These Simple Baked Salsa Chicken Thighs make the juiciest shredded chicken that’s the best for tacos, burritos, and salads. Plus, it’s a perfect recipe to prep ahead for super quick dinners or lunches during the week!
The other day, I was making burritos. I had to make this delicious chicken first, let it cool, shred it, THEN start with my burritos. And it occured to me…
Danielle, why didn’t you cook this chicken yesterday? I would have burritos in my mouth 30 minutes sooner!! I took it as a lesson to myself, but also decided it was something I should share here with you.
At the time, my Instant Pot was full of yogurt, so I made this baked version of salsa chicken and it turned out delicious, quick, and easy.
Salsa chicken can be made in so many ways – lately I’ve been going with my Instant Pot, but this baked version is just as simple and almost as quick as the Instant Pot method.
Total Time: 40 minutes
Method: Oven Baked
Prep: Make-Ahead Friendly
Watch how to make these Simple Salsa Baked Chicken Thighs (1 min):
What are the ingredients in these Simple Salsa Baked Chicken Thighs?
The ingredients in these thighs are super simple – you might already have them on hand or they’ll be pretty easy to find at the grocery store.
- boneless skinless chicken thighs – This recipe is written for boneless skinless chicken thighs. If you only have breasts, you can still make this recipe. Cook boneless skinless breasts for 20-25 minutes, checking the temperature after 20 minutes (needs an internal temp of 165F).
- avocado or olive oil – I generally always cook with avocado oil because of the high smoke point, but olive oil would also work for this recipe.
- ground cumin, garlic powder & salt – These are the additional seasonings added along with the salsa to ensure delicious flavor and juicy chicken.
- salsa – The best thing about this recipe is you can use your favorite salsa or any you have on hand. I just use a mild jarred variety I get at Costco. Adding salsa gives you great flavor and chicken that will never dry out because of the additional moisture.
How do you make baked chicken with salsa?
Good news! Making these baked salsa chicken thighs is super easy. I know they can be made in the slow cooker or in an Instant Pot, but I decided to go simple here. You’ll need a 9×13 casserole dish or some kind of large rimmed baking dish to contain the liquid.
First, place the chicken into the casserole dish. Drizzle the oil over the thighs, and then add the salt, cumin, and garlic powder. Mix mix mix it around with some tongs until all the chicken thighs are fully coated with oil and spices. Arrange the chicken so all the pieces are flat.
Top with one cup of salsa – you pick what kind! I like to use the regular old Costco brand organic salsa, but use whatever kind you have or like.
Spoon all of the salsa over the chicken – no need to mix, just make sure as much of the chicken is covered in salsa as possible.
And that’s it for prep! Place the dish in a 425F oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165F.
When the chicken comes out of the oven, let it rest, covered, for at least 10 minutes. This will help the juices settle inside the chicken. Although we are shredding it eventually, we still want the chicken to hold as much juice as possible.
Plus, it’s super hot when it comes right out of the oven anyway, so it’s best to let it cool a bit. Use a clean baking sheet or aluminum foil to cover the pan while the chicken rests.
Finally, use two forks to shred the chicken breasts. I do this IN the same pan with all the salsa, so the shredded chicken can continue to soak up the juices and salsa flavor.
Can I use chicken breasts instead of thighs?
Sure, go for it! Follow the recipe as written and cook boneless skinless breasts for 20-25 minutes, checking the temperature after 20 minutes (needs an internal temp of 165F).
How do you shred the chicken?
Because I hate doing more dishes, I usually use two forks and shred the chicken by hand (seen in the picture above!).
But if you’re feeling super lazy and do not want to hand shred, use your KitchenAid and paddle attachment to shred your meat. Yes, it’s totally possible! I’ve tried it and it works, but does cause more dishes.
Will this recipe work for meal prep?
Yes, totally! It’s perfect for meal prep. Make these chicken thighs on Sunday (or your normal prep day) and store them in your favorite airtight container. Reuse in dinner or lunch recipes all week! Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
You can also use this chicken to pre-cooked freezer meals such as chicken and rice burritos bowls, or enchilada filling. Place in the fridge the night before you want to use it so it can thaw, and then you’re halfway through with dinner the next day!
How should I use these baked salsa chicken thighs?
- chicken salsa tacos
- chicken burritos
- taco salad meat
- enchilada filling
- quinoa or rice burrito bowls
- taco casserole or tortilla casseroles
How to store prepared Baked Salsa Chicken Thighs:
Store prepared Baked Salsa Chicken Thighs in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. The cooked chicken can also be used in recipes for up to 4 days after cooking.
How to freeze prepared Baked Salsa Chicken Thighs:
To freeze cooked salsa chicken, I suggest using either 1 or 2-Cup Souper Cubes Trays to freeze in individual portions. Store frozen cubes in an airtight freezer safe bag and enjoy within 3-6 months for best quality.
These Simple Baked Salsa Chicken Thighs make the juiciest shredded chicken that’s the best for tacos, burritos, and salads. It’s a perfect recipe to prep ahead for super quick dinners during the week!
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 tablespoon avocado or olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup salsa
- Preheat the oven to 425F. Place chicken thighs in a 9×13 casserole dish and drizzle with oil. Add cumin, garlic powder, and salt. Use tongs to coat all the chicken in oil and seasonings and then arrange the chicken thighs in one flat layer. Spoon salsa over the chicken and spread the salsa to cover all the chicken completely.
- Bake the chicken for 25-30 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165F.
- Remove from the oven and let the chicken rest for about 5 minutes, and then shred the chicken using two forks. Use in tacos, burritos, salads, and more. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Nutrition information estimated with My Fitness Pal.
- Serving Size: about 4 ounces
- Calories: 158
- Fat: 6g
- Carbohydrates: 1g
- Protein: 22g