Chipotle Chicken Tacos

Update 5/2011: This meal continues to be a staple in our home. Not only is it easy, fast, healthy and so very delicious…it is one of those meals I have a really hard time stopping eating (which possibly negates the healthy factor).

The flavors are so simple yet amazing. It must be chalked up to the rather unique combination (orange juice, chipotle chiles, worcestershire sauce) that works together magically. The wonderful thing about this meal is that it provides some of the most tender chicken I’ve ever made – all with a simple 12-minute poach in a skillet.

My friend, Amanda, who says she makes this all the time insisted the name needed to be changed to something a little more catchy – so out with the Easy Chicken Tacos in with the Chipotle Chicken Tacos. Oh, yeah. Catchy.

We love this one!

Chipotle Chicken Tacos

Chipotle Chicken Tacos

Yield: Serves 6

Chipotle Chicken Tacos

Note: Reduce the chipotle chiles to one teaspoon if you want to eliminate some of the spiciness. In a pinch, you could sub 1-2 teaspoons chili powder for the chipotle chiles but the flavor won’t be quite the same.


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (you can find these in the Mexican Foods aisle at most grocery stores)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • 12 (6-inch) flour tortillas


  1. Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and chipotle and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the orange juice, Worcestershire sauce and 1/2 cup chopped cilantro and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the chicken and simmer, covered, over medium-low heat for 12-13 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway through cooking. When the chicken is done cooking, transfer to a plate and tent with foil.
  2. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook the mixture left in the skillet until the liquid is reduced to about 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the yellow mustard. Using 2 forks, shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces and return to the skillet. Add the remaining cilantro to the skillet and toss until well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm with tortillas topped with lettuce, cheese, tomato, sour cream and avocado.


To warm the tortillas, wrap them in foil and heat in a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes.

Recipe Source: adapted slightly from Cook’s Country

86 Responses to Chipotle Chicken Tacos

  1. Callie says:

    Think these could be made in a slow cooker? They’re a top 3 favorite meal in our house – but always trying to think of a way to make life easier! (Speaking of…easiest way to shred chicken is with a stand or hand mixer. Saves my hands!)

  2. Candi says:

    I just wanted to let you know that I have made this recipe numerous times, and I love it. I have had great success using my slow cooker with this recipe. I follow the instructions and instead of putting the chicken in the pan I pour the sauce over chicken in my slow cooker. I usually double the recipe and add extra orange juice. I shred the chicken after its done and we pig out. I freeze the leftovers for quick lunches. Thanks for this delicious recipe and all the many others I have tried from your site.

  3. Lynn says:

    I made these for dinner last night and Oh. My. Goodness. They were incredible!! My husband went back for seconds, thirds, and fourths. Afterwords, he was groaning because he was so full… And moaning because they were so delicious! Even my picky son loved it! This is a new favorite at our house!

  4. Ariane says:

    I’ve been meaning to tell you this has become one of our family’s favorites on top of baked potatoes & all the other b.p. characters. It came about out of necessity awhile back when I didn’t have tortillas one day & now its the only way I’m allowed to make it. I always double the liquid though, love that sauce!

  5. Jennifer W says:

    So Mel…I was looking for a good chicken recipe for a build your own taco salad. My thought was everyone could have what they wanted that way. I would likely have bowls of black beans, avocados (or guacamole), salsa, cheese, chopped tomatoes, roasted onions and sweet potatoes. Do you think this chicken would go with these toppings for a nice salad? The recipe in general sounds like a winner but this would of course be a variation. Thoughts?

  6. Allison says:

    I still heart these too. I don’t always have OJ on hand but when I do, I make them,and if I can sneak away another 1/2 cup to freeze for another batch I do that too. So tasty. So yummy. I might have made a special trip to the store just for tomatoes and avocado too to make them perfect though (and then a bunch of other fruits and veggies jumped in my cart too…well, and some cookies too). They were enjoyed by all of the boys for sure! YUM! P.S. Easy chicken tacos lured me in the first time but for the foodie crew of 2014 chipotle chicken tacos is a winning name for sure! 🙂

  7. Rachel Russell says:

    HUGE hit with entire family- thought would be too spicy for kids- but when taco all assembled- was even kid approved. We used whole wheat naan and has already been a repeat request this summer- THANK YOU!!

  8. Andrea says:

    I LOVE this Cooks’ Country recipe!! I’ve been making it for a couple of years. They are outstanding–major punch of flavor. I knew you had good taste iwhen I noticed how many Cook’s Country recipes you use.

  9. stacy says:

    Just curious if this could somehow be made in the slow cooker? I’m making this tomorrow for my extended family and I’m so excited. I’ll make it according to your directions tomorrow, but wish I could make it in the slow cooker. By the way, you are darling. Stay warm. I love your recipes. And I am so impressed that you run such an efficient household and get so much cooking done at your house. Dinner is usually prepared around here amidst lots of crying and fighting from my kids (and sometimes myself).

    • Mel says:

      Hi Stacy – I’ve never tried this recipe in the slow cooker (but I have in a pressure cooker and it works great) – but I definitely think it is worth a try. Good luck if you experiment (and thanks for such a sweet comment!).

  10. Sara says:

    I am making this right now, so the chances are slim that you will see this in time, but by mustard do you mean prepared mustard or mustard powder? (I am guessing prepared mustard?)


  11. […] than I remembered (my mouth is watering just thinking about it).  The original recipe comes from Mel’s Kitchen Café if you want to check out her site.  So the only ingredient we remembered she used was the abodo […]

  12. Erin says:

    Loved these! So surprisingly good. They will definitely be a keeper for us.

  13. Eileen says:

    Just received a large non-stick skillet for Christmas from my dear mother-in-law…made these tonight and they were a hit…so moist and tender…I usually destroy chicken cooked on stove but these werr really delicious and super easy.

  14. Jessica F. says:

    Yay, I found what to make for dinner tonight! For the last two weeks (and I’m not even kidding) I have looked on your blog every day and made a new recipe every day. I love how simple and delicious so many of your main dishes are! Thank You!!! Also, a tip for the chipotle chilies. I got sick of wasting most of the can when a recipe called for it, so I put the leftover chilies into an ice cube tray. When they are frozen, you just pop them in a freezer bag and then thaw one or two cubes every time you need them. One can has lasted me soooo long!

  15. Stacy W. says:

    Great tacos! Made them last week and my husband is asking for them again. No leftovers. My husband, son, and neighbor boy ate them all! The neighbor boy was going home to tell him mom about your website! Thank so much for sharing! Made my entire menu plan for this week from your website.

  16. Amanda Z says:

    My absolute favorite tacos!! These are so good, I go heavier on the chipotles each time I make and it was pretty spicy tonight!! I think three chipotles are my limit, but I still ate them until I was in pain 🙂

  17. Bethany says:

    Just made these tonight! They were amazing! I loved the combination of flavors! Thanks for another great keeper recipe!

  18. Michaela says:

    I’ve been making these for years now and they are still our families favorite taco recipe! Have you tried substituting lime juice for the orange juice? It’s delicious!!!! I’m off to make some right now 🙂 Thanks for all your amazing recipes Mel!

  19. Lindsay says:

    Made these tacos tonight and I didn’t like them…I LOVED them!!!! Best tacos ever! No more hamburger tacos in this house. These were the best and we gobbled it all up! Thanks for the recipe Mel!

  20. Abbey says:

    I am not one who usually comments unless I have tried the recipe. I made this tonight for dinner. It was quite simple and not very time consuming. The only thing I changed was using half the amount of chipotle chiles. I wanted to start mild and work my way up on heat, considering I am feeding 4 little ones. 3 of the 4 girls really liked it. Hubby was a big fan too! Winner winner chicken dinner!!!

  21. An says:

    Do you think I could substitute thighs for the breasts?

  22. Laura D says:

    Making them for the second time – thumbs up from my house! Thank you!

