These Crispy Chicken Tacos are made with homemade crunchy taco shells filled with slightly spicy Mexican shredded chicken and topped with your choice of garnishes. Made with just 10 simple ingredients in under an hour, they’re the perfect easy family meal.

overhead shot of a serving platter of homemade crispy chicken tacos with small serving bowls of toppings like shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, and pico de gallo.

Why I Love This Recipe

My kiddos love Tex-Mex crunchy tacos like their abuela makes! Hard-shell tacos aren’t super popular in Mexico (crispy flautas are about as close as it gets), but let me just tell ya, they are pretty darn yummy!

There is no need to hit the drive-thru line, I set out to create my own crunchy Taco Bell chicken tacos recipe.

My easy method for turning fresh or store-bought corn tortillas into crispy shells takes mere minutes and is so much healthier than the packaged ones that are loaded with hydrogenated oils. Aside from being more natural than the often stale store-bought counterparts, they’re also way tastier and are far more structurally sound.

My shredded chicken tacos recipe also has a vastly superior filling than anything you’d find at a fast food chain. Made with lean chicken breasts, a Mexican-inspired seasoning blend, fire-roasted tomatoes, and slightly spicy roasted green chiles, it’s outrageously flavorful without a single artificial ingredient in sight.

My easy Mexican shredded chicken is great for meal prep, family dinners, or for a fiesta — it makes quite a bit. As if that weren’t enough to love, it can be made on the stovetop, or in your Instant Pot.

Oh, and if crispy tacos aren’t your thing, not to worry. The chicken is super versatile and can be used in myriad ways. (Read on below for lots of ideas!) So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get to the cocina and start making better-than-Taco Bell crispy chicken tacos!

seasonings and ingredients for adding big flavor to the Mexican shredded chicken measured out on a wooden cutting board.

Ingredients & Substitutions

As promised, you only need 10 basic ingredients to make these crispy pulled chicken tacos. Here’s what to grab:

  • White Onion – Feel free to use a yellow onion instead.
  • Garlic – Fresh is best, but you’re welcome to use a teaspoon of minced jarred garlic or 1/2 teaspoon of dried minced garlic if needed.
  • Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts – I prefer lean, white meat anyway, but breasts are also the better option for shredding. Feel free to use boneless skinless thighs instead, but I suggest chopping them into cubes rather than shredding them.
  • Chicken Taco Seasoning – If you are looking for a shortcut, I highly recommend this seasoning. You can typically find pre-mixed spice powders at any grocery store, but you can also make your own by combining the following: 1 tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley. 
  • Canned Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes – This simple can hack is a quick shortcut to an enviably smoky flavor for your chicken. In a pinch, feel free to swap in regular canned diced tomatoes.
  • Roasted Anaheim Chile Peppers – Feel free to cut back on prep by buying canned roasted chiles, but note that there’s nothing quite so delectable as home-roasted ones.
  • Low-Sodium Chicken Broth – I almost invariably reach for low-sodium broths so I have more control over the final flavor of any dish. Feel free to swap in whatever homemade or store-bought version you have on hand, but be mindful as you add your seasoning.
  • Salt – For seasoning, to taste.
  • Avocado Oil – This light, slightly nutty, heart-healthy oil is perfect for cooking at high temperatures (like for frying the crispy taco shells). Feel free to swap in your favorite neutral-flavored, high-smoke point oil like grapeseed, peanut, or corn oil instead.
  • Corn Tortillas – Even if you’re a die-hard flour tortilla fan, corn tortillas are much better for frying.

Optional toppings:

Arguably the best part about taco night is getting to gussy up your plate with all your favorite fixin’s. Here are our favorites for these Mexican chicken tacos, but feel free to improvise with your own:

  • Iceberg Lettuce – A staple of any drive-thru taco is crunchy lettuce, so it seemed like an obvious shoo-in here. For a higher nutritional content with the same craveable crunch, use romaine.
  • Tomatoes – If fresh tomatoes aren’t in season, reach for greenhouse-grown cherry tomatoes.
  • Pico de Gallo – Another staple of fast-food Mexican fare, except homemade is so much better. Feel free to use your favorite salsa instead.
  • Pepper Jack Cheese – For an added layer of heat with a creamy, melty mouthfeel.
  • Avocado – I usually just add chunks or slices to tacos, but feel free to use guacamole instead.

How To Make Shredded Chicken For Tacos

You have two choices: Instant Pot chicken tacos or regular skillet/stovetop chicken tacos. They take approximately the same time, so pick whichever works best for you.

Option A — Stovetop Instructions

Step 1: Season Chicken breasts with seasoning mix and set aside.

seasoning a chicken breast with Tastefully Simple Brand Fiesta Party Seasoning blend.

Step 2: Saute Aromatics. In a large stockpot, heat the avocado oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the chopped garlic and sauté for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute, stirring continuously, until fragrant.

Step 3: Simmer Chicken. Add the chicken, tomatoes, chile, chicken broth, and give everything a good stir. Let come to a boil; reduce heat. Let simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes.

closeup shot of cooked seasoned Mexican chicken breast on a blue and white plate.

Step 4: Shred Chicken. Transfer the cooked chicken breasts to a mixing bowl using tongs or a slotted spoon. Shred the chicken. Add shredded chicken back to pot and season with salt if needed.

Mexican shredded chicken in an earthenware serving bowl swimming in yummy tomato and chile pepper-flecked broth.

