The Best Mexican Chicken Adobo Recipe for Street Tacos

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Our Mexican Chicken Adobo Recipe is packed with flavor, bringing the vibrant, authentic taste of Mexican cooking right to your kitchen!

With its rich marinade and tender chicken pieces, this recipe is perfect for creating mouth-watering chicken adobo tacos.

Whether hosting a taco night or looking for a new family favorite, this dish will quickly become a staple in your home!

While you may prefer to skip to the recipe card, we suggest reading the entire blog post to avoid missing valuable tips and substitution suggestions and to ensure you have the necessary ingredients, equipment, and understanding of the steps and timings.

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A bowl of Mexican Adobo Chicken surrounded by other taco toppings. Text overlay says Mexican Adobo Chicken

Mexican Adobo Chicken Recipe

Our Mexican Adobo Chicken is simple to make—chopped chicken is marinated in a delicious sauce made with onion, garlic, lime, orange juice, smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, achiote paste, and chili peppers in adobo sauce.

Don’t panic if you haven’t heard of some ingredients before! They can be found online, or your grocery store may have them in the Latin America or World Foods aisle.

Our recipe is a twist on Mexican adobo de pollo, a rich chicken stew made with boneless skinless chicken thighs and a range of dried chilies, including chipotle chiles and guajillo chiles.

Instead of a larger cut of chicken, we used small pieces to serve on our Street Taco Charcuterie Board (coming soon) and make yummy adobo chicken tacos.

Our three main dishes on this sharing board—Al Pastor Pork and Taco Carne Asada—use some of the same ingredients, so they’re ideal to make at the same time.

Even if you don’t make them for a sharing board, they work great for Taco Tuesday! Serve them with corn or flour tortillas and toppings like sour cream, Pico de Gallo, sliced avocado, and jalapeno pepper slices.

And for more Mexican recipes, we have 70+ Mexican and Tex-Mex Recipes for you to enjoy!

What Is Adobo?

The term “adobo” comes from the Spanish word “adobar,” which means “to marinate” and was taken around the world by Spanish conquistadors. As such adobo is a stew, a spice blend, and a marinade—and will all depend on your geo-location!

As a stew, it has its roots in Filipino cuisine made with chicken or pork and flavorings like soy sauce, bay leaves, and vinegar.

In the Caribbean, the spice blend is a mixture of paprika, oregano, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and turmeric.

And in Mexican cuisine, the wet marinade includes a variety of chilies.

You might also like to try our Adobo de Cerdo recipe which hails from the Spanish island of Tenerife.

How Do I Make Mexican Chicken Adobo?

For the printable recipe card, scroll to the bottom of this post. For all the tips, keep reading!

Number of Servings: 8-10
Prep Time: 10 mins | Cook Time: 25 mins | Marinating Time: 6 hrs
Total Time: 6 hrs 35 mins

Step 1 – Gather Your Ingredients

The ingredients and tools in this recipe are conveniently linked to online retailers like Amazon or Amazon Fresh.

  • Fresh ProduceWhite Onion, Limes, Garlic CLoves
  • ProteinChicken Tenders, known as Chicken Breast Mini Fillets in the UK. Alternatively, use boneless skinless chicken breasts.
  • Orange Juice
  • Achiote Paste is made from ground annatto seeds and spices such as oregano, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, and garlic. It is a vibrant, earthy seasoning used in Mexican and Central American cuisine to marinate meats and flavor various dishes such as cochinita pibil and tacos al pastor. It is also known as recado rojo.
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Ground Cumin
  • Mexican Oregano is surprisingly not the same as Mediterranean oregano as they are from different plants. The Mexican variety adds flavor notes to dishes, notably floral, citrus, and anise. If you can’t source Mexican oregano, you could use Marjoram instead. You can read more about the difference here.
  • Chili Powderuse mild or hot depending on your tastes and spicy heat preference.
  • Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce are smoked, dried jalapeños packed in a rich, tangy sauce made from tomatoes, vinegar, garlic, and spices. They offer a complex, smoky, spicy flavor that enhances marinades, sauces, soups, and stews.

    This ingredient is a staple in Mexican and Tex-Mex cooking, adding depth and heat to various dishes. You can find them in the international or Mexican section of the grocery store or online.

The complete list of ingredients with measurements is on the recipe card at the end of this post.

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Step 2 – Kitchen Tools

The Purple Pumpkin Blog uses both cups and weighted measurements in its recipes, making American cups and kitchen food scales valuable tools for trying all the recipes. We provide US customary, imperial, and metric measurements. Still, it’s important to note that while you can combine cup measurements with weighted measures, never mix US customary/imperial (pounds, ounces, pints, etc.) with metric (kilograms, grams, liters, etc.).

