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Chicken Street Tacos, Dinner in Minutes from Leftovers

In the world of chick­en left­over recipes, my scrump­tious Chick­en Street Tacos are pret­ty near per­fec­tion. Ten­der, juicy chick­en, some crunchy red onion, cilantro, que­so fres­co and tangy lime juice in fresh­ly charred corn tortillas.

This yum­my street taco recipe is deli­cious proof that din­ner in min­utes is pos­si­ble when you cook from planned left­overs! And, since I use corn tor­tillas, the street tacos are gluten free.

chicken street tacos on a blue stoneware plate with cilantro and lime wedges
Post may con­tain affil­i­ate links. See my Affil­i­ate Disclosure.
No stringy shred­ded chick­en. See the ten­der, juicy slices? I can show you how to make it, eas­i­ly and afford­ably, for inten­tion­al left­over meals.

Today, I made my Mex­i­can street taco with slow cook­er south­west chick­en. The beau­ty is that they can be made with ANY chick­en left­overs. Whether they’re inten­tion­al left­overs you planned for or just some unex­pect­ed­ly left from a meal.

My left­overs were inten­tion­al­ly planned, so I would be able to be able to cre­ate this bold­ly fla­vor­ful street taco meal and a to-die-for bar­be­cue chick­en piz­za, this week. 

Cook­ing once, to eat many times, makes great time AND bud­get sense. Eat­ing one of my DELISH Chick­en Street Tacos is going to make a believ­er out of you!

What Are Street Tacos?

I love ALL tacos! Seri­ous­ly, I nev­er met a taco I could­n’t be friends with. 😋 But, of all the vari­eties, I have to say the sim­ple, fla­vor-bomb of a Mex­i­can street taco is my favorite.

chicken street tacos made with chicken leftovers.  Tacos are in a metal taco rack that holds six at one time.

Mex­i­can street tacos have noth­ing to hide behind. They don’t have a ton of gar­nish­es and sauces. You CAN add them. But in a tra­di­tion­al street taco, it’s all about a TINY, beau­ti­ful­ly charred corn tor­tilla; ten­der, juicy meat; a sprin­kle of cilantro and maybe some que­so fresco. 

And then … that glo­ri­ous fresh lime juice driz­zled over every­thing to add some zip. The lime is a zingy sour note to meld with all the spicy, savory ele­ments and pulls those fla­vors into crave­able har­mo­ny. Taco heav­en, my friends. Sim­ple. Taco. Perfection.

Where Did Street Tacos Get Their Name?

Mex­i­can Street tacos are some­thing you would lit­er­al­ly pur­chase from cart ven­dors on city side­walks and streets. So the name makes per­fect sense. 

You can still buy them from street ven­dors, but, today there are many more options. Includ­ing mak­ing your own at home.

chicken street tacos on a blue stoneware plate with cilantro and lime wedges

Hold the tiny chick­en tacos in one hand and eat them as you walk down the street. They are a portable meal that allows you to eat with­out mak­ing a mess. Street tacos pack tons of fla­vor into just a few deli­cious mouthfuls.

Street taco recipes have gained pop­u­lar­i­ty, over the last decade or so, and you’ll find them fea­tured in many dri­ve-thrus and even sit down restau­rants, now. It’s no won­der! They are quick and easy. Made well, these mini tacos are utter­ly delicious!


The Ingredients

For my street taco of choice, chick­en, you only need six ingre­di­ents. And if you’ve done it like I taught you, the cook­ing is already done! Check out this sim­ple line-up.

  • Pre-Cooked Chick­en
  • Small Corn Tor­tillas (6″ or less) I always buy gluten free.
  • Red Onion
  • Cilantro
  • Que­so Fresco
  • Fresh Limes

Meat Options for Street Taco Recipes

I LOVE chick­en street tacos! But, chick­en isn’t the only choice when mak­ing a good street taco. 

