These delicious grilled chicken tacos are the perfect quick and easy summer dinner! They’re packed with freshness, citrus, and just the slightest kick of heat– not to mention a bit of smoke flavor from the grill. And truth be told– I don’t even know if you can consider this a recipe! It’s so simple and I’m taking a few shortcuts to make it even easier!
Frequently Asked Questions
How do i know when the chicken is fully cooked?
The chicken is fully cooked when it’s internal temperature reaches 165F. The meat should be white and opaque and any juices should run clear– not pink!
Can i make this recipe without chicken?
Sure! This recipe is delicious with beef, pork, shrimp, fish– even portobello mushrooms!
Can i make this recipe wihout a grill?
Of course! Roast the chicken in the oven at 425F. There’s no need to flip the chicken if you’re cooking it in the oven but keep in mind it will take a little longer to cook than the traditional grill method.
Let’s Talk Ingredients
For the Chicken
Chicken: I like using chicken leg quarters because they’re cheap and have tons of flavor! Chicken breasts, thighs, or tenders would work as well.
Lime: Lime is crucial because it provides an acid to help tenderize the chicken and a bit of freshness to help brighten the dish overall.
Olive Oil: The oil helps create a paste to coat the chicken– it also causes the grill to flare ensuring a crisp, charred chicken skin.
Taco Seasoning: Using a taco seasoning gives that traditional taco flavor that we all know and love!
Chipotle-Lime Seasoning: I use a mix of Taco Seasoning and Chipotle-Lime Seasoning to add extra spice and citrus– it really makes the chicken perfect for summer!
Flour Tortillas: I love the street taco sized tortillas because they’re small and fun to eat! Feel free to substitute another size– or even corn tortillas or lettuce leaves.
Cotija: I always have Cotija around on taco nights because I use it when making Elote (aka: street corn) so I use this in my tacos. You can always substitute queso fresco, cheddar, or monetary jack.
Sour Cream: I love sour cream because it adds a nice creaminess and cools down the heat of the hot sauce. If you don’t want to use sour cream, you can substitute Mexican Creama or Cultured Cream– or leave it off entirely.
Avocado: I love the creaminess avocado adds– but guacamole works if that’s what you have on hand.
Hot Sauce: My favorite hot sauce for tacos is Cholula– with Tabasco being a close second. Of course red pepper flakes are always a great substitution as well.
Something Green: I always add something green to my tacos because I like the freshness! Unfortunately I’m one of those people who can’t stand cilantro so I opt for parsley!
Do you have other favorite garnishes? Let me know in the comments!
How to Make Grilled Chicken Tacos
Step one: Marinate the chicken
This step can take as long as you want it to– as little as five minutes to as much as four hours. I usually try to marinate the chicken at least one hour.
Step two: Grill the chicken
When I cook chicken, I always use a meat thermometer– and I recommend that you do as well. Overcooked chicken is tough and dry and undercooked chicken is… a health risk. So, grill the chicken over medium-high heat until the internal temperature reaches 165F. For boneless chicken breasts, this usually takes around 10 minutes. For bone-in chicken thighs it’s usually around 20 minutes. For chicken leg quarters (pictured above) it’s closer to 25 minutes. When chicken is fully cooked, the meat will be opaque and white and any juices will run clear (no pink!).
Step three: Assemble
Once the chicken is grilled, shred it into bite sized pieces and serve with your favorite garnishes. I like to serve grilled chicken tacos on “street taco” sized flour tortilla shells. They’re the perfect size to fit into my taco holders– but you do you! My favorite garnishes are cotija cheese, avocado, sour cream, hot sauce, a squeeze of fresh lime, and some kind of green (lettuce, micro greens, parsley, etc.).
What to Serve with Tacos
I typically serve my tacos with a side of Elote but I substitute sour cream for mayonnaise (check out a basic Elote recipe from Delish here)! I also love having queso around when I’m eating tacos! One of my favorite recipes from Savory Simple can be found here. And of course, a margarita never made anything worse! My favorite recipe from Gimme Some Oven can be found here.
Grilled Chicken Tacos
For the Chicken
- 1 Chicken Leg Quarter (or substitute 2 breasts or thighs)
- 1/2 lime, juiced (about 1 tsp)
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp prepared taco seasoning* (or homemade, if that's your thing)
- 1 tsp Chipolte Lime seasoning* (or sub another tsp of taco seasoning)
For Garnish (all optional)
- 6 street taco sized flour tortillas
- 1 lime (cut into wedges)
- cotija cheese
- avocado slices
- hot sauce
- sour cream
- parsley or cilantro
Marinate the Chicken
- Combine all of the ingredients (except the chicken) in a small bowl to create a paste. Rub the paste over both sides of the chicken. Place it in an airtight container in the frige to marinate– as little as five minutes to as long as four hours.
Grill the Chicken
- Preheat your grill to 500°F.
- Grill the chicken over medium high heat, flipping it ever 3-4 minutes to ensure it cooks evenly all around. Be careful– the oil in the marinate may cause the flames to flare up. Use long tongs to move the chicken! (Note: the oil will also cause the skin on the outside of the chicken to char. It will become blackened and may look burnt– don't worry. It's supposed to!)
- Approximate Cook Times: Bonless Chicken Breasts (10 minutes), Bone-In Chicken Thighs (20 minutes), Bone-In Chicken Leg Quarters (25 minutes.
- Optional: Grill tortillas over medium-high heat for 15 seconds per side. A warm grilled tortilla will make your taocs extra delicous!
- Shred the chicken using two forks (be careful, it will be hot)! Serve with your favorite garnishes.