Smoky Pulled Chicken Tacos with Citrus Slaw and Creamy Guacamole

Smoky and slightly spicy chicken paired with creamy guacamole and a crunchy citrus slaw all nestled in a charred tortilla make these tacos  a must for your weeknight dinner rotation or Cinco de Mayo celebrations. 

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Let's talk tacos today. Tacos have come a long way from the ground beef mixed with seasoning from a packet that came in the taco shell box that I remember from childhood. Not that there is anything wrong with those kind of tacos, but they just never excited me and it's not a food that I sought out. Until I discovered what you might call street tacos. And fish tacos. And Korean-style tacos (You should make those too. And really anything from Pinch of Yum).  Suddenly, several years ago, there were food trucks and restaurants popping up everywhere in Boston that were entirely dedicated to tacos. Who knew there could be so many types? And that wrapping anything in a tortilla with a little sauce could be so delicious? Ok, maybe everyone else knew, but I didn't. 

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It was only probably 2 years ago that I started making tacos at home. Now we regularly partake in "Taco Tuesday" (or sometimes Wednesday or Thursday if I can't get my act together).  I've learned a few things along the way. First, they are probably one of the simplest crowd-pleasing meals that you could make. Set up a taco bar with all the fixings and you can win over just about anyone from little kids to adults, and it takes very little hands-on time. Second, there are 3 things that make a good taco: 

  1. The shell. I'm a soft shell girl all the way. I prefer flour tortillas over corn, but both are good. But straight from the bag they can be a little doughy. Heating them over an open flame for about 10 seconds per sides takes the flavor to a whole new level. 
  2. Something creamy. I like guacamole (aren't tacos just an excuse to eat all the guac?), but a crema of sorts is a good option too. 
  3. Crunch factor. A good slaw, chopped nuts, bean sprouts -- something to contrast the softness of the protein, guac, and shell. 
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These tacos have all 3. I char the shell on our gas stove. If you don't have a gas stove you can toss them on a grill or under the broiler for a few seconds. Keep close watch or you'll end up with something more "blackened."

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The guacamole recipe is super simple and can be made in about 3 minutes. I like to make extra to keep on hand for a snack on toast or with veggies or chips. The slaw not only adds a crunch but the citrus and fresh vegetables balance out the spice in the chicken and the creaminess of the avocado. It's basically the perfect bite when you get all three together. 

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I've professed my love for the slow cooker on a few occasions here, but I'm going to say it again. It's hands-off and makes dinnertime so much easier (as long as you remember to put it in ahead of time). Outside of the time in the slow cooker, this dinner can come together in under 20 minutes. What could be better?

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So, whether or not you actually make these on Taco Tuesday (or maybe for Cinco de Mayo this weekend), these tacos are your answer to a quick and easy dinner that everyone will enjoy.  

Tell me: What's your favorite kind of taco?

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Smoky Pulled Chicken Tacos with Citrus Slaw and Creamy Guacamole

Smoky and slightly spicy chicken paired with creamy guacamole and a crunchy citrus slaw all nestled in a charred tortilla make these tacos  a must for your weeknight dinner rotation or Cinco de Mayo celebrations.

Serves: 4-6

Prep time:

Cook time:

For the chicken
  • 1 1/2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 chiles in adobo sauce, diced
  • 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
For the slaw
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded purple cabbage (I by pre-shredded to save time and use the rest in salads)
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper, thinly slided
  • Juice and zest of 1 lime
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • salt and pepper, to taste
For the guacamole
  • 2 very ripe medium avocados
  • 2 Tbsp chopped red or white onion
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp flakey sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 8-12 small/medium flour tortillas

Instructions:
  1. Put chicken and spices in slow cooker and add 1 Tbsp water then mix around. Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 4 hours. Once chicken is done shred with 2 forks and keep warm in slow cooker until ready to eat. 1
  2. Toss cabbage, green onion, and red pepper in a bowl. Whisk together lime, zest, oil, honey, salt, and pepper and then toss with vegetable mixture. Can be made up to a day ahead and stored in airtight container in the refrigerator. 1
  3. Mash avocados and mix with onion, lime juice, salt and pepper. 1
  4. When ready to serve, char tortillas over an open flam on gas grill by placing on top of grate for about 10 seconds per side, flipping with tongs. Alternatively you can use the brolier or a grill to char the tortillas. Keep a close watch so they don't burn! Or, just heat in the oven until warm, if you prefer. 1
  5. To serve: Add chicken, gauac, and slaw to tortilla and enjoy!