Chipotle Chicken Tacos

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The slow cooker is saving us loads of effort and delivering tender, succulent chicken that gets tossed in a delicious honey-chipotle sauce! Add your favorite toppings to Chipotle Chicken Tacos; our favorites are quick-pickled onions, black beans, and sliced avocado.

Overhead image of Chipotle Chicken Tacos on a platter.

Chipotle Chicken Tacos

My famous chipotle sauce has been featured on these pork taquitos and these pulled pork sandwiches, so I thought it was time to try it with some chicken. And since we’ve done taquitos and sandwiches, why not rely on tacos to deliver this succulent, saucy chicken?

Charred tortillas, sweet-and-spicy shredded chicken, savory black beans, tangy pickled red onions, and a creamy avocado? These tacos are sheer perfection!

Chipotle Chicken Tacos are also easy to make. The slow cooker takes care of getting tender, cooked chicken, the sauce is as simple as blending a few ingredients, and the toppings can be as intricate or simple as you’d like. So let’s start by talking about the chicken!

Process shots-- images of the rub being prepped and poured over the chicken; the chicken being added to the crockpot; the chipotle sauce being made in the blender; the chicken being shredded; and the sauce being added.

Let’s talk chicken

In a lot of my recipes, chicken thighs and breasts can be interchanged fairly easily, and this recipe is no exception. That said, I do highly recommend boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts. The thighs stay juicy and succulent, shred easily, and absorb the sauce beautifully.

For thighs, trim off the major fatty parts on the thighs, without worrying too much about removing all the fat; the fat will contribute lots of flavor and render off as it cooks. For chicken breasts, I recommend cutting large breasts in 3-5 smaller pieces so they’ll cook quicker without drying out too fast.

Cook the meat on low. I don’t recommend cooking the meat on high; it tends to dry it out. Also, be sure to adjust the time for larger pieces of chicken.

Chipotle sauce

This chipotle sauce on these Chipotle Chicken Tacos is our absolute favorite! It’s sweet, spicy, and best of all, a breeze to whip together! Everything just needs to be blended together and that’s it.

  • Ketchup: I can’t recommend Heinz® ketchup enough — it’s our favorite in this chipotle sauce (not sponsored).
  • Brown sugar: Light or dark brown sugar work great; lightly pack it in.
  • Honey: Between the honey and brown sugar — these two ingredients really sweeten the sauce– the sweetness is offset with the chipotles, but the sauce is intended to be a bit sweet. If you’d prefer to have it more on the spicy side, either increase the chipotles (see below) or decrease the honey and/or brown sugar.
  • Chipotle chilies in adobo: These chilies are what give the sauce its kick. Since we’re only using a bit of a can, be sure to read this chicken tinga tacos post for how to save and store leftover chipotles. See the quick tip below.
  • Apple cider vinegar: The vinegar helps to balance the sweet and spicy in this sauce.
  • Worcestershire sauce: We use this ingredient to add to the depth of flavor.
  • Garlic: If using full cloves, give the garlic a quick coarse chop before adding to the blender so it blends and integrates into the sauce nicely.
  • Salt and pepper: Add to personal preference, but if the sauce tastes at all flat, add some additional salt.

QUICK TIP

Taste and adjust the sauce to personal preference; the chipotles are important to balancing the sauce (so it isn’t too sweet), but add slowly and taste as you go, so you don’t end up with an overly spicy sauce. Remember also that the tortilla, chicken, and other taco toppings tame the spiciness of the sauce.

Overhead image of pickled onions in a bowl.

Tortillas 

I absolutely love corn tortillas with the chicken and chipotle sauce. They can be tricky to work with, though, because they break easily. Here’s how I prepare the corn tortillas to keep them in one piece:

  1. Start with thin corn tortillas (Not sure where to start? Here’s an article breaking down the major brands of corn tortillas so you can better navigate what brand you’d enjoy). My family enjoys Mission’s® extra-thin corn tortillas (not sponsored).
  2. Spray both sides of the tortillas with cooking spray. I use an olive oil-based spray (canola works as well) and give each side a good spritz.
  3. Very lightly char each side of the tortilla on an open flame on the stovetop. If you don’t have an open flame, warm for 10-15 seconds in a skillet.
  4. Immediately remove the tortilla from the heat and fold in half. Place under a towel and repeat until all the tortillas are charred.
  5. Once all the tortillas have been charred and folded, add the chicken and other toppings. See more on topping ideas for these Chipotle Chicken Tacos below!

If you don’t love corn tortillas, use flour ones. Even though flour tortillas fold nicely, I still like to spray them with cooking spray and brown them in a skillet or over an open flame; this adds so much flavor! If using flour tortillas, I like to get the unbaked ones (by TortillaLand®; not sponsored) and cook them in a skillet first.

Overhead image of Chipotle Chicken Tacos, ready to be eaten.

Chipotle Chicken Taco toppings

There are so many options for topping Chipotle Chicken Tacos! Below are our favorites:

  • Fresh cilantro and fresh lime: The fresh herbs and acid from the lime cut through the sweetness of the sauce and add a nice depth of flavor.
  • Pickled red onions: Making pickled red onions can be a process, so I’ve shared my “cheater” quick version which takes less than 5 minutes and four ingredients (pantry staples) to make. 
  • Thinly sliced avocado: I recommend avocado or guacamole in most of my taco recipes, because they add a great creamy element.
  • Black beans: This is the ingredient I think really balances the tacos. The savory beans complement the sweet and tangy sauce. It also adds a nice textural element.
  • Cotija cheese: If you’re someone that loves cheese on your tacos, a sprinkle of cotija or queso cotija adds a nice touch. Both are fairly salty, so add slowly and avoid adding too much additional salt to top the tacos.

