Chicken Tinga (Tinga de Pollo)

5 from 3 votes

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Tinga de Pollo, or chicken tinga, is simple to make, versatile, and brimming with all the smoky spicy flavor you crave. The smoked chipotle peppers in adobo sauce combined with fire-roasted tomatoes, tomatillos, and other spices is enough to conjure up images of fresh chilis roasting on an open fire. Take another bite — you can almost hear the fire crackling!

tinga de pollo on homemade tortilla with avocado, onion and adobo sauce on top

One of my favorite things about Mexican Cuisine is how simple, quality ingredients are transformed into some of the most flavorful and versatile foods in the world. This recipe for chicken tinga is a prime example! 

While this dish is already simple to make, I’ve removed even more of the time and hassle by making this version in the Instant Pot. Make this chicken tinga recipe tonight and deliver authentic Mexican flavor to your dinner table in less than 30 minutes!

For more mouthwatering Mexican recipes, check out my Pollo Asado, Instant Pot Mexican Chicken, or these Instant Pot Chicken Mole Tacos.              

shredded tinga de pollo with avocado and onions on taco shell

What is Chicken Tinga?

Originating in Puebla Mexico, Tinga, in Mexican culinary terms, implies stewing and shredding meat. It can be made with beef or pork but you’ll find most recipes using shredded chicken.

This technique of stewing and shredding meat is popular in Mexican dishes. What sets the shredded chicken tacos apart is the smoky chipotle chiles and the adobo marinade. It adds smoky flavor and a kick of spicy heat.  

ingredients to make a Mexican chicken recipe


  • Chicken – I like to use half breast meat and half thigh meat, but the choice is up to you. Frozen chicken can be used, but I highly recommend giving it time to thaw for the best results. 
  • Onion – Adds a pungent, zesty, and savory flavor to the dish. 
  • TomatoesFire Roasted Tomatoes are tangy and bright with just the right touch of charred sweetness. I prefer the canned variety for this recipe, but feel free to make your own. 
  • Chipotle Peppers – A key ingredient, these seductively smoky peppers have just the right balance of sweetly smoked and spicy heat. Buy them canned already in sauce or check out these posts to make your own Chipotle Peppers and Adobo Sauce.
  • Tomatillos Tomatillos add a zingy, acidic brightness without making the dish too watery. 
  • Seasonings – Zesty garlic, sweet honey, aromatic Mexican oregano, and warming cloves come together to form a dynamic, well-rounded flavor profile.

Kitchen Tools / Equipment

You’ll need a couple of appliances to make this recipe. Nothing major, but you really can’t make the tinga de pollo recipe without them.

  • Instant Pot – I use the Instant Pot to make tinga de pollo and I love how moist and flavorful the meat comes out. And you just can’t beat pulling dinner together in 30 minutes or less!
  • Blender – What more needs to be said? This is vital for getting your stewed mixture smooth and perfect.
three tinga tacos ready to be served

Chicken Tinga Video Tutorial

To see how to make the recipe from start to finish, check out the video in the recipe card at the bottom of this post!


  1. Puree the Sauce. Use a blender to puree the chicken stock, chipotle peppers with adobo sauce, tomatoes, tomatillos, garlic, honey, salt, and oregano until smooth. 
  2. Saute Chicken & Sauce. Add some oil to your IP and turn it to the Saute setting. Once hot, add the tinga sauce and cook for about 5 minutes. Next, toss in the sliced onions and chicken. Gently press down on the chicken and onions until they are fully submerged in the sauce. 
  3. Pressure Cook. Close the lid and set the valve to sealed. Select the manual pressure setting and set the timer for 12 minutes. After the timer is finished, allow 5 minutes of natural pressure release. 
  4. Shred the Chicken. Carefully remove the lid from your IP. Remove the chicken and shred. If your tinga sauce comes out too thin, you can turn your device back to the Saute setting to cook, reduce, and thicken it to suit your taste. Return the shredded chicken back to the pot and toss to coat in the sauce. 
  5. Serve & Enjoy. Serve chicken tinga with corn tortillas, avocado, cilantro, onion, and cotija cheese. If desired, you can heat and char your tortillas over an open flame for an added kick of rustic flavor.
chicken tinga sauce cooking in an instant pot

