Here I’ve simplified my favorite chicken tinga recipe by using my Instant Pot, which not only turns the dish into a one-pot wonder but also allows it all to come together in just about 30 minutes. Use tinga as a taco, burrito, enchilada, or tostada filling. So easy and delicious.

A bowl of Instant Pot chicken tinga.

Tinga, if you are unfamiliar, is a Mexican dish made with shredded chicken, chipotles in adobo sauce, tomatoes, onion, and cilantro.

A woman I worked with years ago at Fork taught me how to make it: poach a whole chicken, remove the meat and shred it; make a simple sauce, and simmer it with the chicken; shower with cilantro, and serve.

Most often it was served for family meal as part of a make-your-own-tostada buffet, the elements of which included crispy corn tortillas, shredded lettuce, crema, guacamole, crumbled cotija cheese, and pico de gallo. It was, as you can imagine, delicious.

Tinga is an incredibly simple dish, but there is one step — that first step — that I worry deters many people from giving it a go: poaching a whole chicken.

It’s not that plunging a chicken into boiling water is hard, it’s the aftermath: removing the meat. If the bird is still quite warm, the process can be painful, but even when the meat has cooled, removing it is time consuming and a test of patience, to boot.

Chicken Tinga, Simplified

I recently simplified the tinga-making process in three ways, and much to my delight, the streamlined method sacrificed zero flavor.

  1. In place of a whole chicken, I used boneless, skinless thighs. (You can use breasts if you prefer.)
  2. In place of chicken stock for the sauce, I used water.
  3. In place of poaching the chicken and making the sauce in two separate pots stovetop, I used my Instant Pot to make the whole thing.

I elaborate on the process below, but in short, to make tinga using your Instant Pot, first you use the sauté function to cook the onion and make the sauce. Then you add the chicken, close the lid, and use the high pressure setting.

Once the Instant Pot comes up to pressure, in just 10 minutes it creates that falling-off-the-bone texture in the meat. And while you do have to remove the meat and shred it, using the Instant Pot turns tinga into a one-pot job. Hooray!

You, of course, can serve tinga on its own or over rice, but the beauty of tinga is its ability to stretch: when used as a taco or enchilada filling, one batch of tinga can feed a lot of people or, more practically for today’s world, it can be stretched over many meals. It freezes well, too.

If you don’t have an Instant Pot, follow this recipe for classic chicken tinga.

Final note: When I posted this enchilada sauce recipe, I received a number of questions about where to get chipotles in adobo sauce. All of my local grocery stores carry it, and yours might, too — call ahead or ask if you can’t find it. Mexican groceries will definitely carry it or you can order it online: Goya Chipotles in Adobo Sauce.

5 Other Favorite Instant Pot Recipes

How to Make Instant Pot Chicken Tinga

Step #1: Gather your ingredients.

Tinga requires just a handful of ingredients: onion, olive oil, chipotle in adobo sauce, canned tomatoes, chicken, and cilantro.

Ingredients for making Instant Pot chicken tinga on a board.

Step #2: Slice the onion.

A board with sliced onions.

Step #3: Sauté the onion.

An Instant Pot filled with sautéed onions.

Step #4: Add 1/4 cup of chipotle in adobo sauce.

An Instant Pot filled with sautéed onions and chipotle in adobo sauce.

Step #5: Add 1 cup crushed tomato and 1 cup water.

You absolutely can use fresh tomatoes here, especially if you are making this in the summer and early fall.

An Instant pot holding water, tomatoes, onions, and chipotle in adobo sauce.

Step #6: Add 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or breasts).

Chicken thighs added to the Instant Pot.

Cover, and cook on high pressure for 10 minutes.

Just-cooked chicken tinga in the Instant Pot.

Step #7: Remove the chicken and shred with two forks.

Shredded chicken tinga on a board.

Step #8: Return the chicken to the Instant Pot.

An Instant Pot filled with just-cooked chicken tinga.

Step #9: Add about a cup of roughly chopped cilantro.

An instant pot holding chicken tinga with cilantro added.

Step #10: Stir to combine. Season with salt to taste.

An Instant Pot filled with chicken tinga.

Step #10: Serve.

There are countless ways to eat tinga. You can serve it over rice. Or, you can serve it with soft tortillas, cheese, and lettuce and make tacos or crispy corn tortillas for tostadas. You can also make …

A bowl of Instant Pot chicken tinga.

… enchiladas! (More on these soon!) Use this bean and cheese enchilada recipe as a guide, subbing in the tinga for the beans. This quick, fresh enchilada sauce has been a welcomed discovery this summer.

A just-baked dish of chicken enchiladas.
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A bowl of Instant Pot chicken tinga.

Instant Pot Chicken Tinga


  • Author: Alexandra Stafford
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8 to 10

Description

This is a simplified version of this favorite recipe for classic chicken tinga

This is the model Instant Pot I own. 

If you can’t find chipotles in your local grocery store, you can try a Mexican grocery store or order it online: Goya Chipotles in Adobo Sauce

If you are making this in the summer or early fall, you can use fresh, chopped tomatoes in place of the canned. 

Make it ahead: This tastes better by the day, so don’t be afraid to make it a day or two in advance.

This freezes well. Store in quart containers (or other) in the freezer for up to 3 months. 


Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup chipotles in adobo sauce, see notes above
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes, see notes above
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
  • 1/2 to 1 cup roughly chopped cilantro

Instructions

  1. Warm up your Instant Pot by turning the sauté setting on. Once warm, add the 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the sliced onion. Season with a pinch of salt and stir. Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes or util the onion begins to soften.
  2. Add the chipotles in adobo sauce, and cook for another minute.
  3. Add the tomatoes and water, and bring to a simmer. 
  4. Add the chicken and season with a pinch of salt. Stir. 
  5. Cover the Instant Pot, and lock it into place. Change the settings to manual, high pressure. Set the time for 10 minutes. Be sure to turn the valve to seal. 
  6. When the 10 minutes are up, turn the valve to release the steam. When the steam has released, turn the lid, and carefully remove it.
  7. Remove the chicken from the Instant Pot, and shred it with two forks. Return the shredded chicken to the Instant Pot, and stir.
  8. Add cilantro to taste, and stir. I like to let the mixture hang out for a bit (10 minutes or so) before I season it with salt to taste. Taste. Add salt to taste. Note: This tastes better by the day, so don’t be afraid to make it a day or two in advance. 
  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Keywords: Instant Pot, chicken, tinga, simple, chipotle