Chipotle Chicken Tacos are an easy weeknight meal ready in just about 30 minutes! Spicy and a bit sweet, chicken thighs are cooked in a sauce made with chipotle peppers, onion and lime. And, with a creamy chipotle lime sauce for the final touch!
Note: this post was originally published in 2019 and updated in 2021 with improved instructions and new photos.
Tacos are a go-to meal for my family, everyone loves them and they are easy to customize to suit any taste with a variety of toppings. And tacos you can make in a hurry? Even better! You can make these chipotle chicken tacos in about 30 minutes, including a creamy chipotle lime sauce as an extra-special finishing touch. This is truly a weeknight meal worth getting excited about!
And before I go on, I need to make it clear that these tacos are by no means authentic in any way, just my own creation. But they are a bit spicy, a bit sweet, a bit saucy, and so, so delicious. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
- Chipotle Peppers: these are canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, you can find them in the Mexican section of the supermarket. They are quite spicy, so if you don't like heat you will likely want to reduce the amount called for in the recipe.
- Onion: I like using a sweet onion, like Vidalia, because I think it helps balance out the heat from the chipotle peppers. But, any onion you have on hand would work just fine.
- Limes: the recipe doesn't call for a precise measurement for the lime juice, as the amount of tartness desired can depend on your own tastes. So, you will probably want to buy a few extra limes, to make sure you have enough in case one or two aren't very juicy and also as a garnish. I usually end up using about 4 limes; 3 limes for the recipe and 1 additional lime cut into wedges as a garnish.
Really love 30 minute chicken recipes? Check out this favorite for Stovetop Chicken Enchiladas!
Step by step photos
1. Sauté the onion in a bit of oil until softened and beginning to brown.
2. Blend the onion, salt, sugar (optional), chipotle peppers, lime juice and water until mostly smooth. Set aside.
3. In the same pan used for the onion, heat some additional oil. Cook the chicken thighs just until they start to develop some browning on the outside.
4. Add in the chipotle sauce and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the chicken is cooked through. Make sure to scrape up any brown bits that developed on the bottom of the pan from cooking the onion and chicken!
5. While the chicken is simmering, mix up the ingredients for the creamy chipotle lime sauce.
6. Once the chicken is finished cooking, serve the chipotle chicken in warmed tortillas with any toppings you like, drizzled with the creamy chipotle lime sauce!
Tips and tricks
- For the best taco experience, make sure to warm the tortillas up before serving. You can do this multiple ways, the easiest ways I think are to use either the oven or microwave. I include instructions on how in the notes section of the recipe card below!
- To make the chipotle sauce for the chicken, I like using a stick (immersion) blender because it's easy and there are less parts to wash. But, if you don't have one, you can easily use a food processor or regular blender.
- As I mentioned in the Ingredients notes section above, a lot of the flavors in this recipe can be adjusted to suit your own tastes, including the level of sourness from the limes and the heat from the chipotle peppers. If you ever unsure about how much to add, start with less, taste, and then add more if needed!
Of course, spice level is a very subjective thing, but just to give you an idea I would say these tacos are spicy but don't rise to the level of uncomfortable or overpowering. But again, that's just how I perceive the level of spice, and I would say I'm usually a "medium spice" type person. If you don't like spicy things, cut way back on the chipotles, give the sauce a taste, and then add more if needed.
On the other hand, if you really love spice, of course feel free to add more! You can even chop up a whole chipotle pepper and add it into the creamy chipotle lime sauce for even more flavor and heat!
I prefer to use chicken thighs because they can hold up to the longer cooking time while simmering in the chipotle sauce without getting tough.
If you would like to substitute chicken breasts, my recommendation would be to remove the chicken pieces from the pan after browning, then simmer the chipotle sauce on its own for a few minutes to let it reduce, then add the chicken pieces back in at the end to finish cooking. That way, they won't overcook in the amount of time it takes to reduce the chipotle sauce.
Tacos are so versatile and there are so many topping options! My favorite toppings for these chipotle chicken tacos are finely shredded cabbage (adds a nice crunch and a "bed" to catch all that chipotle sauce), black beans, chopped cilantro, and an extra squeeze of lime!
If you’ve tried this recipe, please leave a star rating and/or review in the comments section below, I would love to hear from you! You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. And sign up for my weekly newsletter to get recipes delivered straight to you!Print
Chipotle Chicken Tacos
Chipotle Chicken Tacos are spicy, a bit sweet, saucy and topped with a creamy chipotle lime sauce. Ready in only about 30 minutes!
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 3 - 4 servings 1x
- Category: Main Course
- Method: stovetop
- Cuisine: Mexican inspired, American
For chipotle chicken:
- 4 teaspoons neutral oil (canola, vegetable, grapeseed, etc.), divided
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 medium onion (preferably sweet onion)
- ¼ cup canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (see note 1)
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus more for sprinkling
- 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
- ¼ cup water
- juice of 1 - 2 limes (depending on your taste and how juicy your limes are)
- warm corn or flour tortillas (see notes 2 - 3)
For creamy chipotle lime sauce:
- ⅓ cup mayo
- ⅓ cup sour cream
- ½ teaspoon salt
- juice of ½ - 1 lime (depending on your taste and how juicy your limes are)
- 2 ½ teaspoons liquid from can of chipotle peppers (see note 4)
- 1 tablespoon water
- lime wedges
- shredded cabbage
- black beans
- shredded cheese
- Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. While the pan is heating up, chop the onion into roughly ½ inch pieces. When the oil is hot, add the onion to the pan and sprinkle with salt to taste. Cook for 3 minutes, or until slightly browned on the edges and softened, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat off but keep the pan on the stove.
- If you have a stick (immersion) blender: remove onion from the pan and place into a small, straight sided heat-proof container (like a 2 cup glass measuring cup or wide-mouth jar). Or, place the onion in the bowl of a food processor or blender.
- To the container with the onion, add the chipotle peppers, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar (optional), ¼ cup water, and juice from 1 - 2 limes. (If your limes are very juicy, you may only need one; if they are small or not very juicy, or if you really like lime flavor, use 2 limes.) Blend until mostly smooth; a little texture in the sauce is ok. Set aside.
- Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in the same pan over medium high heat. While the pan is heating, cut excess fat off the chicken thighs if necessary and chop the chicken into small pieces.
- Add the chopped chicken into the hot pan in an even layer. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Let cook without moving the chicken pieces for 2 - 3 minutes until some browning has developed, then stir the chicken and allow to cook, untouched, for another 1 - 2 minutes until some browning has developed on the other side.
- Turn the heat down to medium and pour in the chipotle sauce. Scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula, then let simmer for 6 - 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of the excess liquid has absorbed from the sauce and the chicken is cooked through.
- While the chicken is cooking, whisk all the creamy chipotle lime sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.
- Serve with warm tortillas and toppings of your choice.
- For my tastes, ¼ cup chipotles resulted in a level of heat that I would call spicy but not overpowering. Because spice tolerance is very subjective, take caution and use less at first if you don't tolerate spice well.
- You can warm your tortillas in the oven or microwave. If you want to use the oven, wrap tortillas in foil and preheat the oven to 350 degrees right before starting to cook. When the oven is preheated, place tortillas in the oven while you finish making the recipe. They should be warm by the time the chicken is ready to eat.
- If you want to use the microwave to heat the tortillas, wrap a stack of 6 (or less) in wet paper towels, place on a microwave-safe plate, and microwave on high for 30 seconds. If they need more time, microwave for another 15 seconds. Microwaving should be done right before you are ready to serve the tacos.
- If you want more heat in your sauce, you can mince ½ to 1 whole chipotle pepper and add it to the sauce along with the juice.
Keywords: chipotle chicken tacos, chicken tacos, chipotle chicken
These look so delicious 🙂 I love spicy food but most of my household does not. I can even out the heat for them tho. I can make 2 sauces if I have to, one with lots of spice and one with no so much.
I almost got myself a stick blender like that but I talked myself out of it. Silly me thinking I didn't need it haha! It isn't something I would use all the time tho.
Thank you Dawn! And yes I have the same issue with spice in my family - husband loves it extra hot, I like medium, and my daughter hates any spice at all! I would say the chicken is medium spicy in my opinion, but you can cut that down by reducing the chipotles. If you want you can cut way back on the spice in the sauce and just add some hot sauce on the tacos to please the spice lovers in your family! And I love my stick blender just because there are so many less parts to clean than using a food processor or blender 🙂
I don't know a single person who doesn't like tacos. I am a huge taco fan and keen to try almost every single taco recipe that I stumble upon. I am looking forward to trying yours!
Yes I'm a huge taco fan too! So easy and lots of great topping potential 🙂
I'm loving that creamy chipotle lime sauce! Tacos are a weekly occurrence in my house so we'll definitely be trying that sauce!
Thanks Michelle I'm glad you like the recipe, if you try it please let me know how you liked it! 🙂
Sam | Ahead of Thyme
My hubby and I are obsessed with tacos so he will be soo happy if I make this. That chipotle sauce looks especially good. Plus, I am also loving how quick and easy it is to make!!
Thanks Sam! Yes for me quick and easy is a must!
Tacos are our jam!! And these are really great tacos. Thank you for the recipe!
I am big taco fan and your recipe looks amazingly delicious. Specially that creamy lime sauce. Will soon try out this recipe. Thanks.
Thanks Kushigalu I'm happy you like the recipe!
I love that these are super simply, but don't lack on flavor. I will agree with your husband... more hot sauce for me.
Haha yes hot sauce makes everything better!
Perfect for Tuesday! Always looking for a great way to add some flare to taco nights.
Yes this is a good one for Taco Tuesday when you don't have much time to cook! 🙂
We are taco loving family and don't leave any opportunity to whip up almost every weekend, gosh I am loving that creamy lime sauce, must try next time.
Yes we are a taco family too, it's easy to customize to each person's taste so that really helps make sure everyone is happy 🙂
This looks really delicious. Sauce is amazing. Can't wait to give this a try. My family loves tacos for dinner. I bet they love this recipe too.
Thanks Natalie I'm so glad you like the recipe!
I'm making tacos right now and these sound sooooo good! Love the chipotle chicken combo and how quick and easy these are!
Thank you Daniela!
Tacos are a go to meal in our house. Either chicken, fish, pork, or beef, they are all a hit! Love how quick this recipe comes together, my daughter always wants to help and we end up making it a 'picnic' on the floor. Everyone gets to build their own taco, and it's fun to do! Love you're recipe, thanks for sharing!
That sounds so fun! My toddler is super into indoor picnics right now so we will have to try that 🙂
This was SO GOOD ! Careful with the chipotles 🥵
This was the best taco night me and the boyfriend had! He even said it tasted like something you’d get at a high end Mexican restaurant 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Auryn thank you so much for letting me know you enjoyed the recipe! 🙂 🙂 And I agree, with chipotles there does seem to be a fine line between pleasant heat and too much! At least for me, and I would say I'm a medium-spice level person. So, if you are not into heat you can definitely dial it back. Thanks again for sharing your feedback on the recipe Auryn!
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Your Chipotle Chicken Tacos Recipe caught our attention, so we added it to our list.
You can find it here: Taco Night Recipes List
Thank you for sharing your wonderful recipe. Keep up the good work!
That's wonderful thank you so much for including my taco recipe, I'm going to check out the other tacos on your list right now!