Growing up, my Mexican mom announcing she was making taquitos was music to my ears and a cause for celebration. The crispy, rolled-up pockets of goodness were an everyday thing because it was easy for her to prep over the course of the day while still managing two daughters. It was a dish that always felt special but didn't take too long.
As we grew older and got more interested in cooking, my younger sister and I started helping my mom with the preparation. We rolled the taquitos, washed the toppings, chopped (as our knife skills improved), and made salsa in the blender with dried chile arbols or fresh serrano chilies with garlic and tomatoes blistered on the stove.
This is an excellent opportunity to get your family involved in the process, too. And it's an easy dish for anyone to master.
What are Taquitos?
Traditionally, taquitos are corn tortillas stuffed with fillings such as chicken, beef, cheese, beans, shrimp, and more. They are pan-fried until crisp and served with toppings.
Many people use taquitos, flautas, and tacos dorados interchangeably, but they can be different dishes based on the cook and region. Flautas tend to be much larger, hence the name (which translates to "flute"). They are often achieved by rolling and frying two tortillas together or using burrito-size flour tortillas.
Tacos dorados are sometimes called taquitos. However, they can also be smaller tortillas, filled, folded in half (rather than rolled), and fried until golden.
When to Serve Taquitos
Taquitos are a fun snack food, a favorite appetizer, or a winning main dish. Since the taquitos and all the toppings are pretty heavy, the only side dish my mom would serve was her famous black beans.
It is still one of my favorite meals, and now I make them with my daughter. She rolls the taquitos even better than I do.
A Flexible Recipe
This taquitos recipe is easy to tailor to your taste and any special diets, and the toppings make it easy for people to personalize the dish. Don't like chicken? Use cheese. Don't like corn tortillas? Use flour. Taquitos are an easy weeknight meal or something you can make for a large crowd at a celebration.
These are a colossal leftover helper and can quickly become vegetarian-friendly. Fill the taquitos with leftover mashed potatoes, a shredded pot roast from the night before, a mix of shredded cheese, or both. I've even made these with a glut of string cheese I needed to use up, and the kids went wild for them.
I also like to make double batches and freeze the extras. They’re an easy meal to pull out of the freezer for kids and adults alike.
Tips for Easy Prep
My mom made this recipe work for her because she would portion out her tasks in between mom-ing. She'd boil some chicken breasts early in the day and shred them. Then, later on, she'd roll up the taquitos and use toothpicks to secure them before storing them in the fridge to fry later.
While my mom would use toothpicks when rolling ahead of time, you don't need to. You can place the rolled taquitos seam-side down with tongs in the frying oil. However, toothpicks are a good choice if you are not confident in your rolling skills because they help keep taquitos together. Just make sure you take them out before serving.
Serve the freshly fried taquitos with lots of toppings such as shredded iceberg lettuce, cilantro, chopped white onion, crema, and homemade salsas.
If you find yourself in the unlikely position of having lots of leftover taquitos, use them as a base for enchiladas. Add canned or homemade enchilada sauce and some melty cheese on top, then bake at 375°F until bubbly, let it sit for 5 minutes, and serve.
Crispy, Crunchy Appetizers
Taquitos de Pollo (Chicken Taquitos)
For the taquitos
24 corn tortillas
1 1/4 pounds cooked, shredded chicken breast (about 3 packed cups)
1 quart canola or vegetable oil, as needed for frying
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
1 1/2 cups crema Mexicana or sour cream
1 (10-ounce) package queso fresco, crumbled
1 1/2 cups store-bought or homemade salsa or hot sauce
Heat the tortillas:
Wrap the tortillas in a clean dish towel and place them in the microwave to steam, making them pliable. Use medium to high heat for increments of 30 seconds until they are just warmed through. Do not overheat, or they will be too fragile to use.
Fill the tortillas:
Place 2 dinner plates on the counter. One is a work surface, and the other is for the rolled taquitos.
Using a dinner plate as a work surface, place a warmed tortilla in the center and add about 2 tablespoons of shredded chicken towards the right of the center in an even line. Do not overfill. Roll up tightly without splitting the tortilla.
Either place the taquito seam-side down on the plate or secure the tortilla by threading a toothpick through the seam of the taquito like pinning a diaper. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and chicken.
If not frying right away, cover with a damp kitchen towel and place in the fridge.
Fry the taquitos:
Add 1/2 inch of canola oil to a 12-inch cast iron frying pan over medium heat. Use an instant-read thermometer to check the temperature—it should be 350°F. Line a baking sheet or platter with paper towels.
Once the oil is hot, place 5 to 6 taquitos seam-side down in the frying pan with tongs so you don't burn your fingers. Make sure not to crowd the pan or the taquitos will not get golden brown.
Once you see the edges turning golden, about 3 to 4 minutes per side, turn over with tongs and fry until the other side is cooked to the same color.
Remove from the pan with tongs and place on the baking sheet or platter to drain. Add more oil to bring it back up to 1/2 inch up the pan and let the oil come to temperature in between batches, if needed. Repeat with the remaining taquitos.
If you are frying a bunch, place the finished taquitos on a cookie sheet in the oven at 325°F to keep warm until serving.
Serve with toppings:
Remove the toothpicks. Add toppings like chopped onion, cilantro, lettuce, crema, crumbled queso fresco, and salsa. Serve hot.
Extra taquitos (without toppings) can be stored in a zip-top freezer bag in the freezer for up to 4 months or in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 days.
While you can eat them cold out of the fridge—and I have—they reheat nicely on a cookie sheet in the oven at 400°F for about 5 minutes or until you can see the surface sizzle. If pulling them from the freezer, reduce the temperature to 350°F and increase the time to 10 to 15 minutes.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 35g||45%|
|Saturated Fat 4g||18%|
|Total Carbohydrate 43g||16%|
|Dietary Fiber 6g||22%|
|Total Sugars 1g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|