Healthier chicken tacos

Lettuce on the bottom, crunchy coleslaw on top!

Whether you avoid tortillas because you’re gluten-intolerant, or you find them messy to navigate or you prefer the filling to the ‘holder’ when it comes to tacos, this recipe solves all kinds of issues. Piling delicious fillings into lettuce leaves – you can use Boston, Bibb, Romaine or any kind you like – means the most flavourful ingredients really get to shine. As a bonus, with these gluten-fre tacos, I find I can enjoy more of the filling without tortillas to fill me up too quickly. Between the fragrant, well-seasoned chicken and the crunchy coleslaw on top, there’s a whole lot going on in this family-friendly dish. Please take note of my tip in the instructions – if you have a stand mixer, you can use it to shred braised meat (chicken, pork, beef) in under a minute! This healthy meal is sure to bring appreciative smiles when you serve it up.


Shredded Chicken

  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) canola oil
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1.25 lbs or 525 g)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped (or more, to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) each dried oregano and ground cumin
  • 1 cup (250 mL) canned diced tomatoes and their liquid
  • 1 cup (250 mL) mild flavoured beer (or chicken stock)

Crunchy coleslaw

  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) sour cream
  • Grated zest of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) each salt and pepper
  • 1 cup (250 mL) finely sliced green cabbage
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) each slivered red pepper and grated carrot

To serve

  • 1 head Boston or leaf lettuce
  • Coriander leaves, lime wedges


  • Heat 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of oil on medium heat, in a medium-sized, heavy duty pot.
  • Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown, a few pieces of time in the hot oil. Remove the chicken when it is browned on both sides and set on a clean plate.
  • Reduce heat to medium low and add the remaining tablespoon of oil and the onions to the pan; cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, chipotle peppers, oregano and cumin. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and beer; stir to combine and turn heat up so that the mixture comes to a boil.
  • Return the chicken and any juice that has accumulated on the plate to the pot, making sure the chicken is all snuggled into the tomato mixture. Reduce heat so it is just simmering and put a lid on the pot.
  • Cook over low heat for about 35 – 40 minutes, or until chicken is tender and falling apart.
  • While chicken is cooking, combine the sour cream with the lime zest, lime juice, salt and pepper to make the dressing for the coleslaw.
  • Put the cabbage, red peppers and carrots in a bowl, drizzle dressing over top and toss to combine well. Refrigerate until serving time.
  • With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken pieces to a cutting board to cool slightly.
  • Turn up the heat and remove the lid so the tomato mixture will reduce slightly.
  • Shred the chicken in the bowl of a stand mixer using the regular paddle or by using two forks on the cutting board, then return the meat to the pot.
  • Chicken mixture can be prepared to this point then refrigerated for up to 48 hours or frozen for 3 months, before reheating and serving.
  • To serve, place washed and dried lettuce leaves on individual serving plates.
  • With a slotted spoon, top with the chicken mixture, then add a heaping spoonful of coleslaw.
  • Garnish with a few cilantro leaves and serve with lime wedges.

Serves 4.



Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

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