These easy leftover roast chicken tacos are seasoned with mouth-watering taco spices and taste just like authentic Mexican street tacos. With ready cooked meat, this chicken taco recipe comes together in a flash, making it perfect for a speedy weeknight supper or weekend lunch.
Enjoy your chicken tacos served with lots and lots of your favourite taco toppings.
Leftover Roast Chicken Tacos
I LOVE roast chicken and will roast one every couple of weeks for a mid week dinner. Even for just the two of us, I usually buy a large bird (2.5 kg / 5 lb) that serves 6-8.
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A bigger chicken is better value, tastes better, doesn’t dry out, and importantly gives us lots of lovely leftovers. At the same time, I roast at least twice as many potatoes as we need!
The leftover chicken meat fills at least 3 plastic takeout boxes, and the carcass gives me enough stock for several batches of soup. A large, relatively expensive free-range chicken can seem like an indulgence but with careful meal planning, it suddenly becomes the cornerstone of meal planning for the whole week.
We love our leftover cooked chicken recipes. We often use our leftover chicken in Indian recipes (chicken curry or chicken biryani), or in the British favourite of Coronation chicken on a baked potato. Now we’ve added leftover chicken tacos to the meal plan!
Because the meat is ready cooked, all you need to do is add some spice and reheat it, warm up the tacos and break out your favourite toppings.
I’ve got a couple of handy hints to make this even speedier, to help with any emergency when you need a meal in a hurry. Prepare ahead and all you have to do is reheat the ready cooked spiced chicken and warm the tacos.
Soft Tacos or Hard Tacos?
It is a matter of preference – I prefer the small soft street tacos made with wheat flour for my chicken taco recipe. These are the sort used in Mexico for most street food, so choose them for an authentic version of this vibrant dish.
If you can’t find the tacos, you can use regular wraps, but these aren’t as soft. I find they can quickly dry out and become brittle once warmed, so if you can, find real soft Mexican styletacos that are designed to be heated.
If you like the crunch, hard corn taco shells are delicious, but are they are harder to eat. Invariably several in every box you buy will be broken, which makes for poor economy. If you want crunch, I prefer to add a handful of tortilla chips.
Why you will love this leftover chicken taco recipe
- They are tacos! Everyone loves tacos! Full of spice and colour, they are guaranteed to brighten your day.
- They are seriously easy and fuss free, so perfect for dinner when you have had a busy day.
- Tacos are fun! Load them up exactly to your taste.
- Thanks to the ready cooked leftover chicken, this recipe is so speedy.
Leftover Chicken Tacos Ingredients
- Leftover roast chicken – chopped, diced or shredded, it’s your choice. White or brown meat. If you don’t have leftover roast chicken, rotisserie chicken will work here.
- Spices – I like a dash of smoky chipotle chilli and some cumin, but you can vary the spices to taste.
- Tomato paste – A good rich brand for preference, but you can use some ketchup instead if you need to.
- Tacos – I prefer soft wheat street tacos, 2–3 per person depending on appetite and the size of the taco.
- Oil (not shown) – I prefer olive oil, other unrefined oil.
- Lettuce (not shown) or other leaves to serve.
- Taco toppings – go wild with your favourites. It’s all about the toppings!
How to Make Leftover Chicken Tacos
Step One – Grab your ingredients. Put a pizza stone in a hot oven to heat up, so that it will be ready to warm your tacos.
Step Two – Cut up, dice or shred the leftover roast chicken as you prefer. Put it in a bowl or plastic box with the spices, tomato paste and a glug of oil. Squeeze the lime over and mix everything up, or put the lid on the box and give it all a good shake.
Fuss Free Tip – Prep Ahead
You can freeze the seasoned leftover chicken at this point. When you want tacos, defrost either for a few hours in the fridge, or for 30 seconds in the microwave. Instant tacos!
You can use this trick for almost anything that needs marinating (though I don’t recommend it with tofu!). Mix it all up and freeze in the miranade in a suitable container.
Step Three – Tip the seasoned chicken into a frying pan, add a tablespoon of water and reheat over a low heat, stirring all the time.
Step Four – Remove the warmed pizza stone from the oven, and put the tacos on top to warm. Top each with some lettuce and the cooked chicken.
The pizza stone holds heat well and will warm the tacos, keep them warm whilst you are eating, but not overheat them and dry them out. It is my favourite way to warm up flatbreads and wraps.
If you don’t have a pizza stone, I highly recommend investing in one. Not only is it great for cooking homemade or shop pizzas, but a hot stone will restore a take-out pizza to that just-out-of-the oven perfection. We also bake on ours and use it to keep other food warm.
Step Five Serve with your choice of toppings.
Best Taco Toppings
The best thing about this leftover chicken taco recipe is that it is a super vehicle for your favourite toppings. Here are a few ideas, but let me know what you like!
- Guacamole, as spicy as you like it!
- Tomato and onion relish
- Sour cream, with or without a sprinkle of paprika or freshly chopped herbs.
- Thinly sliced red onions
- Chopped avocado
- Grated cheddar
- Squeeze of lime
More Cooked Chicken Recipe Ideas
If you are looking for more recipes to make the most of your leftover roast chicken, why not explore these suggestions?
- Leftover Roast Chicken Frittata makes a filling, portable, protein-packed lunch.
- One-pot Moroccan Chicken with Rice is a fragrant and delicious easy supper.
- Mediterranean superfood-filled Chicken, Quinoa and Chia Burgers.
- My Philly Pesto Chicken Pasta is rich and comforting, and ready in quarter of an hour if you use leftover cooked chicken.
- Leftover chicken tagine
Leftover roast chicken tacos
- 1 cup leftover roast chicken
- ½ tsp smoky chipotle (ground or paste)
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- ½ lime (juiced)
- 1 dsp olive or other oil (I always try to use unrefined oils)
- 2–3 soft street tacos per person
- ½ cup shredded lettuce
- Taco toppings (Your choice)
- Gather the ingredients, and warm a pizza stone in an oven set on a high heat – at least 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.
- Cut the leftover chicken into 2 cm/ 1" cubes, and place in a plastic box that has a lid, or a bowl. Add the spices, tomato paste, oil and lime juice. Shake the box or give it a good stir to coat the chicken evenly in the spice mixture. At this point you can freeze the taco chicken mix to eat another day.
- Heat a frying pan on a low heat. Add the chicken, and a tablespoon of water. Stir gently, so as not to break up the chicken pieces.
- Take the warmed pizza stone from the oven. Place the tacos on top to warm through.
- Top the tacos with shredded lettuce and the warmed through chicken. Add your favourite extra toppings, roll up and enjoy!
- This recipe is 7 Weight Watchers Smart Points per portion