Chicken Tinga

Chicken Tinga

Inspired by Lolo in SF and Pinch of Yum's Best Chicken Tinga Tacos

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Chicken Tinga Bowl with Yogurt, Cojito, and Chips. This flavor-packed chicken dish makes a satisfying meal that tastes like it takes much more time to make than it does.

One of the last dates I had out at a restaurant with my sister was to Loló  in San Francisco. We always get as many small plates as possible when we eat out so you get to try as many things as possible.

This night she ordered chicken tinga.

I had never had, nay, never even heard of chicken tinga. Saying that out loud seems ridiculous because now that I've devoured a dish of it, I see it everywhere. (Lesson: be adventurous! Ask people their favorite dishes and try them!)

Tinga is a Mexican dish made of shredded chicken, roasted tomatoes, onions, and peppers in adobo sauce. While I don't know much about the origins of the dish, I highly recommend you meet it one day soon. In your kitchen and then seek it out from an authentic Mexican restaurant.

After having it at Loló I wanted to share this new-to-me dish with Mark and I found Pinch of Yum's recipe. We followed her recipe to the T the first time and have played with it ever since.

This version adds a step (start by cooking the chicken so the rest of the ingredients get cooked in the flavored pan) and removes a step (no need to blend at the end). And instead of serving as tacos with avocado we did this as a big dish with spoons and chips.

Here's what you need to know about this dish:

  • A good deal of the flavor comes from the peppers in adobo sauce... which is smoky and spicy. You can throttle the heat by adding more or less peppers. We found two peppers were perfect and then spooned in a little more of the adobo sauce. But I'm a heat wimp. You might go for more.
  • You can use rotisserie chicken if you don't have the time to cook the thighs as the recipe calls for, but the sauce really benefited from being cooked in the same pan that the chicken was.
  • You can make this vegetarian. We have done this with freshly shucked black eyed peas. It was insane. They offered this fresh creaminess and complimented the smoky sauce. I imagine you can add in many things that play nicely with sauce like chickpeas, tofu, cannellini beans...


  • olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • 1 lb bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 1 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1–2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3⁄4 cup canned crushed or diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1⁄2 cup chicken stock

To serve:

  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1 lime, zest and juice (more to taste)
  • handful cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup or so cojita, crumbled

Salt the chicken thighs and heat a slick of oil over medium heat in a large pan. When hot, add the chicken, skin-side down. Cook until the skin is crisp then flip and cook until the chicken is just cooked. Remove from pan and rest on a plate that can collect any juices.

Pour the stock into the pan and scrape up any brown bits. Let the stock reduce a bit as you scrape and stir.

Add in the onions and cook until translucent.

Stir in the 1/2 teaspoon of cumin and garlic.

When the garlic is heading towards soft, add in the peppers with some of their sauce (to taste, you can always add more heat later) and tomatoes. Simmer to reduce by half.

Meanwhile, pull the chicken off the bone and tear it or roughly chop it. (The crispy chicken skin is a chef's treat. You're welcome.)

Add the chicken and any collected juices to the pan, lower the heat, stir, and cook just to reheat the chicken. Taste and adjust with salt, peppers, and/or adobo sauce.

Prep the dish: On a large plate, spoon the yogurt around the bottom, using the back of the spoon to spread it. Sprinkle with a little salt. Zest the lime all over the dish.

Spoon the chicken (and every last drop of sauce from the pan) on top of the yogurt. Over the top add the crumbled cojita, juice from half lime, and the chopped cilantro. Serve with chips or tortillas and a spoon and some extra lime on the side.

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