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Authentic Mexican Chicken Tinga- Best Tinga De Pollo

This is an Authentic Mexican Chicken Tinga- Best Tinga De Pollo you will ever find out there. Tinga is a dish made with shredded chicken in a delicious tomato sauce and Chile Chipotle in Adobo sauce. Don’t bother looking for another recipe, as this is the best authentic tinga recipe you will find out there.

Authentic Mexican Tinga de Pollo Chicken in Chipotle Tomato Sauce with yellow spoon dried chiles, rice on a green plate, limes and lemons on a colorful bowl

What is tinga

During the colonial period, cooks in the state of Puebla, Mexico, invented the tingas, which are a true marriage between Spain and Mexico.

Using a mixture of European and Mexican foods with a European cooking method, tinga became one of the most popular dishes in Mexico.

Onions and garlic are sauteed. Tomatoes are added, then stock, herbs, and spices are put in. The mixture is simmered to make a sauce.

The pre-cooked meat and sometimes chorizo sausage are added with canned chipotle chile. A tinga is really a stew, prepared in a special way. Chiles, onions, garlic, and tomatoes are NEVER ground and cooked in fat as they are in moles.

This dish is as authentic as it can be, and if you learn how to make it, you will never need another chicken tinga recipe.

Tinga can be made with all kinds of meat like chicken (pollo), beef (res), or pork (puerco) in a spicy, smoky sauce made with tomatoes, chiles, Chipotle in adobo, and lots of onions.

It makes a great taco or tostada filling.

What is a Chile Chipotle? 

Chipotles are jalapeno chiles that are picked when fully ripe and red. They are left to dry on mats in the sun, then smoked. After that, the chiles are rehydrated and pickled in a rich adobo sauce made with vinegar and spices.

There are many good brands out there, and every one of them tastes different, so make sure you taste a few of them before choosing your favorite. 

The recipe below uses Chipotle peppers in Adobo, and you can buy them in any grocery store that carries Mexican products.

Chile chipotle is one of the most popular ingredients in Mexican cuisine.  Because I cook a lot of Mexican food, I always have a can of Chipotle in Adobo in my pantry.

What is Adobo?

Adobo means in Spanish a pickle sauce, but it is used in Mexico to indicate a very thick chile sauce which usually, but not always, contains a little vinegar. The Adobo itself varies from recipe to recipe.

According to Wikipedia, “chipotles (smoked ripe jalapeño peppers) are stewed in a sauce with tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, salt, and spices. The spices vary but generally include several types of peppers (in addition to the chipotle and most likely those on hand), ground cumin, and dried oregano. Some recipes include orange juice and lemon or lime juices. They often include a pinch of brown sugar just to offset any bitter taste.”

For those who do not live in the United States, look for dried chipotle. It is a powerful spice, so a little goes a long way. 

What kind of ingredients do you need for this Authentic Mexican Chicken Tinga or Tinga de Pollo:

  • Chicken– the traditional Mexican recipe uses chicken breast, but thighs are also great to use. Rotisserie chicken works beautifully for those out there who would like shortcuts. You need to shred it.
  • Onions- white onions are the typical onions used in Mexico in many recipes.
  • Tomatoes- I will soon describe how to prepare the tomatoes for the salsa we will use in this chicken tinga. I like fresh tomatoes, but I know that many of you out there will use whatever type of tomatoes you have in hand. Canned tomatoes are great to use, especially in the winter when tomatoes are not in season. Use fire-roasted tomatoes in a can, crushed tomatoes, or even tomato sauce or paste.
  • Chipotle chiles- l am using a 7oz small can of chile chipotles in adobo sauce.
  • Garlic cloves
  • Vegetable Oil or lard– both are very popular
  • Salt, pepper
  • Oregano, thyme, marjoram

Pretty simple, right?

How to make the Chicken Tinga or Tinga de Pollo:

Step one :

Bring a pot of water and salt to a boil and add the chicken breast to cook. Allow the chicken breast to simmer until it is cooked through.

