Chicken Tinga for Today (Show) and Everyday!


Chicken Tinga for Today (Show) and Everyday!

What to cook for the Today Show?

With so many options being juggled in my head, I was growing restless as the date got closer.

As I started exchanging emails with one of the producers, I began to throw ideas: what about different kinds of Salsas, variations of that irresistible cold and wet Tres Leches cake, funky versions of Guacamole, or a sample of fresh Ceviches…?

Or, wait. How about something easy, tasty and flashy like Tequila, Cream and Chipotle Shrimp? It’s so much fun to prepare, I told the producer. You ignite the pan, the flames come up right after the shrimp begin to brown, and then they wind down right before you pour the cream. Your guests feel special and impressed…

I had to agree that we were better off staying away from igniting anything on the set.

Oh, I got it! A chicken dish. Everyone wants a good chicken dish in their recipe box. And one of the tastiest ways to eat chicken in Mexican kitchens, no doubt about it, is Chicken Tinga.

Although it comes from the state of Puebla, it is so popular, that it is eaten throughout the country. So of course there are countless variations.

I have a favorite version. One that I have tweaked through the years until I found a balance of flavors that needs no more tweaking, if you ask me…

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A great thing about the Tinga, is that you only need a handful of ingredients. Some are familiar to everyone, like tomatoes, onion and garlic. The other needed Mexican
ingredients are readily available throughout the US these days, and people should become familiar with them, as they are absolutely blissful.

Such is the case of the Tomatillos, pictured above next to their cousins, the tomatoes… and the Chipotle Chiles in Adobo Sauce.

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Pump up the sweetness of the tomatoes, the tart notes of the Tomatillos and the rich smoky, depth of the Chipotles with some Marjoram, Oregano and Thyme, Salt and Pepper….

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Add some already cooked and shredded chicken, and you have a winner.

Catchy and irresistible, starting with the name, the Tinga is easy to prepare, packed with flavor, and once you make it, can be refashioned in a thousand ways. Plus it stores in the refrigerator well, and it’s one of those dishes that add on flavor as its reheated.

After talking with Bianca, the food stylist in charge at the Today Show, we decided to cook the Tinga, and show the viewers a couple choices of how to play with it: Tostadas and what can be called Tinga’Dillas.

Here is Bianca on the set, right before the segment. She rocks, friends.

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This is Bianca’s hand, making a beauty out of the deliciously messy Tostada…

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Here, that’s a zoom out.

OK. It is so crazy in that set, but oh so fun, fun, fun crazy… And the whole food styling team is amazing.

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That is the front of the set. Allison (there in the corner of the photo below) and I chose some colorful pots and pans to do the demo.

And you see that clock under the screen? It says 9:39. Segment was going to be shot at 9:46. Yes, I got dizzy and nauseated, and hyper and sleepy all at the same time…

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So aside from the Chicken Tinga demo, there were the Tinga’Dillas paired with Guacamole and Grilled Corn…

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And the Tostadas, set on that rustic piece of stone. We were going to do the Fresh Cheese and Mexican Cream, last minute…. to take it over the top. Why not?

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The 4 minutes flew by.

When all was said and done, we ate the Tostadas and the Tinga ‘Dillas. And after that, we hugged. I hugged them so tight, out of thankfulness, everyone there was so generous and warm.

From the lovely woman Roma, who fixed my hair (Thank the Heavens, I never know what to do with it and always pull it up), to the hilarious Gilberto, who did my make up (Thank the Seas,  because I can hardly curl my eye lashes properly), to the professional Food styling team with Bianca and Allison and the rest, to the generous and kind producers Vivian and Alicia…

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… and the gorgeous and warm hosts Natalie Morales and Ann Curry (who are even prettier in person, I swear!).

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Oh Boy. What a team! If you want to watch the segment click here.

The Tostadas and Tinga’Dillas are perfect for casual entertaining. They can be messy, but its a delicious kind of messy. And after all, its the middle of the summer. If you get too messy, just turn on the hose.

