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Mexican Pulled Chicken

One of the most popular recipes on our site - this Mexican Pulled Chicken is delicious and versatile! Great in sandwiches, enchiladas, tacos, and more!

Jack recently prepared a wonderful Mexican-themed dinner for us, and this Mexican Pulled Chicken recipe played a starring role in several of the dishes he made!  The chicken is perfectly flavored with a spicy blend of tomato and peppers as well as other seasonings, and it’s cooked until fork-tender and then shredded.

One of the most popular recipes on our site - this Mexican Pulled Chicken is delicious and versatile! Great in sandwiches, enchiladas, tacos, and more!

A good Mexican pulled chicken is a great recipe to have in your collection!  It can be eaten as-is or as part of a sandwich, or it can be used in many other recipes!  In fact, several of our other very popular recipes here on A Family Feast use this recipe including our enchiladasMexican lasagna, and our chicken chimichangas!  The key is to use a mix of white and dark meat in this recipe (we used a combination of boneless chicken thighs and breasts) – and the thigh meat lends so much more flavor and juiciness to the finished dish than using the breast meat alone.

One of the most popular recipes on our site - this Mexican Pulled Chicken is delicious and versatile! Great in sandwiches, enchiladas, tacos, and more!

Interested in more chicken recipes?
Click here for our 100+ Best Chicken Recipes.


Mexican Pulled Chicken

Mexican Pulled Chicken - A Family Feast

5 from 1 reviews

  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 pounds


  • 1 sweet red pepper, stemmed and seeded and cut into large rings
  • 1 large onion, trimmed and cut into large rings
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast halves, trimmed
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
  • 4 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 tablespoons Agave Nectar
  • 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano (leaves)
  • 1 tablespoon coriander
  • 2 tablespoons Rocket Fuel (or your favorite hot sauce)


  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
  2. Spray a pan or glass baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and lay pepper and onion rings on the bottom.
  3. Lay chicken over onions and peppers.
  4. In a medium sauce pan, place all other ingredients and heat to a boil. Stir to combine ingredients and remove from heat.
  5. Pour the tomato mixture over the chicken. Cover with parchment paper then foil. (The parchment paper will prevent the tomato acids from reacting with the foil.)
  6. Place in oven for three hours.
  7. Remove the pan from oven and peel off parchment paper and foil.
  8. Place chicken on a cutting board and shred with two forks.
  9. Pour remaining mixture from baking dish into a strainer and strain out most of the liquid then place back into baking dish
  10. Place pulled chicken meat back in with tomato mixture in baking dish and mix to combine.


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Chicken Enchiladas with White Sauce - A Family Feast

Chicken Chimichangas

Chicken Chimichangas - A Family Feast

Mexican Lasagna

Mexican Lasagna with White Sauce - A Family Feast

Mexican Shredded Beef

Mexican Shredded Beef - A Family Feast

Cinco de Mayo Recipes

Cinco de Mayo Recipes - A Family Feast


    Leave a Comment


  1. You sold me at “Mexican”! Mexican’s a huge winner in my house (in fact, we had carnitas tacos tonight!) and we’re always looking for fun recipes. This one’s a keeper!

  2. Oh the possibilities with this pulled chicken! I’m imagining it would be perfect for burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, salads! Looking forward to trying this recipe. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. Looks like a great recipe for the crockpot, too!

    • That’s a great idea Jenna – let us know how it comes out if you try cooking this in a crockpot! Martha

      • Just made this last night in the crockpot and it turned out amazing! There was a lot more liquid that I had to drain off than I thought there would be but after I shredded the chicken I put it back on and let it simmer in the sauce for and other 30 min. Definitely crock pot friendly.

  4. This looks delicious, Martha!

  5. Danielle Storm | Traditional Mexican Cooking :

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. I love Mexican food and love trying new recipes. This will be added to my list of ones to try.

  6. This is in the oven right now, house smells wonderful…. I am preparing to make a loaded baked potato an Mexican Pulled Chicken casserole.

  7. I was looking for recipes for pulled chicken and I came across yours. It looks good, so good in fact I realized it also looked familiar. I saw the picture five minutes ago at:

    They didn’t even both to remove the “family ” logo at the bottom. If these folks aren’t you you may wish to speak with them!

    • Thank you so much Steve! I’ll be dropping them a note right now! I appreciate you letting us know! Thanks – and if you try the recipe – I hope you enjoy it!

  8. Are you sure I can put the plastic wrap under the foil in a heated oven????

    • We’re sure!! Just make sure the foil covers the plastic wrap completely before you put it in the oven! (I thought Jack was nuts the first time I saw him do this -but it works and really helps keep the moisture in while the food bakes!)

