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Chicken Street Tacos

5 from 10 votes

posted: 05/29/22

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy

Chicken Street Tacos are the greatest dinner! The perfect marinade for this chicken, with it’s citrus, cilantro, and garlic, makes for street tacos that everyone will want over and over.

overhead of four street tacos on a board

You guys know by now that every night in our house could be taco night and we would be happy campers. And honestly, when we aren’t making chicken tacos, we are making some sort of weird spin on tacos. Its our favorite type of chicken dinner.

With this street taco recipe, we are making the cutest little handheld tacos. These chicken tacos look small but they pack a big flavorful punch. Even Nathan, who historically hates cilantro, absolutely loved this recipe. If you are craving a taco night – and honestly, I’m always craving a taco night – you have to try this recipe. I know it will be a huge hit with your whole family.

Reader Review

We had the Chicken Street Taco’s and loved them. We loved the taste of the chicken and will use that marinade on the chicken when we eat it next time. We don’t need taco’s to use the marinade. The pico de gallo was so good. I made a 2nd batch just to have on our salad.
Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful recipes.

overhead of street taco marinade in a bowl

How to Make Street Tacos

This is a brief overview of the chicken taco recipe, so that you can see how easy it is. For the full recipe, be sure to scroll to the bottom of the post and get all the measurements and ingredients in the recipe card.

  1. Make the marinade: Combine orange juice, lime juice, vegetable oil, garlic, chili powder, salt, cumin, and fresh cilantro in a bowl. Whisk it together.
  2. Marinate: Pour the marinade over the chicken thighs in a reusable container and marinate for 2 to 24 hours.
  3. Grill the chicken: Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the excess. On an indoor grill pan or an outdoor grill, grill the chicken for 6 minutes on each side or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Ferenheit.
  4. Serve as tacos: Cut up the grilled chicken and serve on street taco tortillas with Pico de Gallo.
street taco marinade being poured over chicken thighs

Marinating Chicken

The key to this recipe is marinating the chicken. It is what gives these tacos their amazing flavor. Here are a few things to know about marinating chicken in general.

  • A good marinade will break down the outer layer of the meat. It should have something acidic in it that will break down just the outside of the meat and let the flavor penetrate it. In this case our marinade has both orange juice and lime juice. Salt also helps break it down.
  • Marinate for at least two hours. This is a good length of time for the marinade to work it’s magic, break down the meat, and let the flavor get in.
  • Do not marinate for more than 24 hours. Given that a good marinade will break down the meat, you don’t want to give it so much time with your meat that it overly breaks it down. This will result in meat that isn’t tender, but is gummy.
chicken thighs in a street taco marinade


Cilantro can be a triggering ingredient for some people – my husband included. In fact, it surprised me to find out that some people are genetically predisposed to taste dish soap when they have cilantro. My goodness, no wonder he doesn’t like it.

That being said, I would urge you to still try this recipe even if you have a cilantro hater in your house. As I mentioned above, even though there is 1/4 cup of cilantro in the marinade, Nathan loved this recipe. Perhaps there is something about the other ingredients in the marinade that neutralize that effect.

Buying and Storing Cilantro

When you buy cilantro at the grocery store, look for a bunch that is bright green. The vast majority of the leaves should be free from blemishes and vibrant.

When you get the cilantro home, I like to gently dry it with paper towels if the leaves and stems are wet. Then cut off the bottom inch of the stems. Place the bunch in a cup of water and cover the cup with a plastic bag. Cilantro can be stored like this in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

overhead of platter of grilled chicken thighs to make street tacos

Grilling Chicken

This recipe calls for the chicken to be grilled. Aren’t the grill marks on this chicken just perfect? We own a grill pan and find it works perfectly for this recipe, and things like my Chicken Wrap.

Cooking in a Skillet

That being said, if you don’t have a grill pan and if you aren’t ready to pull your grill out yet, make this recipe in a skillet. You can even cook it right in the marinade. Pour everything right in a skillet, cook it over medium heat, covered for seven minutes. Flip the chicken thighs and cook for seven more minutes. It will be just as delicious.

overhead of four Mexican street tacos on a platter

How to Top Street Taco Recipe

I always eat my street tacos with my simple Pico de Gallo recipe. It is absolutely amazing. But you could also just top this recipe with some onions and cilantro. My kids love their tacos with a little shredded cheese and some pickled jalapeños. While this isn’t the traditional way to eat street tacos, the fact that they are happily eating is a win for me.

Truthfully, one of the reasons we love taco night so much is because each of my kids is able to put together their own tacos exactly the way they want. It is what has made this dinner the easiest to serve our family for literally more than a decade.

The Best Pico de Gallo Recipe

Whether it’s Taco Tuesday or Taco Any day, you need The Best Pico de Gallo recipe! This recipe comes together with just a few fresh ingredients and is perfect for eating with chips or on top of chicken tacos! This recipe is a keeper!
bowl of pico de gallo recipe


Can I use chicken breasts for these street tacos?

