Mini Chicken Taco Salad Recipe

If I didn’t already want to marry Dave before he first cooked for me when we were dating, it surely would have sealed the deal after sampling some of his Tex-Mex dinners. He’s spoiled me with a lot of dishes (enchiladas, tacos, bowls, etc.) using his spicy, braised chicken mixture as a base but today, I’m sharing another favorite – his chicken taco salad recipe. We actually used to make them in a large tortilla shell bowl, exclusively, but one day when we were out of the larger tortillas, we improvised with minis. The advantage (aside from them being adorable) is it actually leaves room to serve a side dish, a second mini, or is just a way to prepare a smaller portion.

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The little Tex-Mex chicken taco salads work well for repeat weeknight dinners and the leftovers are awesome for tacos or burrito bowls. They even make for a perfect addition to a DIY taco bar if you need an entertaining idea. It may look like a lot of steps but they’re simple – just thoroughly explained and broken down into three parts:

  1. The Shredded Chicken Mixture
  2. The Taco Salad Bowl Shell
  3. The Salad

Mini Chicken Taco Salad Recipe for an easy weeknight dinner

When it comes to the toppings, customize it to your liking. Instead of refried beans, try black beans. Or add rice. Or throw in some pico de gallo and cilantro. Anything goes! As a caveat, this recipe is spicy. To tone things down, sub jalapenos for the serrano peppers or, stick to bell peppers and nix the spicier peppers altogether.

5 from 1 vote

Mini Shredded Chicken Taco Salad (in Baked Flour Tortilla Bowl)

Course Main Course, Salad
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour


Chicken Mixture

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2-4 large serrano peppers to taste/spice preference
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 cup pickled jalapeno juice from canned jalapenos
  • 4 dashes tabasco sauce
  • 2 1/2 cups water

Salad Shell

  • 4 medium flour tortillas (approx. 8")
  • Pam cooking spray

Salad & Toppings (all toppings optional)

  • shredded lettuce
  • diced tomato
  • green onion
  • refried beans
  • salsa
  • shredded cheese
  • salsa
  • sour cream
  • sliced black olives


Chicken Mixture

  1. Boil chicken with can of chicken broth and water, with a dash of salt, pepper, and garlic powder, to taste, for approx. 15 minutes (or until chicken is no longer pink inside).

  2. Remove chicken from pot (discard liquid), and finely shred, and set aside.

  3. Dice all vegetables (tomato, onion, peppers) and add to large pan.

  4. Add spices to vegetable mixture, followed by the shredded chicken. Finally, add water, jalapeno juice, and tobasco sauce. Mix thoroughly.

  5. Bring mixture to a full boil, cover with lid, then reduce temperature and simmer for approximately 15 minutes.

  6. After 15 minutes, remove lid, stir, and continue simmering on low to medium heat until approximately 80% of liquid is absorbed.

Salad Shell

  1. Preheat oven to 400º.

  2. Arrange small flour tortillas on a microwave-safe plate. Lightly spray both sides of tortillas with Pam cooking oil and microwave on high for 20-30 seconds. 

  3. On a baking pan/cookie sheet, arrange oven-safe, medium sized bowls, upside down. Lightly spray bowls with Pam.

  4. Take pre-heated flour tortillas and gently stretch them over the bowls, forming your taco salad shell. Lightly spray once more before placing in oven.

  5. Bake for approximately 7-10 minutes, until golden brown and crispy. DO NOT OVER-BAKE. Remove from oven and set aside.

Final Assembly

  1. Prepare refried beans, according to instructions on can, and spread lightly on inside of taco salad shell.

  2. Spoon and strain chicken mixture and add inside the shell.

  3. Add lettuce and any other toppings to the taco salad shell.


Here are a few tips to speed up the cooking process. While you can 100% shred chicken by hand (I have for over 30 years), after we got our KitchenAid mixer, tossing the breasts in and having the mixer expertly pull it apart in 60 seconds became my favorite function. If you do have a mixer, you can put the cooked breasts in, use the primary white paddle, and set the speed between 1 and 2, and it will give you perfect chicken in a fraction of the time, with zero finger burns. Just don’t mix it for too long or it will totally pulverize the chicken 😉

How to use a Kitchenaid Mixer to shred chicken for casseroles

The consistency is perfect for casseroles, soups, and chicken salad.

How to shred chicken in a kitchenaid mixer

It seems like we are chopping veggies 24/7 between all the dishes we gravitate towards. THIS chopper is one of our favorite kitchen tools and has sped up the process substantially. (It comes with a few different sized plates and we throw it all in).

Easy way to dice tomatoes

When the entire chicken mixture is combined, this is what it will look like…

Easy spicy stovetop Mexican chicken mixture

I’ve shared THIS stoneware bowl set a ton but they are our go-to mini taco salad bowls that have proven to be the perfect size and shape.

How to bake flour tortillas for taco salad shells

You can also get a smaller version of these bowls, perfect for dips, condiments, nuts, etc. HERE.

Healthier Taco Salad Shells in the Oven

Baked taco salad shells

Family Favorite- Chicken Taco Salad recipe for easy weeknight dinner ideas

While we typically use Dave’s braised chicken for these, you can also use the crock pot Mexican chicken recipe I shared HERE that we use for our chicken tortilla soup. If you can plan ahead, it will cut your prep time in half and while the flavor profile is a little different, it’s equally as delish! Sign up to receive emails at the bottom of this post for upcoming 2019 projects – from recipes to rooms!

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The taco salad recipe your family has to try! Our favorite is with this spicy shredded chicken in mini-shell portions!

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  1. 1.19.19
    Gretchen Thomas said:

    5 stars
    Love this! You and Dave are quite the marvels. The KitchenAid shredding tip is awesome. I can’t wait to try it. Please keep sharing these wonderful dishes.