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Avocado Chicken Tacos

August 1, 2013

Avocado Chicken TacosPin it!

What do you cook when you don’t feel like cooking?

When I lived in Japan and would come home exhausted and starving from work, I would either pick up some food from a convenience store on the way home (<== much better food than in convenience stores here in the states, but still…) or I would chop up one tomato and one avocado, toss them in a bowl, give them a healthy drizzle of Sriracha, and call it Dinner.

Now that I live in a country where I can afford salad greens again (!), my no-cooking lazy summer evenings often just involve “fridge salads.” A handful or two of arugula, spinach, or baby romaine, decorated with sliced peaches or strawberries—along with a crumble of goat cheese and a scattering of almonds or pine nuts—or even my trusty old tomato-avocado combination.

Avocado Chicken Tacos

There are also nights when we cook real food, which leads to subsequent nights when we can heat up leftovers. (Leftovers are the best!)

Other nights we just have guacamole for dinner. Don’t judge.

Avocado Chicken TacosPin it!

Paula usually wants a little more protein, though. Sometimes a handful of chickpeas and feta cheese scattered over a salad just won’t cut it. Her go-to meal is one that she mentioned in her recent Peppered Turkey Scones guest post: chicken in a tortilla. (Paula adds, “with Tapatío!”)

Apparently she lived off chicken, tortillas, and Tapatío before she met me.

Avocado Chicken Tacos

At some point, she also (recovered from her sad, sad aversion to avocados and) started to smash up some avocado onto the warmed tortillas just before topping it with chicken, thus creating this recipe; I can’t take credit for that.

Avocado and lime on charred tortillas

The avocado—in my opinion—is what MAKES the meal. Avocado, along with its requisite topping of a squeeze of fresh lime juice, adds so much flavor and freshness to the tacos, it could perk up even the blandest, driest taco chicken and make you feel like you’ve just eaten a fresh, green salad instead! Well, not quite, but you get the idea.

Avocado and lime on charred tortillas

And speaking of dry, bland chicken tacos (which are my second-most hated disappointingly bad menu item at mediocre Mexican restaurants, right after slimy guacamole), you don’t have to worry about that when you take on chicken tacos at home.

Avocado Chicken Tacos

The chicken here gets tenderized by the lazy man’s marinade: beer.

First, I call it a lazy marinade in part because you only really have to marinate it for 20-30 minutes, if that. (Don’t long marinating times just SHUT DOWN all of your grand plans for certain recipes when you’ve popped open a cookbook too late in the evening slash you’re already hungry?) Second, it’s extra do-able because you’re having Avocado Chicken Tacos for dinner, so there’s a good chance you’re also having beer.

Avocado Chicken Tacos

This chicken marination process is really just an excuse to open up one of those beers a little early, while you chop the cabbage, or snack on some appetizer guacamole, or… nope, there’s really no other prep for this recipe!

Cabbage, by the way, is strictly optional. It does bulk up and health-ify the tacos a bit, plus it adds a subtly sweet crunch, but it’s definitely not the star of the show.

Avocado Chicken TacosPin it!

(I used to hate cabbage for its blandness, for everything it wasn’t, and for its ubiquity in Japanese side salads served with mayonnaise and corn, but lately I am really enjoying the fresh, watery crunch and even the flavor of cabbage! What is happening to me I wonder… I know adulthood manifests in mysterious ways, but in the enjoyment of cabbage? That was unexpected.)

As far as the choice of hot sauce goes, I would like to quote a recent smitten kitchen blog post: “Always Tapatío, don’t even ask.”

Avocado Chicken Tacos

So at long last Paula and I are sharing with you our beloved go-to, quick, easy, weeknight, fallback, back-up plan, last resort dinner, which we purposely resort to about once a week.

It’s simple, it’s satisfying, and it’s stress-free. I hope you’ll try it out, busy weeknight or not.

Avocado Chicken TacosPin it!

