Chicken Tacos

5 stars based on 4 votes

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Last month, I told you about The Family Dinner Cookbook and how it inspired me to create new traditions to make dinnertime more special and fun for my family. One idea from the book that I’ve already put into action is Taco Tuesdays. So far, it’s been a hit; the kids wake up on Tuesdays all “Yay, it’s taco night!” We’ve tried all sorts of tacos, but these Chicken Tacos are their favorite. They’re a healthier spin on traditional beef tacos — and they’re just as good, if not better.

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To make them, begin by chopping your vegetables. You can do this in a food processor if you like; just be sure not to purée them.

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Normally, I don’t believe in hiding vegetables but in this case I dice them very small so my kids don’t notice them (or at least they can’t pick them out). I figure what they don’t know won’t hurt them, and one night where I’m not nagging them to eat their vegetables is good for all of us.

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Sauté the vegetables in olive oil for 10-15 minutes until soft, then add garlic and cook a few minutes more.

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Add ground chicken and spices use a wooden spoon to break chicken into small pieces.

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Add tomato sauce.

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Turn heat down to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked. Finish it off with a handful of chopped fresh cilantro.

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Heat the shells in the oven and then spoon the chicken inside. Serve with shredded lettuce and cheese.

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Chicken Tacos

Servings: 12 tacos
Total Time: 30 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, finely diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds ground chicken (not extra-lean all breast meat)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1-3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce (1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (see note)
  • 12 hard taco shells
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce or purple cabbage, optional for topping
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend, optional for topping

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Heat the olive oil in large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions, red peppers and green peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and just starting to brown, 10-12 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a few minutes more.
  3. Add the ground chicken, paprika, ancho chili powder, cumin, oregano, cayenne, and salt. Turn the heat to high; use a wooden spoon to stir and break the chicken into small clumps until the chicken is partially cooked, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce, then turn the heat down to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally and breaking chicken into smaller clumps, for 10-15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Sprinkle with fresh chopped cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  4. Meanwhile, remove the taco shells from the package and lay sideways on baking sheet. Pull the stack apart, overlapping the edges slightly. Bake for 6-7 minutes, or until crisp. Spoon the chicken into the shells and serve with toppings.
  5. Note: To save time, you can chop the bell peppers and onions in a food processor; just be sure not to purée them. You can also use 1 teaspoon ground coriander in place of the fresh cilantro; add it along with the other spices.

Reviews & Comments

  • 5 stars

    Another winner Jenn! Easy to make and delicious. Didn’t even have to tell Danielle it was chicken because she scarfed it down. Next time would be great for a taco salad.

    - Jennifer on September 18, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Prepared these chicken tacos for dinner last night, along with your roasted garlic guacamole recipe. Boy were they a hit, even with my picky sister. Definitely will be making these again. Very good!

    - Nicki on September 17, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    We’ve just had Taco Tuesday (on a Thursday) and got thumbs up from all around the table. We used minced Turkey as we couldn’t find Chicken and it was a little runny. We used Pasata instead of tomato sauce, perhaps that’s why? When you say tomato sauce, do you mean ketchup? Anyhoo, flavour was lovely and the kids all ate peppers, onions and tomatos with no grumbling.

    - Lee Ingold on September 11, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Lee, You must be in the UK? I’ve never seen pasata in the States but I believe it is uncooked tomato puree, while the tomato sauce I use is cooked tomato puree (it’s not ketchup). I don’t think that would have made a big difference, though. Sometimes ground meats release a lot of liquid; that was likely the issue. If it happens again, you can always spoon some of the excess liquid out before adding the tomato sauce. Hope that helps!

      - Jenn on September 19, 2014 Reply
  • Hi! I’m making these with ground turkey for a new mom. How long can I freeze it for? Thanks!

    - Sam on July 28, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Made these tonight as well as the roasted salsa. I made the tacos with ground chuck and they were terrific! I wanted to try the chicken but knew my brother would be happier with beef. Next time I’m trying the chicken! So delicious!

    - Kerrie on July 14, 2014 Reply
  • These are SO good! Also, I love the spice mixture! I’ve begun making a big batch every time I make this dish. It’s great in chili too.

    - Amy Simonson on November 10, 2013 Reply
  • Is there a way of printing out the recipe without all the photos…other websites have a spot where you can hit “printable recipe”.

    - James Padilla on September 2, 2013 Reply
    • Hi James, Yes…for newer recipes, there is a “print recipe” button to the right of each recipe at the bottom of the post (alternatively, there is a pop-up box to the left of the screen with several options, including “print recipe.”) For my older recipes, there is a “printable recipe” option underneath the recipe title at the bottom of the post.

      - Jenn on September 2, 2013 Reply
  • This is my go-to Sunday night family dinner. I serve it with shredded Mexican blend cheese, sour cream, guacamole, diced tomatoes and shredded lettuce. It’s a little labor-intensive, but worth it!!!!

    - Donna on March 10, 2013 Reply
  • I actually use the extra lean turkey when I make these, and they are not the least bit dry- still extremely tasty! I also substituted smoked paprika for the regular (because that’s what was in the cabinet and I wasn’t about to run to the store). The hint of smoke was actually a *really* nice addition! I’m about to make another batch for a “Taco Box” since my best friend just haad a baby. I always include the recipe when I do such a thing, because inevitably someone always asks for the recipe!!

    - Sheryl Bender on March 9, 2013 Reply
  • Yummy! I accidentally used ground lean breast meat and it still came out moist and delicious. I didn’t have ancho chili powder so I ground dried ancho peppers and it worked great! Low fat, delicious and simple-a perfect trifecta!

