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BBQ Chicken Tacos

Looking to switch up your regular taco night? These easy-to-make BBQ Chicken Tacos are made with a homemade BBQ sauce, sautéed onions, and queso fresco cheese.

(This recipe for BBQ Chicken Tacos was originally posted in December 2010, but was updated with new photos in 2019).

Head-on view of two BBQ chicken tacos topped with red onions on a white with a lime wedge and recipe title at top

Tacos are on a hardcore dinner rotation around my house. I always keep all the ingredients in the pantry and ground turkey in the freezer for those nights when I just don’t feel like cooking. I’ve made tacos so many times, I can do it with my eyes closed. I always know they’re going to be delicious and I get no complaints from Chris whenever I whip them up. They were probably my #1 most-requested meal as a kid and I pride myself on the fact that I make them exactly like my mom now.

But sometimes it’s good to switch things up a bit. And really, tacos are versatile that you could probably enjoy them every single night of the week and never get bored of them. The fillings you could use are endless. So, the other night, I decided to veer from my regular ground turkey tacos just a bit and make BBQ Chicken Tacos. Once I got the idea in my head, I couldn’t get it out and I immediately wrote a grocery list (and stole some smoked paprika and Mexican oregano from my dad). If you don’t have all these spices, don’t worry! Just improvise with whatever you do have and you can certainly use regular oregano instead of Mexican or regular paprika instead of smoked. Go for it and invent your own rub and BBQ sauce! You could even buy a pre-made rub and BBQ sauce and I swear I won’t tell anyone. But try this recipe, if you can.


The best thing about this BBQ Chicken Taco recipe is that it’s ridiculously easy… As all good taco recipes should be. Basically, you’ll start by covering the chicken breasts with a spice rub and then baking them for 20-25 minutes. Once the chicken cools a bit, you’ll cut into small chunks, and place them in a large bowl.

Collage showing process for making BBQ chicken for BBQ chicken tacos, including spice mixture in a bowl, spice mixture rubbed on chicken, and cooked chicken chopped into cubes in a bowl

While the chicken is cooking, you can get started on the BBQ sauce. Place ketchup, apple cider vinegar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and espresso powder in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat. And cook for 5-7 minutes, until it’s thickened. And then toss the chicken with the BBQ sauce. Yum yum… try not to eat it all right out of the bowl.

Collage showing process for making BBQ sauce for BBQ chicken tacos, including sauce ingredients in a saucepan, BBQ sauce mixed together, and BBQ sauce on chicken in a bowl

Lastly, you’ll just want to sauté up those red onions in a little bit of canola oil.

Overhead view of sliced red onions in a skillet

And then warm your tortillas and layer them up with BBQ chicken, red onions, and crumble queso fresco. Queso fresco isn’t really my favorite cheese (I prefer a nice sharp, powerful cheese!), but it works really well on these tacos and mellows out the BBQ sauce a bit.

Head-on view of a corn tortilla on a white plate and topped with BBQ chicken, red onions, white cheese, and cilantro with a lime wedge in the background

I love everything about these BBQ chicken tacos, but the best thing about them is definitely that glorious BBQ sauce. Next time I make these tacos, I’m making extra sauce so I can spoon it over the top (I’ve always been the “More BBQ sauce on the side” kinda girl)… And then bottle it up. And probably drink it.

Two BBQ chicken tacos with red onions and white cheese on a white plate with a lime wedge garnish and lime wedges and red onions in the background


This was a pretty awesome alternative to the typical taco night. The chicken was super tender and I absolutely love the taste of browned up onion strips! Another topping I might add in when I make these again? Avocado. I think they would give the perfect green touch and bring all the flavors together. Plus, what isn’t avocado good on?

Head-on view of two BBQ chicken tacos topped with red onions on a white with a lime wedge

And if I kept some of that spice rub ready to go and some BBQ sauce in my fridge, I could easily whip this up on a busy weeknight. BBQ Chicken Tacos could become a regular in my kitchen!

And margaritas. This dish totally needs a margarita on the side.

Do you have a taco night at your house? What’s your favorite kind?

If you’re looking for more delicious taco recipes, be sure to check out my Winter Salmon Tacos or my Flank Steak Tacos with Strawberry Mint Salsa. I’m also absolutely loving these Cajun Shrimp Tacos from Honey, What’s Cooking.

BBQ Chicken Tacos
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
50 mins

Looking to switch up your regular taco night? These easy-to-make BBQ Chicken Tacos are made with a homemade BBQ sauce, sautéed onions, and queso fresco cheese.

Course: Entree
Cuisine: American, Eclectic
Keyword: BBQ, Chicken, Tacos
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Sues
  • 1 Tbsp ancho chile powder
  • 1 Tbsp Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breasts
BBQ Sauce
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp brown mustard
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp ground espresso
For Assembly
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 large red onion, cut into strips
  • 8 corn tortillas, warmed
  • 6 oz. queso fresco, crumbled
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. In a small dish, mix together ancho chile powder, oregano, brown sugar, paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt.

  3. Rub the chicken breasts evenly with the spice mix and place in a greased 13×9 inch pan. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, until it’s cooked through and no longer pink in the center.

  4. Cool the chicken for about 10 minutes and then cut it into small chunks and place them in a large bowl.

BBQ Sauce
  1. Place ketchup, apple cider vinegar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and ground espresso in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until sauce is thickened.

Taco Assembly
  1. Mix the BBQ sauce with the chicken.

  2. Heat canola oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat and sauté onion strips for about 7 minutes, until tender.

  3. Warm tortillas either in microwave or in a frying pan. Place tortillas on plate and top with BBQ chicken, red onions, and crumbled queso fresco.

BBQ Chicken Tacos -- Looking to switch up your regular taco night? These easy-to-make BBQ Chicken Tacos are made with a homemade BBQ sauce, sautéed onions, and queso fresco cheese | wearenotmartha.com #bbq #chicken #tacos

26 Responses to "BBQ Chicken Tacos"

  1. Liz @ Blog is the New Black says:

    My bf always requests tacos- for his 35th birthday, he wantes tacos instead of going out to eat! They never get old around our house, either.

  2. Jessica @ How Sweet It Is says:

    We love BBQ Chicken everything! These look delicious.

  3. Erica says:

    ah! So yummy. Tacos, quesadillas…..anything Mexican is always a winner in our house. I love this dinner because its SO easy for me to make a veg & meat version. I will have to try the bbq chicken for the man. You have me writing tacos on our menu for next week 🙂

  4. Yayyy! Can’t wait to meet you too!!

  5. Kelly says:

    I have to admit, I don’t make tacos very often in my house. But these look delicious!

  6. Lauren says:

    The tacos look fantastic! I completely agree with you that avocado makes everything better ;). I make a recipe for chicken & avocado tacos from Cooking Light every now and then, which my hubs loves. He also loves BBQ anything, so I am definitely going to make these tacos sometime soon.

  7. Shannon says:

    ooh, these looks awesome. and i already have some queso fresco in my fridge 🙂 it’s a sign! maybe i’ll have time this weekend? i hope!

  8. Monique says:

    i dont have a taco night… but clearly i need one!
    the things i always have on hand these days: Butter, flour, sugar.
    I love the image of the spices- soo pretty!
    and who can resist a spicy succulent taco!!!

  9. Joanne says:

    Tacos absolutely never fail to make me happy. I could have taco night every night! I love the bbq chicken twist in these. Good stuff.

  10. Sharlene says:

    Oh goodness do those look good! BBQ chicken anything is always on our hit list!

  11. Victoria says:

    I don’t have taco night, but I should! I love Mexican food, and I love variations like this that aren’t so traditional, but super tasty!

  12. Kelly says:

    yum these do look delicious- i might have to search the blog for your original chicken tacos recipe, I like easy haha

  13. Susan says:

    Love chicken fajitas so I know I would love these. The chicken looks wonderful. A margarita on the side is perfect 😉

  14. Emily @ For Sweets Sake says:

    This is my husband’s dream meal I think haha I’ll have to make it for him sometime 🙂 when he’s being nice haha

  15. Elina (Russian Bites) says:

    I need to start having go-to recipes for nights when I don’t feel like cooking because we end up just going out or I eat random stuff out of the fridge. Tacos usually ARE easy. Do you typically defrost the turkey in the microwave… or do you know ahead of time that you’ll want to be a bit lazy that night? 😉

  16. 5 Star Foodie says:

    The chicken sounds so flavorful with that excellent spice mix, delicious tacos for sure!

  17. Sues says:

    Elina- It’s easy for me since I work from home! Usually when mid-afternoon hits, I know if I’m going to want to be lazy or will be working late and I take the turkey out. But I’ve done it in the microwave, too, and that’s fine!

  18. emily says:

    i had tacos tonight, but yours look infinitely better! i agree, avocado does make everything more delicious. i did have some guac on my tacos tonight. 🙂

  19. wgfoodie says:

    What a fantastic idea to spicing up taco night! We try to do taco night at least once a night. I’ll be adding this to the menu next time indulge in taco night. I’m thinking next week sounds good… 🙂

  20. alicia Fidalgo says:

    I love tacos – Rafe and I eat them all the time. I love this as a change from the usual beef/cheddar/salsa combo!

  21. Bridget says:

    omg, yummmmmmmmm! Brian would go nuts if I made these! Definintely going to try this one out!

  22. joan says:

    A few times a week! These look great.

  23. Coleen Sosa says:

    A few times a week! These look great.

  24. Gloria Vargas says:

    The chicken sounds so flavorful with that excellent spice mix, delicious tacos for sure!

  25. Culinary Cory says:

    I’m always looking for new ways to jazz up chicken. Love these as tacos or might even turn the recipe into a unique taco salad.

  26. Alicia says:

    Let me just say, I followed this recipe to the letter, which in Montgomery, AL was not easy! I am in love!! I celebrated National Taco Day yesterday with this and it was AMAZING! I did add avocado slices with lime on my second one and it was sooo yummy! Thanks for my new fave taco! 😀

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