This Mexican inspired butterflied whole chicken recipe is packed with rich tomatoes, chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce, and smoked to perfection on the grill. Take this classic shredded chicken recipe and take it up a few easy notches for the perfect Taco Tuesday night recreation.
Chicken Tinga is a classically a stewed tomato and chipotle pepper based shredded chicken dish. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with the original, I love grilling and smoking a yard bird or spatchcock style chicken with this flavor profile in mind.
If you haven’t fallen in love with all things spatchcock chicken yet, well then you’re late to the game! Start with my easy weeknight roasted chicken recipe this pesto chicken version, Moroccan, or even this Mojo marinated variation.
Why spatchcock over ways to prepare chicken? You get the best of both worlds. White meat and dark meat, crispy skin, and a ton of leftovers for use sliced up and served to make keto chicken tinga tacos if your heart so desires.
Grab all the details, tips, and techniques for smoking the perfect spatchcock chicken, making a keto chicken tinga sauce, and being a pro on and off the grill.
- Sharp Kitchen Shears
- Foil Pan or Small Baking Sheet
- Cooling Rack
- Medium Saucepan
- Measuring Cup/ Spoons
- Carving Knife
From chicken prep to making the perfect sauce, grab all the details below to help you adapt this recipe for smoking, gas grill, oven, meal prep and more!
How to prep a spatchcock chicken for the grill or oven?
Spatchcock chicken is a fun word for saying “butterflied” chicken. This is the process where you take a whole bird (I even make spatchcock turkey for Thanksgiving) and remove the back bone and flay the chicken out breast side up.
Why cook a whole bird this way? It cooks much faster and makes for easier carving! When your goal is to achieve a crispy skinned bird in an hour or less any day of the week, this is 100% the way to do it!While it might sound intimidating to prep a whole chicken, it’s genuinely simple if you have a good pair of kitchen shears.
- Start bu patting the chicken dry with paper towels.
- Flip the chicken over with the back bone facing up. Use the shears to cut along either side of the spine and discard. Use the shears to trim off the excess skin near the tail end of the chicken and up around the wings if needed.
- Place the chicken upright and use your hands to press down over the breast bones and feel a slight crack and release so it lays nice and flat!
Let’s make the keto friendly tinga style marinade and sauce-
The main ingredients you need here for this are:
- Fire Roasted Tomatoes
- Chipotle Peppers in Adobo
- Cumin, Oregano, Salt and Pepper
- Olive Oil
- Chicken Stock
- Lime Juice
I kill two birds with one stone (pun intended) by mixing up the main base and leaving out the olive oil and the chicken stock. Blend everything together to start, then remove all but 1/4 cup of the mixture. Mix it wit the olive oil and a little lime juice to make a chicken tinga style marinade.
Cover the whole chicken top to bottom in a pan with the tinga marinade. Place the remainder of the tomato base in a small saucepan with some chicken stock. Cook it over medium high heat and allow it to come to a simmer and stir as needed. Set it aside for either smoking if desired or pouring over the slice chicken for serving.
Cooking your chicken on the grill (or oven)-
Any grill will work for making this chicken, but my go to is using a charcoal grill (I used my Big Green Egg) using indirect heat and adding a little smoke infusion into this bird (pairs nicely with the already smoky adobo).
Whether baking for grilling, I prefer to cook the bird at 375 F to help cook the thickest parts of the bird, keep it juicy, and prevent the marinade from burning. While you can smoke your spatchcock chicken directly on the grill grates, I prefer to place mine over a cooling rack to elevate it onto a baking sheet. This allows for air flow but prevents a huge mess and easier removal from on and off the grill.
Grill until the thickest part of the chicken returns an internal temperature of 165 F. Remove from the grill (or oven) and let it rest at least 10 minutes before slicing.
Serving and saucing the chicken-
I love a good family style platter for serving up this chicken tinga. Break down the chicken with by slicing the wings, thighs and drumsticks, and then slicing the breast meat away from the breast bone. Individually slice the breast meat into 1/4 inch medallions.
Place everything on a plate or cutting board and serve the tinga sauce up on the side or pour the sauce over the chicken pieces. Serve these up with some keto friendly tortillas, make a chicken tinga flatbread pizza with my low carb flatbread, or even make a chicken tinga bowl with some of this loaded cheesy Mexican cauliflower rice.
Need some quick and easy store bought tortilla options? Try these:
Grilled Spatchcock Chicken Tinga
- 1 Whole Chicken 4 lbs or under
- 1, 10 oz. can Fire Roasted Tomatoes
- 1, 7 oz. can Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce
- 1/2 Yellow Onion small
- 2 Garlic Cloves
- 2 tsp. Oregano
- 1 tsp Cumin
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Pepper
- 1/4 cup Olive Oil
- 1/2 cup Chicken or Vegetable Stock
- In a blender combine the fire roasted tomatoes, the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, the onion (diced into large chunks), fresh garlic cloves and spices into a blender or food processor. Pulse and remove all but 1/4 cup and set aside.
- Place the 1/4 cup back into the blender and add in the olive oil and blend again to create the marinade. Set it aside.
- Prep the chicken by patting it dry with a paper towel, use kitchen shears and remove the back bone. Lay the chicken breast side up on a pan and press down to crack the breast bone so it lays flat. Pour the marinade over both sides of the chicken and allow it rest for at least 30 minutes up to overnight if desired.
- Preheat the grill (or oven) to 375 F and set it for indirect heat. Place the chicken on a cooling rack over a baking sheet for easy on/off use of the grill. Grill (or bake) until the thickest part of the breast meat reaches 165 F. Remove from the grill and let it rest 10-15 minutes before slicing.
- While grilling, combine the remainder of the tomato and adobo base with the chicken stock. Heat it all over medium heat on the stove until combined and simmering. Remove from the heat and pour over the sliced spatchcock chicken tinga.
- Serve up with your favorite keto tortillas as a side or some loaded cheesy Mexican cauliflower rice.