This tinga de pollo is perfect to make tostadas, tacos, and burritos. A savory and slightly spicy chicken stew with a depth of flavor that is truly satisfying and a family favorite.

Tinga de pollo is a Mexican dish made of shredded chicken and onions cooked in a flavorful sauce of tomatoes and chipotle peppers. The delicious mixture is then served along side dishes or as a topping for tostadas and tacos.

This is one of my favorite recipes for family gatherings and potlucks because it is incredibly easy to make, customizable, budget-friendly, and a real crowd-pleaser.

Besides, you can make it ahead and the leftovers are even better! You can enjoy them piled on a crispy tostada, stuffed on a bolillo roll, or simply on top of rice. Yum!

Tostadas de tinga.

Ingredients

  • Chicken: I am using chicken breasts cooked and shredded, but it can be made with chicken thighs and drumsticks, or with chicken leftovers.
  • Onions: Use white onions, sliced.
  • Tomatoes: Use fresh tomatoes or substitute with canned roasted tomatoes.
  • Chiles: For authentic tinga de pollo, you’ll need chipotle in adobo peppers and guajillo peppers. Those chilies can be found in Mexican grocery stores or on Amazon.
  • Spices & flavor: Oregano, thyme, cumin, garlic, and black pepper.
  • Stock: If you cooked your own chicken, use the cooking water, otherwise, substitute with powdered chicken bouillon and water.
  • Oil: Use your favorite type of vegetable oil.

For tostadas

  • Tostada shellscrispy corn tortillas.
  • Refried beanscanned or homemade.
  • Pickled onions —or diced onions.
  • Lettuceshredded.
  • CreamMexican crema or sour cream.
  • Queso frescoor your favorite cheese.
Close-up of a tinga tostada topped with lettuce, avocado, pickled onions, cream, and cheese.

How to Make Tinga de Pollo & Tostadas

In a medium pot place tomatoes and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes.

Remove the stems and seeds from the guajillo peppers and add them to the hot water. Turn off the heat immediately and let the ingredients sit for 10 minutes.

Top Tip: Soaking the dried chilies in hot water will soften them and make them easier to blend.

Tomatoes boiled and guajillo peppers soaking in a pot.

Remove the tomatoes from the water and peel them, then add them to a blender along with guajillo chilies, chipotle peppers, oregano, cumin, garlic, thyme, and black pepper.

Pour 2 cups of chicken stock and blend until you’ll have a smooth sauce. Set aside.

Tinga sauce in a blender.

Heat the oil in a large cooking pan over medium heat.

Add onions and cook, stirring constantly, until slightly soft and translucent (about 4 minutes). Mix in the chicken and cook for 1 minute.

Pour the tomato sauce and season with salt.

Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes stirring from time to time until the onions are nicely cooked through and the sauce has reduced.

Make The Tostadas de Tinga

Get all the ingredients for your tostadas ready and on hand, so it will be easier to assemble and serve.

Spread a spoonful of creamy beans on each tostada shell and top with some tinga mixture.

A tostada shell with refried beans spread and tinga de pollo piled.

Pile a bit of lettuce, sliced avocado, and pickled onions. Finish with a dollop of crema and a sprinkle of queso fresco. Serve immediately.

A tostada de tinga fully assembled.

Expert Tips & Notes

I’ve been making tinga de pollo and perfecting the recipe for more than 20 years! So, let me share with you some tips that will help you to achieve the perfect dish:

  • Chicken breasts are a perfect choice if you aim for a low-calorie recipe, while thighs and drumsticks are more juicy, making them an excellent choice too.
  • To cook the chicken, you can use whatever cooking method is convenient for you such as an Instant Pot, slow cooker pot, or a stovetop.
  • If you cook your own chicken, you can simply boil it with salt or add a few aromatics for extra flavor.
  • Alternatively, you can use chicken rotisserie leftovers or even turkey leftovers to make this recipe.
  • Don’t slice onions too thin because they will disintegrate when cooking with the sauce. They’re supposed to add texture to the dish.
  • Chipotles in adobo sauce are quite spicy, so start with fewer if you’re sensitive to heat, and add more if needed.
  • Allow the sauce to thicken and reduce considerably. The mixture shouldn’t be too saucy or your tostadas will break apart.
  • You can substitute guajillo chilies with other types of dried chilies or with smoky paprika.
  • Tinga often tastes even better the next day as the flavors continue to meld. So, consider making it in advance.
Tostadas de tinga on a marble surface.

