Tangy Chicken Tacos

June 4, 2013 | Chicken & Poultry, Mains, Recipes

A lot of Mexican restaurants have nice patios and slushy margaritas, but there’s nothing like eating chicken tacos by the campfire. These feature chicken you start marinating at home, then cook up fajita-style at camp, and finish with lots of fresh lime juice. So the flavors are just the right mix of smoky, spicy, and bright. The trick is to make sure the pan is super hot, and then work in batches so the meat sears, not steams. Build in as many sides and condiments from the list below as you can muster. Or just shred some green cabbage to fold inside along with the chicken and cheese and call it a meal.

Serves 4


1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 whole scallions
12 small corn tortillas
2 oz queso fresco (or 4 oz Jack or cheddar cheese)
2 limes


  1. Slice the chicken into 1/2-inch strips and put the pieces in an airtight container with the oil and seasonings. Shake or stir until the meat is evenly coated; close tightly, and freeze.
  2. Trim the tops and bottoms from the scallions. Wrap in a damp towel and pack them either alone or with other fresh produce in a sealable container; then refrigerate
  3. Wrap the tortillas in a double layer of foil and refrigerate.
  4. Crumble the queso fresco or grate the cheese; put it in an airtight container and refrigerate.
  5. Rinse the limes, but wait to cut them.


  1. In the morning, check the chicken: If still frozen, put the pack on top of the ice in the cooler so it starts to thaw. If you plan on serving any sides, make sure everything is prepared before you start cooking the tacos; they’ll come together in a flash. Halve the limes and chop the scallions.
  2. When you’re ready to eat, put the foil-wrapped tortillas in a medium covered pot over low heat on a camp stove; or bury it in the coolest part of a live campfire.
  3. Heat a large skillet over hot coals or on a camp stove set to high. When the pan is super hot, add half the chicken. Cook, without stirring, until the chicken browns and releases from the pan, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir and cook until the meat is just opaque but not dry, 1-2 minutes more; transfer to a plate and tent with foil. Turn the tortilla pack over and cover it again.
  4. Repeat Step 3 with remaining chicken. When it’s done, add the reserved chicken to the skillet, and remove the pan from the heat. Squeeze the limes over all, add scallions, and stir; taste and adjust seasoning. To serve, put a few strips of chicken in warm tortillas and sprinkle with cheese.


  • When the skillet cools, wipe it with a damp towel, then dry and smear with oil if it needs re-seasoning.
  • Sock away any leftovers. It’s okay to combine some or all of them: They can be a nice treat the next day for a picnic spread or the drive back home.


Margaritas in a Jug
Pepitas and Peanuts Mix
Picnic Pico
Red Cabbage Slaw
Whole Beans, Any Color OR Rustic Refried Beans

GlampItFor CHICKEN MOLE TACOS in Step 4, when you combine both batches of chicken in the skillet, add 2 cups homemade mole (or well made store-bought) to the pan instead of the lime juice. Keep the pan over medium heat and cook, stirring, until the sauce is heated through and coats the chicken.

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