Of course it requires that you have a few of these ingredients around the house—corn tortillas, boneless chicken (could be defrosted from frozen), a ripe avocado, and a lime—but after that it’s the simplest dinner that you could ask for.

Avocado, lime, and cabbage for Avocado Chicken Tacos

The kind of non-cooking cooking that I think we can all get behind.

Avocado Chicken Tacos

Print this recipe. (PDF)

RECIPE:

Avocado Chicken Tacos

(Serves 2-3)

Marinade Ingredients (optional):
~ ⅓-½ of a bottle of beer
~ ¼ tsp. each of ground cumin, paprika, and chipotle
~ salt and pepper
~ squeeze of fresh lime juice

Ingredients:

~ 1 lb. boneless chicken, preferably thighs, roughly chopped
~ 1 Tbsp. olive oil
~ 2-3 corn tortillas per person
~ 1-2 ripe avocados (1 large avocado should cover 4 corn tortillas), sliced
~ cabbage, finely chopped (optional)
~ fresh lime juice, to taste
~ hot sauce (Tapatío), to taste

How to make it:

1. Optionally combine marinade ingredients in a bowl and marinate the chopped chicken for 20-30 minutes (even 5 minutes in a small amount of beer will keep it from being too dry).

The lazy chicken marinade: beerCooking chicken in cast iron for Avocado Chicken Tacos

2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Discard the marinade and add the chicken to the skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 min. or until cooked through and just browning. (If you skipped the marinade, at least season with salt and pepper.)

3. Meanwhile, warm tortillas on a comal or directly over a burner. Arrange warmed tortillas on plates, add sliced avocado to the tortillas, and mash with a fork.

4. Optionally sprinkle cabbage onto the smashed avocado, then give it a good squeeze of fresh lime juice. Next top with the cooked chicken. Give it a final squeeze of lime juice, drizzle with hot sauce, and serve immediately.

Print this recipe! (PDF)

Avocado Chicken TacosPin it!

Avocado Chicken TacosPin it!

Related recipe posts:

Layered Chicken Enchiladas & Spanish Rice Roasted Tomatillo Guacamole Mole Poblano with chicken, pinto beans, and Spanish rice Christmas Tamales with Chicken and Poblanos
Layered Chicken Enchiladas Roasted Tomatillo Guacamole Mole Poblano Christmas Tamales with Chicken and Poblanos
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64 Comments leave one →
  1. August 1, 2013 9:18 am

    these tacos look like some of the best ever. If you are looking for a great beer to go with these then follow my blog for the best recommendations

  2. August 1, 2013 9:18 am

    What a pleasant read, Allison! I also used to hate avocados, and have recently taught myself to like them (it started with avocado and eggs on toast), and this sounds like something I would definitely like (with the cabbage!). Tapatio I am afraid is not to be found this side of the Pond, but we are beginning to find a variety of hot sauces, so I am sure I can find a substitute (it used to be Sriracha OR Tabasco, nothing else).

    • August 1, 2013 9:45 am

      Thank you! It seems like many people have happily recovered from former aversions to avocados. :) I think avocado with eggs and toast is one of the best edible combinations there is…

      That’s sad you don’t have Tapatio there, but Cholula—especially if you can get the lime version—is a decent substitute (don’t tell Paula I said that!!). And I’ve always preferred Sriracha over any other hot sauce, myself, but Paula has gotten me hooked on using Tapatio instead now in certain contexts, like with Mexican food & with eggs.

  3. August 1, 2013 9:19 am

    Any recipe that uses beer as a marinade gets a check mark. Good post.

  4. August 1, 2013 9:31 am

    i think avocado makes any dish! i used to have an aversion to the stuff and i’ve obviously gotten over it, thankfully.

  5. August 1, 2013 9:32 am

    Your marinade is so good!!!Lazy or not I really love the idea of beer in a marinade!And of course you need to try the beer first,taste it and then add it in the food!I find the same excuses Allison ;) Your tacos look very light and delicious!

