These shredded chicken taquitos are a regular part of our dinner rotation, and one of the first recipes I turn to when I need a quick appetizer. They’re naturally gluten free, too!
If I had to pick one food ethnicity to eat forever and ever, it would easily be Mexican food. I’ve visited Mexico many times in my life (although not for years) and ate plenty of it in Southern California a few years ago.
I am certain that there are plenty of gaps in my knowledge of Mexican food, but I think if it’s mostly corn-based, has some heat to it, and is in the neighborhood of enchiladas, burritos, and tacos, it’s Mexican. And the fact that Mexican food tends to lend itself to bite-sized eating and eating-on-the-go, there are plenty of Mexican dishes in my cookbook that this recipe comes from, Gluten-Free Small Bites.
I do know that taquitos and flautas are quite similar, in that they’re tortillas stuffed with filling and baked or fried. Taquitos are traditionally made with corn tortillas, and flautas with flour tortillas. But mostly, I’m just looking for great food that’s simple to make and pleases everyone in my family, and from time to time a guest.
These chicken taquitos fit the bill. The heat ✓comes entirely from the chopped green chiles, but you can of course modify that. Or add some chipotle chili powder to the onions as they cook down. Corn tortillas? ✓ They’re delicious and satisfying—and can easily be made in stages or almost entirely ahead of time. And I think this avocado cream sauce from Jessica at Bless Her Heart Y’all would make a great drizzling or dipping sauce, too.
The chicken can be made ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen in a sealed container. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator before using.
The taquitos themselves can also be assembled completely, secured with toothpicks, then frozen in a single layer on a baking sheet before being transferred to a freezer-safe container and frozen.
Defrost overnight in the refrigerator, then place in a baking dish, brush with oil and bake as directed. Once baked, they are best eaten right away.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Heat. If you take one look at the can of chopped mild green chiles that this recipe calls for and roll your eyes at my wimpy palate, remember that I have young children. Besides, you can always substitute spicier canned green chiles for my mild ones.
Tortillas. You can make these with store-bought corn tortillas, which is something I often do, but freshly made corn tortillas make all the difference in these lightly spiced roll-ups.
Dairy. The one tablespoon of unsalted butter used, along with olive oil, to sauté the garlic and onions. It can easily be replaced with another tablespoon of oil. The cheese is another matter entirely, but as I currently have one dairy-free child, I’ve been experimenting with a lot of dairy-free cheeses.
My absolute favorite dairy free cheese remains meltable vegan mozzarella by Miyoko Schinner. But since I haven’t always gone through the trouble of making it, I often use Daiya block cheese. I find that it melts better (with some serious heat) than the already-shredded variety, and it’s pretty widely available. I have always loved the Follow Your Heart brand of vegan cheeses, but they can be difficult to find.
The melted cheese really does help keep these taquitos together after baking. Since dairy free cheese doesn’t tend to melt as well as traditional cheese, if you’re using it, I recommend cinching them together with a single toothpick through the center of each before baking. It won’t burn in the oven, I promise!
Shredded Chicken Taquitos
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
4 tablespoons (56 g) extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for brushing
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 tablespoon (14 g) unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 4-ounce can chopped mild green chiles
8 6-inch gluten free corn tortillas (fresh corn tortillas or store-bought), warmed in a hot-dry skillet until flexible
8 ounce Monterey Jack cheese, grated
Make the chicken. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Place the chicken breasts about 1 inch apart from one another in a 9-inch x 12-inch baking dish. Drizzle the chicken breasts with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, then sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Spray the underside of a large piece of parchment paper, large enough to cover the whole baking dish, with cooking oil, and place, oiled-side down, directly on top of the chicken breasts in the pan. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the chicken reaches 165°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 30 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven and shred with two forks while it’s still warm. Place the shredded chicken in a medium-size bowl and set it aside.
Cook the onion. In a medium-size skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and butter over medium heat until the butter is melted and the oil is hot. Add the garlic, and cook until brown and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Discard the garlic, and add the chopped onion and remaining salt and pepper. Cook the onions, stirring frequently, until they’re translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the chopped chiles, and mix to combine.
Assemble and bake the taquitos. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, and set it aside. Open the first, warm tortilla and place it on a flat surface. Scatter about 1 tablespoon of cheese on top of the tortilla in an even layer, leaving a 1/2-inch border clean. Top with about 1/8 of the shredded chicken and about 1/8 of the peppers and onion mixture in an even layer, and follow with another tablespoon of shredded cheese. Press down gently to help the filling adhere to the tortilla. Roll the tortilla tightly from one side to another, sealing in the filling. Place, seam-side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling, placing the taquitos about 1/2-inch apart from one another. Brush the tops of the taquitos lightly with olive oil, then place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly golden brown all over. Serve immediately.
From the book Gluten-Free Small Bites by Nicole Hunn. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc. Copyright © 2016.