We spend a lot of time in Mexico and this recipe for Chicken Street Tacos is my fav thing I brought back. The spicy, citrusy chicken asada marinade is just killer. I grill the chicken and drizzle the finished tacos with Cilantro Lime Crema. Every bite is dripping with juicy flavor. I’ll be making these on repeat until our next trip.
This version uses boneless chicken thighs marinated in chicken taco seasoning and lime juice and grilled to perfection. You NEED to learn how to make them with this easy chicken taco recipe!
What ARE Authentic Mexican Street Tacos?
Street tacos, as the name suggests, originate from the street food culture in Mexico. They are typically smaller, simpler, and more straightforward than what you might find in a sit-down restaurant, but they are also packed with authentic flavors. The main components of a street taco are:
- Tortillas: Small, soft corn tortillas are typically used, and often you’ll find them double-stacked to provide extra strength to hold the filling. Flour tortillas are more common in Northern Mexico and the United States but are less commonly used in street tacos.
- Protein: A wide variety of proteins can be used in street tacos, including carne asada (grilled beef), al pastor (marinated pork), carnitas (braised or roasted pork), barbacoa (slow-cooked meats), lengua (beef tongue), or even grilled fish or shrimp for seafood tacos. This recipe uses grilled chicken, known as “pollo asado” in Spanish.
- Toppings: Unlike American-style tacos, street tacos are usually topped with minimal, fresh ingredients. Common toppings include chopped onions, queso fresco, cotija cheese, cilantro leaves, a squeeze of lime, and perhaps some salsa or hot sauce.
- Sauce: A variety of salsas can be served with street tacos, ranging from mild to extremely spicy. The most common ones include salsa verde (green sauce), salsa roja (red sauce), or pico de gallo (a fresh salsa made from tomato, onion, cilantro, jalapenos, and lime). I love topping them with this delicious Cilantro Lime Crema or Avocado Crema.
Street tacos are traditionally enjoyed as a quick, delicious meal, and in their home country, they’re often served from roadside stands or food trucks, typically accompanied by a selection of those salsas, radish slices, and pickled carrots or jalapenos. As street food, they are designed to be hand-held and easy to eat on the go.
Why You’re Going to Love This Chicken Street Tacos Recipe
Here’s why these grilled chicken tacos should be your next culinary venture:
- Flavor Fiesta: With marinated grilled chicken and zesty Cilantro Lime Crema, every bite is dripping with flavor.
- Weeknight-Friendly: It’s easy to prep, grill, and assemble—perfect for any day of the week.
- Customizable: Vary your toppings as you wish, making them as simple or elaborate as you like.
- Delicious Leftovers: If you happen to have any leftovers, rejoice! These tacos taste just as incredible the next day. Simply reheat and savor the flavors all over again.
Gather Your Ingredients for This Delicious Chicken Street Taco Recipe
Before you get started, here’s a rundown of the role each ingredient plays in these Chicken Asada Tacos:
- Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs: This is the star of the show. It’s tender, juicy, and carries the flavor of the marinade well.
- Olive Oil: Used in the marinade to help the seasoning adhere to the chicken, and it also promotes caramelization on the grill.
- Lime Juice: Adds acidity to the marinade which helps to tenderize the chicken and bring out its flavor.
- Chicken Taco Seasoning: This blend of spices gives the chicken street taco marinade its main flavor profile. Don’t be put off by the recipe within a recipe – it’s a super simple blend of basic spices and you can make a small batch that’s just enough for this recipe. You can alternatively use homemade or store-bought taco seasoning (it doesn’t have to be specifically for chicken).
- Romaine Lettuce: Adds a nice crunch and freshness to the tacos.
- Red Onion: Provides a sharp, bright flavor that complements the seasoned chicken.
- Jalapeño: Adds a bit of heat to the tacos.
- Cilantro: Gives a burst of freshness and herbaceous flavor.
- Cilantro Lime Crema: Drizzled on top for a tangy, creamy finish.
- Flour or Corn Tortillas: Holds everything together. I personally prefer the soft, pliable texture of flour tortillas, but for an authentic street taco corn tortillas are what you should reach for.
- Lime Wedges: Used for serving and provides a final burst of tangy freshness when squeezed over the assembled taco.
Grab these Tools
You won’t need much to get started—just some kitchen basics:
How to Make Authentic Mexican Street Tacos with Chicken: Easy Step-by-Step Directions
Ready to put it all together? Here are the steps you’ll take:
- Whisk Together the Chicken Asada Marinade: Combine the olive oil, lime juice, and taco seasoning. This will coat and flavor your chicken.
- Marinate the Chicken: Soak the chicken in the marinade to let the flavors penetrate deeply.
- Preheat the Grill: This ensures a nice, seared exterior on the chicken.
- Grill the Chicken: Cook the marinated chicken on the grill. This step imparts a smoky flavor to the chicken.
- Rest and Slice the Chicken: Allowing the chicken to rest keeps it juicy. Slicing it into strips makes it easier to eat in the taco.
- Warm the Tortillas: This makes them more pliable and enhances their flavor.
- Assemble the Tacos: Layer the ingredients on the tortilla. Each component contributes to a balanced mix of flavors and textures.
