat if needed. Press everything to the sides of the skillet.
  • TACO MEAT CONT.: Add the ground chicken to the center of the skillet. Crumble the meat into small pieces and cook until no longer pink (but not cooked through all the way), about 4-5 minutes (this will take longer in a nonstick skillet and you may need to drain off accumulated liquid here). Add in the tomato sauce and scrape the bottom of the pan to release any browned bits (this is where the flavor is!) Let simmer for 3-5 minutes, or until fully cooked through, and then remove from heat.
  • BAKE TORTILLAS: Add tortilla shells to a large pan or 2 pans (I can fit 9-10 in a 9x13-inch pan and add the rest to an 8x8 pan). Bake for 5 minutes (this helps them not get soggy as quickly)
  • STUFF TORTILLAS: To the baked shells, add a heaping 1/4 cup of the taco meat filling and 1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons cheese on top. Repeat until all the tortillas are filled with the chicken mixture and cheese mixture.
  • BAKE: Bake for 8-15 minutes or until shells are crispy and cheese is very melted.
  • SERVE: Add your favorite toppings right on top of the tacos. We love topping these tacos with a thinly sliced avocado, diced cherry tomatoes, sour cream, and lots of the cilantro-lime sauce. Enjoy right out of the oven!

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 854kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 60g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Cholesterol: 177mg | Sodium: 961mg | Potassium: 1035mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 2027IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 482mg | Iron: 3mg

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