Chicken Tinga

Tinga de Pollo
4 servings (makes about 5 cups)
Pati Jinich
Course: Antojos, Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: chicken, chipotles in adobo, Pollo, Puebla, quesadillas, Recipe, tacos, tinga, tortas, tostadas
Author:Pati Jinich
Prep Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
One of the tastiest ways to eat chicken in Mexican kitchens, no doubt about it, is Chicken Tinga. Although it comes from the state of Puebla, it is so popular, that it is eaten throughout the country. So of course there are countless variations. I have a favorite version. One that I have tweaked through the years until I found a balance of flavors that needs no more tweaking, if you ask me…


  • 3 tablespoons safflower or corn oil
  • 1/2 white onion, about 1/4 pound, slivered
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 8 roma tomatoes, or about 2 pounds, rinsed
  • 2 tomatillos, or about 1/4 pound, husks removed, rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, or more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 tablespoons sauce from chipotle chiles in adobo, can add whole chiles if more heat is desired
  • 5 cups cooked shredded chicken

To Prepare

  • Place the rinsed tomatoes and tomatillos in a medium saucepan and cover them with water. Set the saucepan over medium heat. Once it comes to a simmer, cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes and tomatillos are soft, thoroughly cooked, and smooshy but not coming apart. Remove them with a slotted spoon. Place in the jar of a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  • Heat the oil in a large and deep pan over medium heat. Once it is hot but not smoking, stir in the onion and cook until soft and translucent, for about 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until it becomes fragrant and lightly browned, about 1 minute.
  • Pour the tomato/tomatillo sauce on top and sprinkle the oregano, marjoram, thyme, salt and black pepper. Spoon in the chipotle Chiles in Adobo sauce. If you want it spicy, you may drop a whole Chipotle Chile in Adobo in there as well. Let the sauce simmer, stirring now and then until it seasons and deepens its red color, about 10 to 12 minutes. You may want to partially cover the pan as the sauce may want to jump out over your burners.
  • Toss in the chicken and combine with the sauce. Let it cook, stirring casually, until the chicken has absorbed almost all of the juices and the mix is moist but not juicy.

Chicken Tinga Tostadas

Tostadas de Tinga de Pollo
12 tostadas
Pati Jinich
Course: Antojos, Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: chicken, Pollo, Recipe, tinga, tostadas
Author:Pati Jinich
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Catchy and irresistible, starting with the name, Chicken Tinga is easy to prepare, packed with flavor, and once you make it, can be refashioned in a thousand ways, such as on tostadas.


  • 12 corn tostadas, such as Guerrero or Mission
  • 1 1/2 cups refried beans, warmed up (can be home made or store bought)
  • 3 cups chicken tinga, recipe above
  • 1 cup iceberg or romaine lettuce, thinly sliced
  • 1 ripe Mexican avocado, pitted, peeled, and sliced
  • 1/2 cup queso fresco, Cotija or farmers cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup Mexican or Latin style cream
  • Salsa of your choice, such as salsa verde, optional

To Prepare

  • Place the tostadas on a large platter.
  • Layer a couple of tablespoons of refried beans on the tostada. Spread a couple tablespoons of chicken tinga on top and garnish with about 1 or 2 tablespoons lettuce, 1 or 2 slices of ripe avocado, 1 or 2 tablespoons of crumbled queso fresco and Mexican cream.
  • Serve the salsa on the side for people to drizzle as much as they want.

Tinga Dillas

Quesadillas de Tinga
4 servings
Pati Jinich
Course: Antojos, Appetizer, Main Course, Snack
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Antojo, chicken, Pollo, Quesadilla, Recipe, tinga, tortilla
Author:Pati Jinich
Prep Time: 0 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Catchy and irresistible, starting with the name, Chicken Tinga is easy to prepare, packed with flavor, and once you make it, can be refashioned in a thousand ways, such as a filling for quesadillas.