- Serve with Lime: The fresh lime squeezed on top brightens up the flavors of the whole taco.
Bringing the Fiesta to Your Table: How to Serve Your Grilled Chicken Street Tacos
- Fresh Lime: Give your guests fresh lime wedges to squeeze over their tacos – an added tanginess to ignite the taste buds!
- Drink Pairings: Complement your dish with traditional Mexican beverages, like a chilled margarita or a refreshing watermelon water (agua fresca).
- Toppings: Set out a variety of salsas, hot sauces, and a bowl of avocado crema or Easy Authentic Guacamole. Fresh toppings like cilantro, jalapeno, and raw onion are authentic street taco options. I used shredded lettuce and a tasty Cilantro Lime Crema made with sour cream. Everyone can customize their taco to their liking!
Make Ahead and Storage Tips
- Marinate Ahead: Marinate the chicken up to 24 hours before cooking for maximum flavor and convenience.
- Refrigerator Storage: Store any leftover grilled chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
- Separate Components: Keep the players in the street taco recipe away from each other. Put the chicken, tortillas, and toppings in separate containers to prevent sogginess and maintain freshness.
- Reheating Made Easy: Warm the chicken on the stovetop or in the microwave, and give the tortillas a quick heat on a dry skillet for optimal texture.
- Assemble Before Serving: Build your tacos just before you’re ready to eat to maintain the best texture and taste. Enjoy!
Variations and Substitutions
Sure, you can make authentic chicken tacos but flexibility is delicious and fun:
- Different Proteins: Swap chicken for beef, pork, or even a plant-based protein. You can use boneless skinless chicken breasts in place of the thighs but they won’t be as juicy.
- Different Citrus: In an asada marinade, some kind of citrus is key. I love the bright bite of lime juice, but a chicken taco marinade with orange juice instead would also be delicious.
- Tortilla Options: Use corn tortillas for a gluten-free option.
- Veggie Variations: Mix up your toppings with different veggies or salsas.
Expert Tips and Tricks
Here’s how to get the best out of your street taco experience:
- Marinating Time: Longer marinating means more flavor—try for 24 hours.
- Rest Your Chicken: Let your cooked chicken rest for juicier slices.
- Tortilla Warming: Warm your tortillas for better flexibility and flavor.
- Garnish Galore: Garnishes are your friend! Cilantro, lime, jalapenos—the more, the merrier.
Now, let’s taco ’bout how to make these grilled wonders! Enjoy the process, and most importantly, enjoy your Chicken Street Tacos!
The main difference between a taco and a street taco lies in their size, preparation, and traditional toppings. A taco is a broad term that refers to a variety of Mexican dishes consisting of a tortilla filled with various ingredients such as meat, vegetables, salsa, and cheese. It can come in different sizes and can be made with different types of tortillas.
On the other hand, a street taco specifically refers to a smaller-sized taco that is commonly sold by street vendors in Mexico. Street tacos are typically served on small, soft corn tortillas and are filled with simple yet flavorful ingredients such as grilled meat, onions, cilantro, and salsa. They are known for their simplicity and bold flavors, allowing the natural taste of the ingredients to shine through. Street tacos are often enjoyed as a quick and satisfying snack or meal on the go.
In Mexico, the term “street tacos” is not commonly used. Tacos sold by street vendors are simply referred to as “tacos” since they are the most common and traditional form of tacos found in street food stalls and markets. The distinction between street tacos and other types of tacos may be more commonly made outside of Mexico, particularly in regions where different styles of tacos are available. However, in Mexico, the focus is on the diverse range of tacos and the various fillings and flavors they offer without necessarily categorizing them specifically as “street tacos.”
Other Delicious Tacos Recipes You’ll Love
- Crispy Baked Chicken Tacos: A crunchy twist on traditional tacos, these are great for a quick dinner or casual get-together with friends!
- Spicy Fish Tacos: Crispy fish with a kick, topped with crunchy cabbage slaw and tangy lime crema. Perfect choice for your taco night.
- Authentic Beef Tacos From Scratch: Flavor-packed ground beef tacos with a blend of spices for an authentic taste.
- Crockpot Chicken Tacos: Easy and flavorful slow cooker chicken tacos. It’s a lazy cook’s dream and the perfect excuse to enjoy a stress-free weeknight meal.
The Best Chicken Street Tacos
- Grill or Grill Pan Or Cast Iron Skillet to cook the marinated chicken to perfection
- Large Bowl for mixing the marinade and tossing the chicken
- Sharp knife for slicing your rested, cooked chicken
- Instant read thermometer to nail the perfect doneness (optional)
- In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice and taco seasoning.
- Add the chicken thighs to the bowl and toss to coat in the marinade. Cover and marinate for 30 minutes, at room temperature or up to 24 hours in the fridge.
- Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the excess marinade.
- Grill the chicken for 4-6 minutes per side, or until cooked through with an internal temperature of 165°F.
- Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before slicing into strips.
- Warm the tortillas on the grill or in the microwave.
- To assemble the tacos, place some chicken strips on each tortilla, then top with lettuce, sliced red onion, jalapeño, cilantro, and crema. Serve with lime wedges on the side.
Last Updated on September 15, 2023 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD