Taco night in our house happens pretty much every week. Sometimes it feels like a miracle dinner because it’s a night when an array of toppings on the table work for everyone. We have a stack of white ramekins on the shelf. Usually, I fill all of them with small things that fit into tacos with ease—shredded cheese, avocado, onion, cilantro, sour cream, cucumbers, and blueberries (the kid’s favorite). I love to heat a large skillet, add a bit of butter and make “smashed tacos”, searing our filled tacos on each side until the tortilla gets crisp and the cheese is melted and bubbling.
Sometimes a rotisserie chicken, beans, or avocado work perfectly as the main taco filling. But when I have time, marinated chicken breasts and/or thighs are one of our favorites. When I was thinking about this recipe, I went to the grocery store planning on getting a dozen chicken thighs to marinate. Chicken thighs are a fattier cut of chicken, and are juicy and full of flavor. But when I arrived, chicken breasts were on sale and so I thought, why not test this marinade on what tends to be the driest cut of chicken? Standing in the middle of the store, I decided to go for it and I’m so glad I did. You can use chicken breasts, thighs, beef skirts, or flank steak.
Now, I don’t want to perpetuate chicken breasts’ dry reputation, so it’s important to take note of a few details. In this recipe, I use boneless, skinless chicken breasts because they are easy to grill, slice, and fill tacos with. But this is certainly the driest avenue to go when it comes to choosing what chicken to use. Bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts retain more moisture and don’t dry out nearly as fast. This marinade will work with any cut of chicken you want to try it with and various cooking methods.
Trust the marinade
One small detail that often gets overlooked is trusting the marinade has done its job. After marinating and before cooking, it’s a good idea to dry off the chicken with clean paper towels. This prevents grill flare-ups and burned areas and encourages a nice, even sear.
You’ll notice that this recipe calls for fish sauce, which might have you scratching your head, but this Southeast Asian condiment adds a subtle, umami seasoning punch to the marinade in the best of ways. The recipe also calls for an overnight marinade, but a few hours will still impart significant flavor benefits if you’re short on time. Here, I marinate six chicken breasts which is more than enough for a family of four, but it leaves some for leftovers over the next couple of days.Print
Marinated Chicken Taco Night
Elevate your taco night with this flavorful marinated chicken tacos recipe. Learn tips for grilling juicy chicken breasts and discover the secret ingredient, fish sauce, for an umami punch.
- Prep Time: 12 hours
- Cook Time: 30 mins
- Total Time: 12.5 hours
- Yield: 6-8 servings
- Category: dinner
- Method: marinate
- Cuisine: Mexican
- 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 2 T. coriander seeds, lightly toasted
- 2 limes, zested and juiced
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 T. olive oil
- 2 T. fish sauce
- 2 T. honey
- 1 c. cilantro leaves and stems, sliced though
The chicken marinade
Place chicken breasts in a large bowl or container that is easy to cover. In a very dry blender place the lightly toasted coriander seeds and blend just until they are crushed but not completely pulverized. To the blender, add the lime zest and juice, garlic cloves, olive oil, fish sauce, honey, and cilantro. Blend this marinade until smooth and pour over the chicken, making sure to get the exterior of all the chicken breasts evenly coated. Cover the chicken, and place it on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator.
Let the chicken marinate for 3-12 hours.
Tip for safely storing marinating chicken
It’s super important to keep your hands and surfaces clean throughout the entire process when working with raw chicken. Placing raw chicken on the bottom shelf is important because if for any reason some raw chicken liquid spills or drips out, it eliminates the danger of it spilling on any food below it.
Grilling the chicken
Carefully pat the chicken breasts dry with clean paper towels and cook on a hot grill until the chicken is cooked to 165 F. Remove the chicken from the grill, cover, and let rest for ten minutes before slicing and serving.
- Calories: 3450
Keywords: taco night, marinated chicken, juicy chicken breasts, grilling tips, umami seasoning, overnight marinade, family-friendly recipe