These Easy Chicken Soft Tacos use a homemade taco seasoning mix made with items right in your pantry and are ready in under 15 minutes!
There are so many options when it comes to tacos, but these Soft Chicken Tacos may just be the easiest option out there. They are ready in 15 minutes, full of flavor, and so much better for you than using a store bought packet. Served with a simple Black Bean and Corn Salad or Mexican Corn Salad, and you have a delicious take-out inspired dinner,
We eat more than our fair share of tacos and these easy chicken tacos are constantly in the rotation. They are seriously simple to make, super flavorful, and make the best leftovers. I am not kidding when I say we eat some version of these every week.
Plus they are so much better for you than takeout tacos or tacos made with the store-bought taco seasoning packets. Many times these packets have a huge amount of sodium as well as preservatives, sugar, and MSG. Making homemade chicken taco seasoning is super easy, just as tasty, and makes this a healthy meal that you can feel good about eating and serving.
How do make chicken taco seasoning?
Chicken taco seasoning is a great spice blend to make at own since it uses spices you already have at home in your pantry. You can make it as mild or spicy as you like. Please note this version does not use cornstarch, which is typically used as a thickening agent. If you mostly plan to use this for ground chicken (or beef), you may want to add one tablespoon of cornstarch to help the sauce thicken.
- 3 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1.5 tsp black pepper
- Optional: Oregano, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper
This taco seasoning can be used to marinate chicken when combined with olive oil or lime juice. It can also be used as a dry rub for chicken, pork, beef, fish, shrimp, or tofu. Additionally, you can use it to cook ground chicken or beef. First, brown the ground meat and then add 1/3 cup water and 2 tbsp taco seasoning for every pound of meat you are using. Bring it to simmer and then turn off the heat and let the mixture thicken.
What is the best cut of chicken for chicken tacos?
There are basically three options when it comes to making chicken tacos – boneless skinless chicken breasts, boneless skinless chicken thighs, or ground chicken. All three work great in this soft taco recipe and each has its own advantages. For those looking for light, healthy, and low point recipes – chicken breast will be the best option. It has the least amount of calories, fat, and points. However, the one disadvantage of chicken breasts is that they can get dry if they are overcooked at all.
The second option is chicken thighs. Chicken thighs have more fat and therefore will stay more moist and tender when cooked. If you aren’t overly concerned about calories, fat, or points – then chicken thighs will result in the juiciest chicken tacos. Trim them before cooking, removing any excess fat. Cut the chicken thighs into chunks and follow the recipe directions as written. Chicken thighs will take 8-10 minutes in a skillet.
If you decide to use ground chicken, you will want to start by adding about one teaspoon of cornstarch to the two tablespoons taco seasoning per pound. This helps thicken the sauce. Start by browning the chicken. Then add the taco seasoning (with the added cornstarch) and 1/3 cup of water or chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and then turn off the heat. Let the sauce thicken for 2-3 minutes.
What to serve with chicken tacos?
When it comes to soft chicken tacos, there are so many different options when it comes to topping your tacos and also what to serve as side dish. When I serve these tacos, I always use chopped onion, chopped cilantro, Mexican and queso fresco. When I am really hungry, I will add some black beans and corn as well. Here are some other ideas for topping your tacos.
- Your favorite salsa: I am partial to spicy green salsa and chipotle salsa, but anything will work. These tacos already have some spice from the taco seasoning, but I like to add some tangy green salsa to add some extra flavor and spice.
- Guacamole or avocado: It’s almost impossible to eat a taco in our house without some homemade guacamole or diced avocado. The creaminess of the avocado balances out the spice.
- Veggies: You can go Mexican style with these tacos and add cilantro and diced onion or make more American style tacos with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and even diced pickles.
- Extra hungry: Add some canned black beans, pinto beans, and/or corn to your tacos as well. These make them more filling and adds extra fiber and protein.
Looking for side dish ideas? There are also tons of options when it comes to side dishes from traditional options like rice and beans to more exciting options like a Mexican Corn Salad or Avocado Salad.
- Beans and rice: Stick with a traditional option by pairing your tacos with some Quick Refried Beans and Mexican Cauliflower Rice.
- Serve it with salad: For a lighter option, you can make some pretty amazing salads to serve with your tacos. Consider trying this Mexican Chopped Salad or Mexican Quinoa Salad. You can also make a quick homemade salad using a combination of corn, black beans, tomatoes, avocado, red onion, cilantro, and plenty of fresh lime juice, salt, and pepper.
What can I do with the leftovers?
If you end up with some extra chicken taco meat, lucky you! There are tons of options for the leftovers. You can pack it up with rice, beans, and fresh veggies for a burrito bowl. Use it to make quesadillas with a low carb flour tortilla, diced bell peppers, and cheese. Toss it in lettuce wraps with black beans for a lighter taco. Add it to your favorite canned black bean or vegetable soup for a quick and hearty lunch. Add it to a big green salad for a taco salad.
One quick note, if you decide to make extra so you have leftovers, you may want to cook the chicken in two batches. When there is too much chicken in the pan, it tends to cook unevenly and will leave you with some overcooked pieces and some barely cooked pieces.
Can I make this in the slow cooker?
This recipe works great in the slow cooker with a few adjustments. If you are using chicken breasts, you will want to add 1/2 cup of chicken broth (or a can of undrained diced tomatoes) to the slow cooker so there is some liquid to keep the chicken moist. If the chicken is cut into cubes, it will probably only take about 2 hours in the slow cooker. Chicken thighs will take about the same amount of time if chopped, or about 4 hours if left whole.