This is a basic recipe, but you can add other things to the pot, an onion cut in quarters, some Mexican dried oregano, and 1-2 garlic cloves. Make sure you skim the foam that forms on top of the water as it starts simmering.

chicken cooking in the pot

Tip: If you already have cooked chicken or even rotisserie chicken in the fridge, use that one. You will put dinner on the table faster. If not, continue with the recipe.

Step two:

Prepare the other ingredients. While the chicken is cooking, slice the onions. 

chopped onions for chicken tinga

Heat the oil in a large pan and add the onion.

Cook the onion until soft and translucent for about 5-6 minutes. The authentic Mexican chicken tinga has lots of onions that give sweetness and flavor to the dish, so if you do not love onions, this dish might not be for you.

chicken and onions cooking in different pans

Step three- The Tomato Sauce

Place the tomatoes in a medium saucepan, cover with water, bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes are soft and mushy but not falling apart.

tomatoes cooking

In a blender(affiliate link), place the tomatoes, garlic, salt, pepper, and 2-3 chiles chipotle from the can.

Tip: If you do not have fresh tomatoes, use diced tomatoes or tomato sauce in a can instead.

Note:

Be careful with the chiles. The original Mexican recipe calls for the entire can of Chipotle, but I found it to be too powerful and spicy for us, so I added fewer chiles in the blender.

Of course, you can play with how spicy the dish will be, so if you feel like it is not spicy enough for your taste, you can add more Chipotle.

I personally look more for flavor and less for making it too spicy.

You can only add more, but you cannot take out the chiles as soon as you blend them all together. If you can handle the heat, go for it.

So, after blending the ingredients, taste the salsa for salt and pepper and adjust the seasoning if you need to. 

Step four- Bringing the sauce together.

Mix the salsa with the onions. Add oregano, marjoram, thyme.

Mexican oregano(affiliate link) is the traditional spice, so feel free to add or skip the marjoram and the thyme entirely if you don’t like them.

onions and tomato salsa cooking on the stove

Let it simmer on low heat while taking the chicken out of the water. Be careful as the sauce will steam and bubble.

Stir occasionally, partially covered, until the sauce becomes darker and thicker.

NOTE: DO NOT discard the chicken stock. You can make a beautiful Mexican white rice for this dish, using the stock to boil the rice.

Or, you can make a soup or simply freeze it and use it later for different recipes.

Step five- Shred the chicken and mix it with the sauce.

Shred the chicken:

shredded chicken for chicken tinga

You can also use two forks for this operation.

Add the chicken to the salsa and mix.

shredded chicken in the tomato salsa in the pan

Taste again for salt and pepper. Let it simmer for only a minute, so the ingredients get acquainted with each other. 

Authentic Mexican Tinga de Pollo Chicken in Chipotle Tomato Sauce in the pan

The traditional way to eat this dish is with white rice.

However, feel free to serve it hot on warm corn or flour tortillas, with sliced avocados, shredded lettuce, Mexican crema (or sour cream if you don’t have access to the Mexican one) fresh onion, etc.

Authentic Mexican Tinga de Pollo Chicken in Chipotle Tomato Sauce with rice on a blue plate

This recipe is very suitable for a picnic, potluck, or even tailgating, as you can make it in advance and serve it warm from a crockpot.

Some other ways to eat this Authentic Mexican Chicken tinga:

Tostadas: These are crispy corn tortillas. Tostadas are a sturdy base for various Mexican toppings and are also very easy to find in grocery stores.

Traditional tostadas start with a layer of refried beans. Add chicken tinga, then top with shredded lettuce, avocado, or radishes slices. Crumbled cheese, Mexican crema, and salsa work well too.

Tortas: French-style bread has been used in Mexico to make sandwiches since the 1800s. The sandwiches are called “tortas.” The bread is called “bolillos.”

Slice the bread in half horizontally, spread refried beans on each side, add chicken tinga, a thick slice of cheese, avocado and tomato slices, pickled jalapenos, etc. 

Wrap the sandwich and take it with you for a hearty lunch or on the go.

Tacos with corn tortillas: Warm up the tortillas first. There are two ways to do that: warm up the tortillas in a skillet, then cover them with a clean towel until ready to serve.

The other way is to place them directly over a gas flame to char them slightly. Again, place them on a plate and cover them with a clean towel. Tacos made with tinga this way are called tacos de guisado, very popular in Mexico, usually made out of different home-style dishes.

Wait, what? what is a taco de guisado?

Guisados are home-style dishes, anything from stews to stir-fries. They are extremely popular in every household and on the streets where you can find taco stands.

There are tacos de guisados for breakfast and lunch and great for workers who stop to get their lunch during the day. Every busy corner has at least a couple of street stands in any Mexican city. 

These tacos are not served with any toppings besides maybe a little bit of salsa. They are simple, delicious, and satisfying. Another example of taco de guisado on my blog is this recipe for Mexican Picadillo.

Do you want to finish this meal in style? Make this wonderful bread pudding Mexican style for the entire family.

15 authentic MExican recipes5

I want to make this chicken tinga in a slow cooker. Can I do that?

Absolutely! I would start cooking the onions first in a separate pan, blend the ingredients for the salsa together, then place everything in a slow cooker/crockpot and add the uncooked chicken. 

Set the slow cooker on high for 4 hours or on low for 6 hours, and you are good to go.

It is effortless and will not take away from the dish’s authenticity, as the ingredients will really have time to get friendly with each other in the crockpot.

Can I freeze leftover chicken tinga?

Yes, you can. Any cooked chicken tinga leftovers can be placed in the freezer and used later. It would be good for up to 3 months.

If you want to freeze uncooked tinga, I would make the salsa in the blender separately, freeze it, then just cook the chicken on the day you want to serve it. Another option would be to make it quickly with roasted chicken.

I would not add the onions to the blender as the beauty of this dish is the texture of sliced onions and chicken mixed with the salsa.

Can I make this chicken tinga in an Instant pot?

Yes.

From frozen salsa and chicken– If you start with frozen chicken mixed with salsa(see the method above), place the sliced onions and oil in the Instant pot and press the Saute button. Cook the onions until soft and translucent, then add the frozen salsa with chicken to the pot. 

Cook for 12 minutes on high pressure, then allow 10 minutes of natural release. Remember that the pot will need a little more time to build pressure with frozen ingredients.

Enjoy!

More recipes to love:

Mexican Chipotle Mushroom

Chocolate Chipotle Chili Soup

Caldo de Pollo Or Chicken Soup Mexican Style

Authentic Mexican Chicken Fajitas- Fajitas de Pollo

Easy Mexican Pork In Green Sauce- Puerco En Salsa Verde

Papas con Chorizo

PIN THIS FOR LATER:

Authentic MExican Tinga De Pollo Chicken in Tomato Sauce- Pinterest picture
Yield: 4-6 servings

Authentic Mexican Chicken Tinga- Tinga De Pollo

Authentic Mexican Tinga de Pollo Chicken in Chipotle Tomato Sauce88

This is an Authentic Mexican Chicken Tinga- Tinga De Pollo, a dish made with shredded chicken in a delicious tomato sauce and chile Chipotle in Adobo sauce.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 3-4 medium size chicken breast
  • 4-5 tablespoons of oil (I used olive oil)
  • 1-2 large onions sliced
  • 4-5 medium Roma(plum)tomatoes
  • 1 can of Chipotle chiles in Adobo(7oz) (use less if you cannot handle the heat)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  1. Bring a pot of salty water to a boil and add the chicken breast to cook. Let the chicken simmer until it is cooked through.
  2. Make sure you skim the foam that forms on top of the water as it starts boiling.
  3. While the chicken is cooking, place the tomatoes in a medium saucepan, cover with water, bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes are soft and mushy but not falling apart.
  4. Slice the onions thinly. Heat the oil in a large pan(skillet) and add the onion. Cook the onion until soft and translucent for about 5-6 minutes.
  5. In a blender, throw the tomatoes, garlic, salt, pepper, and 2-3 chipotle chiles from the can. Be careful with the chiles. The original Mexican recipe calls for the entire can of Chipotle, but I found it to be too powerful and spicy for us, so I added fewer chiles in the blender.
  6. After blending the ingredients, taste the salsa for salt and pepper and adjust the amount of salt and pepper.
  7. Pour the salsa over onions. Add oregano, marjoram, thyme, and pepper. (Be careful as the sauce will steam and bubble).
  8. Simmer the sauce, occasionally stirring, until the sauce deepens in color, becomes darker and less soupy, about 7-8 minutes.
  9. Take the chicken out of the broth, and with two forks, shred the meat.
  10. Add it to the sauce and mix well to incorporate the chicken.
  11. Let it simmer for only a minute and serve over rice or on warm tortillas.
  12. Bon Appetite!

