My husband loves Mexican food and Baked Chicken Tacos are one of his favorite Mexican inspired dishes. One of our favorite hangout spots when we started dating was at a Mexican joint downtown, and we became such regulars that they remembered exactly how we liked our tacos.
I liked mine extra cheesy with lots of sour cream, and my husband was known as the king of peppers there. We still go there sometimes, just for old times’ sake!
Now that we don’t get to go back there so often, I have a growing collection of Mexican-inspired dishes. I’d like to share with you my latest endeavor which is a cheesy shredded chicken taco recipe.
It features shredded chicken thighs mixed with salsa and pepper jack cheese, baked to juicy goodness in chicken stock. On top of the shredded chicken, I add a personal favorite, chipotle sour cream which is equal parts tangy, sharp, and creamy. Then, we have the regulars: lettuce, jalapenos, and cilantro.
This taco brings us back to the old days, and I hope you get a taste of it!
For the shredded chicken:
- Chicken thighs – Boneless, skinless chicken thighs.
- Chicken taco seasoning – Follow my homemade chicken taco seasoning here! Store-bought taco seasoning works, too, but homemade anything always wins.
- Pepper jack cheese – These are Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeno peppers studded in them. Plain Monterey Jack, cheddar, or parmesan cheese is good, too. Buy them pre-shredded.
- Chicken stock
Ingredients to make chipotle sour cream:
- Sour cream – I personally think full-fat sour cream is the gold standard! For a substitute, try full-fat yogurt or Greek yogurt.
- Chipotle – Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely diced.
- Lime juice – Squeeze juice from fresh limes for the best results.
- Kosher salt – To taste.
Taco shells and toppings (Find more topping suggestions below this post):
- Hard shell tacos – I always use hard shell tacos simply because they hold their shape easier. I don’t have to worry about things falling apart! And the crunch that comes with every bite is fun, too!
- Romaine lettuce – Or iceberg lettuce. Slice thinly if they are too big.
- Cilantro – Leaves only.
- Jalapenos – Grab a bottle of pickled jalapenos, or use them fresh, if that is your preference.
How To Make Baked Chicken Tacos
Step One: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the chicken then season it in the baking dish using the chicken taco seasoning.
Step Two: Add salsa and chicken stock to the baking dish. Distribute evenly.
Step Three: Wrap the baking dish tightly in plastic wrap, then with heavy-duty aluminum foil, and bake for 60-75 minutes.
Step Four: Remove from the oven. Shred the chicken and drain most of the juice.
- Pro Tip: The easiest way to shred chicken is by using a hand mixer. Place the cooked chicken into a bowl and turn on the hand mixer. For a more traditional, hands-on method, use two forks and pull the chicken pieces apart until finely shredded, or my favorite methos, your hands.
- Pro Tip: The juice doesn’t need to be discarded. These can be kept for future use.
Step Five: Stir the pepper jack cheese into the shredded chicken.
Step Six: Make the chipotle sour cream. Finely dice a chipotle, then mix with sour cream, lime juice, and salt. Set aside until needed.
Step Seven: Fill each taco shell with the shredded cheesy chicken. Then, line tacos facing up in a baking dish. Bake tacos for 8 minutes.
- Pro Tip: Air fryers are great substitutes for ovens. I’ve used my air fryer for this recipe too, and it worked wonderfully, achieving the same results. I did find it more time-consuming, though, since the air fryer could only fit 2 to 3 tacos at a time.
Step Eight: Remove the tacos from the oven. Immediately top with chipotle sour cream, sliced lettuce, cilantro, and jalapenos.
Frequently Asked Questions
These baked chicken tacos are on the spicy side, with the use of the chicken taco seasoning that’s got an incredible blend of spices! And thanks to the chipotle in the sour cream and jalapeno, we also get a tangy kick of heat.
You can prevent your tortillas from falling apart by lining the bottom of the tortilla with cheese. This acts as a little bit of a barrier between the chicken and tortilla shell. Eat your tacos as soon as they’re ready. If you let them sit, they will become soggy.
For shredded chicken, it would make life a lot easier to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Boneless chicken thighs are great to use for braising and shredding. Chicken breast is an option but it’s not quite as flavorful and juicy. This taco recipe is also a good way to use up any extra rotisserie chicken or leftover cooked chicken.
Variations & Optional Toppings
Want to make your tacos more vibrant and colorful? Try these no-frills toppings for mouthwatering baked chicken tacos with loads of different flavor profiles!
- Refried beans
- Shredded cheese
- Diced tomatoes
- Red or yellow onions
- Lime wedges
- Bell peppers
- Mashed sweet potato
- Diced pineapples
Expert Tips & Tricks
- To reduce the heat in the chipotle sour cream: Canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are readily available in most supermarkets and are the key ingredient in this sour cream. Make sure to remove the seeds from the peppers to control the heat level.
- Let the chipotle sour cream sit for a while: For the best flavor, let your chipotle sour cream sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving. This will allow the flavors to meld together and develop a richer taste.
- Don’t overload the taco: While it can be tempting to pack your taco full of ingredients – I’m guilty of this! – leave some room for each flavor to shine. Too many toppings can also make the taco difficult to eat.
What To Serve With This Recipe
These baked chicken tacos are very versatile, and will go superbly with these dishes for a well-rounded lunch or dinner menu!
- Mexican rice: Mexican rice is a classic side dish that pairs well with baked chicken tacos. The flavorful rice adds texture and complements the spicy chicken.
- Grilled vegetables: To add more fiber to the menu, grill some bell peppers, onions, and zucchini.
- Chips and salsa: A side of chips and tangy salsa is a classic to Mexican dishes, including these cheesy baked chicken tacos. Try this green salsa for a fun twist!
- Cocktails: To complete the meal, try making margaritas (I have a mango margarita recipe) or mojitos. These add a festive touch to the meal and help you wash down any spiciness.
Storage & Reheating Instructions
Store shredded chicken tacos in airtight containers. Refrigerate for up to 3 days. To serve, toast or bake in the oven until warmed through. Serve with an extra helping of sour cream.
Baked Chicken Tacos
- 1 10"x8" baking dish glass or ceramic
- 1 medium mixing bowl
- 1 cutting board
- 1 sharp knife
- 6 chicken thighs boneless skinless
- 3 tbsp chicken taco seasoning
- 10 oz salsa I used Pace
- ½ cup chicken stock I love Knorr liquid concentrate
- 8 oz pepper jack cheese shredded
Chipotle Sour Cream
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 chipotle with a little sauce finely chopped, from a can of chipotle in adobo sauce
- 1 tsp lime juice
- 1 pinch kosher salt
Shells + Toppings
- 8 hard shell tacos
- 1 cup romaine shredded
- ½ cup cilantro
- ½ cup jalapenos pickled or fresh
- ½ cup chipotle sour cream
Making the Chicken
- Preheat oven to 400°F
- Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over chicken then season it in the baking dish
- Add salsa and chicken stock
- Wrap pan tightly in plastic wrap then with heavy duty aluminum foil and bake 60-75 minutes
- Remove from oven, shred chicken, drain most of the juice then stir in pepper jack cheese
Making Chipotle Sour Cream
- Finely dice a chipotle then mix with sour cream, lime juice and salt. Set aside until needed
- Fill each shell with chicken/cheese mixture then arrange facing up in a baking dish. Bake 8 minutes
- Remove from oven then top with chipotle sour cream, lettuce, cilantro and jalapenos