How to Eat

Besides tostadas, you can eat tinga de pollo in any of those ways:

  • Main dish: Serve with a side of Mexican rice and tortillas.
  • Tacos: Pack it on tortillas and top with onions, cilantro, cream, and your favorite salsa.
  • Tortas: Stuff on a bolillo or telera roll with slices of avocado, onion, and pickled jalapeño peppers.
  • Bowls: Serve on top of this cilantro lime rice along with pinto beans, tortilla chips, diced onion, and salsa.
Chicken tinga de pollo in a serving platter with tortillas, lemon wedges, and pickled onions on the side.

Make Ahead & Store

Tinga de pollo can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days in the fridge. This makes the dish a wonderful prep meal to make ahead!

It also freezes wonderfully for up to 3 months in freeze-proof containers or zip bags.

More Mexican Chicken Recipes

Video

Disclaimer: I posted this video some years ago. Since then, I’ve simplified the recipe but the video is still helpful as it shows an overall view to make this Mexican dish.

Chicken tinga de pollo recipe.

Tinga de pollo & Tostadas

4 servings
Tinga de pollo features shredded chicken simmered in a delicious smoky sauce made of tomatoes, chipotle peppers, and spices. It is perfect to serve on tostadas, burritos, and tacos.
prep 20 minutes
cook 1 hour
total 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 4 cups cooked chicken breasts (shredded)
  • 1 large onion (sliced)
  • 1 pound tomatoes
  • 2 chipotle in adobo peppers (adjust to taste)
  • 2-3 guajillo chilies (stem and seeds removed)
  • 1 clove garlic (peeled)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

For tostadas

  • tostada shells (read notes)
  • refried beans
  • lettuce (chopped)
  • pickled onions
  • Mexican crema (or sour cream)
  • queso fresco (or any cheese you prefer)

Instructions
 

  • Place tomatoes in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Add guajillo peppers to the hot water and turn off the heat. Let the ingredients sit for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the tomatoes from the water and peel them, then add them to a blender along with guajillo chilies, chipotle peppers, oregano, cumin, garlic, thyme, and black pepper.
  • Pour 2 cups of chicken stock and blend until you’ll have a smooth sauce. Set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a cooking pan over medium heat.
  • Add onions and cook until slightly soft and translucent (about 4 minutes).
  • Mix in the chicken and cook for 1 minute.
  • Pour the tomato sauce and season with salt.
  • Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes stirring from time to time until the onions are nicely cooked through and the sauce has reduced.

Make the tostadas

  • Spread a spoonful of creamy beans on each tostada shell and top with some tinga mixture.
  • Pile a bit of lettuce, sliced avocado, and pickled onions.
  • Finish with a dollop of crema and a sprinkle of queso fresco. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • You can cook your own chicken and shred it or use chicken leftovers to make this recipe.
  • Chipotles in adobo sauce are a bit spicy, so start with fewer if you’re sensitive to heat, and add more if needed.
  • Allow the sauce to thicken and reduce considerably. The mixture shouldn’t be too saucy or your tostadas will break apart.
  • Besides tostadas, you can use tinga to make cheesy sliders, quesadillas, tacos, and burritos.
  • Tinga lasts up to 3-4 days in the fridge and up to 2-3 months in the freezer.
  • This recipe can make up to 20 tostadas, depending on the size of the tostada shells used and how much tinga you top on each.
Nutrition Information
Serving: 1 tinga serving | Calories: 342kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 45g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 119mg | Sodium: 694mg | Potassium: 728mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1461IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 54mg | Iron: 2mg
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Recipe Rating




8 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Okay…this is my new obsession!!! And just like you said, it tastes even better the next day. I used the tinga mixture for tostados but I also found myself eating forkfuls of it on its own…yum!

  2. 5 stars
    What fantastic flavors in this Tinga de pollo. It’s a very versatile dish and I love that leftovers can be kept in the freezer for future use.

  3. 5 stars
    I always make a big batch of tinga de pollo to have leftovers after. I always love to eat it with tacos, it’s so flavorful and fulfilling!

  4. 5 stars
    Hi Maricruz,
    Your’s is the 2nd variation I’ve made of chicken tinga. The recipe was easy, delicious and pretty authentic.
    Thank you 😊