When I Have Absolutely Nothing Prepared for Dinner I Make Rotisserie Chicken Tacos

updated Dec 10, 2020
Rotisserie Chicken Tacos
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Credit: Photos: Joe Lingeman, Design: Kitchn

Miracle Meals are the family-friendly dinners that save you time, money, and effort — but not at the expense of taste. They’re dishes that allow you to spend less time in the kitchen and more time with the people you love.

This happens more often than I like to admit, and not always on a Tuesday: I open up the fridge in the morning to figure out what I’m going to be making for dinner that night, and it turns out that we really have nothing in the house. Or barely anything. Or nothing I want to eat, anyway.

I’ve got two kids, and the kind of after-work schedule that comes with having two kids, which means that I don’t have time to shop and cook an elaborate dinner. But I also don’t have the endless resources to drop all kinds of cash taking my kids out to eat. That’s when I usually tell everyone we’re having chicken tacos for dinner — and they start to cheer (even, maybe especially, my wife).

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

Rotisserie Chicken Tacos Are Practically Already Made

I like these tacos because I can pick up the chicken and any other ingredients I need on the way home, and they’re more or less ready to eat about 15 minutes after I walk in the door. You basically shred half the chicken, warm up the tortillas, chop an onion, and “dress” the cabbage with some lime juice and salt. Put it all on the table, and it’s ready to eat!

That and they’re incredibly inexpensive: One rotisserie chicken plus all the taco fixings from my local grocery store sets me back about $25, and is enough to feed the four of us at least twice — in fact, the next morning we often reheat the tortillas, scramble some eggs, and make breakfast tacos, since everything is already made.

Credit: Kitchn

But the real magic comes when this meal hits the table. Because the “trick” to this dish is that everyone gets to choose what goes in their own tacos. No more complaining from either of my girls that they don’t like something that’s in the dish. They can just leave it out!

And you don’t have to stick with the sides I’m choosing here, either: Lots of stuff can go into a taco. Some days we add a can of warmed-up beans, or swap the queso for shredded cheese. Sometimes we get guac instead of avocados, or put out some leftover corn.

One note about spice: My oldest daughter is incredibly sensitive to spices. But I’ve found that a tablespoon of your standard chili powder mix (pepper, cumin, coriander, oregano, etc.) mixed into 1/2 of a shredded rotisserie chicken adds lots of flavor without a lot of heat. But definitely feel free to experiment. And if you’re worried, substituting a tablespoon of cumin instead will add plenty of flavor without any pepper at all.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

Rotisserie Chicken Tacos

Prep time 15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook time 5 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 12 to 16

    (6-inch) corn tortillas

  • 1/2

    rotisserie chicken

  • 1 tablespoon

    chili powder, or ground cumin if you want it less spicy

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1 (10-ounce) bag

    tri-color slaw

  • 2

    medium limes

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2

    medium yellow onion

  • 2

    medium avocados

  • 1/2 (10-ounce) wheel

    queso fresco or other crumbly Mexican cheese

  • 1 cup

    sour cream

  • 1 cup

    salsa

  • Hot sauce

Instructions

  1. Heat an oven to warm or 175ºF. Stack 12 to 16 tortillas (3 to 4 per person), then wrap them completely in aluminum foil or parchment paper. Place in the oven to warm while you prepare the chicken, slaw, and toppings.

  2. Remove the breast and thigh meat from 1/2 rotisserie chicken (save the rest of the chicken for another use). Place in a bowl and shred with 2 forks. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon chili powder or cumin and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and toss to combine.

  3. Place the slaw in a large bowl. Halve, then juice 1 of the limes over the slaw. Add 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and a few grinds of pepper, and toss to combine.

  4. Prepare the toppings, placing them all in separate bowls: Cut the remaining lime into wedges. Dice 1/2 yellow onion and 2 avocados. Crumble up 1/2 wheel queso fresco cheese. Place 1 cup sour cream and 1 cup salsa in serving bowls if desired.

  5. If the chicken is no longer warm, it can be covered and warmed in the microwave if desired. Place the packet of warm tortillas on a plate. Place the chicken, tortillas, slaw, toppings, and hot sauce out for everyone to make their own tacos.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 4 days.