The best Chicken Street Tacos with juicy chicken marinated in lime juice and spices. Served in toasted corn tortillas with cilantro, onion, and salsa.
Today we are recreating those delicious bites with these tasty Chicken Street Tacos.
The secret to a good street taco is actually its simplicity. Since these roadside taco stands churn out so many tacos, they keep things really simple. All you need is a tasty protein, diced onion, fresh cilantro, and salsa.
For these chicken street tacos, we use chicken thighs marinated in lime juice, orange juice, and spices. Then the chicken is grilled or cooked in a hot skillet. That’s it! Add your toppings and dinner is done.
Why We Love Street Tacos
There are so many things to love about these chicken street tacos including….
- Simple and delicious: Sometimes simple truly is best and with minimal ingredients, this recipe still delivers big flavor!
- Crowd Favorite: Taco night is always a hit! Let everyone build their own tacos or bowls for a family-friendly weeknight dinner.
- Make it yours: With this recipe, you are guaranteed flavor-packed, juicy chicken taco meat. From there you can you this recipe with different salsa, toppings, and side dishes. You can even change up how you serve it by making chicken taco bowls, burritos, salads, and more.
Ingredients and Easy Swaps
Here is everything you need to make these tasty chicken tacos.
- Chicken thighs: Typical street tacos are made with chicken thighs. This allows vendors to cook the meat in large quantities without worrying it will dry out. Chicken breast can be used if you prefer but it won’t be quite as flavorful or moist.
- Citrus juice: Much like traditional pollo asado, lime juice and orange juice are used to add flavor to the chicken and also keep it tender.
- Honey: Honey isn’t a traditional ingredient in street tacos but it helps the chicken to char on the grill. Feel free to leave it out.
- Taco seasoning: You may be surprised to learn that Mexican chicken street tacos usually are made without spices. The chicken is pretty plain and the salsa adds most of the flavor. However, I like to add some taco seasoning (homemade is best) to ensure the chicken is full of flavor.
- Corn tortillas: Almost anywhere you buy traditional street tacos, they are made on corn tortillas. Swap in any tortillas you like.
- Cilantro, onion, and lime: These are the classic toppings on a street taco. The onions are diced small, there’s lots of fresh cilantro, and there are always some limes.
- Salsa: Most chicken street tacos will come with spicy and smoky red salsa. Swap in pico de gallo, salsa verde, corn salsa, or mango salsa.
What is a street taco?
The term “street tacos” means a taco with meat, cilantro, onion, and salsa. These “tacos de la calle” are super simple for a reason. They are typically served from small stands on the street at a very fast pace.
There may be additional salsa or toppings available on the side or from the vendor, but if you don’t order anything specific, expect this simple and delicious combination of fresh cilantro, diced onions, salsa (usually red), and maybe lime.
Chicken Street Tacos Topping Ideas
These tacos are meant to be served simply with onion, fresh cilantro, and salsa BUT you may want to shake things up. Here are some favorite toppings.
- Avocado or guacamole
- Salsa verde
- Creamy chipotle sauce
- Shredded cheese, queso fresco, or queso cotija
- Jalapeno ranch
- Ranchero sauce
- Shredded lettuce or cabbage
- Diced tomatoes or pico de gallo
- Pickled red onions
What to Serve with Street Tacos
These tacos can easily be a meal on their own but we love adding some tasty side dishes.
- Rice and beans: Make some tasty Mexican cauliflower rice, refried beans, slow cooker frijoles charros, or cilantro lime quinoa to serve on the side.
- Chips and Salsa: Add something crispy with these baked tortilla chips and some homemade salsa.
- Corn: Make some Mexican Street Corn or Street Corn Salad.
- Salads: Add some veggies with this Mexican Chopped Salad, Creamy Mexican Coleslaw, or Black Bean Salad.
Recipe Tips to Make the Best Tacos
- Let the chicken char slightly: Traditional street tacos are made on a large flat top griddle and the best ones have some crispy edges.
- Grill the tortillas: If you can, warm the tortillas on the grill or on the flame on a gas stove-top. Again that little bit of char adds so much flavor.
- Too many toppings: While normally I advocate for all the taco toppings, street tacos are meant to be minimal. Choose a few really tasty additions but don’t add so many toppings you can’t taste the chicken.
Storage and Leftovers
These tacos and the chicken taco meat keep well in the fridge for 4-5 days. Store the cilantro, onion, salsa, and tortillas separately.
Reheat the chicken in a hot skillet for a few minutes for the best results.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most common questions about making street tacos.
When you buy a taco on the street in Mexico, it normally comes with two corn tortillas. This is generally done with moist fillings to make sure the tortilla doesn't crumble or break.
If you are serving the tacos right away, you only need one tortilla for these chicken tacos.
When you but street tacos, the corn tortillas are normally heated up right on the flattop griddle with the meat. This heats them through and adds some flavor since the tortillas soak up some of the oils and seasoning on the grill.
Since most people don't have flat-top griddles at home, you can heat the tortillas on the grill, over an open flame on a gas range, in a comal, or in a hot skillet. If you want to add some flavor, heat the tortillas in the same pan you used to cook the chicken.
These street tacos come out great with chicken breast as well. Just make sure to watch the chicken closely so it doesn't overcook.
Chicken Street Tacos
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- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs (or breast)
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tbsp orange juice (or more lime juice)
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 8 corn tortillas
- 1/4 cup cilantro
- 2 tbsp onions, diced
- 1/2 cup salsa
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Heat a grill over medium-high heat. Grill the chicken thighs for 4-5 minutes per side or until cooked through. Let rest for 5 minutes. You can also cook this in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil. Add the chicken in a single layer and let it sear and brown for 4-5 minutes on each side.
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
Homemade spice mix: 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp chili powder, ½ tsp cumin,½ tsp kosher salt, ½ tsp oregano, ¼ tsp black pepper
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