This Baked Chicken Tacos recipe is a crunchy, delicious twist on traditional tacos. Stuffed with seasoned ground chicken and melty cheese tucked into crispy taco shells, they’re easy, delicious, and perfect for a quick weeknight dinner or a casual get-together with friends.
What ARE Baked Chicken Tacos? Maybe the BEST Tacos Ever!
Buckle up, taco enthusiasts! We’re giving the classic taco a crispy twist with a mouthwatering filling of seasoned ground chicken, all enveloped in a crisp oven-baked shell.
Baked chicken tacos are a deliciously crispy variation of traditional tacos. Instead of being pan-fried or served soft as many traditional tacos are, baked chicken tacos are assembled on a baking sheet and then baked in the oven. This process allows the shell to become crisp, while the cheese inside the taco melts perfectly.
The filling consists of ground chicken seasoned with Chicken Taco Seasoning. After the filling is added, cheese is sprinkled on top and the taco is folded over, creating a half-moon shape. These are then baked until the tortilla shells are crispy and the cheese inside is melted and gooey. Serve with plenty of Cilantro Lime Crema for dunking and a side of Instant Pot Mexican Rice.
Why You’re Going to Love This Baked Chicken Taco Recipe
Say goodbye to boring dinners and hello to a family favorite!
- Quick and Easy: No complex culinary skills are needed here! These tacos are ready in a snap.
- Customizable: Make your tacos your way! Add in your favorite extras like jalapenos for some heat or different cheese (like a shredded Mexican cheese blend) for a twist. Instead of using ground chicken, make shredded chicken tacos using the meat from my fav Crockpot Chicken Taco recipe.
- Batch-able: This cooking method is particularly useful when you want to make a large batch of tacos at once, like for meal prep, a party or family gathering. They are also commonly enjoyed for a fun and easy weeknight meal.
Gather Your Ingredients
You’re about to enter the fun world of crispy baked chicken tacos. Here are your key players:
- Ground Chicken: The hero of our dish, seasoned to perfection and cooked to create a filling that’s rich in protein and flavor. It’s lean and absorbs the flavors of the Mexican spice blend well.
- Oil: Olive oil helps to cook the chicken evenly and keeps it juicy.
- Homemade Chicken Taco Seasoning: This blend of spices with onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, cumin and chili powder will give your chicken that perfect taco flavor we all know and love. (But if you prefer to skip the homemade taco seasoning, feel free to swap in a packet of store-bought taco seasoning).
- Cheddar Cheese: Shredded cheese melts beautifully to create a gooey, cheesy filling. Swap in a grated Mexican cheese blend if you like.
- Flour or Corn Tortillas: The vehicle for your taco filling. They crisp up perfectly in the oven for a satisfying crunch.
- Cooking Spray: Helps your tortillas achieve that perfect golden-brown finish.
- Cilantro Lime Crema: This delicious Mexican crema with sour cream and lime juice a cool, tangy contrast to the spicy chicken.
- Minced Cilantro and Sliced Jalapeno: Optional toppings for those who like a little extra kick and freshness.
How to Make Baked Chicken Tacos: Easy Step-by-Step Instructions
Ready to create some crispy magic? Let’s get cracking.
- Preheat Oven and Prep Pan: This helps ensure that your tacos will cook evenly and have that perfect crispness.
- Cook the Chicken: Cook your chicken with the taco seasoning. This step infuses your main protein with flavor.
- Assemble Tacos: This is where the fun happens. Layer your chicken mixture and cheese onto your tortillas before they head into the oven.
- Bake the Tacos: Baking the tacos makes the tortillas crispy and melts the cheese to perfection.
- Add Toppings and Serve: A final flourish of cilantro lime crema, cilantro, and jalapeno (if you wish) adds an extra layer of flavor and texture to your masterpiece. Enjoy!
Grab these Tools
Equip your kitchen with these essentials for a smooth taco-making experience.
- Large skillet: For perfectly cooking your ground chicken.
- Baking sheets: Two are needed to achieve that delicious, crisp taco shell.
- Spatula or wooden spoon: For breaking up the ground chicken into crumbles.
How to Serve Baked Chicken Tacos
Serve these crunchy parcels of joy in style.
- Presentation: Line your crispy tacos on a colorful platter.
- Sides: Accompany with lime wedges and a bowl of guacamole or salsa for added flavor.
- Toppings: Don’t forget the extras! Sliced jalapenos, avocado, pickled green chiles, pico de gallo, guac, minced cilantro or even some chopped onions for a flavorful punch.
Choose the Perfect Side Dishes
Balance your meal with these delicious pairings.
- Rice: Cilantro lime rice would complement your tacos beautifully.
- Salad: A simple green salad or Mexican corn salad would make for a refreshing side.
- Beans: A bowl of refried beans or black beans for added protein and a comforting touch.
Make Ahead and Storage Tips
Want to plan ahead or save some for later? Here are some tips.
- Make Ahead: You can cook your ground chicken taco meat and store it in the refrigerator a day ahead. When you’re ready to eat, assemble your tacos and bake.
- Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. Crisp them up in the oven before serving again.
