Chicken Tinga Bowls are an easy 30 minute Mexican inspired dinner! You’ll love the smoky, spicy, slightly sweet tomato sauce that coats the shredded chicken. These rice bowls are full of flavor and great for meal prep too!
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I’d heard of chicken tinga and it wasn’t until a couple months ago that I actually tried a version of it. All I have to say is that I can’t believe I waited so long!
The sauce that the shredded chicken simmers in is smoky, spicy, a little sweet, and so dang tasty! Originally when I started seeing recipes popping up it was for chicken tinga tacos. You can absolutely make them that way, but as you may already know, I’m a sucker for a rice bowl.
So, I had to make Chicken Tinga Bowls. Making them bowl style means you can have multiple meals prepped for the week. That way on busy nights all you have to do is take the prepared components and assemble. And I’m all about having dinner ready in 5 minutes!
What Is Chicken Tinga?
Chicken tinga is a Mexican dish that consists of shredded cooked chicken that’s coated in a chipotle chile, tomato, onion sauce. Traditionally it’s served as a tostada with a layer of refried beans, avocado slices, crumbled Mexican cheese, and crema.
Ingredients For Chicken Tinga Bowls
Cooked Chicken – You can use shredded chicken breasts, thighs, or a combination of them. If you’re short on time, rotisserie chicken is a great option.
Yellow Onion and Garlic – I sautéed the onion and garlic and then blended them into the sauce. Many traditional tinga de pollo recipes leave the onions unblended. Feel free to use whatever method you prefer.
Ground Cumin, Smoked Paprika, and Dried Oregano – This spice blend adds an earthy and smoky flavor to the sauce.
Green Chiles – This is not a traditional ingredient, but I love the flavor. I used mild green chiles since the chipotle chiles already have a good amount of heat.
Chipotle Chiles in Adobo Sauce – Smoky, spicy, tangy, and a hint of sweetness. Depending on how spicy you like your food you can use between 1-4 chipotle chiles. Extra chipotle chiles will keep in an airtight container for 1-2 months in the refrigerator.
Honey – This is an optional ingredient, but I like the way the sweetness balances out the spice and smokiness of the tinga sauce.
Fire Roasted Tomatoes – I used fire roasted tomatoes for their extra smoky flavor, however, you can use regular diced tomatoes as well.
Rice – Brown rice or white rice both work for this recipe. If you want additional flavor make cilantro lime rice.
Black Beans – Be sure to rinse and drain the black beans. If you want to give them additional flavor, try sprinkling on some chili powder and cumin.
Cheese – Crumbled queso fresco or cotija cheese are mild, salty, Mexican cheeses that work great for these bowls.
Cilantro – Optional, but if you like cilantro add it. It’s used as a garnish unless you choose to add it into the rice.
How To Make Chicken Tinga Bowls
Sauté the onions in olive oil until they’re soft and tender. Add in the grated garlic and sauté just until you start to smell it.
Add in the tomatoes, spices, chipotle chiles, adobo sauce, green chiles, and honey. Season with salt and pepper and then stir everything together and cook until it’s warmed through.
Pour everything into a blender and purée the mixture until it’s smooth. Be careful not to fill your blender too full or the lid can blow off from the heat. If needed do it in two batches.
Pour the sauce back into the skillet and stir in the shredded chicken. Gently cook everything just until it’s warmed through.
To assemble the bowls, fill them with a serving of rice. Top with some of the chicken tinga, black beans, cheese, sliced avocado, cilantro and lime wedges if you’d like.
Substitutions and Variations
- I used a mix of chicken breasts and chicken thighs, but you can use one or the other depending on your preferences.
- Substitute the rice with quinoa, farro, or even cauliflower rice if you’re looking for a lower carb option.
- Adjust the level of heat in the sauce by using more or less chipotle chiles. Likewise, you can adjust the sweetness which will help tame the heat by adding more or less honey.
- Instead of black beans try pinto beans or even refried beans.
- If you’re not wanting bowls, make chicken tinga tacos. Warm corn tortillas (char them over an open flame if you have access) and fill them with the chicken tinga, crumbled queso fresco, red onion, avocado sliced, and cilantro.
Storage And Reheating
When it comes to storing the chicken tinga I like to keep the components of the bowls separate. I separate the chicken, rice, and black beans into separate containers and then slice an avocado just before eating.
Chicken tinga also freezes very well. Let it cool completely and then put it in an airtight, freezer safe container. You can freeze it for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to use it, let it defrost in the refrigerator overnight. There will likely be a little separation so be sure to stir it as you reheat.
To reheat, assemble the bowls without the avocado and heat in the microwave until warm. You can also reheat each component separately.
More Rice Bowl Recipes
Did you make these Chicken Tinga Bowls? I’d love if you’d leave a recipe rating and review below.
- 4 cups shredded cooked chicken
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup sliced yellow onion
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon grated or minced garlic
- 4 ounce can diced green chiles
- 15 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes, undrained
- 2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
- 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
- 2 tablespoons honey (optional)
- 2 cups cooked rice
- 1/2 of an avocado, peeled and sliced
- 1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
- Crumbled queso fresco, cilantro, and lime wedges for additional toppings
- Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the onions and sauté until they're soft and tender. 4-6 minutes. Add in the garlic and sauté for another minute.
- Pour in the fire roasted tomatoes, dried spices, chipotle chiles, adobo sauce, green chiles, and honey. Season with salt and pepper and stir everything together. Cook until warmed through.
- Pour the tomato mixture into a blender and purée until smooth. If needed do this in two batches. Pour the sauce back into the skillet and stir in the shredded chicken. Cook on medium-low heat until warmed through.
- To assemble the bowls, fill them with rice and then top with some of the chicken tinga, black beans, avocado slices, crumbled queso fresco, and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges if desired.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 558Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 119mgSodium: 237mgCarbohydrates: 58gFiber: 10gSugar: 17gProtein: 53g
Nutritional information is an estimate. Please consult a registered dietician for the most accurate nutritional information.