  23. Meg says:

    I just made these tonight- they were delicious! A definite hit with everyone! My kids loved them, and the chicken was tender and delicious! The flavor combination seemed a little crazy to me as i was putting it all together, but I am now a believer! So glad I made these:) Thanks!

  24. Audrey says:

    Made this recipe for the first time on Friday for friends. Super easy and very tasty – I will definitely make this again!

  25. Renee says:

    You did it again Mel! Great recipe! I always end up wasting the leftover chipotle peppers with adobo sauce so I found ground chipotle powder instead. I just used a teaspoon and they had quite the kick. Very good! Thanks Mel for another great recipe.

  26. Becky Mendoza says:

    Hi Mel!!
    I’m so glad this is one of your 6 forgotten! These are AMAZING!! Every time I make it, which is often, I always snack on the chicken like it’s M&M’s. Can’t get enough. And the chicken is good in whatever, nachos, enchiladas, whatever! Home run!

  27. […] Thursday: Greek chicken wraps (variation of this recipe) […]

  28. melissa jackson says:

    These are a staple in our house too! Winner in my book!!

  29. Kady says:

    These were great! I will diffently make these again.

  30. Liz says:

    We LOVE these at our house too. My husband’s eyes light up when he sees them on the menu. We serve them “south of the border style.” On corn tortillas, with fresh pico. We experimented a lot with what toppings to put on them, and never could find the perfect combination … but once we had them with pico and on corn tortillas there was no turning back. So yummy!

    I love that there is always plenty of meat leftover for lunch the next day.

  31. Darlene says:

    Hey, Mel — for an even catchy-er name try Orange Chipotle Chicken Tacos! I will experiment with this following an amazing slow-cooked chicken taco recipe with thighs and substitute my highly secret ingredient — orange juice concentrate (exponential orange flavor!) I do something similar with a roasted pork tenderloin so I know it’s a killer combo. Love your site!

  32. Mel says:

    Gina – feel free to make the substitute – I’ve never tried it so I don’t know how it will affect flavor. Good luck!

  33. Gina says:

    Just wondering but would I be able to substitute honey mustard for the yellow mustard?

  34. Mel says:

    Jaime – yes, they are the same thing.

  35. Alicia Wagar says:


  36. Jaime says:

    These look amazing! Can’t wait to try. Are Chipotle peppers the same as chipotle chiles??

  37. Leslee says:

    Can I just say that you are a food genius!!! I saw one post on Pinterest and I spent the next hour pinning recipe after recipe on your site. I think my husband may love you too, now that I have a new arsenal of food to make for dinners! Thank you and keep the deliciousness coming!

  38. KATHY says:


  39. Terri says:

    Tried it…LOVED it!!! Mel, I have to tell ya…when the boys ask what’s for dinner…and I tell them it’s a recipe from your blog….they KNOW it’s going to be good!! SO far, haven’t made anything that we haven’t loved!! Keep em coming!! 🙂

  40. Cari says:

    Thanks for sharing this recipe! My regular tacos have been getting old, so I hope this will spice up dinner again. I’m super excited to try it!

  41. Tamara says:

    Thanks so much for this recipe and your blog!! I made these last week and had it with spanish rice. We had some chicken leftover, so on Sunday, I put it together with the leftover rice and added corn then stuffed it into a tortilla for a wrap sandwich. Very yummy!! I’ve tried several of your recipes and they have all been wonderful.

  42. Angela says:

    Thanks for your insight! I’ll tweak the cooking method and integrate those flavors along the way. Looks so yummy! Thanks!

  43. Angela says:

    How do you think this would work with beef? I have tons of beef in the freezer, any shape and size, but minimal chicken. Worth trying or would it be odd with these flavors? Thanks for your insight!

    • Mel says:

      Angela – it probably depends on what kind of beef and as I think about it, I’m not sure the beef would fare so well poached. I’ve never used it so I’m not sure it would get tender enough…I guess it would totally depend on the cut of meat. The flavors would be fine, I think, it would be more an issue of cooking method.