      • Hi there,
        I know I’m coming to the party a bit later here, but this recipe sounds delish. I want to do it for my daughter’s 18th birthday party in early December 2014. We’re doing a Taco Bar and it sounds like it will be perfect as a filling! One question about the wrap. The recipe states PARCHMENT wrap (which here in Australia means baking paper) under the foil…but Amy asked about PLASTIC wrap…so which one do I use? Also, is there any way I can prepare this and freeze before hand to reheat on the day? I’m going to serve from crockpots but will need to re-heat before going into them to keep warm. Just trying to keep the work load reasonable. Thanks for sharing…recipes look fabulous. Going to do the Rocket Fuel sauce too. Should be a blast! LOL :o)

        • Hi Maree – Originally, we wrote the recipe with steps to place plastic wrap under the foil as is done in most commercial kitchens – but so many readers worried about the plastic melting from the heat of the oven (it won’t if it’s covered completely with foil) that we changed the recipe to parchment paper (or baking paper as you call it). Either will work – and yes – you can prepare ahead of time and reheat in the slow cooker! I hope that helps and I hope you enjoy the recipe! Martha

  9. I tried this recipe for the enchiladas recipe on your site and it was awesome, actually i’m about to make it again. Hopefully I can stop “tasting” the chicken before I stuff it in the enchiladas this time, lol, it is soooo good.

  10. Martha, thank you so much for taking the time to share this wonderful recipe. I made the mexican chicken yesterday and it was amazing. I made chimichangas and the chicken with a little pepperjack cheese was all that was needed to make them an instant hit with my husband. This recipe will definitely become a regular in our home. Thank you again!

  11. Just a question on this, does the whole grain mustard refer to whole mustard seeds? Sounds silly, but I just want to clarify it so I’m not putting the wrong thing in!

  12. Love your recipes and can’t tell you how much our family loves anything Mexican.

  13. I’ve just cooked it and it is absolutely delicious! Thanks from the Czech Republic 🙂

  14. I was just wondering if this recipe is just as good done ahead of time and reheated or made in the slow cooker?

    • Hi Samantha – It can definitely be cooked ahead of time and reheated. I believe in the comments here on the post, we did have one reader who made this in the slow-cooker rather than the oven. Other than needing to drain off a bit more of the liquid at the end, it seemed to work well in a slow cooker! Hope that helps!

  15. disappointed u would tell people to cook with plastic wrap.. i would never attmpt this ..everyone has a variety of lids at their disposal these days.. glass being best. plastic does melt in heat AND it gives off a toxic chemical that will turn into a vpir and be absorbed into the food. aside from this toxin, i highly doubt some of the plastc chemical doesn’t melt into the food… honest to god ths is the craziest most irresponible howto i’ve ever seen advertised on the net…

    • Hello BJ and thank you for taking the time to write to us with your concerns! The first time I saw my husband Jack use plastic wrap under the foil in a recipe like this, I thought he was crazy and feared that the plastic would melt from the heat of the oven. But done correctly – with the plastic pulled taut over the pan and edges completely covered by the foil – the plastic shouldn’t melt and it is very effective in preventing the foil from disintegrating from the acid of the tomatoes in dishes like this, as well as creating a seal that prevents the moisture from escaping. This is a technique that has been (and still is) used in many commercial kitchens on a regular basis.

      Having said that, we certainly hear your concerns about plastic chemicals – and we have had a few other comments from other readers as well who either don’t feel comfortable with using plastic wrap in this manner, or perhaps didn’t correctly cover the plastic with the foil and had issues. We have updated this recipe to suggest using parchment paper instead to avoid any further concerns.

      Of course, anytime you are making a recipe that uses an ingredient you don’t like or a process you don’t feel comfortable with – you should adapt as you see fit. Thanks again for writing to us! Martha

  16. Hi Martha! I’ve made this recipe multiple times now, each time it has been delicious!! I have always wanted to make chicken that taste as good as you get in a real Mexican restaurant, and this tastes even better! The last time I made it, I used the left over meat to make individual quesadillas and burritos and froze them. They’re quick and easy for lunches and taste just as good as the first day! Much less expensive and healthier than buying something prepackaged from the grocery store! Any idea on nutritional facts for this recipe?? Thanks!

  17. Not sure what you pour over the chicken at the end, the vegetables or the strained liquid?

    • Hi – Sorry for the confusion. You want to strain out the excess liquid so after you’d done that, you’d put the chicken and vegetables back in (not the liquid). Thanks for writing to us – let us know if you have any other questions!

