These sweet and spicy chili lime marinated chicken tacos with mango salsa are a weeknight staple in my kitchen. I like to get the chicken marinating in the morning, then the tacos come together in a flash for dinner. Read on, or jump straight to the recipe, HERE.
Taco night in my house can mean a lot of different things. It can mean classic ground-beef tacos with all the fixin’s, or fish tacos with a crisp purple-cabbage slaw… but more often than not, it means these. Chili lime marinated chicken tacos, topped with a sweet and spicy mango salsa.
Can we just take a moment to bask in the glory of mango salsa? There’s something purely addictive about cold, sweet cubes of mango mixed with little hits of heat from a jalapeno. Add that to the savoriness of the chicken (which nearly caramelizes in the pan with the marinade) and Taco Tuesday just got a whooooole lot more exciting.
Speaking of which, what is it with Taco Tuesday?
Okay, I get it, the alliteration is cute. But seriously, we shouldn’t be limiting our taco consumption to just one day out of the week. Seems like discrimination to me.
We should embrace tacos, no matter what day of the week they happen to fall on. Like Monday, or Wednesday, or Friday… or all of the above.
Tacos tend to get a bad rap for not being particularly healthy. Like, maybe-I-shouldn’t-eat-them-three-times-a-week-unhealthy. Which is kinda true, if we’re talking about greasy ground beef and a deep-fried tortilla shell.
These babies, on the other hand, I can feel pretty good about. They’re full of lean protein, veggies, and the spicy marinade is balanced only by a little honey. They’re also gluten-free (if you use corn tortillas), and filling enough that just two or three small tacos hold me.
Another quick tip: I almost never have sour cream in the house, because it turns out I’m incapable of going through a container before it goes bad. So instead, I use plain, unsweetened greek yogurt on tacos, on top of soups, etc.. Not only do I always have it on hand, but it adds less fat and extra protein to whatever I’m eating.
This recipe was inspired by a spur-of-the-moment taco night I had with friends last Spring. To this day, those were the best tacos I have every eaten. Every time I make this recipe, it’s a shadow of that one amazing night, laughing our asses off and piling our plates high with chicken and mango and queso fresco, fingers sticky from lime juice, hearts full and happy.
What I’m saying is, if you really want to make your taco night amazing, do it with friends. Once the chicken has marinated, these come together in a flash, making them perfect for a relaxed and fun evening.
- 1 large mango, or two small (altufa) mangoes, cut into ½ inch cubes (approx. 1 cup cubed)*
- 2-3 TBSP finely chopped red onion
- 2-3 TBSP finely chopped red bell pepper
- 2-3 TBSP finely chopped cilantro
- ½ jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
- 1 TBSP fresh lime juice
- small pinch of salt, to taste
- 1 lb. chicken breasts, sliced (against the grain) into strips
- juice and zest of one lime
- 2 TBSP fresh cilantro, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 TBSP honey
- 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. ground cumin
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- corn tortillas, warmed in a dry pan or a warm oven (gluten-free -- or you can use flour tortillas if you prefer them and don't mind gluten)
- Mango salsa (above), fresh pico de gallo, sour cream (or plain, unsweetened greek yogurt, which I prefer), queso fresco, hot sauce, extra cilantro, lime wedges, etc., -- to taste
- Mix everything together in bowl, and refrigerate in an airtight container until needed. Salsa can be made up to a day in advance.
- Cut the chicken into strips and place in a bowl, or a leak-proof plastic bag. Add the lime juice and zest, cilantro, garlic, salt, honey, and red chili flakes. Mix everything together, and marinate for at least 1-2 hours, or as long as 8 hours. (You can start the chicken marinating in the morning, then cook it in the evening after work.)
- When ready, heat a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat with the 1 TBSP olive oil. Add half the chicken to the pan (be careful not to crowd the pan too much), lifting the strips out of the marinade and letting any excess drain off. You want a little of the marinade in the pan to coat the chicken, but you don't want them swimming in it.
- Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the strips of chicken are opaque all the way through when cut open. (Cooking time will vary depending on the size of the strips, and how hot your stove is, so adjust as necessary). Remove the strips when done, and add the remaining chicken to the pan. If the pan has become dry, add another drizzle of olive oil.
- Towards the end of cooking, the honey from the marinade should begin to caramelize and coat the strips. Toss all the strips in the pan to coat them in this sticky glaze just before serving.
- Serve chicken in warmed tortillas, with the mango salsa and any other toppings you like. I like mine with a small dollop of greek yogurt (in place of sour cream), and a sprinkling of queso fresco. You do you.