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Chicken Tinga makes the most delicious shredded chicken tacos! Flavorful, tender, juicy and smoky! Cooking them is a breeze in your slow cooker.

platter of soft tacos with chicken tinga, red onion, cheese, and cilantro

This versatile Mexican dinner idea is a great option for a busy weeknight meal or for a gathering. I mean, who doesn’t LOVE tacos?

I could probably eat Mexican food DAILY! You too? Check out some of my favorite Mexican inspired dishes:

You can also use Chicken Tinga in tostadas, burritos, or nachos.

Before we get into the recipe, here are some things you might want to know.


What does Tinga mean?

Tinga means torn or shredded pieces of meat. In the case of Tinga de Pollo or chicken tinga, it means shredded or torn chicken.

This method of preparing meat is popular in a variety of Mexican dishes, including tacos, chalupas, and enchiladas.

What is Adobo sauce?

Adobo sauce is a traditional Mexican sauce that is thick reddish-brown often served with chipotle peppers.

It’s made from chile powder, vinegar, sugar, garlic and spices. It can be accompanied by different peppers, like ancho and guajillo chilies or, most commonly chipotle peppers.

What is Cotija Cheese?

This cheese is a mild, salty cow’s milk cheese that crumbles. It’s named after a town in Mexico.

Key Ingredients

ingredients for chicken tinga- boneless chicken thighs, onion, chipotle peppers, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, red onions, cilantro, lime, cheese

One of the things I love about this dish is it uses mostly staple ingredients and things that are not hard to find.

  • Boneless, skinless chicken thighs– dark meat here is tender and juicy.
  • Onion– one of the main flavor components of the dish, slice it about 1/4 inch thick, doesn’t need to be exact, you just want it thin.
  • Garlic, cumin, oregano– adds key flavors for this dish.
  • 14 ounce can diced tomatoes– the base of the sauce.
  • Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce– This is what gives you the smoky spice. Find it in the “ethnic” aisle at your grocery store.
  • Red onion, cotija cheese, cilantro- toppings for the tacos.

How to Make Chicken Tinga

collage of 4 photos showing steps of making slow cooker chicken tinga, 1-chicken in crockpot; 2-sauteed onions; 3-tomatoes, garlic, chipotle peppers, and spices in a blender; 4-chicken in crockpot topped with sauteed onions and blended sauce

STEP ONE: Prepare the chicken

  • Generously season the chicken with salt and pepper and place it in the Crockpot and set aside

STEP TWO: Saute’ onions

  • Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the sliced onions. Sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and transfer the onions to the slow cooker on top of the chicken.

STEP THREE: Make the sauce

  • Place the tomatoes, garlic, cumin, oregano, and chipotle peppers, adobo sauce in the pitcher of a blender. Puree the ingredients until smooth, about 30 seconds.
  • Pour over the top of the onions and the chicken.

STEP FOUR: Cook and enjoy!

  • Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for two to three hours or low for four to six hours.
  • When it’s finished cooking, remove the chicken from the slow cooker and transfer to a cutting board. Use two forks to shred the chicken.

A great shortcut to shredding chicken is to use a stand mixer. Place the chicken in the bowl of the mixer. Use the paddle attachment and turn the mixer to ‘stir’ or 1 or 2 (too high will throw the chicken out of the bowl!).

After a minute or so, you’ll have shredded chicken! Check out this video to see it in action.

shredded chicken in a bowl
  • Return the chicken back to the slow cooker, and allow it to simmer, on low, in the sauce for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • To make tacos with your chicken tinga, serve on tortillas topped with red onion, cilantro, and Cotija cheese. Squeeze the juice of a lime wedge over the top if desired.
shredded chicken and sliced onions simmering in a tomato chipotle pepper sauce in a crockpot

Notes and Variations

  • To avoid drying out the chicken, this slow cooker meal isn’t cooked all day. However, most slow cookers will automatically turn to “warm” after cooking and that should keep it at a safe temperature all day without drying it out.
  • When made as directed, the chicken has medium heat.
    • For more heat: use three chipotle peppers and two tablespoons of adobo sauce.
    • For mild heat: use only one chipotle pepper and one teaspoon of adobo sauce.
  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts can be substituted for chicken thighs.
  • I recommend using the Cotija cheese for more of an authentic flavor, but any cheese is fine.
cooked chicken tinga simmering in sauce in a crockpot garnished with cilantro

Ways to Serve

In addition to making tacos, you can serve your Tinga de Pollo with:

  • Rice– White or brown rice makes a great base or ‘bowl’ for your chicken.
  • Enchiladas/Burritos/Tostadas– Use it as the filling for any of these to change up your usual.
  • Tortilla chips– Hello Nachos! Top a bed of tortilla chips with chicken tinga and cheese for delicious chicken nachos.
  • Lettuce- For a low carb version, enjoy the meat over a bed of lettuce or broccoli slaw.


Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to five days.

You can also freeze leftovers for up to 6 months.

To Reheat

Make sure the Chicken Tinga is thawed and then you can reheat it in one of the following ways:

  1. in the slow cooker on high or low until it’s warmed throughout
  2. or on the stovetop, in a pan, on medium heat until it’s warmed through.
chicken tinga tacos on a platter garnished with red onion, cotija cheese, cilantro and lime

This is truly so flavorful and so easy to make, I think this Chicken Tinga recipe going to become your new favorite for all things taco related.

Enjoy! If you make this, please tag me, I’d love to see your creation and hear how you loved it.

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More Easy Slow Cooker Meals

Here’s a few of my favorites, but see the whole list of CrockPot Meals here.

platter of soft tacos with chicken tinga, red onion, cheese, and cilantro

Slow Cooker Chicken Tinga

The most delicious shredded chicken tacos! Flavorful, tender, juicy and smoky, and cooking them is a breeze in your slow cooker.
5 from 7 votes
Print Pin Rate Save
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Simmer time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 40 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 205kcal
Cost: $10


  • Crockpot or othe Slow Cooker
  • medium skillet
  • garlic press (optional)
  • cutting board
  • sharp knife
  • Blender or food processor


  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced or pressed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce plus 1 tablespoon of the adobo sauce the peppers are in.
  • Tortillas flour or corn


  • Red onion
  • Cotija cheese
  • Cilantro
  • lime wedges optional


  • Generously season the chicken with salt and pepper. Place in the Slow Cooker and set aside.
  • Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add the sliced onions and saute’ until translucent, about 5 minutes. Transfer onions to the slow cooker, on top of the chicken.
  • Add tomatoes, garlic, cumin, oregano, and chilis in adobo sauce to a blender. Puree’ until blended into a sauce, about 30 seconds.
  • Pour the sauce over the chicken and onions. Cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours or low for 4-6 hours.
  • Once the chicken is cooked through, remove the thighs to a cutting board and shred with two forks. See my tip in the notes for shredding chicken with a stand mixer.
  • Return the meat back to the sauce. Let it simmer for 20-30 minutes on low or warm setting.
  • Serve over tortillas with red onion, cilantro, cheese, and a squeeze of lime.


  • The heat in this recipe is medium.
    • For mild, use 1 chili and 1 teaspoon of adobo sauce;
    • For hot, use 3 chilis and 2 tablespoons of the adobo sauce
  • This can also be made with boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Shredding chicken hack: If you have a stand mixer, place the thighs in the bowl of the stand mixer, use the paddle attachment, and turn the mixer to ‘stir’ or a low setting, run until chicken is shredded.
  • For the most authentic flavor I recommend the Cotija cheese, but any cheese is fine. 


Calories: 205kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 135mg | Sodium: 542mg | Potassium: 481mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 292IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 2mg
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