This is an easy recipe for tinga de pollo a mildly spicy traditional Mexican shredded chicken recipe. This is my version made with chicken on the bone, slow cooked in a delicious tomato and chipotle chilies adobo sauce.
About This Recipe
- Chicken tinga is a very easy one pot stove top recipe. Perfect for beginners because, there are only a few simple steps to making this recipe.
- The sauce of this delicious Mexican chicken recipe can be made wet, so it can be served over rice or, it can be cooked down to create a thick rich sauce for wrapping in tortillas.
- Unlike other recipes where the sauce is pureed smooth, this tinge de pollo has a thick and chunky sauce, so a blender is not required.
- It’s family friendly because you can control the heat of the dish by how much of the chipotle chiles you use.
- It’s also a budget friendly meal because you are using cheaper pieces of chicken like chicken thighs on the bone and drumsticks.
- It’s healthy because the fat and skin is removed, and you get some extra flavour and nutrition from the chicken bones.
- It’s gluten free and dairy free too.
Chicken on the bone – I like to use chicken on the bone because it is budget friendly. I also like to use bones for many slow cooked dishes because the bones add flavour.
The bones also give you some of the benefits that you would get if you used a homemade chicken stock. However, you can use boneless chicken breast or even left-over roast chicken.
Onion and garlic – onion and garlic give a wonderful flavor to any dish that they are cooked in.
Canned diced tomatoes – for convenience I used canned diced tomatoes rather than fresh and because canned is cheaper than fresh.
Chipotle chiles in sauce – is a bottled paste made with chipotle chilies that you can find in most supermarkets.
Herbs and spices – cumin powder, chili powder, dried oregano and black pepper.
How to Make Tinga
Step 1 – Remove the skin and fat from the chicken.
Step 2 & 3 – Fry the onions until dark and golden, then add the garlic and fry for about 1 minute more.
Step 4 – Add the tomatoes, chipotle chile sauce, herbs and spices and mix well.
Step 5 – Add the chicken piece and push down into the liquid. Bring the boil, cover the pot, reduce the heat to a simmer, cook for 40 – 50 minutes or until the chicken is tender.
Step 6 – Remove the chicken and shred.
Step 7 – Continue to cook the sauce on medium heat, uncovered for 10 – 15 minutes more or until it is thick.
Step 8 – Add the shredded chicken back to the sauce and reheat if necessary, taste for seasoning.
Recipe Tips and Notes
This recipe makes about 980 grams (34.5 oz) of pulled chicken, or six 163 grams (5.5 oz) serves. This amount will vary depending on how much you much liquid you have left in the sauce.
Use leftover cooked chicken – You can use 450 – 500 grams (16 – 17 oz) of cooked roast chicken. Make the sauce first then add the cooked and shredded chicken in at the last 5 – 10 minutes of cooking.
Make a smooth sauce – I know not every one likes a chunky sauce and if this is you, puree the sauce with a stick blender (or use a masher to make it less chunky) before adding the shredded chicken back into the sauce.
How to store it – Store leftovers in an airtight container for 3-4 days or freeze it.
How To Eat Tinga De Pollo?
The most common way to eat tinga is to make tostadas de tinga. This is where the shredded chicken in sauce is served on top of a flat tostadas.
Tostadas are basically deep-fried or baked corn tortillas that can be served as a side to a wide variety of Mexican food dishes.
Because, tostadas are fried or baked they become firm and hold their shape, making them the ideal base for a number of other Mexican recipes like this bean tostadas recipe.
I would have loved to have shown you pictures of tinga de pollo served the authentic way on tostadas but was unable to find them.
So, I thought I would make tostadas, but I was unable to find Mesa flour, which is the is the main ingredient for corn tortillas.
So, in the end I as you can see from the images on this page, I used soft flour tortillas to make tinga de pollo tacos instead.
You can use store bought or make your own using my homemade soft flour tortilla recipe.
These tortillas are so easy to make you can make them the size as stated in the recipe for wraps or make them smaller for soft taco shells.
You can also use this pollo tinga to make:
- a delicious filling for hard taco shells
- use it as a quesadilla filling or
- use it to make nachos
Chicken Tinga Toppings
You could eat chicken tinga as is, but it is nice to mix things up with a variety of toppings. You could add any of the following as a topping.
- Pico de Gallo – this is a Mexican style salsa made with onions, jalapeno peppers, lime juice, diced fresh tomatoes and coriander (cilantro).
- Finely chopped red onions
- Chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves
- Diced tomatoes or cucumbers
- Avocado slices
- Sour cream or thick natural yogurt
- Grated cheese
- Finely shredded cabbage
- Or squeeze over some fresh lime or lemon juice
Party Food Ideas
This recipe can be prepared in advance which makes it a great dish to cook when you need to feed a crowd.
You can serve it up as dainty tasty appetizers for Mother’s Day, bridal showers, baby showers, Christmas or when you just need some light snacks.
Or you can turn to this dish when you need something more robust and satisfying for occasions such as game day.
Mexican Chicken Appetisers
This tinga de pollo can be served as an easy Mexican appetizer on small round or triangular corn chips.
A day or two before the party make the chicken tinga, as outlined below.
Make the recipe as directed on the recipe card. When the chicken is fully cooked cooked remove it from the sauce. Continue to cook the sauce down until it becomes thick and does not look watery.
Shred the chicken and roughly chop it into smaller pieces before adding it back into the sauce, mix well and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Allow the pollo tinga to cool completely, transfer to a container and store covered in the fridge until needed.
On the day and just before serving warm up the sauce then assemble the appetisers.
To make the appetisers:
- Top each corn chip with about 1 teaspoon of the tinga de pollo
- Drop on a little sour cream
- Garnish with a small pieces of avocado or diced tomato or grated cheese or pieces fresh coriander (cilantro)
- Arrange on a serving platter and serve immediately
Chicken Tinga Nachos
Serve it as a football party food and make individual servings of chicken nachos.
• Place corn chips into bowls, top with the reheated tinga
• Sprinkle on some grated cheese
• Place in the microwave and heat until the cheese starts to melt.
• Garnish with chopped spring onions, sour cream and chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
• Serve immediately
Or place corn chips onto a large baking tray, top with hot chicken tinga and grated cheese. Bake in a hot oven until the cheese has melted. Garnish with onions, sour cream and chopped coriander and serve.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it easier to shred chicken hot or cold?
It’s much easier to shred chicken or any meat for that matter when it is well cooked and still hot, but it can still be shredded when cold.
When the meat is hot, pull the meat apart using to forks. Or you can allow the meat to cool to the point where you can handle it comfortably, and then shred it using your hands.
Is chicken tinga spicy?
Yes, tinga de pollo can be quite spicy because, you are using chipotle in adobo sauce which can make a dish quite hot if a lot is used.
If you don’t like your food too spicy reduce the amount of chipotle sauce.
The amount used in this recipe is 3 teaspoons and for our tastes it is quite mild.
However, if you aren’t used to spicy food start with 1/2 – 1 level teaspoon, this will help to give a mild smoky flavour to the dish without it being too hot. You can always add a little more during cooking and make it to suit your own tastes.
Can you freeze chicken tinga?
Yes, tinga de pollo freezes very well. Allow it to come to room temperature then transfer to a freezer save container (or containers) or zip lock bags.
For the containers fill them almost to the top, leaving some head space to allow for expansion.
If using zip lock bags, lay them flat and squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing.
Can I use chicken breast?
You can use skinless chicken breast for this Mexican tinga recipe. It can be cooked with or without the bone.
How many calories does tinga chicken have?
One single serve of this chicken tinga recipe is about 359 calories.
So, that’s how to make tinga de pollo. Easy isn’t it!
If you do make this recipe, I would love it here from you. You can drop a comment below to tell me how it went.
Tinga de Pollo – Mexican Shredded Chicken
- 800 grams (28 oz) chicken breast with bone and skin excess fat removed
- 1 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 large brown onion finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 x 400 grams (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes
- 3 level teaspoons chipotle in Adobe Sauce
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon black pepper optional
Serve with any of these
- steamed rice
- corn or soft flour tortillas
- chopped coriander
- finely sliced red onion
- diced cucumber
- finely sliced red chilli
- sour cream or thick natural yogurt
- lemon or lime wedges
- shredded lettuce or cabbage
- Remove the skin from the chicken and if necessary, cut into smaller pieces at the joints. Use a paper towel to wipe away any bone splinters at the cutting points. Season the chicken with the 1 teaspoon salt. Put aside.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium/high heat, add the onion and stir and fry until it softens and turns a light golden brown.
- Add the garlic, cook while stirring for about 1 minute.
- Reduce the heat to low and add the cumin powder and chilli powder, cook and stir for about 1 minute.
- Add the diced tomatoes, chipotle in adobo sauce and oregano mix well.
- Add the chicken and use a wooden spoon to push it into the sauce.
- Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium/low, cover the pot with a lid and simmer for about 40 – 50 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. Stir the sauce from time to time to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot and burning.
- Remove the chicken from the pot and transfer to a plate, allow to cool to temperature that is comfortable to handle. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the bones. Use your hands or two forks to shred the meat. Put aside.
- Continue to cook the sauce uncovered, over a medium/high heat until it thickens to a salsa like consistency. This will take about 10 – 15 minutes. You will need to almost constantly stir the sauce. As the sauce thickens reduce the heat slightly. It should be thick and almost paste like.
- Return the shredded chicken back to the pot with tomatoes and stir over a medium heat until the chicken if full coated in the sau
- This recipe makes about 980 grams (34.5 oz) of pulled chicken, or six 163 grams (5.5 oz) serves. This amount will vary depending on how much you much liquid you have left in the sauce.
- Use leftover cooked chicken – You can use 450 – 500 grams (16 – 17 oz) of cooked roast chicken. Make the sauce first adding the cooked and shredded chicken in at the last 5 – 10 minutes of cooking.
- To make a smooth sauce – use a stick blender (or use a masher to make it less chunky) before adding the shredded chicken back into the sauce.
- How to store it – Store leftovers in an airtight container for 3-4 days or freeze it.
To MakeMexican Chicken Appetizers Cook the sauce down until it is quite thick and holds together when spooned onto a plate. Before returning the chicken back to the sauce chop it into smaller pieces. To make the appetizers:
- Top each corn chip with about 1 teaspoon of the warmed/hot tinga de pollo
- Drop on a little sour cream
- Garnish with a small pieces of avocado or diced tomato or grated cheese or pieces fresh coriander (cilantro).
- Arrange on a serving platter and serve immediately
- Place corn chips into individual serving bowls, top with the hot chicken tinga
- Sprinkle on some grated cheese
- Place in the microwave and heat until the cheese starts to melt.
- Garnish with chopped spring onions, sour cream and chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
- Serve immediately
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