Easy Instant Pot Chicken Tinga (Whole30, Keto and Paleo)Jump to Recipe
Every once in a while, there’s a runaway recipe hit in my cooking classes. This Instant Pot Chicken Tinga was the star of the show recently. Full of flavor from dried chipotle chilies, it’s clean and healthy and Whole30 (if you don’t stuff it in a tortilla).
What is Tinga Anyway?
Chicken tinga (tinga de pollo in Spanish) is a Mexican dish made with shredded chicken in a sauce of tomatoes, chipotle chilies and onions. It can be used on tostadas, in soft tacos, in taco bowls with Mexican rice or cauliflower rice or in roasted poblano peppers or half an avocado. It’s also delicious in a taco salad drizzled with buttermilk jalapeño ranch or super simple salad dressing if you want to keep things Whole30.
What Are Dried Chipotle Chilies?
Chipotle chilies are just smoked jalapeños. You can buy them canned in adobo sauce or dried. Usually I find the dried variety in the produce department or spice aisle. In Texas, I’ve bought the dried chilies at farmer’s markets, Whole Foods and Central Market. You can also buy them online. I prefer the dried chilies because they are just one ingredient without added sodium and adobo ingredients. But if you can’t find a bag of the dried chilies, substitute the same amount of chipotle chiles from a can and the outcome will be just as delicious! Just be sure to check ingredients if you’re doing a round of Whole30 and make sure everything is compliant.
Why the Instant Pot?
You can definitely cook this in the oven in a covered Dutch oven or heavy Le Creuset or Staub braiser, it’s just so fast and easy to make this in an Instant Pot. If you cook it on the stove top, simmer the chicken in the ingredients for about 25 minutes, then remove the chicken and shred it. Puree the sauce with a handheld immersion blender or carefully transfer it to a Vitamix to puree, and return the chicken and sauce to the pan and stir to combine. You can also add all the ingredients to a slow cooker and cook on high for 2-3 hours or on low for 4-5 hours.
How to Serve Chicken Tinga
You definitely want all your favorite taco fixings here. Pickled red onions are the perfect tangy topping to the slightly smokey shredded chicken. Avocado slices or guacamole would never be wrong. And a spicy green salsa, like La Taqueria sauce or roasted tomatillo salsa, are pretty mandatory.
Chicken Thighs vs. Chicken Breasts
Even if you think you don’t like chicken thighs, please give them a try. Chicken thighs don’t dry out like chicken breasts and have more flavor. If you absolutely must use chicken breasts, decrease the cooking time on your Instant Pot by 5 minutes (15 minutes on poultry setting).
Mexican Oregano vs. Italian
Mexican oregano has a more mellow, almost citrus, flavor and is more closely related to the lemon verbena family. You can find Mexican oregano at many grocery stores or order it online. If you substitute regular Italian oregano, the chicken is just as good.
Make a double batch and freeze half for another dinner down the road. You can thank me later. Or invite me over for dinner!
Instant Pot Chicken Tinga
- 1/2 onion, sliced white, yellow or red
- 1 cup tomato puree
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano preferably Mexican
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lime juice about half a lime
- 1 bay leaf
- 6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 3 dried chipotle chilies
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- Add all the ingredients to the Instant Pot and stir to combine. Seal the vent and set to the poultry setting for 20 minutes. Once the Instant Pot has finished cooking, quick release the vent by covering it with a kitchen towel and rotating it with tongs to release the steam.
- Open the lid and transfer the cooked chicken to a plate. Puree the base with a handheld immersion blender or carefully transfer the contents to a Vitamix or blender and puree.
- Use two forks to shred the chicken and return it to the pureed base. Stir to combine and taste for seasoning. Add more salt or lime juice if you prefer. Serve in tacos, bowls or salad.