Every day is the perfect day for tacos. From start to finish, these chicken tacos only take under 25 minutes. I’m not even kidding. You can cook delicious seasoned chicken, make a refreshing cabbage and red onion slaw, and whip up a spicy chipotle sour cream sauce all in under half an hour. Plus, it’s Cinco de Mayo soon, so these tacos are not only simple and inexpensive to make, but they’re super festive, too! If you have protein in your fridge, small corn tortillas, and fresh vegetables, you have to make these now.
Tacos can be made with a variety of fillings, but you’ll usually find them filled with carne asada, pork carnitas, lengua (beef tongue), or flaky pieces of fish. Chicken is a cheap and filling choice, especially if you choose to use flavorful boneless skinless chicken thighs. I love fish tacos for the cabbage slaw and spicy mayonnaise dressing they usually come with, so I’ve elected to recreate those two traditional garnishes for these chicken tacos. You can definitely garnish your tacos with anything under the sun. For your next fiesta, consider serving your tacos alongside prepared salsas, guacamole, cheeses, and lettuce. Don’t forget to make some delicious homemade margaritas, too!
To start your tacos:
We’ll make the cabbage slaw first. Cut off about 1/5 of a large head of green cabbage. Don’t use the core of the cabbage. It’s generally tough and not pleasant to munch on.
Cut thin ribbons of the cabbage, like this. The skinnier your cabbage pieces, the prettier and more palatable the slaw will be.
Transfer the cabbage to a large bowl.
Let’s use a quarter of a large red onion. Red onion is so much better for slaws than any other onion, so try to use it instead of a regular white onion.
Cut thin, long slices of the red onion.
Here’s a key trick. You know how eating raw onion leaves your breath smelling terrible? Soak the onion in cold icy water for about 5 minutes to remove that sharp edge from them.
After the onions have soaked, drain them off and add to the cabbage. Let’s add some lovin’. Add the juice of about half a lime, a little bit of white vinegar for a more acidic punch, and some sugar and salt. All of these ingredients can be adjusted to your liking.
We really just want the slaw to be a refreshing and tart garnish to the rich chicken tacos. Use your clean hands to toss the slaw together.
Let’s make the chipotle cream sauce. I like using canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. They’re super smokey, deep in flavor, and not terribly spicy. Start with 1 pepper if you have a low heat tolerance. I’m going to use 2. Chop the peppers entirely until you only have fine pieces of pepper.
Add the chopped peppers to a bowl with a few tablespoons of light sour cream.
Mix until you have a beautiful cream like this. If it’s too spicy, add more sour cream. For a thinner cream, you can add some lime juice.
Let’s start the chicken! I’m using 2 boneless skinless chicken thighs. This will make about 5 or so small chicken tacos. You can trim the fat off the thighs if you wish.
Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces, about 1/2 to 1 inch cubes.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add some olive oil and add the chopped chicken thighs.
Plop it all in there. Where’s the seasoning you ask?
Aha. Add some of your favorite meat seasoning. I’m using my favorite Chipotle Honey seasoning rub. You can also purchase prepared taco seasoning, or just add your own spices and herbs, such as garlic powder, oregano, paprika, and chili powder. Anything goes. Although, I’m not sure rosemary would go well with Mexican food, so maybe don’t use that!
Cook the chicken over high heat for about 10 minutes until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and no pinkness remains.
The chicken will be lightly golden brown when it’s perfect and ready. I’m getting extremely hungry. Let’s make some tacos!!!
Heat up some small corn tortillas in a dry skillet over high heat. You just want the tortillas warmed through. If you’re making a lot, you can also place the tortillas on a lined baking sheet in a heated oven for a few minutes, just until they’re warm and pliable. If you’ve got time, you can also char the tortillas over an open flame for a smokey flavor. First ingredient: place several pieces of chicken in a line on the tortillas.
Next, with your clean hands, add some of the refreshing slaw.
Dollop some of that spicy chipotle sour cream right alongside the slaw.
Garnish with some fresh cilantro leaves if you so please. The trick is to not overstuff the tacos. Go ahead and serve the tacos with some chips and salsa, too. Don’t forget the cerveza!
A wedge of lime is always welcome, too. I could eat about 6 of these in one sitting. And I have. I’m not ashamed of it. Have a good taco fiesta!
Quick Chicken Tacos with Cabbage Slaw and Chipotle Cream
Total time: 22 minutes
Prep: 10 min
Cook: 12 min
Yield: about 5 small tacos
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes
2 teaspoons taco seasoning (or spices and seasoning of your choice, like chili powder and garlic powder)
Small corn tortillas
Optional: prepared salsa, chopped cilantro, green onions, avocado, cheese
1/5 wedge of a large green cabbage
1/4 large red onion
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (canned)
3-4 tablespoons light sour cream
To prepare the cabbage slaw, slice the cabbage into thin strips or ribbons. Transfer to a large bowl. Cut the red onion into thin slices, and place onion in a small bowl filled with ice cold water. Soak the onions for about 5 minutes to remove strong raw flavor. Drain the onions and add to bowl with cabbage. Add lime juice, white vinegar, sugar, and salt, and use your clean hands to mix the slaw together. Set aside.
To prepare the chipotle cream sauce, chop the chipotle peppers into very fine pieces. Add chopped peppers to a bowl with sour cream and mix together until combined.
In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add olive oil and cubed chicken pieces. Sprinkle seasoning over chicken and use a spatula to distribute the spices. Cook over high heat for about 10 minutes until chicken is thoroughly cooked, no pinkness remains, and chicken is lightly golden brown.
To prepare tacos, warm up corn tortillas in a dry skillet over high heat, flipping the tortilla on both sides to warm them through. Add small spoonfuls of cooked chicken in a line on the center of tortillas. Add cabbage onion slaw alongside chicken, and finish by adding small spoonfuls of chipotle cream next to slaw. Garnish with optional ingredients, if desired.