Variations and Substitutions
Shake things up with these alternatives!
- Protein Swap: Substitute ground chicken with ground turkey, whole chicken breasts, or ground beef if you like. You can make an even quicker version by swapping in rotisserie chicken for a shredded chicken version. Whichever you choose, keep quantities the same and season it the same way.
- Veggie Version: Substitute ground chicken with a meatless alternative or cooked, mashed beans for a vegetarian twist.
- Cheese Varieties: Try using Monterey Jack or pepper jack cheese for a change.
- Spice Blend: Experiment with different spice blends like fajita seasoning for a different flavor profile.
- Air Fryer Chicken Tacos: if you love air fryer recipes as much as I do, these can alternatively be made in your air fryer instead of in the oven. Air fry 2-3 tacos at a time (to keep them in a single layer for crispy taco shells) and air fry for about 3 minutes on each side.
Now you’re all set to whip up these crunchy chicken tacos. Enjoy the process, and most importantly, enjoy your meal!
Expert Tips and Tricks for the BEST Baked Chicken Tacos
These little pointers will help elevate your taco game to the next level:
- Choose the Right Tortilla: If you want to go for ease, I prefer a soft, pliable flour tortilla. If you prefer to use corn tortillas, it’s best to wrap them in damp paper towel and microwave for a few seconds before assembling the tacos (because they’re more delicate, they sometimes break).
- Drain Your Meat: If your ground chicken releases a lot of liquid while cooking, be sure to drain it off before assembling so the tacos crisp up properly.
- Double the baking sheet: If your tacos won’t stay folded shut, place another baking sheet on top until the cheese melts and the shape sets in the oven.
- Keep ’em Warm: If you’re serving these at a gathering, keep them warm in a low oven until ready to serve. They’re best enjoyed hot!
- Play with Toppings: Don’t be afraid to get creative with your toppings. From avocado slices to fresh pico de gallo, the possibilities are endless!
Chicken tacos pair well with a variety of side dishes, depending on your preferences. Here are some popular options:
Mexican Rice: A classic side dish that complements the flavors of the tacos well.
Refried Beans: These add a creamy texture that pairs nicely with the crispiness of the tacos.
Guacamole or Avocado Slices: The creamy, rich flavor of avocado is always a great match with the spices in chicken tacos.
Pico de Gallo or Salsa: Fresh tomato salsa adds a refreshing contrast to the seasoned chicken.
Corn Salad: A sweet corn salad can be a nice balance to the spicy chicken.
Grilled Vegetables: For a healthier option, try some grilled peppers, onions, and zucchini.
Chips and Salsa or Queso Dip: A casual and tasty option perfect for a snack or appetizer.
Coleslaw: A tangy and crunchy coleslaw can offer a nice contrast in texture and flavor.
Black Bean Salad: Another healthy and delicious side that goes well with the flavors of tacos.
Remember, the best sides are the ones you enjoy the most, so feel free to get creative!
Absolutely, you can use taco seasoning on chicken instead of beef. In fact, it’s a great way to bring a flavorful twist to your chicken dishes. The blend of spices like cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and others found in taco seasoning complement chicken just as well as they do beef. Whether you’re making chicken tacos, grilled chicken, or a chicken casserole, taco seasoning can give your dish that delicious, spicy kick you’re looking for.
Other Flavorful Taco Recipes You’ll Love
Never run out of delicious options to satisfy your taco cravings with these recipes:
- Spicy Fish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw + Lime Crema – A fiery twist on classic fish tacos, it really is a flavor explosion.
- Crockpot Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos – Flavorful, effortless, and irresistible.
- Ground Beef Tacos – Simple, satisfying, and always a crowd-pleaser!
- Kimchi Breakfast Tacos – A flavorful morning kick.
Crispy Baked Chicken Tacos
- 1 lb ground chicken
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp chicken taco seasoning or a packet of storebought taco seasoning
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 10 -12 small flour or corn tortillas see notes
- Cooking spray or more olive oil
- Cilantro Lime Crema for serving (optional)
- Minced cilantro and sliced jalapeno to serve (optional)
- Preheat Oven and Prep Pan: Preheat your oven to 425°F . Arrange your tortillas in a single layer on a large baking sheet and lightly spray both sides with cooking spray.
- Cook the Chicken: In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the ground chicken with the taco seasoning until it's no longer pink, breaking it up into small crumbles with a spoon as it cooks.
- Assemble Tacos: Arrange tortillas a few at a time on a baking sheet. Spray with cooking spray on both sides (or use a brush to lightly brush with more oil). Spoon the cooked, seasoned ground chicken onto each tortilla. Top with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese.
- Fold the Tacos: Fold the tacos over. If they are popping back open, place a second baking sheet on top of the folded tacos to keep them shut.
- Bake the tacos: Bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes, then remove the top baking sheet (if using) and flip the tacos over. Continue baking until the tortillas are crispy and the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 5 more minutes.
- Add Your Favorite Taco Toppings and Serve: Serve with lime crema, minced cilantro and thin slices of jalapeno, if desired.
Last Updated on November 3, 2023 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD