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This easy chicken tacos recipe is packed with flavor and ready in 30 minutes! It’s a fun dinner idea starring juicy chicken and fresh toppings: a simple recipe everyone will love.

Chicken tacos
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Need an easy flavor-packed dinner that’s ready in 30 minutes? We’ve found it’s deceptively tricky to find dinnertime hits, but this one seems to please everyone every time we serve it! The juicy chicken strips are seasoned to perfection, nestled into a tortilla with guacamole, cheese crumbles and topped with a zingy lime crema.

Why we love this recipe: We could (and do!) eat this over and over. The chicken works on the stovetop or grilled, and it comes together simply. We just made it for a dinner party with ranch water and black bean and corn salad, and everyone raved. You can also make it as a taco bowl for gluten-free eaters. It’s totally versatile!

“Made the chicken tacos for dinner tonight. These are so so good! Great flavor and they come together so quickly. I appreciate how simple yet tasty the lime crema is. The kids had the chicken inside quesadillas and loved them. These are definitely going into the monthly rotation!” -Tanvee

Key ingredients for chicken tacos

Tacos are where it’s at for weeknight dinners over here (especially with kids!), and we love how this version can be either pan fried or grilled so you can make it in any season. Here are the key ingredients you’ll need:

  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts: Try to find organic chicken if at all possible, for the best flavor and most sustainable option. You can buy either chicken breasts and butterfly your own, or cutlets.
  • Seasonings: Our homemade seasoning blend includes smoked paprika, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, black pepper, celery seed and cayenne. You can substitute sweet paprika for the smoked, but it’s well worth the purchase for the smoky flavor it infuses (you might also find it labeled pimentón).
  • Lime crema: Mix up your own lime crema using sour cream, lime juice and zest, garlic and salt.
  • Taco toppings: We like using guacamole for a base for the chicken strips, then topping with fresh cilantro, queso fresco or feta cheese, and minced red onion. If you have time to make them, pickled red onions take the flavor over the top.
  • Tortillas: We like flour tortillas, but corn works too. You can also use any type of grain free tortilla.

Pro tip

We like using mini tortillas (4.5 inch) if we can find them! They are often easier to eat and bonus: you can eat more tacos.

How to make chicken tacos: step by step

These chicken tacos come together simply: you’ll season the chicken, pan sear it on the stovetop, then slice it into strips for the tacos. Here’s the basic outline of steps:

Step 1: Butterfly and season the chicken.

Step 1: Butterfly the chicken (if not in cutlets) by slicing in half horizontally, then opening it up and cutting along the fold to separate the two halves. Pat it dry and season with salt. In a small bowl, mix the seasonings, then sprinkle on both sides of the chicken.

Step 2: Pan sear the chicken breast

Step 2: Add olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned on both sides, 4 to 5 minutes per side. When the internal temperature is 165°F, remove to a plate and rest for 3 minutes. Then slice into strips.

Step 3: Make the lime crema and toppings.

Step 3: Make the lime crema by stirring together the sour cream, lime juice and zest, garlic and salt in a small bowl.

Step 4: Warm the tortillas. To make the tacos, spread guacamole onto a warm tortilla, then top with chicken strips, red onion, cilantro, cheese, and lime crema.

Chicken tacos recipe

Alternate method: grilled chicken tacos

This chicken tacos recipe works grilled, too! We’ve made it both ways and it comes out fantastic.

For grilled chicken tacos, preheat a grill to high heat (450 to 550°F). Grill the chicken until grill marks appear and it releases from the grates, 2 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook another 2 to 4 minutes until the internal temperature is 165°F. Remove to a platter and cover with foil. Allow to rest for 5 minutes for maximum juiciness, then slice.

Chicken tacos toppings

The best part of any tacos recipe is the toppings, of course! For these chicken tacos, we like to make sure there is a good mix of soft and creamy textures to offset the texture of the chicken. We like the chicken strips on a bed of guacamole, but you can mix and match toppings here. Here are a few more chicken tacos toppings we love:

Sides to serve alongside

Chicken tacos are a fun easy dinner idea to serve any time of year! We like them especially in the summer as a patio party meal, but they work in any season. (Of course, they’re always great with a margarita, too!) Here are a few sides we like to serve alongside:

Storing leftovers

Leftovers of this meal keep on giving! Leftover cooked chicken lasts up to 3 days refrigerated. Leftover lime crema stores up to 2 weeks refrigerated.

A few more chicken recipes

We hope you love these chicken tacos as much as our family! Our kids especially gobble this one up. Let us know in the comments what you think. Here are a few more chicken dinners you might enjoy:

Dietary notes

This chicken tacos recipe is gluten-free with corn tortillas (or serve it in a bowl for a chicken taco bowl), and dairy-free with cilantro sauce, omitting the cheese.

Frequently asked questions

What are some other ways to season the chicken?

Here are some ideas:
Taco seasoning: A quick and easy option with a blend of chili powder, cumin, paprika, and other spices.
Fajita seasoning: Similar to taco seasoning, but often with a smokier flavor profile.
Adobo sauce: For a Latin twist, marinate the chicken in adobo sauce for bold and flavorful tacos.
DIY spice rub: Get creative with your own blend of spices like chili powder, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, or cayenne pepper.

What toppings go well with sliced chicken breast tacos?

All the classic taco toppings work great! Here are some ideas:
Shredded cheese: Cheddar, Monterey Jack, or a Mexican cheese blend.
Salsa: Choose your favorite, from mild to spicy.
Lettuce and pico de gallo: Add freshness and crunch.
Sour cream and guacamole: Creamy toppings for extra richness.
Cilantro and lime wedges: A squeeze of fresh lime and a sprinkle of cilantro brighten up the flavors.

Can I make chicken tacos low-carb?

Absolutely! You can use lettuce wraps instead of tortillas, or try cauliflower rice tortillas for a lower-carb option.

What are some good side dishes for chicken tacos?

Here are some ideas:
Cilantro lime rice: A refreshing and classic pairing.
Mexican corn: Sweet corn with a kick of spice.
Refried beans: A hearty and filling side dish.
Guacamole and chips: A crowd-pleasing appetizer or side.
Chopped salad: A light and healthy option.

Do you have any tips for leftover chicken taco meat?

You can use leftover chicken taco meat in many ways! Here are a few ideas:

Taco salad: Toss the chicken with lettuce, tomatoes, beans, cheese, and your favorite dressing.
Burrito bowls: Serve the chicken over rice or quinoa with your favorite toppings.
Quesadillas: Fill tortillas with cheese and leftover chicken, then cook on a griddle until golden brown.
Nachos: Top nachos with leftover chicken, cheese, beans, and your favorite toppings.

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Chicken tacos

Chicken Tacos


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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 tacos (4 servings) 1x

Description

These easy chicken tacos are packed with flavor and ready in 30 minutes! It’s a fun dinner idea starring juicy chicken and fresh toppings: a simple recipe everyone will love.


Ingredients

Scale

For the chicken

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts or 4 cutlets (1 to 1 ½ pounds, organic if possible)*
  • 1 to 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika or sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon celery seed
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For the lime crema (or cilantro sauce or chipotle sauce for dairy-free)

  • 1 cup sour cream or Mexican crema (or ¾ cup Greek yogurt plus ¼ cup mayonnaise)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice, plus the zest of ½ lime
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

For the tacos

  • Guacamole
  • Red onion, minced (or pickled red onions)
  • Cilantro, finely chopped 
  • Shredded lettuce or slaw (optional)
  • Cotija, queso fresco, or feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
  • 8 small flour or corn tortillas

Instructions

  1. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. Season the chicken with the salt (if you’re using 1 ½ pounds, use 1 ¼ teaspoons salt). In a small bowl, mix the seasonings together. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with the seasoning mix. (If desired, you can do this up to 12 hours in advance and allow the chicken to sit marinate before cooking.)
  2. Stovetop instructions:** Add the olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned (and seasoning is starting to blacken), on both sides, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. When the internal temperature is 165°F or the center is no longer pink, remove to a plate and rest for 3 minutes. Then slice the chicken into strips.
  3. Make the lime crema by stirring all ingredients together in a small bowl. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
  4. If desired, char the tortillas by placing them on an open gas flame on medium for a few seconds per side, flipping with tongs, until they are slightly blackened and warm. Or warm them in a skillet or in the oven (see How to Warm Tortillas).
  5. To make the tacos, spread guacamole onto a warm tortilla, then top with chicken strips, red onion, cilantro, cheese, and lime crema. Leftover chicken stores up to 3 days refrigerated.

Notes

*If you buy the chicken as breasts that are not already butterflied or cutlets, butterfly the chicken: Place your hand over the top of each chicken breast. Use a sharp knife to carefully slice the breast horizontally, leaving the edge intact so it can open up like a book (or butterfly!). Unfold the breast like a book, then cut along the fold to separate the two halves.

**For grilled chicken tacos, preheat a grill to high heat (450 to 550°F). Grill the chicken breasts until grill marks appear and it releases from the grates, 2 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook until no longer pink in the center and the internal temperature is 165°F, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove to a platter and cover with foil. Allow to rest for 5 minutes for maximum juiciness, then slice.

  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Chicken
  • Diet: Gluten Free

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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1 Comment

  1. Tanvee says:

    Made the chicken tacos for dinner tonight. These are so so good! Great flavour and they come together so quickly. I appreciate how simple yet tasty the lime crema is. We had them with feta, cherry tomatoes and some guacamole. The kids had the chicken inside quesadillas and loved them. These are definitely going into the monthly rotation!