Recipe: Slow Cooker Chicken Tinga

Recipe: Slow Cooker Chicken Tinga

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Kelli Foster
Sep 6, 2018
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman | Kitchn)

If you're not already familiar with smoky-sweet chicken tinga, know this — it is your ticket to the most delicious shredded chicken tacos you'll make. And with the help of your slow cooker, it is an absolute breeze to pull together. Just like classic chicken tinga, this version is cooked in a full-flavored tomato-chipotle sauce, studded with sliced onions, and hit with just enough heat to keep you on your toes.

And like most slow cooker chicken recipes, this one needs just a few hours of cook time, making it an ideal make-ahead dinner for meal prepping or leisurely weekend cooking when you need to run errands or get things done around the house.

The Most Delicious Ways to Turn Chicken Tinga into Dinner

In its most classic form, saucy chicken tinga is stuffed inside or spooned over tortillas, to be served up as tacos or tostadas. The tacos are preferably topped with avocado, red onion, cilantro, and maybe even some crumbled cheese, like cotija or queso fresco. But that just scratches the surface of all the ways you can turn it into dinner.

Use it as a topping for taco salads, burrito bowls, or nachos. It makes an excellent filling for quesadillas, and if you have a thing for BBQ chicken pizza, it's high time you make your next pie with chicken tinga instead.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Slow Cooker Chicken Tinga

Serves 6

Prep time: 15 minutes ; cooking time: 1 hour to 3 hours

  • 4

    boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds total)

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • 1

    medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

  • 3 cloves

    garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    dried oregano

  • 1

    bay leaf

  • 1 (14-ounce) can

    tomato purée

  • 2

    canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced, plus 1 tablespoon of the sauce

  • Serving options:
  • Corn tortillas

  • Diced red onion

  • Avocado

  • Fresh cilantro

Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper. Place in a single layer in a 4-quart or larger slow cooker.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, oregano, bay leaf, and the 1 teaspoon of salt, and stir to combine. Stir in the tomato purée, chipotle peppers, and adobo sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.

Pour the sauce and onions over the chicken. Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through and tender, 2 to 3 hours on the LOW setting or 1 to 2 hours on the HIGH setting.

Turn off the slow cooker and transfer chicken to a clean cutting board. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces with two forks. Return the chicken to the slow cooker and stir to coat with the sauce before serving in tortillas with toppings if desired.

Recipe Notes

Gluten-free: To make this recipe gluten-free, make sure to use gluten-free canned chipotles in adobo sauce.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)
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