It’s been a little bit since we’ve written a love letter to tacos, though they are truly always on our minds. We really will take them in almost any variation but when they’re coming at us in warm, lightly pan-fried yellow corn tortillas bursting with a tender chicken and pinto bean red chile saucy sensation, piles of a quick creamy corn salsa…ish (can we call it salsa when mayo is involved? probably not), and tangy-crisp homemade pickled red onions rounding it out?
Well my oh my, there’s a new crush in town.
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SOS-Level, Made Fancy
There are so many delicious flavors going on with these chicken tacos, but the real highlight is that you don’t have to do very much work to accomplish any of them. The taco filling especially is so easy and pretty darn quick because all you’re doing is cooking up some chicken thighs, tossing in a can of pinto beans, and then opening up a packet of Frontera red chile enchilada sauce (total fave and namesake!) and letting that do all the work.
Boom. Bam. Lightly spiced, smoky, tomatoey, saucy goodness ready to stuff your tortillas so full they spill over onto your hands.
Then you get to just kind of fancify things. You’ll mix up a little corn situation with some major elote vibes that is also so easy but will be VERY DIFFICULT to hold off on eating until taco assembly. Just a taste to adjust the lime juice? Okay. Twenty more bites and oops it’s gone? It happens. Luckily, it’s easy to remake.
You’re going to make some quick pickled red onions because really you’re just throwing some things in a jar, giving it a shake, and then, look at you, all set with the most delicious little taco topper ever! Next thing you know, you have one gem of a taco happening.
How To Make These Red Chile Chicken Tacos
Again, pretty quick and easy, which is how we like it. Let’s get each of the elements together.
- The pickled onions: Let’s pickle, bb! Jam your red onion slices into a jar and add your vinegar, water, salt, and sugar. Shake, fridge, donezo.
- The saucy filling: Cook up the chicken thighs in a skillet until cooked through. Then, shred/cut it up and add that packet of red chile enchilada sauce and pinto beans. Simmer, thicken, donezo.
- The creamy corn: Mix all the delicious bits together in a small bowl. Taste, adjust, donezo.
- The perfect taco: We like to lightly pan fry the tortillas for added deliciousness and have your chopped fresh cilantro at the ready. Stuff, top, donezo!
That’s it! See?! Now you’re in taco business, which is the best business there is.
What Makes These SO GOOD
The red chile chicken side of this taco business is particularly successful. It’s just all so good. Smoky, creamy, fresh, briney-bitey-crunch. What an absolute dream.
You could probably play around with the filling a little since that enchilada sauce is bringing all the major flavors, but we love the juiciness of chicken thighs and the creaminess of pinto beans. But play around if something suits you better. Flour tortillas work too, of course, but we love the added flavor of the corn ones to complement the smokiness of the filling and the richness of the topping.
That creamy corn topping is such a treat since you’re getting the fresh sweet crunch texture of like a roasted corn salsa but with your cheese/sour cream-type dairy needs all mixed in. And you just can’t go wrong with pickled red onions. Ever. Truly a taco’s best friend.
And the general ease of it all carries this one all the way to the top of our Weeknight Yums list. Checking every ding dang box.
We just kinda want to eat them all the time, you know? Taco Tuesday rolls into Taco Wednesday and also Taco Thursday and whoooops, how did we get to Taco Friday, well here we are at the weekend, so let’s just keep on going.
Red Chile Chicken Tacos: Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! See slow cooker and Instant Pot instructions below in the recipe notes.
Chicken breasts will work, but if you can find them, chicken thighs really are perfect here for the tenderness.
Love that idea! Yes, you can make these veg-friendly by omitting the chicken and added an extra can of pinto beans as needed.
These Red Chile Chicken Tacos are always on our minds! Lightly pan-fried corn tortillas stuffed with tender chicken and a pinto bean red chile saucy filling, piles of creamy corn salsa, and tangy homemade pickled red onions. YUM!
Red Chile Chicken Tacos
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
- olive oil, salt, and pepper
- 8 oz. of red chile enchilada sauce (I like the Frontera brand pouches)
- one 14–ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/4 cup mayo
- 2 tablespoons cream cheese
- 2 cups frozen or fresh sweet corn
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- lime juice to taste
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- corn tortillas (I like to quickly pan-fry mine in a shallow skillet of hot oil to make them extra soft)
- For the pickled onions: Transfer red onion slices to a jar. Add red wine vinegar and water. Add your salt and sugar. Shake a few times and set in the fridge while you make everything else.
- For the chicken: Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil. Add the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Sauté for 7-10 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from the heat and shred or cut into smaller pieces. Add chicken pieces back to the pan with the sauce and the beans. Simmer gently until sauce has thickened and it looks ready to be taco filling.
- For the corn: Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Taste and adjust.
- For the tacos: Fill tortillas with the chicken mixture. Top with the creamy corn and pickled red onions. Finish with cilantro. Mwah.
Instant Pot Instructions: Add the chicken thighs, salt, pepper, and enchilada sauce directly to the Instant Pot. Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes. Release the pressure, shred the chicken directly in the pot, and stir in the canned pinto beans. Prepare the other pickled onions and creamy corn according to recipe instructions.
Slow Cooker Instructions: Add the chicken thighs, salt, pepper, and enchilada sauce directly to the slow cooker. Cook on high for 2-3 hours or cook on low for 4-5 hours. Shred the chicken directly in the slow cooker and stir in the canned pinto beans and cook until warmed through. Prepare the pickled onions and creamy corn according to recipe instructions.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Category: Tacos
- Method: Saute
- Cuisine: Mexican-Inspired
Keywords: chicken tacos, red chile chicken tacos, red chile recipe
More Incredible Taco Recipes
- Caramelized Pork Tacos with Pineapple Salsa (topped with sriracha mayo, obvi!)
- Best Easy Fish Tacos (easy to make and packed with flavor)
- Instant Pot Hawaiian Chicken Tacos with Jalapeño Ranch Slaw (these tacos are out of this WORLD)