For instance, my Slow Cook­er Pork Car­ni­tas are a smash hit, fla­vor-packed, home run when nes­tled into street tacos.

crock-pot pork carnitas  for Chicken Street Tacos

Beef is anoth­er great option for a scrump­tious street taco. Brown up ground beef fla­vored with home­made taco sea­son­ing or spici­er South­west sea­son­ing for a deli­cious­ly mem­o­rable street taco meal. In the beef cat­e­go­ry, grilled flank steak, flat iron steak or carne asa­da are all ten­der and fla­vor­ful street taco fill­ings, too.

Some peo­ple enjoy fish or shrimp in street tacos. Vari­ety is the spice of life, right? Cus­tomize your street tacos to include what your fam­i­ly loves most.

Whichev­er meat you decide to use, hav­ing it pre-cooked as an inten­tion­al left­over is going to save you tons of time when get­ting din­ner on the table.

Cooking for Intentional Leftovers

Through­out the posts and recipes on this blog, I have men­tored and coached you to take the time you already spend cook­ing a meal, and max­i­mize it, by mak­ing inten­tion­al leftovers. 

chicken street tacos made with chicken leftovers. Tacos are in a metal taco rack that holds six at one time.

When you dou­ble a recipe that you’re already mak­ing, it doesn’t take any more time in the kitchen. And, in the end you have food for two, three or even more meals, already pre­pared. You actu­al­ly save your­self time the rest of the week or even the month.

This easy, deli­cious Chick­en Street Taco recipe is me prac­tic­ing what I preach! I cooked Slow Cook­er South­west Chick­en, last week. We enjoyed the meal and I froze the leftovers. 

Now, tonight … Din­ner in min­utes, with­out a dri­ve-thru. I saved time, mon­ey and improved on the health­ful­ness of our fam­i­ly meal over any kind of take­out fare! 

FAQs About Leftovers

Perfect Baked Chciken Breasts prepped for storage in fridge or freezer. Bags of sliced, chopped and whole chicken breasts in zip-top freezer bags.

Prepped chick­en for the freez­er in zip top freez­er bags. All it needs are the labels. Be cer­tain you are buy­ing bags designed for the freez­er and not just plain zip top bags when freez­ing chick­en left­overs. Sil­i­cone zip top freez­er bags [affil­i­ate link] are anoth­er pop­u­lar freez­er alter­na­tive that helps pre­vent freez­er burn.

How long are left­overs good for?

The USDA says all left­overs that are prop­er­ly stored in air-tight con­tain­ers will last in the fridge for up to four days. The same left­overs, prop­er­ly sealed, can be kept in the freez­er up to four months. This rule also applies to chick­en leftovers.

What can I do with Left­over Food?

There are more ways to cre­ate brand new and deli­cious meals from left­overs than I could pos­si­bly count. Sign up for my FREE Mak­ing Home­made Easy Newslet­ter. Be updat­ed with new recipes and left­over ideas, every Fri­day morn­ing. And receive my Left­overs Cheat Sheet absolute­ly FREE for sign­ing up. It has 40+ din­ner ideas for using up leftovers.

slow cooker southwest chicken stored in a refrigerator container for meal prep throughout the week

This chick­en is stored in Rub­ber­maid Bril­liance con­tain­ers [affil­i­ate link] for the fridge. I love that they’re clear so I can imme­di­ate­ly see what’s in them. They have air-tight seals, they’re stack­able for neat stor­age and they come in lots of sizes.

I am care­ful when I pre-prep chick­en to use a method that leaves it ten­der and juicy. Then I slice the chick­en thin­ly and store it, along with its juices, in a stor­age con­tain­er that fits the job. 

Stor­ing chick­en left­overs prop­er­ly means I have no dry, tough, stringy shred­ded chick­en. I’m left with beau­ti­ful­ly ten­der chick­en pieces and slices that can be used in any fla­vor-packed and easy din­ner recipe!

If you like shred­ded chick­en, of course, go ahead and make some. Shred­ded chick­en is just not my per­son­al pref­er­ence, as I find it tends to be dri­er. And I’m not a huge fan of the texture.

