BBQ Chicken Tacos

I tune everything out when I’m reading, which can be a good or bad habit depending on the situation. Good because I can read in any environment and not get distracted, but bad for the same reason because I keep missing my bus stops! I have a 45 minute commute, and like many in Boston, take public transportation. Unlike most though, I miss my bus stops a couple times a month – it’s rather ridiculous, but I have no sense of time passing when I’m reading and regularly am completely disorientated when I peek up and realize we’ve gone much farther than I thought. It’s worse when it’s dark out and I’m heading home, but one time when I was taking the 47 bus to work at the Longwood Medical Campus, I ended up by Boston Medical Center, which is a good 20 minutes after my stop! I ended up just waiting until we hit the red line and then circled back on the T and was a good hour late for work. Oops.

Anyway, I was gobbling up the November issue of Food and Wine magazine on the bus recently and was struck by the description of the BBQ sauce at Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas – “a sweet-tart-bitter blend of ketchup, cider vinegar, and coffee.” It sounded so brilliant that I was inspired to make my own version with these ingredients as the base. I don’t think I’d be able to guess there’s espresso powder in the sauce I made if I didn’t know, but it has a level of complexity that I really enjoyed. I mixed my BBQ sauce with spiced rubbed chicken and served it on corn tortillas with sautéed red onions and crumbled queso fresco cheese. Very yummy. And now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to get back to my latest read!

BBQ Chicken Tacos
Printable Recipe


1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
1/2 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

BBQ Sauce:
3/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup apple cider
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon brown mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon espresso powder

For Assembly:
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large red onion, cut into strips
8 corn tortillas, warmed (I used the small ones from Trader Joe’s)
6 ounces queso fresco, crumbled

Heat oven to 350˚F. Mix ancho chile powder, oregano, brown sugar, paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt in a small dish. Rub chicken breasts evenly with spice mix and place chicken breasts in a greased 13×9-inch pan. Bake chicken at 350˚F for 22 to 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the center. Cool chicken 10 minutes, cut into small chunks, and place in a large bowl.

Meanwhile, place ketchup, apple cider, apple cider vinegar, mustard, Worcestershire, and espresso powder in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes or until thickened. Mix BBQ sauce with chicken in the large bowl.

Heat canola oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat and sauté onion strips for 5 to 7 minutes or until tender.

To assemble the tacos, place BBQ chicken evenly in corn tortillas. Top with sautéed onions and queso fresco. Makes 4 servings of 2 tacos each.

Nutrition: 605 calories, 17.2g fat, 4.1g fiber, 64.2g protein per serving
Cost: $2.28 per serving

33 Responses to BBQ Chicken Tacos

  1. Oh no! It’s definitely not fun missing your stop. I guess Anthony Bourdain’s book is a good one ;).

    These BBQ chicken tacos sound awesome – my husband is going to looove them! I especially love the sound of adding espresso to the BBQ sauce.

    Keep the creative & original recipes comin’, Kerstin!

  2. I didn’t realize you were from Boston, also!

    My bf will love this dinner- bbq chicken ANYTHING is his cup of tea.

  3. HAhaha! You sound like me, Kerstin. I tune out everything when I read too, but I’ve also mastered the skill of walking in line, and even walking up the stairs while still reading. 😉

    I want to lick that sauce by itself!

  4. I tune everything out when I read too! I haven’t been an hour late for work but I won’t rule it out happening someday….

    Now these delicious tacos are just screaming my name. I love the queso fresco on top…yum!

  5. These look so awesome!! Beautiful and delicious-looking. I’ve definitely bookmarked them :)

    I tune everything out when I read, too! I always think I can read and watch TV at the same time… But I definitely cannot.

  6. Since I’ve ridden on subways basically since conception, I’ve developed an intuition for when i have to get off. It’s like some kind of sixth sense. I love the sound of this bbq sauce for these tacos! That espresso powder must add such a nice little kick!

  7. i’ve decided that bbq chicken pizza is something definitely worthy of going into my belly, and i think this creation would be as well. delicious work, kerstin!

  8. Luckily when I commuted to work – my train stop was the end of the line – although I have been told that the train has been at the stop for fifteen minutes without me realizing! 😀

  9. Yum. I’m a huge fan of fusion dishes and this sounds like fusion at its best. I love how today BBQ sauces are anything but standard. My favorite has hard apple cider as one of its base ingredients.

  10. That would be horrible to miss a bus stop by 20 minutes and be an hour late!! Hopefully it was a day where you didn’t have a time-sensitive experiment going :)

    These tacos look soo good! Almost like something Rick Bayless would make. Are you able to find something called “ancho chile powder” at the grocery store, or do you just use generic “chile powder”? I’ve been wondering that when I see it in recipes and thought you might know!

  11. I just saw you on the Food Network Ultimate Recipe Showdown and saw you have a blog. I have a food/fitness blog too so I wanted to say hi! I thought your desserts looked great, and the ones on your blog do too! Looking forward to reading more.

  12. Thanks everyone!

    Sophia – You’re much more talented than me… :)

    Natasha and Biz – Glad to know I’m not alone!

    Lisa – I’m going to hold you to that :)

    Meghan – Definitely go to a specialty spice shop or Latin market and get ancho chile powder – it’s made from dried poblanos so it’s not too spicy but adds a lot of flavor. It’s my favorite new ingredient :)

Leave a reply