Yes! Just make sure that you use an instant read thermometer when you are cooking it. That way you can pull the chicken off the grill right when it hits 165 degrees.
The benefit to using chicken thighs is that they stay really moist. It is easy for chicken breasts to dry out when they are cooking, so it is essential that it is not over cooked.

What if I don’t like cilantro?

Fair question. Please read my small essay about cilantro above.

What is the difference between a street taco and a taco?

The difference is just in size. Street tacos are usually 4.5 inches and regular tacos are 6 inches. Street tacos are usually also meat, onions, a simple salsa, and cilantro.

Why do street tacos have two tortillas?

They are often served with two corn tortillas to make them more sturdy.

Are street tacos gluten free?

Yes! This recipe is gluten free as it is served on corn tortillas. Like all recipes, make sure you thoroughly check your ingredients before serving it to someone with a gluten allergy.

close up of a street taco recipe on a platter

What to Serve with Street Tacos

If you make this chicken street tacos recipe please leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

overhead of four street tacos on a board
5 from 10 votes

Chicken Street Tacos

Serves: 6 people
(tap # to scale)
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 14 minutes
Total: 2 hours 24 minutes
Chicken Street Tacos are the greatest dinner! The perfect marinade for this chicken, with it's citrus, cilantro, and garlic, makes for street tacos that everyone will want over and over.


  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs

Chicken Street Taco Marinade

  • 1/3 cup orange juice (the juice of one orange)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 cup cilantro minced

For Serving


  • Combine the orange juice, lime juice, vegetable oil, garlic, chili powder, salt, cumin and cilantro in a large bowl. Whisk until smooth.
  • Add the chicken to the marinade. Flip several times to make sure that the thighs are completely coated. Cover and marinate for 2 to 24 hours.
  • Pull the chicken from the marinade and discarde the excess marinade. Place on the grill and cook for 7 minutes. Flip and cook for another 6 to 7 minutes or until an instant read thermometer registers 165. (Depending on the size of the thighs, some might hit that temperature before others.)
  • Transfer to a cutting board and dice. Serve in taco shells with pico de gallo.
Serving: 3tacos Calories: 279kcal (14%) Carbohydrates: 22g (7%) Protein: 26g (52%) Fat: 10g (15%) Saturated Fat: 2g (13%) Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g Monounsaturated Fat: 3g Trans Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 108mg (36%) Sodium: 919mg (40%) Potassium: 351mg (10%) Fiber: 3g (13%) Sugar: 3g (3%) Vitamin A: 502IU (10%) Vitamin C: 9mg (11%) Calcium: 23mg (2%) Iron: 1mg (6%)
Author: Lisa Longley
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
overhead of four street tacos on a board

did you make this

Chicken Street Tacos

I’d love to see what you made! Tag me @lisasimplejoy and hashtag it #simplejoyrecipes!

Hi! I'm Lisa Longley, and I am committed to giving you simple dinner ideas and recipes that are easy to make; recipes that will fill your home with joy. I am the owner and author of SimpleJoy.com and I'm so glad that you are here.

Reader Interactions


    Have a question? Use the form below to submit your question or comment. I love hearing from you & seeing what you made!

    Rate This Recipe:

  1. kurt says

    5 stars
    tastes great and little work!

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad that you liked it, Kurt!

  2. Lori Merritt says

    These look great. Any ideas how I could season precooked chicken for this recipe? I just cooked and shredded a roaster so I have plain chicken ready to go. I would like to make these with the chicken I have. Thanks for your help!

    • Lisa Longley says

      Hi Lori! I’m sorry, that’s not the easiest swap to make. I would want to play with it. The marinating is pretty key to this recipe. If you are looking for recipes that use cooked shredded chicken, I have a lot listed in this post: Freezing Cooked Chicken.

  3. Wendy says

    Do you have a recipe for the pico???

    • Lisa Longley says

      Yes! You can find it here: Pico de Gallo.

  4. Vicki says

    5 stars
    Made these tonight, they were great, I marinated the chicken overnight, I served it with cilantro rice, refried beans and cornbread!

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad you liked them as much as we do!

  5. Feisty Granny says

    I started cooking when I was 9 years old (I am bow 88) and some of your recipes surpass mine in flavor and ease of cooking. This is one of them. The marinade takes it over the top. I also love your format.

    • Lisa Longley says

      Thank you so much for taking the time to leave this comment!

  6. Stephanie B. says

    My husband said this is the top 5 of all the dinners I’ve ever prepared in 15 years of marriage. It was amazing! Prepared and grilled as recipe stated – added Hidden Valley Ranch Secret Sauce as a topping along with some monterey jack cheese. Outstanding!

    • Lisa Longley says

      You made my day, Stephanie! I’m so glad this was a hit!

  7. Cindy says

    5 stars
    Made these tonight with the Pico and Jack cheese. Absolutely delicious.

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad you liked these as much as we do!

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5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners



5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners