This Chicken Tinga recipe is remarkably quick and easy to make in 30 minutes and tossed with the best smoky, savory, and slightly-sweet tomato sauce. See notes below for Instant Pot and Crock-Pot options.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium white onion, peeled and sliced
- 4 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 to 4 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (plus 1 tablespoon of the adobo sauce)*
- 1 (15-ounce) can fire-roasted tomatoes
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano (or Mexican oregano)
- 6 cups (1 1/2 pounds) shredded cooked chicken*
- 1 bay leaf
- fine sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- recommended toppings: chopped fresh cilantro, crumbled cotija cheese, fresh lime wedges, quick pickled red onions, sliced avocado, and/or Mexican crema
- Sauté the onions and garlic. Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently, until fragrant. Remove stockpot from heat and transfer the onion mixture to a blender.*
- Blend the sauce. Add the chipotles (and 1 tablespoon adobo sauce), tomatoes, chicken stock, honey (if using), cumin and oregano to the blender. Cover and purée until smooth, then pour the sauce pack into the stockpot.
- Add the chicken. Add the chicken and bay leaf to the sauce and toss until combined. Cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove and discard the bay leaf.
- Season. Taste and season the chicken with however much salt and pepper you think it needs.
- Serve. Serve the chicken warm, garnished with whatever toppings you love best, and enjoy! Leftovers can be refrigerated in a food storage container for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
Instant Pot (pressure cooker) instructions: Complete step 1 in the bowl of the Instant Pot using the “Sauté” function. Follow step 2. Then add the sauce, chicken, and bay leaf to the Instant Pot. Cover and pressure cook on high for 8 minutes, followed by a quick release. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Remove and shred the chicken, then add it back to the sauce and toss to combine. Follow steps 4 and 5.
Crock-Pot (slow cooker) instructions: Combine all ingredients (minus the salt and pepper) in the bowl of a large slow cooker and briefly toss to combine. Cover and slow cook on high for 1-2 hours or on low for 3-4 hours, until the chicken shreds easily with a fork. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Remove and shred the chicken. At this point, you are welcome to blend the remaining sauce if you’d like (see note below) or you can just leave it as-is. Return the chicken to the sauce and toss to combine. Follow steps 4 and 5.
Chipotle chiles in adobo: These deliciously smoky chiles do pack some heat. So if you prefer this recipe to be less spicy, I recommend beginning with 2 chipotles, and then you can always mince and add more later if you’d like. I also recommend adding in 1 tablespoon of the smoky adobo sauce (in which the chiles are packed) for extra flavor.
Using raw chicken: Instead of using pre-cooked chicken, you can use 1 1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, approximately 3 chicken breasts. For the stovetop method, I recommend sautéing the chicken before you begin the recipe. Simply season it on both sides with salt and pepper, then sauté the chicken in a drizzle of olive oil over medium-high heat until cooked through. Let the chicken rest while you prepare the sauce. Then shred the chicken and toss with the sauce as directed. (Or alternately, you can simmer the raw chicken breasts in the sauce until they are cooked. Then remove and shred them and toss with the sauce as directed.)
Blending options: Feel free to blend the sauce using a traditional blender, a food processor, or an immersion blender. If you are following the Crock-Pot method and the sauce is quite hot, be sure to very carefully tent open the cap on the blender lid so that any steam can escape, since hot liquids expand (and can explode) when blended.
Source: Recipe loosely adapted from The Kitchn.