    • August 1, 2013 9:49 am

      Yes, yes, exactly. I like the way you think. :) And they do make a pretty light meal, come to think of it! (Although every once in a while I’ll have a third taco, so those days it’s not so light…)

      • August 1, 2013 11:47 am

        hahahahahaha! If you do it once in a while,you’re excused!

  6. August 1, 2013 9:42 am

    Perfect for hot summer nights.

    • August 1, 2013 9:50 am

      Definitely!

      I labeled this post with the “Summer” category, because it’s fast, doesn’t involve too much cooking, and is not too heavy (or too hot) to eat on a warm summer evening, but the truth is, we eat this SO often, all year round. :)

  7. August 1, 2013 10:33 am

    Hi there, I nominated you for the Liebster Award. If you are interested click here: http://ourgrowingpaynes.wordpress.com/2013/08/01/honored-with-the-liebster-award/

  8. August 1, 2013 12:38 pm

    Guacamole is totally dinner, and one of my favorites.

  9. Leigh permalink
    August 1, 2013 1:39 pm

    I am trying this tonight but with ground chicken which is what I have on hand. I just yesterday bought all the other ingredients including the cabbage for some reason so here goes…

  10. August 1, 2013 1:48 pm

    I agree with you in literally everything you’ve said in this post! I was nodding like an idiot whilst reading – smashing up avocado? Yes! Marinating in beer? Yes!! Cabbage slices? YES! This is very similar to my go-to quick and easy dinner. But mine never look this beautiful! Too much speedy scoffing for that :-)

    • August 3, 2013 5:41 pm

      Nice!

      Believe me, mine never had looked as beautiful as this before (and never will again) since usually we also just sit down to eat it immediately—after all, it’s the kind of dinner we only make when we’re 1) tired 2) hungry 3) craving it 4) or some combination of those three—but the time I took photos, we sadly had to eat them a little bit cold… (I always feel a little lame about letting that happen, but I’m such a photo perfectionist!) We’ve already made them since then—two nights ago, the day I posted this—and they were warm and so much better!

  11. August 1, 2013 2:13 pm

    Ain’t gonna lie, but the whole reason why I mentioned chicken tacos in my last blog was because I sometimes ate chicken tacos for breakfast. My only excuse was I worked evenings and I needed protein. I didn’t marinate it in beer though. That was a luxury reserved for special occasions, later in the day.

    • August 3, 2013 6:00 pm

      I’m glad to hear you didn’t chug half a bottle of beer with your breakfasts just to marinate your breakfast taco chicken. What you did makes sense though—dinner for breakfast is sometimes just as good as breakfast for dinner!

  12. August 1, 2013 7:09 pm

    Hooray! A new go-to dinner! Thank you, thank you, thank you! :-)

    • August 3, 2013 5:43 pm

      This is the kind of comment I love to get! You’re very welcome! It’s definitely our go-to dinner, so it almost seemed too ordinary/everyday to turn into a blog post, but I wanted to share it with people for this very reason. :)

  13. August 1, 2013 10:38 pm

    Looks so good! Vegetarians can replace chicken with tofu or paneer! Loved it :)

  14. August 2, 2013 12:42 am

    It seems to be so tasty!!!!😍

  15. August 2, 2013 9:09 am

    Ricette molto interessanti. Bravissima. Ciao. Silva

  16. Jay Bee permalink
    August 2, 2013 11:28 am

    This looks so good it makes me want to move in and live with you gals! I agree that avocados are magical. I’ve recently bought a very expensive bottle of avocado oil, as a manifestation of how much I love avocados, and now I look at it very day in my pantry without a clear idea of what to use it for. Ha! Also, what I cook when I don’t feel like cooking: chilled soup (my new favourite is white gazpacho – so refreshing on a hot evening!), or I just make guacamole, toss some chips in a bowl, and call it a movie night. :)

    By the way, your home made ginger lemonade has become a staple in our household. So, so, so good. Thank you a million times for that.

    • August 3, 2013 5:54 pm

      Oo, nice; I’m so happy to hear that you’ve been enjoying the ginger syrup/drinks! Yay!

      Avocados are indeed magical, so avocado oil must be… more magical? Distilled magic? I wish I could tell you I had actual experience with it and some tips for how to use it, but I’ve never tried avocado oil, so I can only imagine what it would be good in/on… If I were you, I’d definitely try making a vinaigrette with it, or fry eggs in it, or drizzle it over bruschetta, or drizzle it over your gazpacho soup! (I love garnishing acidic bowls of gazpacho with fresh avocado slices.) You could also maybe use it to make mayonnaise or aioli, but I’m not sure if the oil would have too strong of a flavor for that…

      We definitely also have guacamole for dinner a lot, and gazpacho, too! I actually used to make gazpacho like 10 times a summer, and just always keep a pot of it in the fridge… I haven’t done that as much in the past few years, but I’ve definitely made it at least once a summer. (Oh and I’ve never had white gazpacho! Is that still tomato-y at all?)

      • Jay Bee permalink
        August 4, 2013 4:13 am

        Thanks for all those ideas! I’ll just have to be brave and reach out for that bottle and do something with it – anything at all! (I still revere it as if it were something holy. It just sounds and looks so special! Avocado oil – like an all-healing balm or an eternal-youth elixir. Hehe.)

        As you now know, white gazpacho is not tomatoey at all… but still really, really good! Definitely worth making on a hot day. ;)

      • August 4, 2013 3:24 pm

        Yes, I’m glad I found the white gazpacho recipe links on your blog; thanks!

        And about the avocado oil, yes: be brave and do something with it! (And please report back if you discover any amazing flavor combinations… actually I just had another thought– maybe drizzle it over french fries and add parmesan, like truffle oil fries except with avocado oil?)

        Just remember, avocados are for eating. :)

  17. Fork and Bowl permalink
    August 5, 2013 5:59 pm

    The chicken tacos look so good! I have been experimenting with different variations on tacos recently, and I think I will have to try these next!

    • August 6, 2013 9:03 am

      Thanks! Experimenting on variations with something that you already know you like is always fun. :) We are a little bit boring with our tacos around here… mostly we either make these, or we make tacos out of extra (shredded) chicken with homemade mole sauce, or breakfast tacos with scrambled eggs and soy-rizo. (Oh but I definitely plan to perfect a shrimp taco recipe until I love it and then share it on the blog sometime in the future!) I hope you like these!

      • Fork and Bowl permalink
        August 6, 2013 3:05 pm

        I havent tried shrimp/prawn but grilled salmon works beautifully with homemade salsa and avocado. And we tried slow cooked pork with adobo sauce – very time consuming but great. Looking forward to more recipes!

      • August 7, 2013 8:44 am

        Grilled salmon sounds great with salsa and avocado. (I have a recipe for halibut/cod with fresh salsa that I’ll try to post soon, but I hadn’t thought about getting some avocado in there too…) I don’t eat pork and I used to not be very fond of cooked fish (though I love sashimi!) but now I’m starting to cook with more fish, including salmon… throw that in a tortilla and it sounds even better! :) Oh and I love chicken in adobo sauce, so I could try that instead of the pork.

  18. Elizabeth @ SugarHero.com permalink
    August 7, 2013 12:07 am

    Hot dog, these look good! Being a Cholula loyalist, I have to take points off for Tapatio usage, but since I’m avocado’s #1 fan, I’m still giving these a giant gold star. Your lazy meals beat my lazy meals hands down–I’m mostly a scrambled eggs girl. Obviously I need to step up my game and make more tacos!

    • August 7, 2013 8:48 am

      Ha, don’t worry; I’m not judging you as much as my fiancée is for your Cholula-over-Tapatío loyalty. ;)

      Also, here’s how I would step up your game with lazy meal tacos: put your scrambled eggs into tortillas! We do this a lot for breakfast—you can scramble the eggs up with some chorizo (or soy-rizo), or just toss them into a tortilla plain and add beans (or not) and avocado (or not) and hot sauce!