  44. Kensi says:

    I tried it last night and everyone loved them! I can’t compare them to the ones made with OJ, but these were perfect! Thanks! 😀

  45. Kensi says:

    how do you feel about adding pineapple juice instead of the orange juice? just because that’s what I have on hand?

  46. Nicole says:

    SO, SO good! I found this recipe on Pinterest and I seriously make it ALL the time!!! Thanks for sharing!

  47. Jennifer says:

    I have made this twice so far, yummmmyyyy! Every time!

  48. Jenny says:

    These were SOOOO good!! My husband said this recipe was a must on our dinner menu every week! Thanks Mel! You never let me down. I have tried MANY recipes of yours and they are all awesome!

  49. Brittany C. says:

    I LOVE these! They were automatically deemed a staple after the first bite, and I’ve made them plenty of times since. SO SO SO SO GOOD!!!!

  50. So sure I would love this!

  51. JJ says:

    Another winner. We made these last night and had the leftovers for lunch today. A much different flavor than my usual chicken tacos (I normally just coat the chicken in a mix of chili powder, cumin, and coriander and saute. I really like how tender this poached version was . I think I’m going to mix up the method and change the OJ to lemon juice and chicken stock and change up the cilantro to oregano to make it greek style and serve on flat bread with cucumber, lettuce, tomato and greek yogurt sauce. Whatddya think?

    • Mel says:

      JJ – the only way I think you should try that variation is if you are at my house making it for me. Because it sounds unreal delicious. Over and out.

  52. I don’t know if I did something wrong but these were VERY spicy – so much so that we didn’t really end up using any of the sauce with our tacos. The chicken was really good once I shredded it but even my husband who likes spicy things thought the marinade was too hot. I followed the recipe exactly but next time I will leave out the chilies. Otherwise, very good.

    • Mel says:

      Karen – I’m sorry to hear that! The chipotle chiles definitely pack some heat but I’ve never had them turn out so spicy my kids won’t eat them. I hope if you try them next time you’ll like them a bit better with your modifications!

  53. Tami G. says:

    Loved the easy taco’s. The flavor was so good and we ate it all up, leaving no left overs! I recommend that everyone try this recipe. I couldn’t find the certian type of chillies this recipe asked for, but I used green chillies and it turned out amazing. Thanks Mel- for another sucess to a perfect dinner 🙂

    • Mel says:

      Thanks, Tami G.! I’m glad your substitution worked well, and I agree with your sentiment – this is a must-try recipe!

  54. Allison says:

    These are so tasty! I was wondering if I could share this recipe with my church in our local newsletter? My email is marcroftfam-at-verizon-dot-net

  55. Queen B. says:

    Oh fabulous !

  56. Norah says:

    I’ve been meaning to give these a try since the magazine came out. Now I know I’ll have to try them.

  57. Patsyk says:

    Looks like a great weeknight meal.

  58. grace says:

    orange juice? awesome. i’ll take any taco i can get my hands on, and if it’s easy and citrusy and spicy, that’s all the better.

  59. Anonymous says:

    Thank you, Thank you! Now I know what I am making for dinner. These look fantastic. -Liz K.

  60. My Sister's Kitchen says:

    I’ve also been meaning to try these but never have chipotle chilies. I’m going to have to get a few cans because it seems like a lot of recipes use them. Looks delicious!

  61. Bunny says:

    Well I’m trying these, if I don’t I feel like I’ll be missing out on something terrific! Thanks!

  62. Jan Russell says:

    I wish I could snitch the yummy chicken right off my computer screen! I will be visiting the Mexican Food Aisle (you are so helpful to tell us where to look for ingredients we might not have on hand – thank you!)on Monday so I can make these for dinner SOON!

  63. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know how you do it, but this was another fabulous dinner! This was a hit with everyone in my family. I was excited to try this because it was very different from my usual chicken tacos. At the request of my family, it will be made again soon. Thanks, Liz K.

