Roast chicken soft tacos with cilantro cream: With a store-bought roast chicken, you’ll have these tacos on the table in under 20 minutes! How’s that for a quick weeknight meal?
Our favorite Sunday activity in the fall doesn’t have anything to do with tailgating and pigskins. Instead, it has everything to do with cranking up the oven and slow roasting a plump whole chicken stuffed with herbovacious goodies.
And even though it’s now only early August, I am totally craving cozy sweaters and roast chickens. So lucky for me, our local grocery store sells rotisserie chickens all year-round for just $5 on Fridays. Five bucks!
You can’t even buy a whole raw chicken for five bucks and we don’t have to heat up the kitchen for a quick dinner!
Of course with just the two of us in the house, we always have leftover chicken so I’m constantly trying to come up with ways to use up the leftovers. These roast chicken soft tacos with cilantro cream are a prime example of a perfect meal made with said leftovers…and actually, I bought the whole roaster with the intention of making two quick recipes (yielding about 4 meals or 8 servings) with it in the first place.
We attacked the first half of the chicken to use for some creamy baked chicken taquitos and the other half got shredded and stuck in the fridge for the next night (i.e., for these tacos). And oh goodness, these tacos!
A quick and fresh cilantro cream dressing that you’ll whip up in the blender lightly coats a bowlful of crunchy red cabbage, scallions, and just enough diced jalapeño to create a little kick. This cilantro-cabbage slaw will sit for just 15 minutes to allow the cabbage to soften just a wee bit and then you’ll add the shredded chicken, mound the mixture in some soft flour tortillas, and then dive right in!
The crunchy-soft contrasting textures of the thinly sliced red cabbage and the chicken and flour tortillas is really what makes these tacos so crave-worthy (aside from the creamy dressing, of course) and the cabbage has such a mild flavor when eaten raw that I strongly encourage all the skeptics out there to give it a chance.
What about the rest of the chicken, you ask?
Well as my momma always says (insert best Forest Gump impression here), waste not want not! I freeze the bones from my roast/rotisserie chickens in a zipper bag until I have a second carcass and then I’ll make chicken stock (another post for another time).
So from this one [$5] chicken, we’ve made two full recipes (yielding about 4 meals or 8 servings total) and the carcass will help to produce about 4 quarts of chicken stock in the near future.
It’s an amazing shortcut to be able to use whether you’ve got crazy-busy weeknights happening or it’s just too darn hot to cook. And if you want to pull out all the stops, try roasting your own chicken (autumnal Sundays are not required) – for the 10 minutes it takes to prep a whole chicken and the 1hr 20min (approximately) of downtime while it cooks, there is nothing more satisfying.
Except maybe when you’re able to throw together amazing meals like these roast chicken soft tacos with cilantro cream with just a few leftovers!
Need some other ideas for using up leftover roast chicken?
- Toss with hot sauce for Buffalo Chicken Pizza
- Add some protein to Pesto Pasta
- Shred a bit up for White Pizza with Chicken & Fresh Herbs (from Pink Parsley)
- Spice some up in Jerk Chicken Chili
- Grill these Chicken, Roasted Poblano, and Corn Quesadillas (from Confections of a Foodie Bride)
- Stir a chopped-up handful into [almost no-cook] Curried Couscous
- Pair with apples, pecans, and a toasty croissant in this Apple Pecan Chicken Salad
- Mix into Baked Southwestern Egg Rolls – one of our favorite non-blogged recipes! (from Annie’s Eats)
- Make homemade stock for (and add chicken of course!) Classic Chicken Noodle Soup
- Cut out pie dough rounds for Chicken and Kale Hand Pies (from Martha Stewart)
- Whip up some Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos
Roast Chicken Soft Tacos with Cilantro Cream
This recipe works great with a fresh, hot rotisserie or homemade roast chicken or with one that has been cooked and refrigerated. If your chicken is cold, place the shredded pieces in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with a damp paper towel, and heat for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the chicken is warmed but not overcooked and dry. If you want to halve this recipe or use only white meat, two breasts from a rotisserie chicken yields plenty of shredded chicken (about 2 cups) for 3-4 servings.
¾ cup fresh cilantro leaves
¾ cup sour cream, preferably reduced-fat
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small red cabbage (about 1 ½ pounds), halved, cored and finely shredded
1 small jalapeño, seeded and finely diced (or leave some of the seeds for extra heat)
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 rotisserie chicken, shredded, skin and bones discarded or saved
6-12 (8-inch) warm flour tortillas, for serving
In a blender or the bowl of a food processor, add the cilantro, sour cream, lime juice and olive oil and purée until smooth, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula as needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer the cilantro cream to a large bowl and toss in the red cabbage, jalapeños, and scallions, coating everything well with the cilantro cream. Let the cabbage mixture stand at room temperature for 15 minutes, until the cabbage just begins to soften but still has a bit of crunch to it.
Add the chicken to the bowl and with a pair of tongs, toss the chicken into the cabbage until it is well-coated with the cilantro cream. Season with salt and serve in warm tortillas.
adapted from Food and Wine Test Kitchens
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