  • 8 large flour tortillas
  • 4 slices Monterey jack cheese, muenster cheese, or Mexican manchego
  • 2 cups chicken tinga, recipe above
  • 2 cups guacamole, home made or store bought, on the side

To Prepare

  • Heat a non-stick skillet or comal over medium-low heat. You may also use the grill. Once hot, after 3 or 4 minutes, layer 2 flour tortillas, the cheese slices and the Chicken Tinga. Place 2 flour tortillas on top of the open ones, and let them cook until the tortilla on the bottom has begun to harden a bit. Flip to the other side with the help of a cooking spatula and let the quesdillas continue to warm up, until the cheese has completely melted and the tortillas have hardened on both sides.
  • Repeat with the rest.
  • Serve with guacamole for your guests to spoon on top.

54 comments on “Chicken Tinga for Today (Show) and Everyday!

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  1. Hello,
    I believe my version of Chicken tinga is better i think? I add onions to chorizo (once its fried) which makes chicken taste more flavorful and skip the oil and the tomatillos, as the chorizo has the grease to fry the rest of the ingredients. but will certainly try this version one day.

    1. You have to cook the chicken first, shred it and then finish it in the sauce for a true tinga dish, Joan. But of course you can also make the sauce and cook the whole chicken pieces in it until the chicken is thoroughly cooked, but you just wouldn’t call it tinga…

  2. Trying this out tonight and can’t wait! My daughter went on a mission trip to Tijuana and came home raving about the chicken in the orange sauce. Hoping this is similar!

    I made a couple of changes though! Browned bone in, skin on breasts and thighs and rendered the fat. Threw the spices, onion and garlic in the fat to brown. Then added the mix to the tomato mixture and pureed. Placed chicken in the crockpot, poured the sauce over the chicken and am waiting for the finished product. Also had to leave out the adobo as my daughter can’t handle any spice.

    Fingers crossed for a successful dinner!

  3. Love your show, you make everything seem so easy. I got your cookbook and want to try most of them. I made chicken tinga last night, delish. However, when I checked the recipe on your website it does not include the 1 1/2 c chicken broth. My tinga was a little soupy despite cooking it down a lot, is this the reason?

    1. Yes, probably. You can try it both ways. I like adding the broth because it adds another layer of flavor, but you can surely skip it!

  4. Dear Pati,

    I wanted you to know that I now need to look for a rehab clinic for my family. Why? Because we are ADDICTED to your chicken tinga recipe! I have made it two days in a row (tacos) and my family are now saying that I need to have some on hand for snacks as well as dinner!

    Seriously, we are “hooked” on your recipes. They are so addictive!

    Thank you!

  5. I love the show…love Pati…would like her recipe for a lemon pound cake she made a few weeks ago …I have tried many of her recipes….and loved them…..does she have a cook book?

  6. Dear Paty,
    I am your newest #1 fan. I am from Saltillo, Mexico and living in California. I am so happy to find recipes from other regions of Mexico that I always wanted to try. So far I’ve cooked Chicken Tinga, Chicken a la Trash and Tuna Empanadas. All Delicious! Next will be Chocoflan or Guava Pie! Do you have any slow cooker recipes that you can share?
    I already told my husband that I want your cookbook as a Christmas gift.

    Happy Thanksgiving and Feliz Navidad!!

  7. Patti, I am having family over tomorrow and didn’t know what I was going to serve. I searched your site for ideas and decided on your Chicken Tinga tosadas! I am so excited! I know my family is going to love this! Gracias!

  8. Patti, I always have won ton wrappers in my freezer, I thought I would use the tinga with some cream cheese and sliced green onion, then deep fry them and serve with some salsa or dip in guacamole. I think it’s a good tailgate recipe. Can’t wait to serve this surprise dish to my friends.
    Chicken Tinga Won Ton!!!!!!

  9. Dear Patti,
    I made chicken tinga for tostatas a few days ago, however, because I cook for two, I had some left over. Today I made pizza, A larger one and a smaller one for myself. Mine was layered with mozzarella, sauce, chicken tinga, slices of onions and slices of roasted red pepper and sprinkled with crushed red pepper. The tinga was perfect for the pizza because it was so moist. I also make a pizza with mozzarella, sauce, sautéed baby bella mushrooms, spinach, sliced onions and sliced roasted red pepper, I’m going to add a bit of tinga to my next “Spinach Tinga Pizza” I also plan to use the tinga for tacos. Thank you Patti.

  10. Hola otra vez, Paty!
    I wanted to thank and congratulate you… I prepared the tinga yesterday and my husband and I absolutely LOVED it. He said it was like eating in a great fonda (which you and I know it is a huge compliment). I don’t even want to count how many tostadas we had! Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful recipes!!!!!! I have a little bit of tinga left, I’m thinking about making some flautas with it. Yum.
    My next project? Arroz rojo… The picture you have there reminds me of my wonderful nana Catita’s rice.
    Un fuerte abrazo!

  11. I missed the original Today show, but my friend recently gave me your cookbook and I’ve been enthusiastically making my way through it. We’ve enjoyed every recipe so far, but the Chicken Tinga is the current favorite. I’ve served it two days in a row and nobody has complained! They love it in a torta or along side a serving of rice. Thank you for the great recipes!

  12. I am mexican my self just recently got married and i never really grew up in the kitchen so i have forgotten a lot of the foods that my mom used to cook for us but with your website i have been able to go I REMEMBER THAT but not just that now i will be able to try all of these in my own home. so thank you !!

  13. I heard the word Tinga 2 times, on 2 different PBS shows, in 2 weeks and had never heard previously. I think that is an indication that it’s time to give it a whirl. Thank you.

  14. Pati,
    What a great recipe! My grandmother made tinga, along with many other great foods from her native Guanajuato when I was growing up, and unfortunately many of her recipes died with her. I’m trying your Tinga recipe this weekend. Just one question: how many tomatillos? The ingredient list seems to omit them, although you mention them in the the text and there’s a picture of two of them in the blender. So, I assume two?
    Muchas gracias for sharing your recipes with the world!

  15. Hi Pati,
    I literally just got done with this recipe about 3 minutes ago and wow! I love it! I’m going to put the chicken on tostadas, like you did on the Today Show, for my family tonight. After I tasted the finished product I immediately thought about the versatility of this. I love versatile dishes. Especially for week nights. A few questions: Besides tostadas and quesadillas are there some other favorite ways you and your family enjoy the tinga? Also, in the months where tomatoes are not in season I thought of grabbing some cans of Roma tomatoes. By doing that should I drain the juice from the can before I put the tomatoes in the food processor? One last question not related to pollo, do you have your own recipe for chorizo?
    Once again this is fantastic. Thank you so much. I love your website, too, by the way.

    1. Hola Robert, Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! First, yes, this dish is even more versatile 🙂 Besides the quesadillas and tostadas, I like to serve the Chicken Tinga as a main with a side of beans and rice and also use it to make tacos. Yes, you can use cans of Roma tomatoes and yes, drain the juice before putting them in the food processor. Yes, I do have a recipe and will be sure to post it soon and let you know!

    1. Thank you for pointing that out Peter! There should be a 4 to 1 ratio with the tomatoes and tomatillos in this recipe. Since there are 8 or 2lbs roma tomatoes, there should be about 1/2 pound tomatillos or about 2 to 4 tomatillos (depending on how big they are). I will be sure to fix it on the site! 🙂

  16. I just happened to watch your show on KLRU. I was intrigued so I decided to look at your website. I loved the Chicken Tinga recipe. I can’t wait to try it out.
    I’m still perusing through your website. I am hispanic and learned to cook by watching my mom and abuela. The only recipe I would love to learn to make is menudo, especially the broth portion. Ok, here is the funny part. I cannot bring myself to eat the tripas part. Never could even as a kid. I would drown the broth with lemon juice and dunk corn tortillas in there to get full. I would like to see a variation where the fat is cut out of the broth as much as possible and with either beef tips or pollo.
    A girl from work makes menudo but skims out the fat from the broth and it is wonderful, again I didn’t eat the tripas.
    Do you have a recipe?