  19. August 7, 2013 12:36 pm

    Hi there, I’ve been such a neglectful blogger, and with no success on our other mission have been avoiding reading / posting. However I’ve still been salivating over your recipes as they come direct to my regular inbox. So, and I doubt you partake in such things as it doesn’t quite ‘fit’ with your blog, I’ve nominated you for a Liebster award. I figure that introducing my readers to your deliciousness is a great idea regardless of if you partake in the process. So take from this that I love your blog and hope some of my readers will head your way. X

    • August 8, 2013 11:54 am

      Thank you so much! That is so nice to hear. :) I did a few linky-love posts about blog awards a while back, but then got showered in blog love and too many awards to post about every single one without taking time/space away from my focus on new weekly recipes, so I decided to just be super appreciative of people nominating Spontaneous Tomato and hope they don’t mind too much that I’m not following up on the awards publicly! But I really do appreciate it! :) Thanks for nominating and linking to my blog. It made my day to hear that you’ve been enjoying the e-mailed recipes. Hope you (two) are both doing well!

  20. August 7, 2013 1:08 pm

    This looks soooo gooood. I am a big chicken taco fan, and an even bigger avocado fan.

  21. Nami | Just One Cookbook permalink
    August 7, 2013 11:34 pm

    YUM, I love the beer marinade! My son requested that he misses eating avocados so I have to get them soon. This sounds like a perfect dinner as I still have cabbage from gyoza the other day. Looks like one dinner is already taken care of this week thanks to you! :)

    • August 8, 2013 11:59 am

      Perfect! I’m so happy to hear that—I hope you and your family enjoy the tacos! :)

      I have some leftover cabbage in the fridge from the tacos… maybe I should make gyoza!

  22. August 9, 2013 12:10 pm

    This is so my kind of meal.

  23. August 10, 2013 8:53 am

    You are making me hungry. I am going to the supermarket now to get the ingredients and make it for dinner tonight!

  24. August 10, 2013 5:17 pm

    These look really good! I love to use avocado in my tacos, I recently made some shrimp tacos where I used the avocado in the same way you did.
    Check out my blog for other easy recipes using avocado. foodiesurvivalkit.wordpress.com

    • August 10, 2013 5:40 pm

      Thanks! I will. :) And yes, avocado sounds really good with shrimp tacos too… I love adding a little guacamole to shrimp tacos or enchiladas.

  25. August 13, 2013 9:21 pm

    I used to hate avocados, but then I moved to Los Angeles and after consuming so many I think 8% of my body is now actually just guacamole where blood used to flow. I’ll definitely try the marinade, try adding a Serrano pepper to the mashed up avocado, it gives some serious oomph to the final product.

    • August 15, 2013 8:55 am

      That’s an excellent idea; thank you! :) I love serrano peppers (we sometimes slice them up to bake onto homemade pizzas!).

      I’m sure some significant portion of my bloodstream has been replaced with guacamole by now, too… I’ve been living in California for nearly six years!

  26. August 21, 2013 2:04 pm

    Thank you for sharing this recipe! Love avocados!! Perfect way to use it :)

    • August 22, 2013 9:32 am

      Thanks for commenting. :) I love avocados, too—I feel lucky to live in California where I get to eat them all the time (and where we have to come up with creative ways to use them like this, so we’re not just eating guacamole every night)!

  27. September 12, 2013 9:57 am

    Are taco’s not the best meal?! Great pics – love that you smashed the avocado into the toritilla. Smart!

    Christina

    • September 12, 2013 3:02 pm

      Yep, tacos are right up there for me as one of my favorite meals, and I’m pretty sure Paula would 100% agree with you that they are The Best. :)

Trackbacks

  1. Mole Enchiladas (Guest Post) | spontaneous tomato
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