BBQ pulled chicken tacos are a delicious and popular dish made of tender pulled chicken cooked in a flavorful sauce then tucked into taco shells and topped with various garnishes to create a tasty and satisfying meal.
BBQ pulled chicken tacos offer a combination of savory, smoky, and slightly sweet flavors. They are versatile and can be customized according to personal preferences.
They make for a fantastic meal for gatherings, parties, or a casual weeknight dinner. Serve them to a crowd on game day or Cinco de Mayo along with Authentic Mexican Red Rice for a truly spectacular dinner!
Now, while BBQ pulled chicken tacos have become a popular dish in many parts of the world, it is not considered a traditional Mexican dish. However, they do combine elements from Mexican cuisine with American barbecue flavors, resulting in a delicious fusion creation enjoyed by many.
- Chicken: I like to use chicken breasts, the sauce adds enough moisture to the cooked chicken!
- Taco shells: I used crispy taco shells, but feel free to use soft tortillas de harina (flour tortillas) if you want.
- Spices: Garlic powder, ground cumin, onion powder, freshly cracked pepper, and chili powder. You can also use store-bought taco seasoning if you want
- BBQ sauce: Use your favorite brand of store-bought BBQ sauce.
- Tomato sauce: Same as above, use your favorite brand of tomato sauce.
- Lime: I used fresh lime juice for a tangy kick.
- Chicken stock: To make the sauce I used low-sodium chicken stock.
- Oil: Use your favorite type of vegetable cooking oil.
- Toppings: Shredded lettuce, fresh pico de gallo salsa, and shredded cheese.
How To Make BBQ Pulled Chicken Tacos
Place garlic, cumin, onion, pepper, chili powder, paprika, and oregano in a bowl. Add lime juice and oil then mix to combine. Add to chicken and turn it to coat it evenly.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a cast iron skillet or a non-stick pan over medium heat.
Cook chicken for 10 minutes flipping it 2-3 times until is fully cooked.
PRO TIP: Prepare your toppings while the chicken is cooking. Chop the lettuce, make the pico de gallo salsa recipe, etc.
Place cooked chicken in a dish or large plate and cover with aluminum foil.
Add chicken stock to the skillet where you cooked the chicken, and add the BBQ sauce and the tomato sauce. Scrap the base of the pan to loosen up the bites
Roughly shred the chicken using two forks and then return it to the pan with sauce.
Mix well and allow to simmer for 3 minutes at low heat or until the sauce has thickened. Adjust salt to taste.
- Warm your taco shells following the instructions on the package or, if you use soft tortillas, heat them in a non-stick pan/skillet until soft and pliable.
- Add first some lettuce so it will help to prevent the taco shell from getting soggy too fast.
- Add bbq pulled chicken with a bit of sauce.
- Top with fresh salsa, sour cream (optional), and cheese. Enjoy your pulled chicken tacos!
Notes & Tips
- Use chicken rotisserie or turkey leftovers instead of cooking your own chicken. It saves tons of time! Just shred it and cook it in the sauce as the recipe calls.
- Before cooking the chicken, season it with salt, pepper, and any other spices or herbs you prefer. This will enhance the overall flavor of the pulled chicken.
- Choose a high-quality barbecue sauce or make your own if possible. The sauce should complement the flavors of the chicken and add a delicious tanginess, smokiness, and sweetness.
- Let the chicken soak in the sauce. This allows the chicken to absorb all the flavors of the BBQ sauce and make it delicious!
- Consider serving BBQ pulled chicken tacos with delicious sides such as Mexican rice, frijoles refritos, guacamole, or a fresh salad. These sides complement the flavors of the tacos and make it a complete meal.
- Got some bbq chicken leftovers? Make also my BBQ chicken tostadas for a change!
Drinks To Pair
Serving those pulled chicken tacos at a Mexican-themed party? Or just want to enjoy them with a Mexican drink? Here are some options for you:
- Tamarind drink.
- Agua de Melón (melon drink).
- Pineapple agua fresca.
- Agua de pepino (cucumber fresca drink).
- Tepache (pineapple fermented drink).
- Michelada (beer drink).
How To Store
Store the pulled chicken filling and tortillas separately. Keep the chicken in an airtight container or sealable bag. Place the tortillas in a resealable bag or wrap them tightly in foil.
The BBQ chicken and tortillas last for up to 4 days in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer.
To enjoy the best quality tacos, assemble them just before eating. Reheat the pulled chicken until warmed through, warm the tortillas, and then combine the filling and tortillas with your preferred toppings.
More Taco Recipes
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BBQ Pulled Chicken Tacos
For pulled chicken
- 1 ½ lb bonless chicken breast
- ½ tsp garlic, cumin, onion, pepper and chili powders. (each)
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 ½ Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 Tbsp lime (juice)
- ⅔ cup BBQ sauce (note 3)
- ¼ cup tomato sauce
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 12 taco shells (note 4)
- 2 cups lettuce (shredded)
- ⅓ cup cheese (shredded)
- 2 cups pico de gallo salsa
- Place all seasonings, lime juice, and oil in a bowl and mix to combine. Add to chicken and turn it to coat it evenly.
- Heat oil in a cast iron skillet or a non-stick pan over medium heat. Cook chicken for 10 minutes flipping 2-3 times until is fully cooked.
- Place chicken in a dish or large plate and cover with aluminum foil.
- Add chicken stock, BBQ, and tomato sauce to the skillet. Scrap the base of the pan to loosen the bites and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat.
- Roughly shred the chicken using two forks and then return it to the skillet with the sauce. Mix well and allow to simmer until the sauce has thickened (about 4 minutes). Adjust salt to taste.
- Warm your taco shells following the instructions on the package.
- Add some lettuce on the bottom of a taco shell.
- Add chicken with a bit of sauce.
- Top with pico de gallo salsa, sour cream and cheese.
Maricruz Avalos Flores is a Mexican cook and photographer living in Italy where she shares authentic Mexican & Italian recipes that can be easily made at home using easy-to-find ingredients.