Taco night can mean a lot of different things to me depending on the night. Sometimes, taco night means I have zero time and need dinner like NOW. Sometimes it means I have all the time in the world and want to make something truly special. These Pineapple Chicken Tacos end up being a little bit of both.
They are quick to make and have wonderful flavors but have a unique little twist on them thanks to a chunky pineapple salsa. It’s not your normal salsa and definitely not something you can find in a store.
The nice bonus of this pineapple salsa recipe is that it makes a good-sized bowl so you’ll probably have some leftover for a nice chips-and-salsa snack in the following days.
Watch this Spicy Chicken Taco Recipe
Making a Chicken Taco Seasoning
To be honest, if I’m in a rush, I’m not against using a store-bought chicken taco seasoning.
If you have the time to mix up a homemade version with some good chili powder, paprika, cumin, oregano, and garlic, that’s a wonderful idea. I posted my homemade taco seasoning recipe many years ago and it turns out that it’s still excellent!
Spicy Chicken Taco Filling
To make the chicken filling for these pineapple chicken tacos, I just poached some chicken breasts gently in steaming (but not boiling water).
You could also use buy a rotisserie chicken at your local deli and shred that for the chicken OR even use leftover chicken from another meal. It’s all good!
If you are poaching the chicken, I like to cut mine in half horizontally so they poach quicker. Then you can just shred the chicken once it is cooked through and has cooled a bit.
To finish off the chicken filling, add a drizzle of olive oil to a large skillet and some red onion over medium heat. Cook that for a minute or two and then stir in the chicken, taco seasoning, and water. Let that simmer together for a minute or two and keep it warm until it’s taco time!
Making the spicy Pineapple Salsa
The salsa is basically just an exercise in chopping and stirring. This is a packed full salsa that has pineapple for sweetness, radishes, red onion, and serrano (or jalapeno) peppers for heat and crunch, and cilantro, lime juice, and salt for seasonings.
You can chop the ingredients to your liking. I like mine chunkier but there’s no reason you can’t make it diced smaller. Your call! I wouldn’t make it in a food processor unless you are in a mega rush as it might get too processed and you’ll have more of a sauce than a salsa.
This is a delicious topping for these pineapple chicken tacos.
This is also easily made in advance if you are in a rush!
How to Make the Creamy Avocado Sauce
One more topping here before we start building these tacos. I like to mash together some avocado with sour cream and a little lime juice!
This is a nice creamy topping, but you could also skip it or just use some sour cream.
If you wanted this sauce super creamy, you would want to bust out the blender or food processor, but it’s fine if it has a little chunky texture to it.
Making Pineapple Chicken Tacos
Of course, you could use any shell for these bad boys. I do like hard shells with them though.
I tried one version with this crazy nacho cheese taco shell!
Ultimately though I reverted back to a normal hard taco shell! You can use any tortilla or shell you like though!
Serve the tacos piled high and garnished with extra hot sauce or fresh cilantro if you want.
The combo of savory chicken, spicy pineapple salsa with crunchy radishes, and a creamy avocado sauce is about as good as tacos get. It tastes fancy and unique, but is really a very fast taco to make.
Make these spicy pineapple chicken tacos the next time you’re in a taco night mood!
Making the taco filling in a slow cooker
If you wanted to toss these ingredients in a slow cooker or crockpot before you leave for the day, you can absolutely do that. I would add chicken thighs or chicken breasts (probably would up the amount to two pounds) to the slow cooker with 1/4 cup of the taco seasoning, red onion, and a cup of pineapple juice. Then shred the chicken when you are ready to make the tacos!
Substitutions for this Tex-Mex recipe
As you might imagine, this is a pretty flexible taco recipe so feel free to explore some of these substitutions.
- Make it on the grill! If it’s grilling season, you can marinate the chicken in some pineapple juice and 1/4 cup of the taco seasoning. Grill the chicken until cooked through and then slice and make tacos.
- Kick up the heat. Add some chipotle peppers to the taco filling for some extra smokey heat.
- Serve these in corn tortillas, crispy tortillas, or flour tortillas depending on your preference.
What to serve with these chicken tacos
It’s not totally necessary to serve these tacos with anything. They are a full meal on their own, but if you are feeling like adding to the table, I’d recommend making a good homemade guacamole, or maybe this Tex-Mex sweet potato salad for some extra vegetables!
Spicy Pineapple Chicken Tacos
- 1 pound poached chicken, shredded
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup diced red onion
- 1 packet Old El Paso® Chicken Seasoning
- ⅓ cup water
- 10 Taco Shells
- Queso fresco, crumbled
- 2 cups diced pineapple
- 4 radishes, diced
- ½ cup diced red onion
- 1 serrano pepper, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced
- ½ lime, juice only
- Kosher salt, to taste
Creamy Avocado Sauce:
- 1 very ripe avocado, mashed
- ½ cup sour cream
- ½ lime, juice only
- Pinch of salt
- For chicken, poach chicken in lightly salted, simmering, but not boiling, water, until it’s cooked through (10-15 minutes). Then remove chicken, let cool, and shred with forks.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil, red onion, shredded chicken, water, and Old El Paso Chicken Seasoning. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3-4 minutes until onions are soft and sauce coats chicken. If it gets too thick, add more water.
- For salsa, dice pineapple, radish, Serrano pepper, and onion and stir together with cilantro, lime juice, and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
- For creamy avocado sauce, mash avocado until it’s smooth. Stir in sour cream, lime juice, and a pinch of salt.
- Assemble tacos by scooping in chicken and topping with big spoonfuls of pineapple salsa and drizzle with avocado sauce.