    - Sharyn on January 6, 2013 Reply
  • I actually made this with super lean ground turkey, and it wasn’t dry at all! The flavor was still excellent, and of course, I looked like a cooking ninja to the boyfriend for making delicious tacos *with NO packet*! These tacos rock! (Plus, I really love that I can control the amount of sodium in them, unlike the packet…) Yay Tacos!

    - Sheryl B on October 3, 2012 Reply
  • I have made these several times, love the addition of the extra veggies in them! Thanks!

    - Sarahjones on October 2, 2012 Reply
  • Soooooo delicious.

    - Sheryl Bender on September 24, 2012 Reply
  • These were absolutely delicious & oh so healthy!. I like the chicken to have as few chunks as possible, so toward the end of cooking time I used a potato masher on them over & over. I will definitely make these again!

    - Sheilda on September 16, 2012 Reply
  • Mom and I made the chicken tacos last night. Never used paprika in it. They were good. For the non meat eaters, she used beans. I ate one of each. Thanks for the recipe! :)

    - elena on September 7, 2012 Reply
  • I made this recipe for the first time the other night and this one will replace all my other taco recipes. It was easy and delicious and had all the spices on hand already. I did saute my veggies separately and kept them separate including putting the cilantro in with the veggies as my son does not like many of the veggies. I also used a red onion for more color. This also means I can pile on more veggies! I used ground beef instead of the chicken too. It was good, easy and will definitely be a repeater…maybe not every Tuesday, but more often than I make it now. Thanks!

    - Karen on August 5, 2012 Reply
  • Just tried this last night and the tacos were delicious. Loved it! The seasoning was perfect, as I have come to expect from all your recipes! Thank you, Jenn!

    - Liz on July 12, 2012 Reply
  • Love different types of tacos! Will try this week!

    - erin on June 20, 2012 Reply
  • This recipe has become a family favorite! My kids insist on ‘taco tuesdays’ now every week. I found that you can throw in any kind of vegetable that you have on hand. I have diced up zucchini, carrots, different types of peppers (among other things) along with the onion and it tasted great. Nice, easy way to get the kids to eat lots of veggies.

    - Daryl Ellen on June 20, 2012 Reply
  • This is one of my family’s all-time favorite recipes. The kids love it almost as much as we do. Given the outstanding flavor, it’s hard to believe how healthy it is. We include it in our weeknight rotation, but have also made it for company. We’ve paired it with your Black Bean Avocado Salad with the Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette and margaritas. Delicious!

    - Katie on June 20, 2012 Reply
  • Yum!

    - daphna on May 16, 2012 Reply
  • These chicken tacos are delicious and so easy! While chicken is a great alternative to the staple ground beef tacos, either meat works great with this recipe! I used to buy a seasoning packet, but after finding this recipe, I make my own taco seasoning and it is much healthier! I can control the amount of sodium in my tacos.

    A great recipe that can be used for a variety of “Taco Tuesdays” and a staple in my house now!

    - Kristen on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • Tastiest chicken tacos ever!

    - Ellen on March 6, 2012 Reply
  • I’ve made these a couple times now. Super good and really easy to make!

    - Anne on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • This is one of my “go-to” meals on weeknights. Nice and quick and delicious! I usually use ground turkey though because we buy it in bulk.

    - Beata Harnett on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • These look fantastic! I have this recipe on next week’s menu. Can’t wait!

    - Shannon on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • Because of your blog, we’ve also instituted a “taco Tuesday” in my household. Your chicken tacos are simply fabulous. I usually use turkey (our store doesn’t stock ground chicken) but the turkey makes them so yummy! I like that there are the chopped veggies in there too; my kids get a little extra boost! Thanks for all your fantastic recipes!

    - Julie M. on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • I made these last night with turkey and they are very good.

    - tami on January 12, 2012 Reply
  • Another terrific recipe from this site! I made it for my in-laws’ family, two of whom are Mexican, and they all loved it! It was so flavorful! I forgot to add in the garlic until the very end and forgot to add in the cilantro at all because I was in a time crunch (although I did have cilantro on the side for the tacos), it still turned out wonderfully. My son who normally loves beef said this was his favorite of the night. The ground chicken made it healthier without compromising the taste. I can’t wait to try more recipes from this site. Thank you!

    - Kim on December 15, 2011 Reply
  • These were a big hit tonight and will be a family staple! My kids loved them! Thanks!

    - Robyn on December 12, 2011 Reply
  • This has become a new family favorite. Better than meat tacos! Thank you!

    - Judy K. on April 16, 2011 Reply
  • I had been wanting to make these tacos since the moment I read your post. Finally got around to it earlier today. They were amazing. Even my “would rather eat beef” boyfriend loved them, as did his mother. All around fantastic! Thank you!!

    - Natalie on March 27, 2011 Reply
  • I particularly love the hint about putting the meat in the shells before warming the shells to soften the ‘hinge’! Thanks!

    - ieatdarkchocolateeveryday on February 24, 2011 Reply
  • These are so yummy!! And I love that they’re so healthy. It makes a lot…we enjoyed the leftovers in a taco salad.

    - Erica on February 22, 2011 Reply
  • I just made these for dinner and they were a huge hit. Thanks also for all the tips on getting it right! I really love love love your blog; I’m not a natural and it gives me the motivation and confidence to get myself in the kitchen. Suzanne

    - Suzanne on February 21, 2011 Reply
  • I am loving your chicken tacos. I always use ground beef..dont know why..but I am going to have to switch things up a bit

    - leslie on February 18, 2011 Reply
  • Looks delicious! I love all of the wonderful pictures.

    - Lynette on February 17, 2011 Reply
  • Looks amazing! It must be fate. I have ground turkey defrosting for shepard’s pie, but I’ll be making this instead tonight. Taco’s are D’s favorite meal…

    - Laura on February 17, 2011 Reply

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