Chicken Tinga

Have you ever heard of chicken tinga? To be honest I hadn’t heard of this dish until I moved to Colorado and went to a friend’s baby shower. Everyone kept telling me about this chicken tinga that I needed to try. When I finally made it over to the kitchen I saw a huge pot on the stove and couldn’t wait to peek inside. I opened the pot and a spicy, smoky scent lingered through the air as I spooned some juicy tender shredded chicken onto my plate.

I want to thank my dear friend Cesi who introduced me to this dish that delivers big authentic Mexican flavor. After much begging she shared her family recipe with me which has been in her family for generations. I have to admit that I tweaked her original recipe by making it a tad lighter. I hope to make my amiga and her familia proud with my Muy Bueno version.

Originating in Puebla, Mexico, chicken tinga is a versatile dish of shredded chicken in a tomato and chili chipotle sauce. It’s quick and easy to make and definitely the comfort food we all crave. Tinga is great for a tostada buffet, where guests can create their own mountain of goodness. Sprinkle this juicy shredded chicken that is delicately marinated in a spicy sauce on a tostada with your choice of toppings. Your guests will enjoy the smoky flavor that lingers on their palate stemming from the chipotle chiles in adobo sauce.

If it’s a Cinco de Mayo recipe you’re looking for why not serve this spunky and soulful Pueblan recipe? Tinga is a tasty party dish that can be made a day ahead. It stores well in the refrigerator and tastes better the next day after the ingredients have marinated for a few hours.

Chicken Tinga

Yield: 10 to 12 servings


  • 6 cups water
  • 2 pounds skinless/boneless chicken breast
  • 4 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 medium yellow onion, quartered
  • 1 large vine ripened tomato, quartered
  • 1 (7-ounce) can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 large vine ripened tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 12 Flat tostada shells, packaged or corn tortillas

Toppings (optional)

  • 1 iceberg lettuce, finely shredded
  • 3 avocados, pitted, peeled, and sliced
  • 2 cups crema Mexicana or sour cream
  • 2 cups queso fresco or Cotija, crumbled
  • 2 cups salsa of your choice
  • 6 radishes, sliced


  1. In a large stockpot, over medium to high heat, add water, chicken, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 clove garlic, and quartered onion. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. Reserve.
  2. Remove the chicken and allow it to cool. After the chicken cools off shred it. Reserve.
  3. In a blender add the boiled onion and garlic clove, quartered tomato, chipotle peppers including adobo sauce, 2 teaspoons salt, and enough chicken broth to fill the blender half way. Puree until smooth.
  4. Heat the oil in a large and deep pan over medium heat.
  5. Once it is hot but not smoking, stir in the chopped onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes.
  6. Add chopped tomatoes and chopped garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  7. Add the cooked shredded chicken, the chipotle sauce from the blender and more chicken broth if it is too dry. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  8. Add salt to taste.


  1. In a heavy skillet heat one-quarter inch of oil. Drop tortillas carefully into hot oil, one at a time, for 20 to 40 seconds on each side or until crisp and golden. Drain on paper towels. Store bought tostadas can also be used.


  1. To assemble, place a tostada (fried tortilla) on a serving plate; spoon on Chicken Tinga, lettuce (optional), 1 or 2 slices of ripe avocado, crumbled queso fresco, and top with crema Mexicana or sour cream.
  2. Garnish tostada with toppings of your choice.

More recipes available at
This recipe is also published in Muy Bueno: Three Generations of Authentic Mexican Flavor

Photography by Jeanine Thurston

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  1. Pingback: Cinco de Mayo Recipes | HIPLIP

  2. I swear I just had this last weekend. OMG, it was soooo spicy. My neighbor had a party and brought me a plate as a “perdon el escandalo” with a “spice warning”. She wasn’t kidding. A. They were pretty loud, but all in fun B. I think this is one of the spiciest Mexican dishes I’ve had since someone brought me camarones el diablo. Whew!!!

    She didn’t exactly say her dish wash Tinga, but it is exactly as it looks in your pic and ingredients. I ended up mixing in eggs like a machaca….so good with corn tortillas charred on the comal.

    Thanks for this serendipitous sharing.

    • Angelica,

      LOVE the word serendipitous!!! Tinga could be made to be very spicy, but our recipe with the addition of all the tomatoes makes this dish a bit more tolerable. It’s spicy, but not crazy hot! Just the perfecto amount of sweat on your forehead. LOL!