Next Steps…

  • Step 3—Make Marinade: Place the marinade ingredients into a large blender or food processor. Blend on high speed until the mixture resembles a thick paste.
  • Step 4—Prepare Chicken: Cut the chicken tenders into small, bite-size pieces. Place chicken into a large mixing bowl.
  • Step 5—Marinade Chicken: Pour the marinade over the prepared chicken and toss to combine. Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap. Refrigerate the sauce-covered chicken for 6 hours or overnight for up to 24 hours. Remove the marinated chicken from the fridge 30-60 minutes before cooking.
  • Step 6—Prep: When you are ready to cook, preheat oven to 400°F/200°C/Gas 6. Line a baking sheet pan with aluminum foil and set it aside.
  • Step 7—Cook Chicken: Spread the marinated chicken over the prepared baking pan and cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
  • Step 8—Char Chicken: Heat your broiler (grill) to high. Place the chicken under the broiler (grill) for 4-5 minutes to char the edges. Toss as required.
  • Step 9—Serve: Serve the chicken adobo with soft tortillas or taco shells and your choice of taco toppings.
A bowl of Mexican Adobo Chicken surrounded by other taco toppings.

Storing Leftovers & Freezing

  • Storing Leftovers:
    • Cool (within 1-2 hours), transfer to an airtight container, and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Freezing Instructions:
    • Cool the cooked chicken completely and wrap it in a double layer of plastic wrap and a layer of foil (or an airtight, freezer-safe container) to help prevent freezer burn and eliminate unwanted freezer smells.
    • Label with the dish’s name, thawing/reheating instructions, and the date to keep track of your food storage.
    • Store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
    • To defrost the adobo chicken, unwrap it completely and place it in the fridge to thaw overnight (or at least 12 hours).
    • Reheat gently in a large skillet over medium heat to retain the moisture. Ensure the chicken is piping hot throughout.
  • With all leftovers, ensure the food looks and smells okay before consuming.
  • Safe Minimum Internal Temperature Chart for Cooking
  • You can always consult the Food Standards Agency in your country for the most up-to-date advice on storing and freezing foods: Food Standards Agency (UK) | Food Safety (USA).

Printable Mexican Adobo Chicken Recipe Card

Tap the Add To Shopping List button to save the ingredients list to your phone or email them to yourself.

Please leave a star rating and a quick review to share your experience with others.

A bowl of Mexican Adobo Chicken surrounded by other taco toppings.

Mexican Adobo Chicken

Michelle Ordever
This Mexican Chicken Adobo recipe, perfect for street tacos! Tender chicken marinated in achiote paste, lime juice, and chili powder, then baked to perrfection. Delicious and authentic!
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Marinating Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 35 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine Mexican/Tex-Mex
Servings 10
Calories 179 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • 3 lbs chicken tenders

For the Marinade:

Instructions
 

  • Place the marinade ingredients into a large blender or food processor. Blend on high speed until the mixture resembles a thick paste.
  • Cut the chicken tenders into small, bite-size pieces and place them into a large mixing bowl.
  • Pour the marinade over the prepared chicken and toss to combine. Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap. Refrigerate the sauce-covered chicken for 6 hours or overnight for up to 24 hours. Remove the marinated chicken from the fridge 30-60 minutes before cooking.
    Mexican Adobo Chicken and Seasoning in Mixing Bowl
  • When you are ready to cook, preheat oven to 400°F/200°C/Gas 6. Line a baking sheet pan with aluminum foil and set it aside.
  • Spread the marinated chicken over the prepared baking pan and cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
    Mexican Adobo Chicken on Baking Sheet
  • Heat your broiler (grill) to high. Place the chicken under the broiler (grill) for 4-5 minutes to char the edges. Toss as required.
  • Serve the chicken adobo with soft tortillas or taco shells and your choice of taco toppings. Enjoy!
    A bowl of Mexican Adobo Chicken surrounded by other taco toppings.

Notes

Alternative Ways to Make This Dish

  1. Marinate boneless skinless chicken thighs and/or breasts as in the recipe card, then cook in a slow cooker on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. Pull the cooked meat with two forks, and serve the shredded chicken with white rice, Refried Beans.
  2. Pour the Mexican adobo sauce over a whole chicken and roast it in the oven (the time and temperature will depend on the size of your chicken; check the packaging). Serve with Mexican Rice and a simple green salad.
  3. If you know how to spatchcock a chicken, marinate it as in the recipe card and cook it over a charcoal grill—perfect for barbecue season! Ensure the chicken is cooked throughout before serving. The juices should run clear or check with a meat thermometer.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 179kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 87mg | Sodium: 784mg | Potassium: 576mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 368IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional information is always approximate and will depend on the quality of ingredients used and serving sizes. If you need exact calories and macros, please do your own calculations.

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Dinner Party Menu Suggestions

You’ve made the main dish, but what about the rest of the courses?

Here are additional recipes to create a menu for a dinner party or special meal:

This recipe features in Twinkl’s Picnic in the Park blog.

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