My Favorite Ways to Create Chicken Leftovers

South­west Chick­en is savory, spicy, juicy and ten­der. It’s cre­at­ed in the slow cook­er, so hands-on work is min­i­mal. It trans­lates well to any left­over makeover recipe that ben­e­fits from a spicy kick. Think all your favorite Mex­i­can dish­es, quick stir-fries, piz­za and more. South­west­ern Chick­en is gluten free and dairy free and it’s scrump­tious in Street Tacos.

slow cooker southwest chicken whole in a serving bowl with sprigs of cilantro - great  for Chicken Street Tacos

Slow Cook­er Chick­en Breasts are sim­ple to pre­pare and deli­cious. They are sea­soned with my Best All Pur­pose Sea­son­ing and cooked in the slow cook­er, to cre­ate juicy, ten­der slices for quick and easy meals. If a recipe calls for pre-cooked chick­en, slow cook­er chick­en breasts are per­fect! Gluten free and dairy free. This is a super kid-friend­ly recipe that’s not “picey”, as my grand­kids used to say. It’s great when you need a milder street tacos recipe for the littles.

Slow cooker chicken breasts great  for Chicken Street Tacos

Per­fect Baked Chick­en Breasts are roast­ed on a sheet pan in 20–25 min­utes. They also use my Best All Pur­pose Sea­son­ing for mouth­wa­ter­ing fla­vor that can trans­late to any chick­en recipe. If you did­n’t think baked chick­en breasts could be juicy and ten­der, you must try this deli­cious recipe. This is anoth­er mild, but fla­vor­ful, kid-friend­ly chick­en recipe that is deli­cious when you make Street Tacos and so many oth­er dishes.

Perfect Baked Chicken Breasts on a white plate with kale and tomatoes - great for chicken street tacos and chicken leftover recipes

Easy Roast Chick­en is my favorite recipe for roast­ing a whole chick­en. The post shows you how to spatch­cock (but­ter­fly) the bird for quick­er and more even cook­ing. Easy roast chick­en is savory and herba­ceous with only a hand­ful of ingre­di­ents. The left­overs are per­fect for all your favorite pre-cooked chick­en recipes.

easy roast chicken - great for chicken street tacos and chicken leftover recipes

Rotis­serie Chick­en Lets face it. Some nights are just a bust and you need quick and easy. A rotis­serie chick­en from the mar­ket still gets your din­ner done quick­ly, with­out hav­ing to resort to take­out. Even if you’re mak­ing street tacos for home­made “take­out”!

How to Make Street Tacos

chicken street tacos made with chicken leftovers. Tacos are in a metal taco rack that holds six at one time.
  1. Cook the corn tor­tillas in a dry skil­let over medi­um-high heat. 30 to 60 sec­onds per side is usu­al­ly more than enough. You want a few dark­er spots and a lit­tle caramelization/char around the edges.
  2. Place each cooked corn tor­tilla inside a fold­ed kitchen tow­el to keep them warm and soft. Or you can use my pre­ferred method. I don’t own an out­door grid­dle, but I love this taco rack [affil­i­ate link] designed for one. I place each cooked corn tor­tilla into a spot in the rack. They hold there shape bet­ter and they’re so much eas­i­er to fill. Plus, because of the sil­i­cone han­dles I can put the whole rack in the oven to rewarm the shells if they get too cool before I fill them. Or I can heat an entire rack of six filled Chick­en Street Tacos.
Corn tortillas in a taco rack being filled with chicken for Chicken Street Tacos
  1. Add fill­ing to each shell. I like to use a gen­er­ous por­tion of juicy chick­en. I prob­a­bly add around 1/3 cup of sliced chick­en pieces to each corn tortilla.
  2. Then I add mere sprin­kles, (1 tea­spoon) of minced red onion. 
  3. After that a sprin­kle of crum­bled que­so fres­co cheese, a few chopped cilantro leaves and a wedge of lime. I let every­one add their own lime juice, so it’s per­fect for their spe­cif­ic tastes.

That’s it! A clas­sic Chick­en Street Taco! 

Make Them Your Own

There are no street taco police and no rules that say you can’t get cre­ative and cus­tomize your chick­en street tacos to be all about every­thing you love. 

If you like flour tor­tillas bet­ter than corn tor­tillas, go for it! And, make the top­pings and gar­nish­es all about you! 

