This delicious and easy way to cook boneless chicken thighs and is just as great as tacos as it is with your favorite side dishes. Marinade overnight, then cook down the marinade for an extra flavorful sauce.
Why You Should Make These
Marinating the chicken for these tacos the night before means you're only 25 minutes away from dinner.
The marinade has a great balance of acidic, sweet, and spicy. This not only helps break down the chicken to make it tender, but adds a huge amount of flavor to the chicken.
Nothing goes to waste! We cook down the marinade while the chicken is cooking and use it as a sauce.
Ingredients & Substitutions
citrus - you will need ⅓-1/2 cup of orange juice and ¼ cup of lime juice for this recipe. It is about 1 large orange and 2 limes worth of juice.
chicken thighs - I love the tenderness of thighs and how quickly they cook compared to chicken breasts. You can also use breasts, but it does yield a less flavorful, and often drier finished recipe.
chili powder - I love the sweetness of the chili powder in this recipe. If you're looking for more of a kick, cayenne pepper tastes great in this recipe, too.
oil - you can use olive oil, canola, vegetable, avocado seed, sunflower seed, and many other oils for this recipe. Use what you have on hand.
agave - you can substitute with brown sugar or honey.
How to Make this Recipe
The key step to great tasting chicken tacos is the marinade. Marinate your chicken in the refrigerator overnight in the mixture of orange juice, lime juice, olive oil, agave, minced garlic, oregano, chili powder, and salt. Mix up the ingredients with a whisk and then add the chicken and make sure the marinade covers the chicken.
NOTE: Take the chicken out of the refrigerator twenty to thirty minutes before you intend to cook it. This gets the chicken to room temperature so it can cook more evenly.
Pour the juices from the marinade into a sauce pan. Bring to boil, lower to a simmer, and reduce the marinade by half. Takes 10-15 minutes. You can cook your chicken in the meantime.
There are a few different methods you can use: grilling, broiling, or stovetop cooking in a pan.
Roast or Bake
Preheat the oven to 425F. Cook for 20-30 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165F (check using an instant-read thermometer, link opens in new tab).
Grill for 4-5 minutes per side. Cook until the internal temperature reads 165F (check using an instant-read thermometer, link opens in new tab).
Cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes per side. Cook until the internal temperature reads 165F (check using an instant-read thermometer, link opens in new tab). I use a cast-iron pan.
Whichever cooking method you choose, set the chicken aside and let it rest for five to ten minutes before slicing.
Assemble your tacos with the cabbage on the bottom, then the chicken, and top with the salsa. For the final touch, add a squeeze of lime and drizzle the reduced sauce on top.
Chicken Tacos FAQs
Tacos usually include a main like meat, chicken, seafood, or a hearty vegetable, and are topped with salsa or onions. They are often served with extra toppings like lime wedges, guacamole, cilantro, diced onions, salsa, cabbage, and cheese.
You can rough chop or thinly slice chicken for tacos. You can cook them pre-cut, or cut them after they are cooked.
Chicken thighs are cooked when the internal temperature reaches 165F.
Yes, all poultry and meat cook faster without the bones.
Chicken & Tacos
You can check out all my favorite poultry recipes here, or make my favorite boneless skinless chicken thighs. And here are the best tacos:
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- 1.5 lb. chicken thighs boneless & skinless
- 1 orange juiced and zested, ~½ cup
- 2 limes juiced and zested, ~¼ cup
- ¼ cup oil olive, canola, avocado, etc.
- ¼ cup agave nectar honey, or 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Pico de Gallo Salsa
- 1 large tomato diced
- ½ red onion diced
- 1 jalapeño finely diced, seeds removed for a milder salsa
- 1 lime juiced
- sea salt to taste
- 24 small tortillas flour or corn, heated just before serving, use 2-per taco
- 2 avocados sliced (or smashed if fancy looks don't matter to you)
- ¼ purple cabbage shredded or thinly sliced
- limes cut in wedges, for serving
- hot sauce for serving
- Salsa: Mix ingredients in a bowl. Set aside. Can be made a day in advance.
- Marinade the chicken thighs in the refrigerator overnight (or minimum 2 hours) in the orange juice, lime juice, lime zest, olive oil, agave, minced garlic, oregano, chili powder, and salt. Take it out of the refrigerator 20-30 minutes before you cook it.
- Pour the juices from the marinade in a sauce pan. Bring to boil, lower to a simmer, and reduce the marinade by half. Takes 10-15 minutes. You can cook your chicken in the meantime.
- Preheat the oven to 425F. Cook for 20-30 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165F.
- Grill for 4-5 minutes per side. Cook until the internal temperature reads 165F.
- Cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes per side. Cook until the internal temperature reads 165F. I use a cast-iron pan.
- Let rest 5-10 minutes before slicing serving.
- Assemble your tacos with the cabbage on the bottom, then the chicken, and top with the salsa. A squeeze of lime makes it just right. Drizzle the reduced sauce on top.
This post was originally published in August of 2017 but was republished with new photos, step by step instructions, and tips in October of 2020, and with a video in April of 2021.
I could drink this marinade, it's that good! We will definitely be adding this recipe to our monthly roster of meals.
Aww yay! Thank you for sharing, Maria... I'm so glad you liked it! I use it on my steak tacos, too 🙂