Option B — Instant Pot Instructions

Step 1: Season Chicken breasts with seasoning mix and set aside.

Step 2: Saute Aromatics. Select Sauté on the Instant Pot and warm the oil. Add the onions to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic for 1 minute.

Step 3: Add the chicken, tomatoes, chile, and chicken broth, and give everything a good stir.

Step 4: Pressure Cook Chicken. Lock the lid in place and turn the valve to “Sealing.” Press the Manual/Pressure Cook button and set the cook time for 20 minutes at high pressure.

Step 5: Steam Release. Let the steam release naturally for about 10 minutes, then turn the valve to “Venting” to release any residual steam.

Step 6: Shred Chicken. Carefully remove the lid and, using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a bowl. Using 2 forks, shred the chicken. Add shredded chicken back to pot and season with salt if needed.

How To Make Homemade Crispy Taco Shells

Step 1: Heat Avocado Oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet.

Step 2: Fry Tortillas, one at a time, by folding in half and laying one-half flat in avocado oil while holding the other half with a fork or tongs, and repeating with the other half to form a half-moon shell, until golden and crisp, 1 to 2 minutes per side.

Step 3: Drain. Place taco shells on a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat the entire process with the remaining tortillas.

Serving Suggestions

My easy Mexican shredded chicken recipe is great on its own or in burrito bowls, crunch wraps, lettuce wraps, nachos, or as soft or crispy chicken tacos.

To assemble a taco, layer the saucy chicken into your fresh shells. Add a layer of cheese, then add any other toppings you desire.

overhead shot of a serving platter of crispy shelled Mexican shredded chicken tacos with bowls of shredded cheese, lettuce, and pico de gallo on a multicolor cloth napkin.

Expert Tips For Making Crispy Chicken Tacos

  • Make the shredded chicken ahead of time and refrigerate for 5 days in an airtight container. Shredded chicken can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Heat the frying oil between 350F-375F. If it’s too hot, the tortillas will burn, but if it’s too cold, they’ll get soggy and oil-logged rather than crispy. If you don’t have a thermometer on hand, use the handle of a wooden spoon to test it. Place the handle in the oil — bubbles in the oil should start to form around the handle and float to the top. If they bubble furiously, the oil is too hot and should be allowed to cool for several minutes.
  • Use the taco shells right away, or they may become chewy. Leftovers may be heated in the oven at 350F for crisping.

More Taco Recipes

Did you make this easy recipe for Crispy Chicken Tacos? Leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating on the recipe below and leave a comment to let me know how it turned out. You can also take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #muybuenocooking so I can cheer you on!

overhead shot of a serving platter of homemade crispy chicken tacos with small serving bowls of toppings like shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, and pico de gallo.

Crispy Chicken Tacos With Mexican Shredded Chicken (Stovetop or Instant Pot)

5 (5 ratings)
Move over, Taco Bell. These from-scratch Crispy Chicken Tacos are made with homemade crunchy taco shells filled with slightly spicy Mexican shredded chicken and topped with your choice of garnishes. Made with just 10 simple ingredients in under an hour, they're the perfect easy family meal.

Ingredients

Chicken:

  • 2 teaspoons Avocado Oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped white onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons Chicken Taco Seasoning, see notes
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 to 3 roasted Anaheim chile peppers, diced
  • 3/4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • Salt to taste

Tacos:

  • Avocado oil, for frying
  • 20 corn tortillas

Optional toppings:

Instructions 

Chicken:

  • Season chicken breasts with fiesta party mix and set aside.

Stovetop:

  • In a large stockpot, heat the avocado oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the chopped garlic and sauté for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute, stirring continuously, until fragrant.
  • Add the chicken, tomatoes, chile, chicken broth, and give everything a good stir. Let come to a boil; reduce heat. Let simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes.
  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a bowl. Using 2 forks, shred the chicken.
  • Add shredded chicken back to pot and season with salt if needed.

Instant Pot:

  • Select Sauté on the Instant Pot and warm the oil. Add the onions to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic for 1 minute.
  • Add the chicken, tomatoes, chile, chicken broth, and give everything a good stir.
  • Lock the lid in place and turn the valve to Sealing.
  • Press the Manual/Pressure Cook button and set the cook time for 20 minutes at high pressure.
  • Let the steam release naturally for about 10 minutes, then turn the valve to Venting to release any residual steam.
  • Carefully remove the lid and, using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a bowl. Using 2 forks, shred the chicken.
  • Add shredded chicken back to pot and season with salt if needed.

Tacos: 

  • Heat 1-inch avocado oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet.
  • Fry tortillas, one at a time, by folding in half and laying one half flat in avocado oil while holding other half with a fork or tongs, and repeating with the other half to form a half moon shell, until golden and crisp, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Place taco shells on a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
  • Spoon shredded chicken into each taco shell, and garnish with lettuce, tomato, salsa, cheese, and avocado if using.

Notes

  • Make chicken ahead: Make shredded chicken and refrigerate for 5 days in an airtight container. Shredded chicken can also be frozen.
  • Taco shells: Use for tacos right away, or they may become chewy. Leftovers may be heated in the oven for crisping.
  • Make you own blend by combining the following spices: 1 tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley. 
Serving: 6g, Calories: 392kcal, Carbohydrates: 42g, Protein: 38g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 96mg, Sodium: 353mg, Potassium: 764mg, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 123IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Calcium: 83mg, Iron: 2mg

Originally published: March 2020. 
Photography: Jenna Sparks