Chicken Tinga

Rich, smoky, full-flavored, and satisfying. That about sums it up for this Chicken Tinga recipe.

What is Chicken Tinga?

Originating in the city of Pueblo, Mexico, Chicken Tinga is a dish made with shredded chicken simmered in a rich, smoky tomato sauce. It can be served over rice, on tostados, or as a taco filling which is my preference.

What ingredients do I need for Chicken Tinga?

The ingredients for this dish are pretty simple and I bet you’ll have most of them in your pantry:

  • Shredded chicken – this recipe for my Instant Pot Pulled Chicken works great or grab a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store
  • Crushed tomatoes
  • Chipotle peppers in adobo
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Oregano
  • Chicken broth
  • Salt

The one ingredient that you many need to run to the grocery store for is chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. This is the ingredient that gives the sauce its deep, rich, smoky flavor and can’t be eliminated.

Chipotle peppers in adobo are jalapeño peppers that have been smoked and dried and then packed in a tangy sauce of tomatoes, vinegar, garlic, and spices.  If you can’t find these Matt Bray of Pepperscale suggests this mixture as a substitute:

Mix 1 tablespoon tomato paste (or if you must ketchup), 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon chipotle powder (or smoked paprika/cayenne powder mix), 1/2 teaspoon cumin, a pinch of oregano, a pinch of garlic powder, and a pinch of salt.

He does, however note that, “it won’t have anywhere near the richness of flavor due to no simmering of the ingredients. But when you’re in a pinch, a little adventurous mixing can do wonders.”

How to Make Chicken Tinga

I think that this is a dish that you will return to for your weeknight meals again and again because it’s so easy to prepare.

To start, the onions and garlic are sautéed in a bit of oil. The herbs and spices are added and toasted for a couple of minutes. This encourages their flavors to bloom.

Once you smell the aromas of the herbs and spices, the tomatoes and chipotles in adobo are added along with the chicken broth. The sauce is simmered for about 10 minutes.

After the sauce has simmered it needs to be pureed. You can accomplish this by transferring the soup to a blender. A couple of tips to make sure that you don’t end up with hot Tinga sauce all over your kitchen:

  • Only fill the blender halfway
  • Remove the center cap of the blender lid
  • Cover the lid with a kitchen towel

Return the pureed sauce to the skillet and add the shredded chicken. Simmer the mixtures for several minutes and you’re ready to serve.

As I mentioned above, I like to serve mine in warm tortillas with onion, cilantro, cojita, and wedges of lime.



Chicken Tinga

  • Author: Leigh Olson
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings


Rich, smoky, full-flavored and satisfying. That about sums it up for this Chicken Tinga recipe.


  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • tortillas, corn or flour
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, for serving
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion, for serving
  • crumbled cojita, for serving
  • limes, cut into wedges for serving


  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sautè until onion becomes tender, 4 – 5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, cooking until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the oregano, thyme, and cumin and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Add the tomatoes, chipotles in adobo, and broth. Reduce the heat to medium-low and bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
  5. Transfer the tomato mixture to a blender and blend until smooth. Make sure the blender is vented well so that the mixture doesn’t explode – see my tips in the post.
  6. Return the blended mixture to the skillet and add the shredded chicken, simmer for 3 – 4 minutes warming through.
  7. Serve with warmed tortillas, cilantro, cojita, onions, and lime wedges.