Up-close overhead image of Chipotle Chicken Tacos showing the filling.

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Chipotle Chicken Tacos

5 from 5 votes
The slow cooker is saving us loads of effort and delivering tender, succulent chicken that gets tossed in a delicious honey-chipotle sauce! Add your favorite toppings to Chipotle Chicken Tacos; our favorites are quick-pickled onions, black beans, and sliced avocado.
Print Recipe

Chipotle Chicken Tacos

5 from 5 votes
The slow cooker is saving us loads of effort and delivering tender, succulent chicken that gets tossed in a delicious honey-chipotle sauce! Add your favorite toppings to Chipotle Chicken Tacos; our favorites are quick-pickled onions, black beans, and sliced avocado.
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American, Mexican
Keyword Chipotle Chicken Tacos
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 25 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 592kcal
Cost $7.10

Ingredients

Chicken

  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, fatty parts removed
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon EACH: chili powder and sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper

Sweet Chipotle Sauce

  • 1 cup (263g) Heinz ketchup
  • 1/2 cup (95g) light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2/3 cup + 1 tablespoon (232g) honey
  • 2 tablespoons sauce surrounding chipotle chilies in adobo + 1 tablespoon of a chipotle chili pepper (cut down if needed)
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

Toppings

  • 12-14 (depending on size and how loaded the tacos are) Thin corn tortillas (I like Mission) or flour tortillas (I like TortillaLand)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Quick "pickled" red onions (See Note 1)
  • 1-2 ripe avocados, thinly sliced
  • Cotija or queso cotija cheese
  • Optional: additional fresh lime and fresh cilantro

Instructions

  • PREP: Spray a large (6 quart) slow cooker with cooking spray. Pour the chicken broth in the bottom of the slow cooker. Trim off fatty parts of chicken thighs (some fat is fine; most will render off, I just slice off the big pieces on the sides). Combine the brown sugar, chili powder, paprika, cumin, and garlic powder in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper to personal preference; I add 1/2 tablespoon fine sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir and then rub evenly over the chicken.
  • COOK CHICKEN: Place the chicken and chicken broth in the slow cooker in an even layer. No need to stir. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours; it takes about 4 and 1/2 to 5 hours in my cooker.
  • SHRED CHICKEN: Once the meat is completely cooked, remove the chicken to a large bowl. Shred with two forks.
  • SAUCE: When the chicken is almost finished cooking, prepare the sauce. For the sauce, combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Season to taste with salt and pepper, I add 1/4 teaspoon of each. Blend or process until completely smooth. Taste and adjust ingredients to preference. You may want more chipotle for a hotter sauce (but add slowly!) or a little more salt or pepper. Toss about half of the sauce with the shredded chicken to warm it through. Add sauce gradually just until the chicken is nicely coated. Taste and adjust salt/pepper.
  • QUICK "PICKLED" RED ONION: (See Note 1)
  • CHAR TORTILLAS: Spray both sides of the tortillas with olive oil cooking spray and char the tortillas directly over the gas flames for a few seconds. Use tongs to flip until tortillas are lightly charred and soft. Immediately fold the tortilla in half (so it will fold into a taco nicely later) and set aside.
  • ASSEMBLE: Top charred tortillas with saucy chipotle chicken. Add your favorite toppings; we like drained, rinsed, and warmed black beans, thinly sliced ripe avocado, pickled red onions, a sprinkle of queso cotija cheese, fresh cilantro, and a few squeezes of fresh lime. If desired, add additional chipotle sauce to tacos or dip the tacos in the sauce. Any leftover sauce will stay good for 5-7 days in an airtight container in the fridge and can be tossed with cooked chicken or pork. Enjoy while hot!

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: If you'd like to add quick pickled red onions to top these tacos with, you'll need:
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon white granulated sugar
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the red onion, red wine vinegar, salt and sugar. Toss to coat. Leave at room temperature and toss every 5 minutes or so, while preparing the rest of the meal.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 592kcal | Carbohydrates: 103.3g | Protein: 31.1g | Fat: 6.8g | Cholesterol: 111.3mg | Sodium: 1169.3mg | Fiber: 8.6g | Sugar: 63.5g

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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9 Comments

  1. This is great, I actually put some chicken in the slow cooker yesterday night and I have barbecue sauce, just going to grab some tortillas on my way home.

  2. I love this version for tacos! Sometime’s I get tired of the same old stuff…I can’t wait to give this a try!

  3. This recipe is amazingly awesome! I add roasted red peppers to the sauce and it was even better. Thanks Chelsea.

    1. Ooo that sounds delicious!! I’ll have to try adding some roasted red peppers next time I make this 🙂 Thanks for the comment! I’m so happy you enjoyed this recipe!

  4. 5 stars
    I made this for my family and everyone loved it. We ate the leftovers the next day and I think the sauce was even better one day later.

    1. Yay!! So glad to hear it!! I totally agree, anything with chipotle tends to get better by day 2, and stronger which I love!!

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