Chicken tinga recipe

Makes about 8-10 servings, depends on how you’re serving it. Takes about 10-15 minutes prep to chop and mince, then about 1½ hours of relatively hands-off cooking.

Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add about 2 TBSP of oil of your choosing, and then two sliced onions. Cook the onions until translucent, then add about 1 finely chopped chipotle in adobo (or more if you like it spicier), 3 cloves minced garlic, ¾ tsp salt, 2 tsp ground coriander, and 3 tsp ground cumin. Cook for a few minutes longer until fragrant.

Next, add everything else:

  • One 14.5 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • About 30 oz water (two can-fulls)
  • Two bay leaves
  • Four medium carrots, peeled and cut in half
  • One celery stick, broken in half
  • A few grinds of pepper
  • One 1.5-2 lbs pack of boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 3 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp chicken bouillon
  • ½ tsp salt

Turn the heat up to medium-high, and give it all a good stir. Once it is bubbling profusely, turn it down to a simmer and cook it for at least an hour until the thighs are super tender. Stir it occasionally, maybe ever 15 minutes or so and more frequently as you get further in to the cooking time to prevent sticking.

About 40 minutes in, remove and throw out the bay leaves, carrots, and celery.

When the thighs seem to be falling apart, gently remove them with tongs and set them on a plate. Let the sauce continue simmering while you shred all of the meat with two forks, then set the meat plate aside. You want to reduce the sauce until is pretty thick, so make sure you stir it pretty frequently.

Once the sauce is the desired consistency, use an immersion blender to liquify the sauce in the pot and then add the meat back to the sauce as well as the juice of 1 lime. Give it a stir, then taste it. Add more adobo sauce if you want it spicier, salt if needed (it will probably be needed), or more lime juice if you want it a little more tangy. Then let it simmer further, stirring frequently, until it has reached the desired consistency.

Serve it however you like. Tacos are great, just put the big pot of tinga on the table with some little warmed tortillas, sliced radishes, cotija cheese and/or sour cream, hot sauce of your choosing, and cilantro.


We made Chicken Tinga tonight, wanted to note the recipe here because I’m happier with it than a lot of the ones I came across. The measurements are very approximate, taste throughout the cooking process to check you’re happy with it. I found that it needed a pretty solid amount of salt.

Most recipes I’ve found tell you to shred already-cooked chicken, cook the sauce separately, and then combine the two. I kind of feel like you’re missing out on a lot with that method though. When you stew chicken thighs, the liquid that they stew in is almost as great / valuable as the chicken itself with its texture, and you through what you put in the liquid, you can get so much flavor in to the chicken. Plus, I’d be annoyed at the additional pans required to do the cooking and sauce prep separately.

This method lets you do it all in one. The only difference between what I did tonight and what I wrote above is the chipotles in adobo. We had a jar of very good garlicky chipotle salsa in the fridge that needed using so I threw that in. I ended up adding maybe about a quarter cup of the salsa and didn’t add any chopped chipotles or garlic. What I’ve written above is how I would like to make it next time. Edit 11 December 2023: I made it as per the recipe above and it was great, no notes.

I think you could easily get away without celery, carrots, or bay leaves. They’re here for the depth of flavor they add, but it would still be pretty good without them though.

And I bet this would be pretty spectacular with bone-in chicken thighs, it would just take a little more work to remove the bones and skin before shredding and you would need to increase the weight of the package to account for the bones.

Related to substitutes: don’t make this with chicken breasts. If you want to use chicken breasts for this… IDK, just make something else, chicken piccata is a great way to cook chicken breasts. If you use chicken breasts for this, the sauce will have more of a watery consistency and I’d almost guarantee that the chicken will be too dry.

Note to self: B really liked the chicken on its own but couldn’t handle the sauce, which is fair enough. Maybe cook a little more chicken in the future so that we can put some aside for him.

And a note for the future: SG suggested adding this to it which looks like a great shout.