Easy, tender, flavorful, and versatile, this Mexican shredded chicken recipe might just become a weekly staple at your house! Use for tacos, burrito bowls, tostadas, salads, and more. It’s the perfect addition to a plant forward meal!
Must-Know Cooking Skills
For recipe success, learn how to:
Culinary Tips for the Best Mexican Chicken Thighs
Allow the chicken to sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour before cooking. This will help prevent the chicken from sticking to the pan.
Blot the chicken dry and then add the spices.
Remember the 3 F’s of flavor: fire, fat, food! Heat the pan, then the oil, and finally the chicken. This will help keep the chicken from sticking to the pan and will help develop a beautifully golden outside.
Once you add the chicken to the pan, don’t move it! Listen for a sizzle, but turn down the heat if the oil is splattering.
If you want to skip the searing step for timesake, you can! Just pour the salsa in the pan, and then top with the seasoned chicken thighs. Simmer for the full 30 minutes.
If too much liquid remains, simmer shredded chicken with the lid off until thickened; however, note that the chicken will absorb liquid as it sits and if chilled overnight in the fridge.
- Chicken Thighs: make Mexican chicken breast instead.
- Spices: substitute taco seasoning or another Mexican seasoning blend.
- Salsa: use any flavor of your favorite brand, homemade, or leftovers from a restaurant.
We love buying our spices from The Spice House. Click on the picture below to view & try out hundreds of flavorful spices and herbs!
Want spicy shredded chicken? Use a hot salsa or add some hot sauce to the pan.
Not a fan of spice? Choose a sweeter salsa, like mango lime, peach, or pineapple.
Use these kitchen tools for recipe success!
- Cutting board
- Chef’s knife
- Dry measuring spoons
- Prep bowl
- Liquid measuring cup
- 10-12” skillet with lid
Are Shredded Mexican Chicken Thighs Healthy?
White meat, like chicken, is usually a better choice than red meat and is a great source of protein. When paired with whole grains, beans, fruit, and/or vegetables, this shredded Mexican chicken recipe can be a great addition to a plant forward meal. In addition to chicken, this recipe also features spices and salsa.
Chicken is a lean protein source. It is also rich in B vitamins and minerals, such as iron. When consumed as part of a diet rich in vegetables, chicken may help reduce the risk of developing overweight and obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes. Further, white meat is considered moderately protective or neutral on cancer risk. (1, 2) We recommend purchasing organic if it is within your budget.
Cumin, chili powder, and paprika add flavor and nutrition to this recipe. Using spices decreases the need for salt, which may help reduce hypertension risk and therefore promote heart health. (3) Additionally, these spices contain powerful antioxidants which may help reduce inflammation in the body. (4)
The main ingredient in salsa is tomatoes. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a phytochemical that helps protect against heart disease and prostate cancer. (5, 6) Canned and/or cooked tomatoes are higher in lycopene than their fresh counterparts. (7) Many salsas also contain other vegetables, herbs, and spices, which provide additional health benefits.
Serving Suggestions for Mexican Shredded Chicken
We love this recipe because you can use it in a variety of ways! In the mood for some Mexican shredded chicken tacos? How about some baked tostadas? The options are endless!
Pair this Mexican chicken recipe with beans, brown rice, and veggie toppings for a plant forward bowl, or build quesadillas with a combination of chicken, beans, avocado, and cheese.
Cool the chicken completely, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Cooked Mexican shredded chicken can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
Looking for Recipes to Pair with this Chicken?
Try out these delicious recipes!
Mexican Shredded Chicken
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ~1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (1 package)
- 2 Tablespoons avocado or canola oil
- ½ cup salsa
- Combine spices in a small bowl. Trim fat off chicken thighs and rub both sides with spice blend.
- Heat a 10” stainless steel skillet over medium heat. Once pan is hot, add oil.
- Once oil is shimmering, add chicken thighs in batches, not overcrowding the pan. Sear ~3 minutes on each side, until chicken easily releases from pan. Remove to plate once done.
- Add salsa to pan, and return all chicken thighs to pan. Bring salsa to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Simmer 25-30 minutes or until chicken is tender and can easily be shredded.
- Remove lid and shred with two forks. Enjoy!