How to Make Chicken Tinga - An easy and delicious Mexican recipe

I confess I LOVE Tinga de Pollo, or Chicken Tinga, I think it must be one of my favourite ways to eat chicken. It's a typical Mexican dish, usually very common in places that sell "antojitos mexicanos" (typical Mexican snacks or light dishes).  I'd never made it myself until recently, but it's actually very simple and straightforward to prepare.  It’s made with chipotle chili which means it’s a little picoso, but not a lot and you can adjust the amount of chili in the recipe to make it hotter, or not so hot according to your own taste.


It's a pretty versatile dish and you can serve the tinga in different ways - as a main dish with rice, on tostadas, in tacos, on a huarache or a sope, in a torta (a type of Mexican sandwich), added to a salad... Really, the only limit is your imagination and your taste buds!

I followed this recipe for Tinga de Pollo by Pizca de Sabor (a Mexican food blog in Spanish), which has turned out very well each time I've made it.  The recipe itself is very easy and doesn't have too many ingredients, which make it ideal for me.  The simpler the better is my rule when cooking!  You could make a few adaptations; the last time I made it I added two cloves of garlic which wasn't in the original recipe, but I think it gave it some extra flavour.

Here's what you'll need for the tinga:

Approximately 1 kg chicken breast

1 small onion, thinly sliced

1 or 2 cloves of garlic (optional)

4 tomatoes

2 or 3 chipotle chillies in adobo (I used 2 and this was perfect for me)

half a cup of chicken stock or water

1 or 2 bayleaves

salt and pepper to taste

If you're going to make tostadas, you will also need:

Tostadas (crunchy toasted or fried corn tortillas)



tomato slices (optional)

sour cream

crumbly fresh cheese, crumbled (queso ranchero in Mexico)


Cook the chicken in a pot with water and a little salt.  If you want, you could also add a chunk of onion and some garlic to make a chicken stock, then use it as the base for a vegetable soup or pasta soup.  Don't throw it away once the chicken's cooked, whatever you do.  It should take approximately 30 minutes to cook, depending on the size of the chicken.

When the chicken is cooked, separate it from the liquid (save the stock for later) and put it on a plate to cool slightly.  When it is cool enough, you need to shred it, either with a fork or with your hands (the latter is probably easier and faster).  It should be well-cooked enough that it is easy to just pull apart.


Blend the tomatoes together with the chipotle chillies, salt, pepper and half cup of stock or water.  You could wait until the chicken is cooked and use that same chicken stock.  Option: I usually cook the tomatoes a little before blending them.  I keep the skins but cut out the middle part, as is recommended in Mexico.

Sautée the onion slices in a little oil until soft.  Add the garlic, finely chopped, at this stage too, if you are using it.

Pour in the blended tomato and chipotle mix from the blender and add the bayleaf or two (mine were very tiny, so I used several).  Stir and cook for about three minutes.  It should start to simmer gently.

Then add in the shredded chicken, salt and pepper to taste and mix it in well so that the chicken is all coated with the tomato, chipotle and onion sauce.  Cook for another 5 to 8 minutes.  After this, you can remove the bayleaves and the tinga is ready to serve.


To make tostadas:

It is so easy to make tostadas and there is not really a right or wrong way to do it, you just have to pile the toppings onto the tostada and make sure it all stays there (that's the difficult bit! Especially while you're eating it!)  I guess there are certain conventions about what order to put the ingredients on the tostada.

So, basically, a tostada is a crunchy fried or dehydrated tortilla, like tortilla chips but not cut into triangles.  They are normally round, although you can get square ones, and about the size of a hand, more or less.

I usually put the avocado on first, kind of spreading it carefully over the surface of the tostada, being careful not to break it.  Then I add some chopped lettuce, a few tomato slices and a few spoonfuls of the chicken tinga on top - or, first the tinga, then the lettuce and tomato, it doesn't really matter.  On top of all that I put a little sour cream, some thin slices of onion and a sprinkling of crumbled cheese.
Then try to eat it without it all falling apart!
So delicious...


Other ways to serve Tinga de Pollo

Alternatively, you can serve the tinga with rice and maybe some black beans and avocado slices as a main course dish (to be properly Mexican you would have to accompany this meal with corn tortillas, of course).

Another option is to slice open a warm bolillo (a bread roll, or small baguette) and fill it with chicken tinga to make a "torta" - perhaps add some avocado, maybe some sour cream too for a really tasty and quick snack.

You can make tacos: just heat up your tortillas and add a generous filling of tinga.

If you are making sopes or huaraches, which are made with a thicker tortilla base and spread with refried beans, you can also add an extra topping of chicken tinga.  I love the combination of the tinga with refried black beans, it's really delicious!

Let me know if you try this recipe - how did it go? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below and if you enjoyed this post I'd really appreciate you sharing it!

If you enjoyed this, you might like to try one of these other Mexican recipes: