Switch up your taco night with these healthier baked tacos! They’re super crunchy, so easy to make and loaded with citrus marinated chicken and cheese!
Alright crunchy taco fans, you just might have converted me here… Because these baked crispy chicken carnitas tacos are probably some of the best I’ve ever had! They’re super crunchy on the outside, have the best Mexican chicken filling and they’re so easy to make too! (Plus even made a little healthier becasue they’re baked instead of fried!) What could be better than that right?! Besides the sauce… That sauce is killer and you need it in your life!
- Chicken thighs: I love using chicken thighs for these tacos because they’re always so tender and moist. (And they taste a little more flavorufl than breasts too.) Just make sure to use boneless skinless chicken thighs to help cut down on cook time and make it easier for you to shred too!
- Carnitas marinade: Infuses your chicken with so much flavor and only requires a handful of ingredients! (See my homemade recipe below or feel free to use your favorite marinade instead.)
- Corn tortillas: I would suggest using the larger “king size” corn tortillas if you’re making these for dinner because you can stuff more of your yummy filling inside. (We love using Romero brand if you can find it. 🙂 ) But if they’re just for a snack or lighter lunch, then the smaller tortillas would work just as well!
- Red onion: Gives your tacos a little bit of crunch! (You can also replace it with white onion too.)
- Cheese: I LOVE using sharp cheddar cheese for these because it gives your tacos a nice bite when its mixed with your chicken. That being said, you can also use mild cheddar, monterey jack, a mexican blend or even pepperjack if you prefer your tacos a little spicy.
- Avocado cilantro lime sauce: Ok babes, I really want to say this sauce is completely optional but…I just can’t. It’s creamy and tangy, adds so much flavor and just ties the whole thing together! (See my recipe below for the best avocado sauce! If you must replace it, then guacamole or mashed avocado would work too.)
How do I make crunchy tacos in the oven?
I love using this method to make crunchy tacos because it uses less oil (which is much better for you) and they still come out perfectly crisp every single time!
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Then lay your tortillas on the baking sheet and spray them with avocado oil (or rub a small amount of olive oil over the top.) Next, flip your tortillas over and bake them for 2 minutes. (We just need them to soften up a bit so we can fold them over our filling.)
- Then take them out of the oven and layer each tortilla on one side with cheese, your shredded chicken, red onion and a little more cheese. Fold the other side of your tortilla over the filling and gently press down to make it stick. Once all of your “tacos” are made, place them back in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes or until crispy.
- Serve them immediately with your sauce and favorite toppings!
How to make easy oven baked chicken carnitas
- Place your marinade and chicken thighs together in a plastic bag and let them marinate for at least 30 minutes.
- Once done, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and spray a large baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Then remove your chicken from the bag and place them to the dish, discarding the marinade. (Make sure the chicken thighs aren’t overlapping or they won’t cook evenly.) Bake the thighs at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
- Once done, use a fork and knife to shred the chicken for your tacos.
*I’ll usually cook and shred the chicken in the morning to help cut down on prep time when we’re actually putting together our tacos. Just keep it stored in a plastic container in the fridge until you’re ready to start assembling.
How to make the best avocado cilantro lime sauce
The number one reason I love this sauce? It pairs so well with so many different things! (You don’t just have to use it for these crispy chicken carnitas tacos!) We’ve used it on nachos, as a spread for tostadas or even as dip for chicken wings too! It’s so versatile!
- 1 large avocado
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped (You can use both leaves and stems)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
- ¼ tsp salt
- Add all of your ingredients to a food processor and blend them together until smooth. (It’s that easy!)
*This sauce can easily be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge to until you’re ready to eat. It should last for 2-3 days if stored in the fridge.
I hope you all enjoy these baked crispy chicken carnitas tacos just as much as we do! They’re perfect for a quick weeknight meal or even make a great lighter lunch too!
More recipes you might like:
- Chipotle Lime Shrimp Tacos with Chipotle Lime Sauce
- Slow Cooker Carnitas Tacos with Mexican Corn Salsa
- Spicy Chicken Tostadas with Black Beans & Guacamole
- Chipotle Salmon Tacos with Fresh Mango Salsa
- Easy Sheet Pan Shrimp Fajitas
[Made one of my recipes? Make sure to tag my social media @kalefornia_kravings – I love seeing what you create!]
Crispy Chicken Carnitas Tacos with Avocado Cilantro Lime Sauce
For the tacos:
- 1½ lb. chicken thighs
- 2 oranges, juiced
- 1 lime, juiced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 jalapeno, chopped
- 2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
- 1 Tbsp olive oil or avocado oil
- 1 Tbsp oregano
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- ½ tsp paprika
- 8 large corn tortillas
- ¼ of a red onion, chopped
- Cheddar cheese
For the avocado cilantro lime sauce:
- 1 large avocado
- 2 garlic cloves
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped (leaves & stems are ok)
- 2 Tbsp fresh lme juice
- ¼ tsp salt
To make the avocado cilantro lime sauce:
- Add all of your ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth. Store the sauce in the fridge while you prepare your tacos.
To make the tacos:
- Blend the orange juice, lime juice, oil, garlic, oregano, cumin, paprika, cilantro, jalapeno, salt and pepper together in a food processor and pour it into a large plastic bag. Then add your chicken thighs to the bag and let them marinate for at least 30 minutes.
- Next, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and spray a large baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Remove your chicken thighs from the bag and arranged them in your dish so they're not touching. Bake for 15-20 minutes. (Discard the marinade)
- Once done, use a fork and knife to shred the chicken and set it aside. (The chicken can be prepped beforehand and stored in the fridge until you're ready to make your tacos.)
- Next, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and place your tortillas on the sheet. Give them a good spray of avocado oil (or you can rub a little olive oil over the top), flip them over and place the pan in the oven for 1½ – 2 minutes. Then take them out of the oven and layer one side of each tortilla with your cheese, shredded chicken, red onion and a little more cheese on top. Carefully fold the other half of the tortilla over the filling and gently press down to make it stick. Place the pan back in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes or until your tacos are crispy.
- Serve immediately with your avocado sauce!