  18. What us a good sub for the Agave here? I cannot wait to make this. Thank you!

  19. Made this tonight and used it for Buritos. A big hit! It makes a lot but i don’t think the leftovers will last long.

    • Glad you enjoyed the recipe! We have lots of recipes on our site using this chicken – so if you need inspiration for the leftovers, be sure to search our site for pulled chicken recipes!

  20. Natasha Pollard :

    I LOVE your site!!!! I am having a house warming and will be using several of your recipes. I am wondering if The ground beef tacos ( x3) , the Mexican Beef shredded (x3) , and the pulled chicken ( x2) would be enough meat to feed around 50 individual. Thanks SOOOOO much for your opinion. I also plan on making the mexican rice ( x3) ( Not sure if I triple it if it will be enough? ) OK I all stop rambling and I appreciate any advice!!!!

    • Hi Natasha! What a great idea for a house warming menu! Doing the math on our end – we think you would have just enough, but depending on if there are other foods you are serving as well if you have picky or hearty eaters at your party, all adults or lots of kids, you might want to increase the quantities. Jack – who has planned some large scale events in his day – for 50 adults would recommend doing 4x the ground beef tacos, 4x the shredded beef and 3x the chicken to ensure that you have enough for everyone. On the rice, assuming everyone will take a portion, we’d suggest 5x since the recipe serves 8-10. We hope that helps! Please don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any other questions! Good luck with the party! Martha

      • Natasha Pollard :

        Thanks soooo much! This is a HUGE help for us. Have a great day!!

      • Natasha Pollard :

        Oh I also plan to have dessert ( store bought cake) and chips and salsa/guacamole.

        Because I was slightly off with the meat. I wonder if the toppings are a little off as well. Please take your time with getting back to me. When you do have time can you ask Jack about some of the following.

        Tomatos: 10

        Lettuce: 3 heads

        Onion: 4-5

        Cilantro: 3 cups lightly packed

        Limes: 15 ( cut up)

        Sour Cream: 3 Pints

        Cheese: 4-5 Lbs

        Taco Sauce: 3 bottles ?

        Hard Shells: 43 ?

        Soft Corn: 60 ?

        I wish I could hug you both as I really am excited for the party in two weeks, however, Ive never had this many people to entertain. lol 🙂

        • Hi Natasha – Below are Jack’s recommendations and other thoughts for quantities! Have a great party!
          If you are assembling and serving, you can control the amount of food used and gauge as you serve. If this is self-service, you need to have food in reserve. Some people really like loading up tacos.
          (Tomatoes: 10) That may need to be bumped up a bit. I would go with 15.
          (Lettuce: 3 heads) That seems OK as long as they are nice large heads of iceberg
          (Onion: 4-5) Assuming these are large onions that seems OK too. People tend to shy away from onions in mixed company.
          (Cilantro: 3 cups lightly packed) More or less cilantro shouldn’t hurt anything if adjustments need to be made so OK there (maybe a few nice bunches, could also be used to garnish plates)
          (Limes: 15 (cut up)) Sounds good unless they will also be needed for Margaritas. (BTW – Have you seen our Margarita recipe on the blog? It’s fantastic!)
          (Sour Cream: 3 Pints) That is about one ounce each, may want to bump that up a tad to four
          (Cheese: 4-5 Lbs) 5 pounds is only about an ounce and a half per person. If this is self-service, may want to bump this up a bit.
          (Taco Sauce: 3 bottles ?) Assuming they are 12 ounce bottles, that is a little more than a half ounce per person…should be OK.
          (Hard Shells: 43 ?) My guess is that people will want one of each. I would go with 60 shells each (extra for the usual breakage of the hard shells)
          (Soft Corn: 60 ?) Sounds good

          • Natasha Pollard :

            Ohhh margaritas I will have to check that out! Thank you for your kind words of advice. I am now officially ready to take on this taco meal!! This is for our house warming so I will take in your advice for self service as well. I will also make your taco sauce. Have a awesome week!!! I will send you some pictures of the finish spread. 🙂

          • Thanks Natasha!! Can’t wait to see the photo!!

  21. oh my goodness, just finished making your Mexican shredded chicken-made a slider for myself with jalapenos, and added made cole slaw-and it’s delicious!!!! I have a potluck tomorrow, and didn’t want the typical shredded BBQ chicken, I looked around, and remembered your site, how you have great recipes. It’s a keeper, I’ll be taking it in a crockpot to keep the chicken warm-Thank you for sharing your recipes

  22. Mexican was my daughters birthday dinner pick. She wanted chicken enchiladas so I decided to try and change things up a little. Your pulled chicken was OUTSTANDING! Used it to make chicken enchilada’s. My daughter said this will be her standard birthday meal request from now on.

