Baked chicken tacos are a simple, delicious, filling weeknight dinner that the whole family will love. Naturally gluten-free, they’re great for game day, too!
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Why These Baked Chicken Tacos are SO Good
- They’re quick and easy, making an awesome weeknight dinner ready in 20 minutes!
- You can use pre-grilled chicken breast, a rotisserie chicken, or any kind of pre-cooked or leftover chicken.
- They have so many different textures and flavors – flavorful chicken, gooey melted cheese, creamy beans, crisp shells, and tons of freshness from lettuce and my cheater pico.
- Packed with protein, they’re far more satisfying and filling than most restaurant or take out tacos.
- Everyone loves them! I’m a big advocate for families eating meals together (when possible), and everyone eating the same thing. It’s always a bonus when the same thing is something everyone loves!
Ingredients You Need
- Crunchy taco shells
- Chicken breast, cooked and shredded – use any preferred cut of chicken, even a rotisserie chicken, but the nutrition information is calculated with boneless, skinless chicken breast
- Salsa – I often use a mild or medium red salsa, but just use your favorite salsa (including salsa verde)
- Spices: chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder
- Lime juice – fresh always tastes amazing, but if you don’t have or can’t find fresh limes, bottled lime juice totally works in a pinch, too.
- Black beans – Use no salt added or low sodium canned black beans, then drain and rinse them (which reduces any sodium further), and pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towel.
- Cheese – use your favorite melty cheese for tacos. I love a sharp cheddar here, but colby, a fiesta blend, queso quesadilla cheese, even mozzarella – they all work! I tend to pick a part-skim cheese or a slightly naturally lower fat cheese, personally.
- Lettuce – I love the classic choice of shredded iceberg lettuce on tacos
- Cheater Pico – you just need four ingredients (grape tomatoes, cilantro, salt, and lime) for a flavorful cheater version of pico de gallo
Equipment You Need
Nothing too fancy – these are likely all in your kitchen already!
How to Make This Recipe
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange taco shells in a 9×13″ baking dish (you can ball up foil to arrange to help the taco shells stand up if your shells keep falling over).
- Heat cooked chicken, salsa, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and 1 teaspoon of the lime juice in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook 4-5 minutes, until the spices are fragrant and excess moisture has evaporated (you want the chicken to be moist and flavorful, but not too wet so the shells won’t get soggy).
- Fill the taco shells. Place 1 tablespoon of black beans (that have been drained, rinsed, and patted dry) in the bottom of each taco shell. Then divide chicken between the taco shells, and finally top each taco with one tablespoon of shredded cheese.
- Bake for five minutes, until cheese has melted.
- Let cool a couple minutes before serving, until tacos are easily handled, then enjoy!
Top Tips for Oven Baked Chicken Tacos
- While you can use any type of pre-cooked or leftover chicken you’d like, including rotisserie chicken, I would not recommend using any chicken with strong flavors (i.e. barbecue or curry chicken).
- To have this ready even faster, you can saute the chicken, salsa, and spices ahead of time. Warm 60 seconds in the microwave to avoid cold chicken tacos, then fill as normal.
- If your taco shells are falling over, you can try a smaller pan, placing taco shells in between muffin cups on an upside down muffin pan, or use balled up aluminum foil to prop shells upright against one another.
- To prevent soggy taco bottoms (the worst!) make sure you do these two things:
- Cook all excess liquid out of the seasoned salsa chicken mixture. The chicken should be moist, but not excessively wet or dripping.
- Place the black beans on the shells first, under the chicken. The black beans act as a slight barrier to prevent too much moisture from the chicken pooling on the bottom of the shell and getting it soggy.
Top these baked tacos with any and all of your favorite taco toppings – shredded lettuce, tomatoes (try the cheater pico in the recipe!), cilantro, guacamole, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, etc.
Since they contain plenty of protein, they’re fairly filling on their own, so I usually serve them with a vegetable or side salad. I like coconut cauliflower rice, a simple salad of butter lettuce leaves with cilantro lime dressing, or any of the easy vegetable options in my free “Eat Your Veggies!” e-book! Honestly, some busy nights we even just toss a bag of frozen veggies in the microwave to steam and call it a night!
One taco provides 154 calories, 12 grams of protein, and 3 grams of fiber. In terms of macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fat), each taco is fairly balanced, with 34% of calories from carbs, 34% of calories from protein, and 32% of calories from fat. Additionally, one taco provides over 10% of the daily recommended intake of potassium, vitamin A, and calcium.
Are They Healthy?
If you like tacos, these baked chicken tacos 100% can fit in a balanced, healthy diet. As far as tacos go, these are pretty healthy. For example, compared to a crunchy taco at Taco Bell, they have more protein, less fat, and less calories (and a LOT more flavor and are a lot more filling and satisfying meal, in my personal experience).
Know, too, that “healthy” is subjective. The foods that help one maintain their health may or may not work for you – and that’s okay! Honor the body you have. As a registered dietitian nutritionist, I suggest eating a variety of nourishing foods that help you feel good and achieve or maintain your health, balanced with the foods you love. Remember – an election isn’t won with every vote, but the majority. Your health is the same way – the overall dietary pattern is what matters most.
Looking for more recipes like this? Check out these other family favorite healthy weeknight dinners:
- Sheet Pan Adobo Lime Portobello Tacos
- Taco Stuffed Bell Peppers
- Easy Gluten-Free Lo Mein
- Gluten-Free Turkey Chili
- Pizza Quinoa Casserole with Chicken
Baked Chicken Tacos
Baked chicken tacos are a simple, delicious, filling weeknight dinner that the whole family will love. Naturally gluten-free, they're great for game day, too!
- 8 crunchy taco shells
- 2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
- 1 cup salsa
- 1 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp lime juice (divided)
- 1/2 cup black beans (rinsed, drained, patted dry)
- 1/2 cup part-skim shredded cheese (i.e. cheddar, colby, fiesta blend, mozzarella)
- 1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
- 1 cup chopped grape tomatoes
- 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
- 1/4 tsp coarse salt
Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange taco shells in a 9×13" baking dish (you can ball up foil to arrange to help the taco shells stand up if your shells keep falling over).
Heat cooked chicken, salsa, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and 1 teaspoon of the lime juice in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook 4-5 minutes, until the spices are fragrant and excess moisture has evaporated (you want the chicken to be moist and flavorful, but not too wet so the shells won't get soggy).
Fill the taco shells. Place 1 tablespoon of black beans (that have been drained, rinsed, and patted dry) in the bottom of each taco shell. Then divide chicken between the taco shells, and finally top each taco with one tablespoon of shredded cheese.
Bake for five minutes, until cheese has melted.
While tacos are baking, shred lettuce (if not already shredded) and combine chopped tomatoes, remaining lime juice, cilantro and salt for the "cheater pico".
Let cool a couple minutes before serving, until tacos are easily handled. Top with lettuce and cheater pico and enjoy!
Nutrition information includes lettuce and cheater pico. Information will also vary based on exact ingredients you use (i.e. different parts of the chicken, different cheeses, etc.).