Notes

DO NOT discard the chicken stock. You can make a beautiful rice for this dish, using the stock to boil the rice. You can make a soup or simply freeze it and use it later for some other dishes.

I want to make this chicken tinga in a slow cooker, can I do that?

Absolutely! I would start cooking the onions first, in a pan, blend the ingredients for the salsa together, then place everything in a slow cooker/crockpot and add the uncooked chicken. 

Set the slow cooker on high for 4 hours or on low for 6 hours, and you are good to go. It is really easy and will not take away from the dish's authenticity, as the ingredients really have time to get friendly with each other in the crockpot.

Can I make this chicken tinga in an Instant pot?

Yes.

From frozen salsa and chicken- If you start with frozen chicken mixed with salsa, place the sliced onions and oil in the Instant pot and press the Saute button. Cook the onions until soft and translucent, then add the frozen salsa with chicken in the pot. 

Cook for 12 minutes on high pressure, then allow a 10 minutes natural release. Keep in mind that the pot will need a little bit more time to build pressure with frozen ingredients.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 266Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 68mgSodium: 606mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 26g

Did you make this recipe?

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Rachell

Sunday 20th of March 2022

"1 can of Chipotle chiles in Adobo", 1 can ? What measurement is that? You mean the 12oz can you show? Please give a CUP amount?

Rachell

Wednesday 23rd of March 2022

@The Bossy Kitchen, Thank you for replying.

    I did see your notes on using less depending on one's own personal tolerance for heat. Thank you for that, & thank you for the measurement.

LOL I'd explain about the "Rogers" thing, but the Internet World doesn't really need be all up in my business.

The Bossy Kitchen

Sunday 20th of March 2022

Hi Rachel, buy a 7oz can of chipotle in adobe sauce, it should be enough. You do not need to use the entire can, if you cannot handle the heat. The recipe allows you to add as many chiles chipotles you like. They are quite spicy, anyway. I also edited the recipe and fixed the amount. Hopefully, you will be less mad at me, or at Roger. :-)

Don Kuper

Wednesday 9th of February 2022

I haven't made Tinga for quite a few years but the recipe I used from (I think) Maria's Mexican Kitchen used equal amounts of Roma Tomatoes (Blanched and skinned) and tomatillos, all cooked and then pureed together with seasonings and chipotle, then poured back into the kettle to simmer, then the chicken and onions are added and simmered for about 15-minutes or until the sauce begins to darken. The main difference here is the addition of tomatillos. What are your thoughts...?

The Bossy Kitchen

Thursday 10th of February 2022

:-) My thoughts are that Mexico is a great country with a vast cuisine, and every region has its own version of tinga. This dish is versatile, easy to make, delicious, and everyone loves it. Try my version too, you might like it as it is easier to make, great for dinners during the week.

Lindsey

Saturday 15th of February 2020

I'm feeling pretty impressed with myself at the moment being that this came out AMAZING. But actually it was because of this wonderful recipe and your super easy-to-follow instructions. Thank you for this one, it's going in the book.

Tina Ward

Saturday 21st of December 2019

Since tastes vary with the chipotle chili’s, you could blend the whole can in your blender before adding anything else. Pour the blended chipotle in a small bowl, then continue with the recipe. When time to add the chipotle you would add a little at a time, taste, add more if you like it spicier. You could freeze any remaining chipotle (in an ice cube tray) or like I do, dehydrate it then grind to a powder to use in other dishes.

The Bossy Kitchen

Sunday 22nd of December 2019

Great ideas, Tina!

April

Sunday 1st of December 2019

Can this be made with pork?

The Bossy Kitchen

Monday 2nd of December 2019

yes, you can try that.

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