  17. Dear Pati, I am from Mexico, city and I am very proud of you. Your recipes are so easy to follow,and delicious while mantaining their authenticity. I am a consumated cook as well and I have nothing but respect for your work. Keep up the great job you are doing!!!!

  18. Pati,
    I’m so glad that I wasn’t completely happy with my previous Chicken Tinga recipe. I Googled “Chicken Tinga” and found your wonderful blog! Your recipe was a decided winner at my house last night, adding the zip that my older recipe lacked.
    I did carry over one ingredient from the old one, which was a bit of diced sweet pepper with the onions. Also, I have a garden full of fresh chiles, so I added a couple chile de arbol, a small jalapeno, a roasted Anaheim and a ripe serrano. Those with a couple chipotles in adobo made it plenty spicy.
    Two suggestions for your readers. In winter, a can of Ro-Tel could make a good substitute for the fresh tomatoes. An immersion blender works beautifully to blend the tomatoes and tomatillos, if you have one.

  19. This was the first recipe I’ve ever felt compelled to make after watching the Today show. Those cooking segments fly by so fast. But this one caught my eye. You made this dish look so delicious and simple to make….AND IT WAS BOTH! It was brilliant. Thank you very much – my family loved it!

    1. Hi Patty,
      So glad you felt like making it, and even more happy that you and your family liked it. Many thanks for your lovely comment ; )

  20. Just wanted to let you know that I am so excited about finally finding a recipe for a memorable childhood food. We had a neighbor who had grown up in Texas and made this wonderful chicken mixture for tacos. They moved and as an adult I have always remembered and tried to figure out what it was and how to make it. This is it! Thank you so much for sharing this on the Today Show!

    1. Sherry,
      That is great news! let me know if there is any other dish/recipe you are craving for… I will be happy to help,
      All best,

  21. It was fantastic to see you on the Today show the other week. You were MARVELOUS! 🙂 I am thrilled to say that I plan to make your Chicken Tinga tonight. I just know my kids and husband are going to flip for it. I’ll let you know how I make out. Hope all is well and you are having a great day!

    1. Thank you so much for your cheers Teri! I just saw the photo of your Chicken Tinga on twitter and it made me so happy. I hope you and your family enjoyed it!

  22. Pati, I just discovered your Mexican culinary treasure trove (your blog:) and I am muy animada! I also am passionate about homestyle Mexican food and am so happy to find someone else who shares my passion. I will be reading your back posts to catch up. Pero estas fotos de la feria casi me dieron ganas de llorar, tan lindas. Muchisimas gracias, Summer

    1. Hi Summer,
      First of all, what a lovely name you have! Thank you for your comments and I am so glad that you enjoyed the photos of the Feria, as much as I enjoyed taking and posting them ; ) Come visit often!

  23. Pati, Pati, Pati- what a day for you! congratulations, the food looks gorgeous as do you! lots of delicious stuff going on. cannot believe i didnt know about this- i turn my eyes away from you for two weeks while on vacation and look what you do- you get on the Today Show 🙂 So pleased for you. Wonderful lady that you are. xxx
    best wishes, shayma

  24. I lived, for many years, just around the corner from your Cultural Center in Mt. Pleasant, but did not find your site until I moved to Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco. Your site is a treat to read and a wonderful aid in helping me grow in Mexican cookery.
    It would be a wonderful gift for many of us here were you to visit Puerto Vallarta and offer a session in one of the kitchens here. I am a 70 year old who looks now for simpler dishes for one or two while many other, younger friends would appreciate something more demanding or sophisticated for families and small parties. Many of us here are sadly deficient in the knowledge, selection and use of Chillies.
    And, a time in Puerto Vallarta would be a welcomed vacation for your family. You will be surprised at the number of outstanding restaurants PV now offers.
    With hope that you will consider such a visit, I remain,
    Bob Witt

    1. Hi Bob,
      Well… the idea of visiting Puerto Vallarta sure sounds lovely! I will reach out to you, if and whenever possible. Many thanks.