Crispy Shredded Chicken Tacos, Two Ways

I’m really excited about this post.

I’m so in love with crispy tacos. Not the crispy tacos made from the shells you buy at the store, but from (preferably homemade) corn tortillas. In a nutshell, you fry the tacos (with the filling already inside) in a little oil until they’re crispy. If you’re a Pioneer Woman fan, you may have noticed the chicken taco recipe she recently posted to her cooking site. These ones are similar, but much easier, I think.

I made tacos for the first time like this a couple years ago when I discovered these Crispy Black Bean Tacos from a Bon Appetit mag, but never played around with fillings. That vegetarian version has graced our table many, many times.


There’s another reason why I’m excited for this post. This first variation was actually a collaboration between myself and a real-life friend (Mindy) who lives 600 miles away. Mindy, who runs the book review blog  Reading for Sanity, emailed me one day and told me that she’d used my taco seasoning to make some pretty wicked chicken tacos. . .

Corn tortillas + shredded chicken + taco seasoning + cilantro + pepperjack + lime = 
wicked taco.

Since I had planned on roasting a chicken in the next week or two, I tucked away the idea until I had some leftovers. Because I can’t leave well-enough alone, I added a variation of Southwestern Cabbage Slaw (which tops pretty much every taco I make), used cotija cheese (that’s what I had), and fried them in a little oil.

Uh yeah… any other recipe I find that calls for leftover shredded chicken better have a lot of potential because if not, that chicken will turn into a taco every time.

Tacos made with taco seasoning.

Fast forward a couple of weeks… I had more shredded chicken in the fridge along with some salsa verde I made on a whim (see previous post about my impulse tomatillo purchase).

In the meantime I had also purchased a tortilla press on Amazon, which made smaller and thicker tortillas. You can see the difference by comparing the photo above (hand-rolled) with the photo below (pressed). I’m OK with either kind, although the smaller, thicker ones were harder to manage while frying.

Anyway I made the same tacos again using salsa verde instead of taco seasoning. Another fantastic taco! There are so many variations you could do with this. And the best part is that it’s super fast and easy!

Thanks for the inspiration, Mindy!

And although I don’t really celebrate Cinco de Mayo, I just like any excuse to eat Mexican food. So if you do celebrate (for real), have a good one!

Tacos made with salsa verde variation.

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Crispy Shredded Chicken Tacos


3 1/2 - 4 cups cooked, shredded chicken (about half of a 4 lb roast chicken)
2-3 T taco seasoning, to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
20-24 corn tortillas
about 1/4 cup oil, for frying + more if necessary

Garnishes: cheese (Mindy recommends pepperjack, I used Mexican cotija), lime wedges, sliced avocado, shredded cabbage


In a medium skillet over medium heat, add the chicken, taco seasoning, and 1/4 cup of water. Bring to a simmer and let it cook until the sauce thickens and the mixture isn't so watery, about 5 minutes or so. Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro.

Place a few paper towels on a plate and set it next to the stove.

In another large skillet, heat the oil medium-high heat. It should "shimmer" and bubble quite a bit if you stick a wooden spoon in it. Add a couple of corn tortillas the oil. Wait 10-15 seconds, then flip them over. Place some of the chicken mixture down the center of the tortillas (about 2-3 T, depending on the size of your tortillas). Using tongs, fold the tortillas in half and press for a few seconds. The tortilla should start to hold its shape. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then flip them over to the other side to cook for another 2-3 minutes. Both sides should have golden brown spots and the tortilla should be somewhat crisp.

Transfer to the plate lined with paper towels. Cover or place in a warm oven to keep them warm. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling, adding more oil if the tortillas start to stick or scorch.

Serve with desired garnishes.

Makes 20-24 tacos or enough to feed 6-8 people.

