Grilled Chicken Street Tacos

July 19, 2020  ·  Published March 11, 2017

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Mexican Street Tacos – this is one of my favorite recipes! They’re unbelievably easy to make, they’re jam packed with authentic flavor and everyone always loves them! 

Here you get corn tortillas layered with charred and tender, cilantro-lime marinated grilled chicken thighs and they’re finished with creamy avocados. YUM!

Image of 3 chicken street tacos on a metal plate. Tacos are made up of mini corn tortillas, grilled chicken, onion, cilantro, lime, avocado and Mexican hot sauce.

The Best Mexican Street Tacos

We are in the middle of moving (always crazy, as I’m sure you know) but the thing I’m wanting to make most once we are all unpacked are these street tacos. I couldn’t count how many times I’ve made these things.

They’re always on rotation on our dinner menu, and I love to serve them at parties. Plus they are a healthier dinner option.

You’ll love this street taco recipe not only because they taste amazing, but also because it’s one of those easy to throw together recipes and you can also get a head start it a few hours in advance with the marinating.

If you want to go all out, you can serve them with carne asada tacos as well (just slice strips into small pieces). I love getting each kind when I get them on the street in Mexico or in restaurants, so one of these days I’m going to feel ambitious and make all three at once (chicken, carne asada and carnitas).

Chicken Street Tacos Video

Image of ingredients used to make street tacos. Shows chicken thighs, cilantro, limes, garlic, avocado, chili powders, red onion, oil and tortillas.

Street Taco Ingredients and Substitutes

These Mexican chicken street tacos require very few ingredients. Most of the ingredients on the list below are spices that I’m sure you already have on hand.

  • Boneless skinless chicken thighs: Thighs really are best here. They char better and are more tender and juicy, but if you prefer breasts they will work, just keep an eye on the temp as they dry out easier. Cook just to 165 in the center.
  • Limes: If you are in a pinch then lemons may be substituted.
  • Olive oil: Vegetable oil will work too.
  • Garlic: Fresh garlic really does give the best flavor but if you must 1 tsp granulated garlic can be substituted.
  • Ground cumin: While there isn’t a great substitute for this ingredient you could use other Mexican style spices if you are out such as coriander and paprika.
  • Ancho chili powder: I love the rich flavor of the ancho chili powder but standard chili powder will work too.
  • Cilantro: Crazy enough originally this recipe didn’t include the cilantro but I’ve found it’s so much better with it. Stick with fresh as the dried really is lacking in flavor.
  • Salt and pepper: Add to taste. I like the marinade to be on the salty side.
  • Onion and avocado: Or use other desired toppings, see below.

Collage image of 4 steps showing how to make street tacos. Shows mixing marinade, soaking chicken in marinade in a bag and grilling chicken on grill.

Additional Topping Ideas

Traditional street tacos are just served with onion, cilantro, lime, sometimes radishes, and always Mexican hot sauce. But you can load them up how you like. Other topping ideas include:

  • Diced tomatoes
  • Salsa or pico de gallo
  • Shredded lettuce or cabbage
  • Mexican cheese such as queso fresco, cotija or Monterey jack cheese
  • Mexican crema or sour cream
  • Guacamole
  • Grilled corn
  • Sliced Jalapeno 
  • Sauteed bell peppers

Tip: If you are planning on adding any of these additional toppings then I’d skip the street size tortillas and go for standard or even larger. Those mini tortillas don’t fit very many toppings.

Chicken being diced on a cutting board into small pieces to serve in tacos.

How to Make Street Tacos

  1. Make the chicken taco marinade by stirring together lime juice, olive oil, garlic, cumin chili powder, cilantro, S&P.
  2. Pour marinade over chicken in a bag. Let marinate in fridge 1 – 6 hours.
  3. Cook on hot preheated grill, about 5 minutes per side.
  4. Let rest briefly, then dice into cubes.
  5. Layer into to warmed tortillas and top as desired.

Can I bake the chicken instead?

Yes, you can bake the chicken instead of grilling. Bake at 425ºF for 30 minutes on a sheet pan (or until cooked through and crisp on the edges).

How to know when chicken is done?

You’ll know when the chicken is finished cooking when the inside is no longer pink and when the center registers 165 degrees on an instant read thermometor. Or, you can prick the chicken with a knife to check whether or not the juices run clear.

Close up image of chicken street tacos shown laying open on a serving plate.

Tips for Making Chicken Street Tacos

  • Be sure to allow at least one hour for marinating otherwise the chicken won’t have enough time to absorb flavor.
  • Use hot heat to grill and let them char a bit. It gives them a crispy edge and adds great flavor!
  • For best results, stick with thighs here. The thighs are juicier, have better flavor and brown better. People who don’t normally like chicken thighs love this recipe. I make them for guests all the time.

Hand holding a mini street taco, shown close up.

What to Serve With Street Tacos:

More Easy Taco Recipes You’ll Love:

5 from 32 votes

Grilled Chicken Street Tacos

One of the best taco recipes out there! Chicken thighs are soaked in a bright, well seasoned marinade and grilled to perfection (you'll be fighting over those little charred crispy pieces). 
These chicken street tacos are so flavorful and so easy to make. I frequently serve these chicken tacos to guests and they always get compliments!
Servings: 4
Prep15 minutes
Cook10 minutes
Ready in: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs trimmed boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For serving

  • 12 mini corn taco shells, warmed (double up if desired)
  • 1 large avocado,* cored and sliced
  • 1 small red or yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  • Lime wedges, for serving (optional)

Instructions

  • Add chicken to a gallon size resealable bag. In a small bowl whisk together lime juice, olive oil, garlic, cumin chili powder, cilantro, 1 tsp salt and 3/4 tsp pepper.
  • Pour mixture over chicken in bag then seal bag while releasing an trapped air. Rub marinade over chicken. Transfer to refrigerator and allow to marinate at least 1 hour and up to 6 hours
  • Preheat a grill over medium-high heat (it should come to 425 - 450 degrees). 
  • Remove chicken from marinade and grill until chicken has cooked through , turning once halfway through grilling, about 5 - 6 minutes per side (thickest center should register 165 and thighs should be slightly charred). 
  • Transfer to a plate, cover with foil and let rest 5 minutes.
  • Dice grilled chicken into cubes. Sprinkle chicken over 1 or 2 tortillas per taco then add an avocado slice, diced chicken, onions and cilantro. 
  • Serve warm, spritzing each taco with lime juice and drizzling with hot sauce.

Notes

  • *Try homemade guacamole for another delicious option.
  • Stick with chicken thighs for best results. They're more tender and juicier, they brown better and they have better flavor.
  • Recipe source: Cooking Classy
Nutrition Facts
Grilled Chicken Street Tacos
Amount Per Serving
Calories 463 Calories from Fat 189
% Daily Value*
Fat 21g32%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Cholesterol 161mg54%
Sodium 192mg8%
Potassium 800mg23%
Carbohydrates 32g11%
Fiber 6g25%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 37g74%
Vitamin A 380IU8%
Vitamin C 12mg15%
Calcium 84mg8%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.