First, let me just say, the creation of Taco Tuesday is the greatest thing that has ever happened in the culinary world. No seriously, I’m not exaggerating, I love tacos and can eat them breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but Taco Tuesday is a big deal at my house. In fact, my love for tacos is so great, I’m going to do a series of recipes, dedicated to the glory of tacos and Taco Tuesday. The first in the series will be Taco Tuesday Chicken Tacos!
There are a million ways to make chicken tacos; grilled fajita-style, or stewed and shredded like chicken tinga tacos, etc, etc. This first chicken taco recipe I’m giving you is marinated chicken thighs that are pan-fried. I use boneless skinless chicken thighs and marinate them all day before pan-frying them. These are great cooked on the grill as well if you prefer. However, not everyone has a grill so this is a great chicken taco recipe anyone can make. The best part of pan-frying chicken for tacos is all that flavor that is left in the pan from the marinade. This spicy oil and the browned bits left from the chicken gives incredible flavor to my Tex-Mex Rice and Beans! Although you should never reuse raw marinade, fully cooked, the marinade is great for sautéing onions and garlic to make amazing rice and beans.
I always serve my chicken tacos the traditional street taco way. All you need is corn tortillas, this chicken taco recipe, diced white onions, and fresh cilantro. Serve it with either red or green sauce, maybe some guacamole, chips, and salsa, and a couple of ice-cold beers and you are golden!
Leftover Tacos for Burrito Night!
I mentioned making Tex-Mex Rice and Beans in the pan, which is a great side for tacos. However, the rice and beans are for my next favorite day of the week, Burrito Night! I always make more of this chicken taco recipe than we need for Taco Tuesday, so I have leftovers to make burritos. And those rice and beans are an amazing way to repurpose chicken taco filling for another great dinner recipe everyone loves! I’ll post Burrito Night on the blog soon.
Marinade Ingredients for Chicken Tacos
- Chicken Thighs: My chicken taco recipe starts with boneless skinless chicken thighs. Chicken thighs are great for tacos because they are thin and the marinade can penetrate deep into the meat.
- Olive Oil and Garlic: Fresh crushed garlic and olive oil are the base for this chicken taco marinade. Use fresh garlic please, I know that a lot of taco seasonings use dry onion and garlic powder, but I think you will love the difference fresh makes once you try this recipe.
- Spice Mix: Ground cumin, smoked paprika, and Ancho chili powder are what give the tacos that traditional flavor. They are not too spicy so they are great for kids and people that don’t like their food too spicy. Salt and black pepper are the only other spice in this taco seasoning.
- Mexican Oregano: If you can get Mexican oregano use it, it will give you the most authentic Mexican flavor. However, the regular dried oregano that most grocery stores carry will work just fine.
- To Marinate: Marinating chicken thighs for chicken tacos is simple. Simply toss all the ingredients together in a non-reactive bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours. Make sure the marinade is well mixed and covers every inch of the meat.
Here is my recipe for Taco Tuesday Chicken Tacos!
Taco Tuesday Chicken Tacos
- 1 Pound Chicken Thighs Boneless, skinless
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
- 1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
- 1 Teaspoon Ancho Chili Powder
- 1 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
- 1 Tablespoon Mexican Oregano Regular dried oregano works fine
- 2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 Teaspoon Garlic Crushed and chopped
- Corn Tortillas Fresh are best
- Chopped Onion
- Chopped Cilantro
- Red and Green Hot Sauce
- Sliced Limes
- Combine the chicken thighs and all ingredients together in a non-reactive bowl. Let marinate for 2-8 hours
- Preheat a skillet over high heat. Add 2-3 thighs at a time, don't crowd the pan. Cook for approximately 4 minutes on each side until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F
- Let chicken rest for 10 minutes, dice, and serve on tacos
To Build Tacos
- If using fresh corn tortillas, serve them hot and fresh. If using store-bought tortillas, warm them based on the manufacturer's instructions.
- Layer the taco with chopped chicken, diced onion, and fresh cilantro.
- Squeeze fresh lime juice on the taco and add optional hot sauce