Use pars­ley instead of cilantro. Add some home­made refried beans, black beans, charred corn, olives, pico de gal­lo, avo­ca­do or even let­tuce and toma­to. (Though we’re def­i­nite­ly wan­der­ing into plain old taco ter­ri­to­ry at this point. lol)

Try some dif­fer­ent sauces if you, or your lit­tles, are not fans of lime juice. Use my Avo­ca­do Ranch Sal­ad Dress­ing, instead. Or, grab the recipe for my South­west Dress­ing and driz­zle some on for an added spicy kick.

Chicken Street Tacos on a blue stoneware plate

Enjoy, my friend! Eat chick­en street tacos and have a won­der­ful­ly blessed week! 

P.S. Make inten­tion­al left­overs! lol 

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Chicken Street Tacos on a blue stoneware plate

Chicken Street Tacos


  • Author: Glen­da Embree
  • Total Time: 20 min­utes
  • Yield: 6 tacos 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

In the world of chick­en left­over recipes, my scrump­tious Chick­en Street Tacos are pret­ty near per­fec­tion. Ten­der, juicy chick­en slices and pieces (not shred­ded chick­en); some crunchy red onion, cilantro, que­so fres­co and tangy lime juice in a fresh­ly charred corn tor­tilla.  This yum­my street taco recipe is deli­cious proof that din­ner in min­utes is pos­si­ble when you cook from planned leftovers!

 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 6 corn tor­tillas (6″ or less)
  • 2 cups left­over chick­en, thin slices and pieces (Thin slices are more juicy than shred­ded chicken.)
  • 2 Table­spoons red onion, minced
  • 1 or 2 Table­spoons cilantro, chopped
  • 1 or 2 Table­spoons que­so fres­co cheese, crumbled
  • 1 lg. lime, cut into 6 wedges

Instructions

  1. Cook the corn tor­tillas in a dry skil­let over medi­um-high heat. 30 to 60 sec­onds per side is usu­al­ly more than enough. You want a few dark­er spots and a lit­tle caramelization/char around the edges.
  2. When both sides are cooked you can place each taco inside a fold­ed kitchen tow­el to keep the warm and soft. Or you can use my pre­ferred method. I don’t own an out­door grid­dle, but I love this taco rack [affil­i­ate link] designed for one. I place each cooked corn tor­tilla into a spot in the rack. They hold there shape bet­ter and they’re so much eas­i­er to fill. Plus, because of the sil­i­cone han­dles I can put the whole rack in the oven to rewarm the shells if they get too cool before I fill them. Or I can heat an entire rack of six filled Chick­en Street Tacos.
  3. Add fill­ing to each tor­tilla, start­ing with the chick­en. (If the chick­en is left­over from the fridge, warm it a few sec­onds in the microwave or in a skil­let on the stove top.)  Add around 1/3 cup of sliced chick­en pieces to each corn tortilla.
  4. Sprin­kle (1 tea­spoon) of minced red onion over the chick­en in each street taco.
  5. Sprin­kle crum­bled que­so fres­co cheese, a few chopped cilantro leaves and a wedge of lime, next. (Leave the lime squeez­ing to each indi­vid­ual per­son, so they get the amount they want.)

Notes

Serve with Home­made Refried Beans or Mex­i­can Rice.  A big slice of water­mel­on makes a great side for spicy Chick­en Street Tacos, too!

Try alter­na­tive top­pings like:  home­made refried beans, black beans, charred corn, olives, pico de gal­lo or even let­tuce and tomato.

Sub in beef, pork or even fish for the chick­en.  Use chick­en thighs, shred­ded chick­en or grilled chick­en.  ( I do think that shred­ded chick­en tends to be more dry and stringy.  Pre­pare it care­ful­ly to get juicy results.)

Get cre­ative and make the tacos your own.

  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 10 min
  • Cat­e­go­ry: Chick­en, Main Dish, Mexican
  • Method: stove top and/or microwave
  • Cui­sine: Mex­i­can American

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30 thoughts on “Chicken Street Tacos, Dinner in Minutes from Leftovers”

  1. Your tacos recipe is sim­ply divine Glen­da! This will be on my menu soon again, just loved it, thanks!

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