Hola everybody! You all know that Mexican food is among my favorite cuisines because it's so flavorful and easy to make. Today's pick: slow cooker smoky chicken tinga. It's similar to "pulled chicken, but " a la Mexican style. Read on!
This dish is EXTREMELY versatile. For instance, you can use it to make chicken tinga tacos, tostadas, or even nachos! Burritos anybody? See what I mean? Whenever I prepare slow cooker smoky chicken tinga I always make a big batch in order have extra to freeze. Then it's like an instant meal on a busy weeknight, BONUS!!
Apart from its overall deliciousness, my chicken tinga recipe has even more advantages. First of all, OMG does it ever make the house smell so good! Second, it is also very healthy.
What is chicken tinga?
The herbs and spices create a rich and phenomenal flavor profile. I use bay leaves, and oregano because they both provide a deep and delicious earthy taste that really complement the other ingredients superbly. In addition I like to season the chicken with smoked paprika, and cumin of course.
And what about all the toppings? Well, it's up to you, but I like avocado, cotija cheese, and red cabbage because they create such a beautiful color contrast.
Without a doubt, this is a recipe you can use for so many purposes. And that is a HUGE plus in my book.
Where is Chicken Tinga From?
Chicken tinga comes from the Mexican state of Puebla, where it’s called pollo tinga in Spanish. Pollo tinga is traditionally made with shredded chicken in a sauce made up of tomatoes, chipotle peppers, and onions. The fun part about the base sauce of tinga is that you don’t have to stop at chicken. Feel free to play with the recipe and use other meats too, like beef or pork.
How is it traditionally served?
In Mexico, pollo tinga is typically served with white rice with cilantro. But you can also serve it hot on a tostada, which is a toasted tortilla. Or you can throw your pollo tinga into some warm corn or flour tortillas as many taquerias do in Mexico and the U.S. This dish goes well with fresh ingredients like avocados, shredded lettuce, onion, etc, since it is a little rich and packs some heat. Be sure to top it with some Mexican crema, or sour cream if you don’t have crema on hand.
In Mexico, pollo tinga is always made with chipotle chilis, which are just dried jalapenos. They drive the spiciness in the dish. My recipe does not call for them, but feel free to add them to your slow cooker if you’re in need of an extra kick.
Step by step photos
- Gather all your ingredients. Measure, chop and mince all the items you need for the slow cooker: chicken, salt, smoked paprika, garlic, onion, oregano, cilantro, cumin, bay leaves, diced tomato and cornstarch.
- Place the chicken in the slow cooker and then add the onion, garlic, salt, paprika, corn starch, bay leaves and cilantro.
- Step 3: Add the oregano.
- Add the the diced tomato, give it a stir and set to high. Stir it after each hour to combine flavors.
- After 3 hours check to see if the check if the chicken will split easily with a fork. When the chicken will separate it is done. While the chicken is cooking gather your ingredients to make the tacos: flour tortillas, avocado, crumbled cotija, red cabbage and lime wedges.
- Remove the chicken breasts and shred them into small pieces on a cutting board.
- Return the shredded chicken to the slow cooker, set to warm and stir into the remaining sauce. The chicken will soak up a lot of the juice and flavor. This is so flavorful!
- Keep the chicken warm and serve with tortilla, red cabbage, cotija cheese, avocado and limes. You can freeze any unused portion after it cools. It will store for up to 2 months in the freezer.
Finally, make sure you share this recipe with your friends and family because EVERYONE needs an easy weeknight meal in their life.
To make this recipe vegetarian, you can use jackfruit, oyster mushrooms, or even tofu. If you want to make this dish vegan, simply omit the cotija cheese. Cooking your vegetarian protein won’t take nearly as long as cooking the chicken. So make sure you carefully prepare and give your tinga as long as it needs to fully come together.
If you want to eat more traditional dishes from Puebla, consider trying mole poblano, chiles en nogada, or chalpuas. Other Mexican recipes include:
If you love Latin food then you have to try some of my all time favorite dishes or bookmark them for later. Here are some of the most popular ethnic dishes, their history and ingredients to make at home.
Mexican Pork Carnitas: Make this in the slow cooker and then broil for crispy goodness.
Cuban Ropa Vieja: A true comfort food of slow cooked beef served over rice.
Recaito: This is the ingredient used in many Latin soups, stews and black beans.
Sofrito: You need to have this base ingredient for Latin style beans and shredded chicken.
Latin Style Black Beans: If you have never tried these you are missing out and they are so easy!
Slow Cooker Spicy Smoky Chicken Tinga Recipe
- 1 avocado diced
- 1 cup red cabbage chopped
- ½ cup cotija cheese crumbled
- 1 lime cut into wedges
- 8 flour tortillas
Place chicken, and the remaining ingredients except the toppings in the bowl of a slow cooker. Cook on high for 3-4 hours. Stir every hour to combine the flavors.
After 3 hours check if the chicken will separate easily with a fork and then it is done. When done, transfer the chicken to a cutting board, and shred using two forks.
Return to the cooker, and mix in with the juices. Serve on four tortillas with avocado, red cabbage, crumbled cotija, and lime wedges.