Pulled Chicken Tacos

Pulled Chicken Tacos

The Spruce Eats / Laurel Randolph

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 40 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
627 Calories
14g Fat
75g Carbs
47g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 627
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 14g 17%
Saturated Fat 3g 17%
Cholesterol 98mg 33%
Sodium 1160mg 50%
Total Carbohydrate 75g 27%
Dietary Fiber 5g 18%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 47g
Vitamin C 2mg 12%
Calcium 80mg 6%
Iron 6mg 32%
Potassium 524mg 11%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Pulled chicken tacos are an easy, stress-free weeknight meal that doesn't sacrifice flavor for convenience. Whether you have chicken breasts or chicken thighs in your fridge, this simple recipe can be made with either. To increase the versatility, we've included instructions for preparing the chicken in an Instant Pot (or another electric pressure cooker) or a slow cooker.

No matter how you cook the shredded chicken, you'll end up with a tender, flavorful filling for tacos with minimal effort. Top your tacos with salsa, avocado, cheese, or all of the above. Or make a toppings bar so everyone can choose their own. Pulled chicken is also a great base for a taco-flavored soup.


  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, or thighs

  • 1 small onion, quartered

  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed

  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth

  • Salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 2 teaspoons chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

  • Corn or flour tortillas, warmed, for serving

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for pulled chicken taco recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Laurel Randolph

  2. Add the chicken in a single layer to a deep skillet. Add the onion, garlic, and broth. Season with salt and pepper.

    Pulled chicken tacos

    The Spruce Eats / Laurel Randolph

  3. Over medium heat, barely bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to low. Partially cover. Skim any foam that forms off the top and flip the chicken over if needed. Cook the chicken breasts for 10 to 15 minutes, or until just cooked through. Do not overcook. Cook thighs at a low simmer for 30 minutes, or until tender and cooked through. Drain and reserve the broth, discarding the onion and garlic.

    Pulled chicken tacos

    The Spruce Eats / Laurel Randolph

  4. Shred the meat with 2 forks or let cool enough to shred with your hands. Add 1/4 cup of the reserved broth (save the rest for soup), chili powder, cumin, and paprika to the pan over medium heat. Stir and cook until the broth is simmering. Add the shredded chicken and stir well. Turn off the heat.

    Pulled chicken tacos

    The Spruce Eats / Laurel Randolph

  5. Add the lime juice, stir, and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper as needed.

    Pulled chicken in a skillet

    The Spruce Eats / Laurel Randolph

  6. Serve on warm tortillas with your choice of toppings.

Recipe Variations

  • To make in an Instant Pot: Follow steps 1 and 2. For chicken breasts: Cook at high pressure for 5 minutes and use a natural release. For chicken thighs: Cook at high pressure for 10 minutes and use a natural release. Follow the remaining steps as written, using your pot's sauté function or the stovetop.
  • To make in a slow cooker: Follow steps 1 and 2. For chicken breasts: Cook on low for 3 to 4 hours. For chicken thighs: Cook on low for 5 to 6 hours. Shred the chicken and add it back to the slow cooker along with 1/2 cup broth and the spices. Cook an additional 30 minutes to an hour on high and serve.


This pulled chicken is great with the following toppings for tacos:

  • Cubed avocado
  • Shredded red cabbage
  • Pickled red onions
  • Shredded cheddar, Monterey Jack, or spicy Jack cheese
  • Cilantro
  • Scallions
  • Taco sauce or hot sauce

How to Store and Freeze Pulled Chicken Tacos

This pulled chicken will keep in the refrigerator as long as it's in a sealed container for three to five days. You can also freeze it for much longer, up to six months, provided it's been well wrapped (plastic followed by aluminum foil). Simply defrost in the refrigerator and use as you like in soups, tacos, or stews.