  64. Melanie says:

    Hey Liz – I was wondering how you liked these. Glad they were a hit. I’m always glad when you try the recipes because I really trust your judgment. Thanks for letting me know!

  65. camille says:

    I’m trying to figure out how often I can get away with making these without my family getting sick of them! YUMMY!!!! I served them with homemade guacamole and sour cream and it was heaven!

  66. Krista says:

    you make me want dinner at 5am (which is what time it is now) and i’m debating just cooking dinner right now anyway, even if it’s 12 hours away, so i can just eat it both now AND later. i really shouldn’t peruse your food blog much before 3pm or so, or unless i’m making my grocery list. there’s just too much good stuff.

    i’m totally making this recipe this weekend, along with your green curry chicken and your chicken foil wraps… and then when i’m all chickened out, i’m gonna cook my favorite from this site, the pinepple meatballs.

    i love your recipes. i don’t know what i’d do without them. i have the ones i cook regularly taped to the refrigerator, and i keep my kitchen stocked with all the needed ingredients so i can make the favorites whenever i want (or as soon as the meat is thawed).

    I try to stay away from any of the sections on this site that have the yummy dessert stuff because I always try to cook 3 or 4 things all at the same time, and then everyone yells at me for trying to make them fat.

    So, I’m not sure if this site is evil or wonderful, but I love it… and now I’m really hungry.


  67. Melanie says:

    camille – homemade guacamole would put these completely over the top. I’ll have to be brave and try that next time (I’ve never made guacamole, how lame am I??). Glad you liked these. We should make them when we get together soon!

  68. Melanie says:

    Krista – what a nice comment! Thank you. I’m glad that you’ve liked some of the recipes and I’m sorry (kind of!) about the desserts. That’s why I can’t lose my baby weight – I love sweets too much. Anyway, hope you managed to hold off eating dinner until a little later than your 5 a.m. perusing time. Thanks again for checking in!

  69. Tai Christensen says:


    Another FABULOUS recipe!!! I made this last week and after 4 tacos I literally had to walk away from the table because I STILL wanted more. YUMMY!!! Now for the really embarassing part-I had the leftovers for breakfast AND lunch the next day!! I cannot believe that with those simple ingredients the chicken was so flavorful and moist! I rarely repeat a recipe but these are going on the calendar for next week!! Thank you again!

    Tai Christensen

    P.S. Homemade guacomole and salsa on these tacos make you think you are in HEAVEN!!! Seriously divine!

  70. Melanie says:

    Tai – Ok, I’m glad I’m not the only that had to pull myself away from the table after this meal! Glad you liked it (for breakfast, too!). And I am positive the homemade guac and salsa would be over-the-top. Yum!

  71. Dixiechick says:

    Ummm, these were fabulous. We literally just finished eating these and I can still taste the sauce on my lips. YUM! I had no idea what I was going to make tonight and I came to my “save me” blog–aka My Kitchen Cafe. 🙂 And you did just that, totally saved me. Thanks again Mel. Don’t know what I’d do without you and all your fabulous recipes!

  72. Melanie says:

    Hey Dix – thanks for being so nice to me. I guess you have to since we roomed together for so many years. But thanks, anyway. Glad you liked these. Whenever I post a healthy-ish recipe, I think of you, since you are like the ultimate in health and fitness. Sorry about the not-so-healthy recipes.

  73. Jennie says:

    Looks sooo delicious…I’m dying to try this recipe but I am having a hard time finding the chipolte chilies in adobe sauce. I’ve checked all 4 surrounding grocery stores…nobody carries them. What stores have you found them in?

  74. Melanie says:

    Hi Jennie – I’ve always found the chipotle chiles right in the Mexican foods section of my grocery store (both in UT – Maceys, and WI-Copps, Festival Foods). They are usually kind of hidden because the stores I have gone to only carry one brand so they aren’t stretched across the whole shelf – I’ve had to scour the aisle and hunt for them, but they are a fairly common ingredient. If you can’t find them, ask the service desk if they have them – most grocery stores will order in foods if you request them. Good luck!

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