Welcome to Eat Your Food!, our biweekly column of real meals made for real kids by Nick Evans.
For many years, I wasn’t a huge fan of the taquito, which is essentially a taco wrapped like a mini burrito that is then baked or fried. Taquitos just seemed like too much work when you could just layer the same fillings in between a few tortillas and make quesadillas much faster.
But they have grown on me over the years. Like quesadillas, taquitos are a great way to use leftovers such as chicken or veggies. But unlike quesadillas, which require attention on the stovetop, taquitos are pretty hands-off once you get them made and in the oven.
Also, you can freeze them! These baked chicken taquitos freeze especially wonderfully. You will probably have leftovers from this recipe and they make for great quick snacks or even a second dinner, if you have enough.
My kids have been raised on Tex-Mex so they are used to seeing tacos and quesadillas on the table. They haven’t had many taquitos though so this was an opportunity for me to introduce them to similar flavors in a slightly different form.
HOW TO MAKE THE FILLING
The recipe for these chicken taquitos is my standard chicken taquito filling for kids. It’s very mild and also very flexible. My base is shredded chicken, plus two kinds of cheese (the cream cheese really helps the filling come together), and some mild green chiles.
I would use spicier ones if it were just me, but children exist.
Have extra veggies? Toss them in. Different protein? It’ll probably work. Just make sure to dice whatever you add pretty finely and mash it together with the cheese really well.
HOW TO MAKE THE TAQUITOS
I prefer making taquitos with corn tortillas, which get really nice and crispy in the oven. But the problem with corn tortillas is they also tend to rip when you are filling and rolling them.
The solution I’ve found that works great is to wrap a few tortillas (I do four at a time in 2×2 stacks) in wet paper towels. Then microwave them on HIGH for about 20 seconds. This basically steams the tortillas and make them really flexible.
Once you have rolled the taquitos, brush them with vegetable oil and bake them as soon as possible. This will keep them from drying out and cracking too much. You might still get a few cracks in your taquitos, but don’t fret about it. They will still taste great!
HOW TO FREEZE THE TAQUITOS
These taquitos freeze beautifully. After you have baked them, let them cool to room temperature. Then freeze them flat on a baking sheet. Once frozen, transfer them to a freezer safe bag and remove as much air as possible. They keep well for a month or so.
For best results, reheat frozen taquitos in a 350°F oven until warmed through, 15 to 20 minutes. You can also reheat batches of three taquitos in the microwave on high for 90 seconds, but they will be a soggier than using the oven method.
The DAD ADD
Because the taquitos aren’t very spicy, I like to make a quick dipping sauce with sour cream and sriracha, which brings some real heat.
It’s an awesome sauce for so many things, but is especially good paired with the crunchy and cheesy taquitos.
Oh, boy. This photo of my 2-year-old daughter is sort of a trigger event for me. She was not happy with me on this particular dinner night. She was mad because I took her jacket off. HOW DARE I DO SUCH A THING?!
Meanwhile, my son loved these taquitos, mainly because he could carry them around and take bites while he tended to his ever-growing collection of fire trucks. (Side question: Is four too many?)
My daughter ate essentially nothing on this particular night. I even tried to make an on-the-fly quesadilla with the taquito filling because she normally likes quesadillas more. Did not work because, you know, JACKET.
MORE FAVORITE MEXICAN AND TEX-MEX RECIPES!
Baked Chicken Taquitos Recipe
For the taquitos:
- 2 cups (about 1 pound) cooked shredded chicken (see Recipe Note)
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 1 cup (4 ounces) grated cheddar cheese
- 4 ounces canned mild green chilis
- 1 teaspoon mild chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 18 to 20 (6-inch) corn tortillas
- Vegetable oil, for brushing
- Fresh cilantro
- Sour cream
- Mild salsa
DAD ADD: Sriracha Cream Sauce
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce
1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet.
2 Make the taquito mix: In a medium bowl, mash together shredded chicken, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, green chilis, and seasonings. Mix together really well.
Taste and feel free to adjust seasonings to your liking. This basic version should be fairly mild and kid-friendly.
3 Prep the tortillas: Wrap the corn tortillas in stacks of two in between damp paper towels. Microwave on high for 20 seconds to make them more flexible.
4 Assemble the taquitos: Add two heaping tablespoons of the chicken filling to each tortilla and wrap tightly—a small cookie scoop (like this one) works well here. They should resemble long cigars.
Immediately brush corn tortillas with vegetable oil to prevent cracking and place, seam-side down, on the lightly oiled baking sheet.
Repeat until all of the filling is used. You should get 18 to 20 taquitos.
5 Bake the taquitos: Bake the taquitos as soon as possible to prevent the tortillas from cracking too much. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until they are crispy and golden brown.
If some of your tortillas crack badly, you can try again with a new tortilla and just transfer the filling over. Ultimately, though, a few cracks are okay and the taquitos can still be picked up and eaten—and they are still delicious!
6 Make the cream sauce: While the taquitos bake, stir together the sour cream and sriracha. Taste and adjust to your liking. This can be made well in advance and keeps just fine for a few days in a covered container in the fridge.
7 Serve: Serve immediately with the cream sauce. Leftovers can be frozen for up to a month and reheated in a warm oven.
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