How To Serve Chicken Tinga

Chicken tinga is not only intoxicatingly delicious, it’s also versatile enough to incorporate into almost all your favorite Mexican inspired dishes. Here are a few serving suggestions to get you started:

  • Chicken Tinga Tacos: Serve with freshly charred tortillas and toppings like lime, avocado, cilantro, onion, lettuce, tomato, cheese and sour cream. 
  • Use as a filling for nachos, burritos, empanadas, tostadas, or quesadillas
  • Tinga makes a great topping for your favorite veggie bowls, burrito bowls, or on this Mexican Salad.
  • Mix some chicken tinga in with your favorite rice like this Arroz Rojo

What is the Secret to Shredding Chicken?

To start, it is best to allow your chicken to rest and cool slightly before shredding. This not only makes it easier to handle, it also allows time for the juices in the meat to settle and evenly distribute. About 5-10 minutes usually does the trick. 

Once ready to shred, you have options. Of course, there are classic methods of simply using 2 forks or 2 very clean hands to pull the meat apart. These time tested options certainly get the job done but are a bit time consuming. 

If you’d like more consistent results (in half the time!) place your cooked chicken in a large mixing bowl and use a handheld mixer to shred the pieces apart. Stop periodically to break up larger pieces and continue blending until the meat is as finely shredded as you’d like. Easy, simple, and effective! 

How Do I Store Leftover Chicken Tinga?

Leftover chicken tinga can be stored in an airtight container, in the refrigerator, for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 3-4 months. 

You can easily reheat your leftovers on the stovetop, in the microwave, in the oven, or even in your Instant Pot.

chicken tinga tacos shown close up

This recipe post, originally published on Kevin is Cooking Feb. 10, 2019, has been updated with new content, photos and/or video in March 2023.

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Chicken Tinga (Tinga de Pollo) + Video

5 from 3 votes
Chicken tinga is an easy and flavorful Mexican-inspired dish featuring tender, juicy chicken in an irresistibly smoky chipotle sauce.
Servings: 8
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 12 minutes
Total: 27 minutes


Tinga Sauce



  • Purée in a blender the chicken stock, tomatoes, chipotle and adobo sauce, tomatillos, garlic, honey, salt, oregano and clove until smooth.
  • Turn Instant Pot to Sauté setting and add oil to pot. When hot add the tinga sauce and cook for 5 minutes. Add the chicken and sliced onion. Press chicken and onion down to submerge and cover with sauce.
  • Close lid and seal. Press Manual Pressure and set time to 12 minutes. Allow 5 minutes to natural release.
  • Open lid and shred chicken. If too thin of a sauce, turn to Sauté and cook to reduce and thicken. Add chicken back into toss and coat.
  • Serve with corn tortillas heated and charred over open flame or warmed along with cotija cheese, onion, avocado and cilantro.



  1. You could also use 2 lbs boneless thigh meat and 2 lbs boneless chicken breast.


Calories: 575kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 223mg | Sodium: 1368mg | Potassium: 625mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1025IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 71mg | Iron: 3mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: Dinners
Cuisine: Mexican
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
shredded tinga de pollo on tortillas


Whether in the kitchen or on the grill, you’ll find me cooking American favorites with a love for BBQ, Mexican and Tex Mex. I’m passionate about making tasty food because life’s too short to be bland!

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  1. 5 stars
    Five stars! We made these for dinner tonight as shown above (with pickled red onion and tortilla). Chicken Tinga is super tasty, satisfying and easy to make.

  2. Question.. when you make this are you using your own adobo sauce or is it the chipotles in adobo sauce from a can? Just wonder because I am wondering if you can make Tinga using other peppers other than chipotle.

  3. 5 stars
    I adore chicken tinga, Kevin! And yours look juicy and bursting with flavor!! These tacos need to happen in our house soon!

  4. 5 stars
    This is even fun to say! Anything that involves chipotle, count me in! Love that smoky heat! These look like they need to happen soon 🙂