Salsa Verde Variation: Omit the taco seasoning and water. Add 1/2 cup homemade or purchased salsa verde when the instructions say to add the taco seasoning.

inspired by Mindy Oja from Reading for Sanity

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17 Responses to “Crispy Shredded Chicken Tacos, Two Ways”

  1. #
    MindySue — May 4, 2011 @ 8:04 am

    Aw shucks! Thanks for the shout out! I'm not much of a slaw girl, but I'm going to try the cotija next time (though when it comes to cheese I always say the more the better).

    Mmmm. Tacos sounds good right now.


  2. #
    cookies and cups — May 4, 2011 @ 12:35 pm

    I love tacos too and they are my 7 year olds FAVE! Both kinds look too good not to try :)


  3. #
    Joanne — May 4, 2011 @ 4:52 pm

    These seem like some pretty rock star tacos! I love that they're made with leftovers…although I think they would compel me to just make chicken every week…solely for the leftovers. Not that that's a bad thing…


  4. #
    Kathryn — May 4, 2011 @ 5:17 pm

    those black bean tacos are a favorite with us, too! I will forever be grateful to you for posting them :)

    I have one question tho: I've tried using the home-made tortillas to make them, but they always seem to break in half when I try to fold them over in the skillet. Any tips?


  5. #
    Boston Sweetie — May 4, 2011 @ 5:20 pm

    These look amazing, and beautiful photography!


  6. #
    Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen — May 5, 2011 @ 3:12 am

    All I can say is YUM!


  7. #
    mt.garcia — May 5, 2011 @ 3:30 am

    tacos look great!
    Now that you have a tortilla press, you will have to try the Puffy Taco recipe at FN. It was part of BFlay's throwdown. They really work and are great.


  8. #
    Belle — May 5, 2011 @ 8:59 pm

    wow! These look great! I get hungry just by looking at them!


  9. #
    Natalie @ Perrys' Plate — May 7, 2011 @ 4:28 am

    Mindy – I don't like slaw either (the icky mayo kind… shudder), but I like this kind. It's dressed with lime juice and olive oil instead. I even like it on my eggs in the morning. (weirdo)

    Kathryn – I have the same problem. If I make the tortillas real thin by hand, they seem to do better. The thicker ones that came out of the press broke more easily. It did help to wrap them in paper towels and microwave them for 45 seconds to loosen them up and let them sit in the oil for a minute before folding them in half. But not too long, obviously, or you'll end up with a chip. (Done that. :))

    mt.garcia – Thanks for the suggestion! I missed that Throwdown episode. I'm game for anything that comes from Bobby Flay, though!


  10. #
    Cara — May 11, 2011 @ 4:36 pm

    I know the black bean taco recipe you speak of and it's one of our faves! I always bake mine instead of frying, though, and I'm sure I'm missing out ;)


  11. #
    Shaina — December 31, 2011 @ 12:08 am

    This sounds so delicious!!! I’m having a slight problem though, the taco seasoning link isn’t working… Can’t wait to make this… soon!


    • Natalie replied: — December 31st, 2011 @ 2:31 am

      Shaina I’m sorry about the link! Some of the links within the posts aren’t working because of the recent changes in the site. The taco seasoning post is still there, and I updated it within the text. I’m not able to place links within the recipes right now so here’s a quick link:

  12. #
    Shaina — December 31, 2011 @ 11:47 pm

    Thanks so much for the link! My family is going to have a taco night now!


  13. Pingback: Big Game Bash Series, Part II of Three: Super Bowl Party Main Dishes | Atelier Christine

  14. #
    Erin @ Texanerin Baking — May 6, 2012 @ 11:49 am

    Those look SO good. I’ve been craving fried tortillas lately so I made baked taquitos today. I just brushed on some melted butter and they were almost like fried. But this way with just 1/4 cup oil sounds good, too! I have a tortilla press too but it’s useless. At least for flour tortillas. They always come out tiny and super thick.

    I love your pictures! Nice and vibrant.


  15. #
    Paula — December 15, 2014 @ 9:58 pm

    But wait, your website says “paleo”. Does “progressively paleo” mean not really paleo? Corn? Really? On what planet is corn paleo?


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