  23. Can you make this ahead and freeze in smaller amounts to use at different times? Always looking for ideas to keep on hand for a quick meal.

  24. I’m just making this in the crockpot and when putting in my oregano I used ground and I’m thinking I should have used leaf. Will this taste way off?

    • Hi Nichole – The ground oregano might give it a little stronger flavor – hopefully it will still taste good! I will edit the recipe to clarify oregano leave…thanks for writing to us today.

  25. Dear Jack and Martha,

    Very rarely do I take the effort to comment. I tried out this recipe, and it came out so good. Your effort and details of every aspect is well appreciated. WE now have a staple lunch for our 2 kids….

    Once again, Keep up this great work, of helping to hold on to our traditional recipes and techniques….
    Good food…takes 3 hrs to cook… that goodness can enter….


  26. So if I cut this recipe in half, since there is only 2 of us, how long would I then cook it for??

    • Hi Kris – Sorry for not responding sooner. The cooking time will probably be similar (you’ll still want to cook the chicken until fork tender). You could try checking it around 2 hours to see if it shreds but you might end up going the full 3 hours for the full batch. Hope that helps!

  27. Can I buy mexican pulled chicken or is this something I would need to make. Thanks

    • Hi Anita – We are a recipe website – we don’t sell food to go. You might be able to find pre-made Mexican pulled chicken local to where you live – but I’m not sure!

  28. We have missed the Edgewater Cafe, and have tried so many Chimichangas in other restaraunts that have always left us disappointed. I was so happy to have come across this recipe. I made it tonight and it was sooo good! Thank you so much for posting.

  29. I have to say that I was a bit underwhelmed by this recipe. I am a big fan of the taco ground beef recipe from this site, which to me tastes like it could stand up to any taqueria, so I was anticipating something similar with this one. However, I found the chicken to taste tomato-ey and quite bland. It seemed to be missing salt for one thing, but I wonder if the ingredients could have been doubled for more flavor. I could not taste the cumin, chile, or anything really other than the slightly-sour tomato flavor. Has anyone else had a similar result?

    • Hi Phil – Thanks for taking the time to write to us with your feedback, and I’m sorry you were disappointed with the recipe. Most of the comments left here previously have been positive but perhaps another reader will see your comment here chime in!

  30. I cooked this in my crockpot on high for 3.5 hours (it was still pink after just 3) and it turned out fantastic! It tastes just like my favorite Mexican taco spot in Southern California.
    Serving it in home fried corn tortillas with pico de gallo, cheese and guac was perfection.

  31. Alison Garfinkel :

    This was DELICIOUS. I’m making it again today (we tried it for the first time last week), and I’m making the pulled beef as well. My son (who is 21) must have polished off 1/2 of it. We scooped it into tortillas adding brown rice and avocado. Huge hit! I’m so glad I found this, thank you SO much for posting it!!

  32. Hello!

    Just to confirm – do you mean 275 degrees farenheight?


    • Yes – Farenheit! Thanks for your question – I will update the recipe! (Some of our earlier recipes failed to include it after the temp -sorry for the confusion!)

  33. I stumbled across this recipe while looking for a base for shredded chicken. I had 20# of chicken to make for a work function. Everyone loved it! Thanks for the excellent recipe. I did use Siracha in place of the Rocket Fuel. I think next time I will stir in a can of diced green chiles and substitute fresh squeezed lime juice for the vinegar. I just wanted a little more spice and acid.
    Also, I used my Kitchen Aid to shred the chicken. So quick and easy using the flat beater and doing it while it was hot. Speed 2 and a minute later you have perfectly shredded chicken!

  34. My sister and I have both made this recipe as the centerpiece of loaded nachos and everyone just went crazy for it. Thanks for sharing…it’s super yummy!

  35. Made this last night and it was fabulous. Followed the recipe exactly but did add some canned green chiles and jalapenos. Then used this in the chimichanga recipe here. They were equally as good. I’ve been on the lookout for a great mexican chicken and I’ve finally found it. Thank you.

  36. This sounds delicious!! Does the timing differ when cooking with stoneware?

    • Hi Cindy – Possibly…although we’ve only made this recipe as written, I have noticed that some other recipes cook more quickly in a cast iron dutch oven so stoneware or other cooking vessels can definitely impact the timing if they retain heat more so than the baking pan we used. Feel free to check on the chicken sooner and if it’s tender enough to shred, it’s probably done. Hope that helps!


  1. […] since we published our recipe earlier this year for Mexican Pulled Chicken, as well as all of the various recipes you can make using pulled chicken (see here, here, and […]