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Killer chicken tacos

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Easy but takes some time

The best chicken tacos

Easy and delicious, this is the best chicken taco recipe I have found. Based on Jill Hough's recipe, published in Bon Appétit, June 2006. I highly recommend making all three components of the recipe:  1) the chicken and veggies seasoned with the rub, 2) the chipotle cream, and 3) the cilantro slaw. I use La Tortilla Factory Hand Made Style corn tortillas because I think they are awesome. Note:  heir corn tortillas are not gluten-free, however.

The genius is in the rub

I like this rub so much I make up a big batch and keep it on hand in small jars to give as gifts. The key is the Spanish paprika (Pimenton de la Vera) You can vary the heat by mixing sweet with picante Spanish paprika. My family likes a 50-50 mix. Do not substitute regular paprika. You will miss all the smokey goodness and instead get flavorless orange color. Use granulated garlic and onion if you can find it (they are a little coarser than powder), otherwise garlic and onion powder will work.

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Chipotle cream

This is a great enhancement to regular sour cream. If you have never used chipotle chilies before, beware, they are very hot.  Start with one chili -- not the whole can! Mix it into the sour cream then taste. Add more chilies one at a time, tasting after each addition, until you get the heat that is right for you.

Cilantro Slaw

Before discovering this recipe I would serve my tacos with separate offerings of cilantro and shredded cabbage. Now I toss the two together with a little lime, olive oil, salt and pepper. It is a great improvement that is also good on fish tacos.  You can use bagged, prepared shredded coleslaw mix or shred your own purple and green cabbage.

Don't forget the leftovers

Make enough for leftovers as all the ingredients for these tacos are every bit as good the next day.

Serve with:



Killer chicken tacos

A spicy rub made with smoked Spanish paprika is the key to these delicious and easy tacos. Wash them down with a jalapeño margarita!

  • Author: Something New For Dinner
  • Prep Time: 60 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x


  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 or more chipotle chilies (canned) to taste, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 T hot smoked Spanish paprika (Pimenton de la Vera picante) or a mixture of picante and dulce
  • 1 T kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 T chili powder
  • 1 T granulated garlic, or garlic powder
  • 1 T granulated onion, or onion powder
  • 4 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 bell pepper, seeded and cut into 3/4” strips
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 8 ounces shredded purple and green cabbage or prepackaged coleslaw mix
  • 3/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 T lime juice
  • 2 T olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 12 corn tortillas, warmed on stove top or grill
  • Lime wedges


  1. In a small bowl whisk together sour cream and chopped chipotle. Add one chili at a time and taste before adding another. Continue adding chilies until you like the heat level. Cover and refrigerate.
  2. Stir together brown sugar, smoked paprika, chili powder, salt, granulated garlic and granulated onion in a small bowl. Plan to use 2/3 of the rub on chicken and 1/3 on vegetables. Put a spoonful of the rub into a plastic bag, add a few pieces of chicken and shake, add more rub and chicken and shake again. Repeat until all the chicken is coated in the rub. Set aside or put in the fridge if you are preparing in advance. Chicken can marinate in rub for several hours.
  3. Heat the grill to medium high. Sprinkle the remaining rub over the vegetables just before you start grilling. Grill the chicken until it is cooked through. Grill the veggies until are tender and have grill marks.
  4. Slice the chicken diagonally into half inch strips and the veggies into 3/4″ pieces. Mound the chicken and veggies in a large serving platter.
  5. Put lime juice in a small bowl and whisk in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss with shredded cabbage and chopped cilantro.
  6. Set up your taco bar with platter of chicken and veggies, a bowl of chipotle cream, a bowl of cilantro coleslaw, lime wedges and warmed tortillas. Don’t forget the margarita!

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  1. Mikey says:

    Great, simple recipe! I am college student at UCSB and I made these tacos for sixteen of my friends and it was a huge hit! I managed to feed the whole group for about $60.

    I will be adding this to my list of regular meals! Thanks!

    1. Kim says:

      You are the bomb!

  2. lisa gorab says:

    these were so good and easy. a little different with the spice mix, coleslaw and chipotle cream. don’t leave anything out. will definitely make these again

    1. Kim says:

      So glad you liked the tacos Lisa. One trick I use to make this recipe fast and easy is I mix up a big batch of the rub so I always have it on hand. That way all you have to do is shake some of the rub on the chicken and veggies and grill them up.

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