How Do Mexican Restaurants Make Their Chicken?

Chicken is a staple ingredient in many classic Mexican dishes. If you love the flavorful chicken at your favorite Mexican restaurant, you may wonder—how exactly do they make it taste so good? Here’s an inside look at the key techniques Mexican restaurants use to make their chicken extra tender, juicy, and full of flavor.

It Starts With High-Quality Chicken

The type of chicken makes a difference. Restaurants often use boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts. Thighs have a bit more natural fat, which keeps them moist when cooking. Chicken is typically fresh, never frozen. High-quality, fresh chicken ensures the best texture and taste.

Marinating Adds Big Flavor

Marinating the chicken is crucial for infusing it with lots of extra taste. The marinade often contains:

  • Citrus juices like lime, lemon, or orange to tenderize
  • Spices and herbs like garlic, cumin, chili powder, oregano, cilantro
  • Oil, vinegar, or yogurt to add moisture
  • Fruity flavors from pineapple, mango, or orange juice

Chicken can marinate anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight. The longer it soaks, the more flavor permeates the meat.

Grilling Adds Smoky, Charred Flavor

Grilling is a very popular cooking method for Mexican chicken. The hot grill sears the outside and infuses the chicken with a delicious smoky char while keeping the inside juicy. Grilled Mexican chicken is perfect for tacos, fajitas, quesadillas, and more.

Grilling Tips:

  • Use direct heat to sear both sides
  • Finish cooking over indirect heat
  • Add soaked wood chips for extra smoke
  • Glaze grilled chicken with more marinade

Baking Keeps Chicken Moist and Juicy

Baking is another common technique. The gentle, even heat of the oven thoroughly cooks the chicken while retaining moisture and tenderness, unlike grilling.

Baking Tips:

  • Bake marinated chicken in a baking dish
  • For extra moisture, add some marinade to the pan
  • Bake at 375°F until chicken is fully cooked
  • Brush chicken with marinade during baking
  • Bake bone-in chicken pieces for more flavor

Sautéing in a Skillet Offers Control

To cook chicken right in a savory sauce or peppers and onions, sautéing in a skillet is ideal. This hands-on approach allows for easy flipping and stirring.

Sauté Tips:

  • Use olive oil or avocado oil for healthy fats
  • Brown chicken pieces well on both sides
  • Sauté aromatics like garlic, onions, peppers
  • Deglaze the pan with wine or broth
  • Let chicken finish cooking in sauce

Shredding Creates Versatile Filler

Shredding cooked chicken is a handy way to create a tasty filler for enchiladas, tacos, burritos, nachos, and more. Chicken can be shredded by hand or tossed in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.

Serving with Authentic Sides

No Mexican chicken dish is complete without fresh salsas, guacamole, beans, rice, warm tortillas or tamales, and other traditional sides. These accompaniments complement the flavors perfectly.

So next time you bite into some mouthwatering Mexican chicken, you’ll know the secrets that make it so tender and flavorful. Feel free to experiment with marinades, cooking methods, and sides at home to create your own family-favorite Mexican chicken recipes. ¡Buen provecho!

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Bill Kalkumnerd
Bill Kalkumnerd

I am Bill, I am the Owner of HappySpicyHour, a website devoted to spicy food lovers like me. Ramen and Som-tum (Papaya Salad) are two of my favorite spicy dishes. Spicy food is more than a passion for me - it's my life! For more information about this site Click

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