  3. When we lived in London, one of the only good Mexican restaurants we found had chicken tinga (which I never heard of before and haven’t really seen much since!) I ordered it every single time and just loved it. I’m so excited to see this recipe! I am a bit afraid of using a whole can of chipotle, but since it serves 10…maybe I’ll live to tell the tale.

  4. Made this for my family yesterday–they’d never had it and absolutely loved it. My younger sister ate leftovers for breakfast this morning and can’t stop saying the word “tinga.” Without question this is a new family favorite!

    • So happy to hear you made it and that your familia loved it! Your comment made my day and I shared it on our Facebook wall. If you have any pictures we’d love for you to share them on the Muy Bueno Facebook page. Thanks for sharing your great story! I can hear your sister saying “tinga” all the way over here 😉

  5. I made this today! In addition to the ingredients I added orange pepper and simmered the tinga with fresh oregano and bay leaves.

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  7. Good “formula” for tinga de pollo…. I tweaked it for my 2 y/o son by preparing some without chipotle (with chili powder, black pepper, and cumin in the saute for a bit of flavor) and made a separate chipotle sauce for papa. A bit of lime juice on top of the tostada is nice too.

    ~~ Yums all around ~~

  8. Pingback: Cinco de Mayo Menu Planning | Justice Jonesie

  9. ¡Me encanta la tinga! Mi Mama lo cocinaba para mis cumples. Yo aprendí a cocinarlo cuando me case. Lo preparo casi igual que tu receta. Si ay mucha gente que no a probado este platillo pero cuando lo prueban les encanta, verdad?

  10. Pingback: Learn Traditional Mexican Recipes Through New Media Communications

  11. Let me just say I made this last night and it was AMAZING. Very easy to make and I followed the recipe exactly, except I like my food REALLY spicy so I added another can of chipolte peppers. It was my guest’s favorite dish I have made so far. Love love love it! Thank you for sharing! Will definately make this again and again!

    • WOW!!! An added can of chipotle peppers?! Phew!!! I’m sweating here just thinking about it. I LOVE spicy dishes, so I can only imagine how spicy this was. Way to go! Thanks for leaving us a comment. Very sweet!

  12. Sounds like every other mexi dish I’ve ever eaten, in my town you can’t throw a rock without hittin’ beans and rice.

  13. I am going to make this recipe this week for my family. If I make this in the crock pot would I just throw everything in and cook? Or would I need to cook the chicken first?

    • Hola Tina, I have made this in the crockpot and it turned out great!..Prepared the marinade and then left it in the fridge overnight. The next day I just added everything to the crockpot and put it on low and cooked it for several hours, about 6. The last hour I took two forks and shredded the meat in the crockpot and left all the meat in the juices to combine. It was AMAZING!! Let us know what you choose to do and how it turns out…

  14. My mother in law makes this for us all the time, but I’ve always been afraid to ask her for the recipe! This one tasted just as good as hers, and it even got her approval! Just the right amount of heat, perfect!!!

  15. I made this tonight and it was a HUGE hit! My husband and kids loved it! It was simple, but delicious! I can’t wait to try more recipes.

  16. Omg it was way too hot!!! I love spicy food but ugh. Otherwise dilish 🙂

  17. I made this dish for my mom and boyfriend the other night. We all loved it! I think I made the sauce too thin when I filled the blender half way up, because mine ended up really saucy. However, I will know for next time!

    Because I ended up with leftover sauce and tostadas, I used them to make chilaquiles this morning, and it was delicious! My boyfriend had always told me his mama made chilaquiles with scrambled eggs, and so he thought you HAD to make them that way. I served them with over easy eggs, and it was amazing!

    I made the shrimp cocktail from your book on the night in between, and my mom commented “if you keep cooking like this, I don’t think I’m going to let you move out again!”

    Thank you so much!

  18. I am making this for my newly married into dominican/puerto rican family, I myself am a southern girl 🙂 and we are hosting my husbands family for Christmas. I cannot wait to try this recipe, it sounds authentic, delish, and easy enough to make! I have a question though – have you ever made this in a crockpot? I am making it for 22 people on this Christmas Eve at my house and just thought it would make my life SOOO much easier if I could make ahead of time…. thoughts, suggestions, concerns?? Thank you!!!

    • Congrats on hosting your family Christmas dinner and we are honored that our Chicken Tinga will grace your table this year. I did look over the directions and as much as I’d like to tell you that you can make it in a crockpot, this is one of those recipes that you can not. What you can do is make it a maximum of two days early and refrigerate. Then on the day of your dinner just put into a crockpot about 1 hour before serving and let it warm up. Stir it as needed so it warms up evenly. I hope this helps. Feliz Navidad amiga!

  19. Pingback: SRC: Chicken Tinga Tacos | The Pajama Chef

  20. This is one of my favorite dishes. It’s super easy in the crockpot. One review I read is to put the sour cream on the tostado first, then the meat and other toppings. It is really good that way. Great recipe.

  21. ¡Dios mío! ¡Qué rico salió la tinga! La cociné para una fiesta del fin de nuestra novela. Mi esposo estaba muy contento.

  22. Do you know what the nutritional content is on just the chicken portion of the recipe? Just curious… I’m watching my caloric intake, but this recipe sounds heavenly!!! Thanks!

  23. Pingback: Cino De Mayo! | Wonderfully Balanced

  24. Made this afternoon. soo good and learning to like heat more and more, but my still-wimpy palate needs extra crema and cerveza to cool my mouth down ! Instead of eating as tostada I’m just rolling up like a soft taco. Can’t wait to try some with eggs !!

    Thank you for another winning recipe!

  25. Hi , i want to know is this taste like chicken tikka cause the name is so close tinga, i am going to try it for sure on weekend,take care

  26. I made this recipe and I don’t know where I went wrong :'( it was watered down amd not spicy at all -_-

    • I’m sorry Emily. Did you use too much broth? I’ve heard some say this recipe is very spicy and others say it wasn’t spicy enough. I guess it all depends on spice tolerance. I haven’t heard its watery though. I encourage you to try it again. It’s a delicious recipe and one I make often 😉

  27. Pingback: PALEO CINCO DE MAYO RECIPES | The Healthy Beast

  28. This is NOT true! Real Tinga is made of Half Caramelized Onion and half chicken, you can find Tinga made of only onions… This is just a Chipotle Sauce chicken… i’m Mexican Btw.

  29. I found this recipe after my husband asked me to make Tinga for him. My mother in law has her style but it was to complicated to make on a busy Wednesday night. I found this recipe and tried it. IT WAS FANTASTIC. The recipe was easy to follow, the steps are all laid out and the ingredients are simple and easily done. It was a hit with my family. I took left overs to work and my coworkers we begging to have a taste. They even bought all the ingredients so I would make them a batch for lunch. Thank you for the recipe. I will keep it handy.

  30. Just had Tinga for the first time today, and it was fantastic! Hubby loved the leftovers I brought him, rolled up in some homemade tortillas. Yum yum!
    Can’t wait to try your receipe!

  31. Pingback: 8 Kid Friendly Hispanic Heritage Month RecipesInspired by Familia

  32. They will love it! It’s so yummy ; ).

  33. Hola, being from Las Cruces, I can only comment AMÉN to those “stacked New Mexican Enchiladas”, made with velvetly red “New Mexico chili”; and of course not to forget that fried egg on top of the cheese melted enchiladas. Ola la, I think I will make those for dinner tonight!
    Salud y bueno provecho.

  34. Sergio hernandeZ Reply

    I had tinga all my life I can’t see my self with out tinga…everyone needs to try one’s.

  35. I love this recipe and have made it several times! Everyone I have made it for has loved it! I will be making it again this weekend, but I was wondering if it could be adapted to be made in a crockpot. If it can, how would you suggest I do it?

    • Hi Miran,

      Sorry for the delay. You can add all the ingredients in a slow cooker and just let cook low and slow for about 6 hours. The sauce will obviously have to be made separately and then added to slow cooker. Hope that makes sense. Good luck and keep me posted.

  36. Chicken Tinga. Hmm, let’s try it… CHICKEN TINGAAA!!! WOO-HOOOOO!!! Seriously, could chicken EVER be better than this?! Never had it until tonight, and already I’m thinking about how soon I can convince my wife to fix it again. Simply Amazing!!!

  37. Had this dish one of the times I was visited you Mija. It is delicious, I have to remember to make this great dish next time I have guests.

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