Recipe courtesy of Santos Loo

Carnitas-Style Chicken Tacos with Black Bean Puree and Pickled Red Onions

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 35 min
  • Active: 35 min
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
If you’re like me and sometimes crave food from your favorite restaurants, you’ll want to try this easy to make, full-flavored and eye-catching taco recipe. We’ll transform leftover rotisserie chicken (or roast chicken) into delicious crispy carnitas, then combine canned black beans with toasted pepitas to make a puree that can double as a dip. The tacos get a final topping of pickled red onions, avocado, Cotija and lime wedges. Don’t forget to bring your favorite hot sauce to the table!


Carnitas-Style Chicken:

Black Bean Puree:

Pickled Red Onions:



  1. For the carnitas-style chicken: Combine the chili powder, oregano, paprika, granulated garlic, salt, cumin and cinnamon in a large bowl and mix well. Stir in the orange juice until it becomes a paste. Add the chicken and toss to combine until fully coated.
  2. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. When the oil is hot and begins to ripple in the pan, add the chicken in an even layer. Let the chicken sear without stirring until it is crispy around the edges, about 3 minutes. Turn the chicken and continue to sear the other side for another 2 to 3 minutes. (Cook the chicken in batches if necessary.) Set aside and keep warm until ready to assemble the tacos.
  3. For the black bean puree: Place the pepitas in a medium dry skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until toasted and just beginning to pop, about 4 minutes. Add to a food processor along with the beans, cilantro, oil, lime juice, salt, paprika, oregano and cumin. Process until evenly combined and the texture of pesto. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
  4. For the pickled red onions: Rinse the onions under cold water to remove the harsher flavor. Pat dry and toss with the cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Serve within an hour to maintain the onion’s crispness.
  5. To assemble: Warm the tortillas by either toasting them over a medium-high open flame until heated, or microwave by stacking them on a microwave-safe plate, covering them with a damp paper towel, and microwaving on high until warmed through, about 1 minute.
  6. Top each tortilla with enough black bean puree to thinly coat the top. Sprinkle the crumbled Cotija over the top followed by the chicken, sliced avocado and pickled red onions. Serve immediately with hot sauce and lime wedges.