Easy Crispy Chicken Tacos filled with seasoned chicken then, pan fried until golden brown and delicious! They are a quick way to get a “restaurant-style” meal at home.
My family loves them! In fact, this is one of my go to Recipes for Tacos for weeknights or any night.
What are Authentic Mexican Crispy Chicken Tacos?
Crispy Tacos are the original taco... Crispy, crunchy and flavorful. They are the only tacos served at Mexican restaurants though out the Southwest for ages, long before the pre-formed crunchy taco shell was ever born,.
Yummy, slow cooked fillings were stuffed into fresh corn tortillas and then fried to crispiness. They are the things my taco dreams are made of.
Somewhere along the way, the "preformed"" crunchy taco shell and the soft tortilla style "street taco" pushed the Original Crispy Taco out of the way.
Grab your ingredients and let's make Crispy Tacos!
Choose your ingredients!
- Choose your chicken! These crispy chicken tacos are so versatile, you can use any type of shredded chicken-canned (used here), rotisserie chicken, slow cooker chicken, even leftover chicken. My only recommendation is do not use grilled chicken. Grilled chicken does not stay together and falls out of the taco shell.
- Shredded chicken- Any kind of shredded chicken. I use canned chicken in this recipe but, I also use rotisserie chicken, slow cooker chicken, Instant Pot chicken… even leftover chicken!
- Corn tortillas- fresh corn tortillas that are 5 to 6 inches in diameter (not the tiny ones).
- Oil for Frying- Use an oil that has a high “smoke point.” I use corn oil but, you can use other oils such as peanut oil or vegetable oil.
Choose Your Seasonings
- Seasonings- I keep things simple for this recipe , you can use any seasonings that you like.
- Garlic Salt
- Black Pepper
- Diced Green Chiles- My favorite. Drain the green chiles before mixing them into the chicken.
- Cilantro- Finely minced cilantro is a great way to add an herb-y Southwest alternative for green chiles. Be sure to mice it finely (pictured in this post).
- Taco Seasonings- Yes! You can use a packet of taco seasoning or mix up your favorite Southwest spices.
- Salt- I use a finishing salt to lightly sprinkle over the tacos when they are hot and fresh from the fryer.
- Garnishes- grated cheese, finely shredded lettuce, tomatoes, onion are my favorites. Using Pico de Gallo gives you the tomato and onion flavor all together
- Salsas! I love Salsa Verde or Green Salsa with chicken tacos but, choose your own favorite salsa.
How to Make Crispy Chicken Tacos
- First, Shred the chicken: choose what type of cooked chicken you would like to use and shred it. If you make canned chicken tacos (used in this post), please drain the chicken well.
- Season the chicken: Measure the seasonings and mix them together. Sprinkle over the chicken and stir to distribute evenly. These are basic seasonings, you can even use taco seasonings, sprinkle lightly.
- Warm the tortillas so they don’t crack while working with them : Wrap tortillas in a damp paper towel and place on a microwave safe dish. Heat in the microwave for about 30 to 40 seconds. Keep the tortillas covered while filling the tacos.
- Next, Fill the tacos: take one tortilla (while warm ) and place it flat on a plate or cutting board. Scoop some of the chicken filling onto one half of the tortilla. Fold the other half of the tortilla over the filling and secure the edges with tooth picks (two tooth picks are usually fine, 3 at the most). Place the taco on a dish and keep covered so that the tortillas don’t dry out.
How to Fry Crispy Tacos
- Heat the oil: Pour oil into a frying pan and heat over medium high heat. More oil may be needed depending on the size of your pan. Do not fill the pan more than ½ full for safety purposes. The oil is hot when you can place a small piece of tortilla into the oil and the tortilla immediately starts to make small bubbles.
- Place the tacos into the oil two or three at a time, do not over fill the pan. Fry on one side until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Turn the taco over and cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes. The tacos should be golden brown and crispy. The edges cook faster so they will be crisper than the center of the taco. The tacos will continue to cook a little bit when removed from the oil.
- Remove the tacos from the oil and drain on a plate lined with a paper towel. Pat with a paper towel to absorb the excess oil.
- Sprinkle each side of the taco with a little salt.
- Remove the toothpicks!
- Spread the taco shell just enough to fill with grated cheese while warm. Try not to break the shell. If you do break a few, no problem, they will be just as delicious!
- Garnish the tacos: It’s your choice to fill the taco with shredded lettuce, tomato, onion (or pico de Gallo ( not shown). Mexican crema, sour cream and salsa are also great garnishes.
What to serve with Tacos
Crispy Chicken Tacos are not just a side dish on a combination plate, they are a delicious main dish, as well.
Here are a few ideas of what to serve with them.
Mexican Rice with Cilantro and Avocado
Corn Pudding with Green Chiles
Jicama Orange Salad with Chile Lime Vinaigrette
Crispy Chicken Tacos
Authentic Crispy Chicken Tacos are filled with shredded chicken and fried until lightly golden brown and crispy.
These tacos are easy and so versatile that you can fill them with canned chicken, slow cooker shredded chicken of any kind, even leftover rotisserie chicken!
- 24 oz cooked, shredded chicken breast (I used two 12 ounce cans of cooked chicken)
- ½ cup cilantro, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon garlic salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 12 corn tortillas
- 2 cups vegetable oil, for frying
- 2 cups iceberg lettuce, shredded
- ½ red onion, thinly sliced (adjust to taste)
- 2 large tomato, sliced (you can remove the seeds to prevent tacos going soggy) or pico de gallo
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 cup crumbled or finely grated cheese (we used queso fresco)
- Chilies like pickled jalapenos or serranos (or use salsa)
- Place the drained canned chicken breast (or cooked, shredded chicken meat) into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle in the garlic salt and black pepper and use a fork to mix in the spices. Next add the chopped cilantro and continue to mix to break down the chicken chunks into a shredded meat texture..
- Cover the corn tortillas with paper towels then heat in the microwave for 30 seconds or just until they’re warm and bend easily. Place some of the chicken mixture onto one half of the tortilla, then fold in half moon shape. Use toothpicks to pin 2 sides shut as illustrated on the video.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan and once hot enough place some chicken tacos into it – careful not to burn yourself and also don’t overcrowd the pan. Fry for about 6 minutes on one side then flip over and fry for another 3 minutes. You want both sides to be golden and feel crispy.
- Remove the fried tacos and place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain off the excess oil.
- To serve top with shredded lettuce then some sliced red onion, tomato slices slices, drizzle sour cream then sprinkle with the crumbled cheese. Serve!
- The canned chicken breast used can be purchased at either Sam’s Club and it’s the Member’s Mark brand. Additionally Costco has its own brand called Kirland. The recipe has been tested multiple times with both brands and both yield delicious results.
- Instead of the crumbled white cheese we used you can add your favorite shredded Mexican cheese.
- If you’d like, you can also serve your favorite salsa on the side. Avocado slices or chopped can also be served, as well as guacamole.
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