Easy and delicious flautas are tortillas, filled with shredded chicken and fried, then served with a colourful and fresh assortment of toppings.
There is a Mexican restaurant in my little town that serves the most amazing, authentic Mexican food. My favourite dish is the Chicken Flautas, so it's no surprise I sought to recreate it at home, as well. Not only is it a feast for the eyes, it's easy, wonderfully delicious and just a great combination of flavours, colours and textures.
You can make flautas from left-over cooked chicken, chicken taken from a store-bought rotisserie chicken or almost as quickly, starting with a couple of boneless chicken breasts. I love to fry my flautas to crispy, golden goodness, but you can also bake flautas as well, if you prefer.
Top your easy chicken flautas with lettuce, quick pickled onion, cilantro, feta and Mexican crema, all of which are easily made at home without the need for special ingredients.
Here are the simple ingredients you will need. Not all the topping ingredients are required, but definitely recommended ...
- Chicken - either left-over cooked chicken, chicken from a store-bought rotisserie chicken or a couple of uncooked boneless chicken breasts
- Salsa - just regular tomato salsa (mild, medium or hot)
- Large flour tortillas
- Iceberg lettuce
- Quick Pickled Red Onion - easy to make with red onion, cider vinegar and sugar (details in recipe card below)
- Feta cheese - Queso fresco or Mexican cotija cheese, if you can find it.
- Mexican Crema - easy to make your own with sour cream, thinned with a bit of heavy cream or half and half (details in recipe card below)
See the FAQ below for variations and options for this recipe.
Step by Step Photos
- Step 1: Add the cooked chicken to a skillet.
- Step 2: Add the salsa.
- Step 3: Add the water (it looks red as I just re-used the same cup I used for the salsa :)
- Step 4: Cook over low heat, covered, until warmed through, the salsa has infused the meat with flavour and the water has been absorbed.
- Step 5: Shred the chicken mixture further with the paddle attachment in a mixer.
- Step 6: Place a tortilla on a cutting board.
- Step 7: Cut off the rounded sides to make a rectangle.
- Step 8: Place a row of the chicken down the centre of the rectangle.
- Step 9: Roll up the tortilla tightly, placing seam side down so it doesn't unravel.
- Step 10: Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
- Step 11: Heat a 1/2-inch of cooking oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and cook, rotating the roll every 30-45 seconds, until evenly golden brown all around. You may need to adjust the heat a bit lower if they are browning too quickly.
- Step 12: Repeat with the remaining rolls.
- Can I use corn tortillas instead? You can, but my experience with corn tortillas is that they split easily when rolled, so they often leave me frustrated when I've tried them with this dish. Your mileage may vary. It does help to warm them lightly before rolling.
- Can I fill them with something else? Sure! The would be great with pulled pork or carnitas or Barbacoa (shredded beef)
- Can I add some cheese inside the flautas? Sure, you can if you like.
- Can I bake flautas instead of frying? You can. You will, of course, sacrifice some of the crispiness. Simply place on a baking sheet, brush lightly with a little cooking oil (or spray with cooking oil) and bake for 15-20 minutes in a 375F. oven, or until golden and crisp.
- Can I re-heat flautas? Yes. Again, you will sacrifice the "freshly fried" crispiness, but simply fry ahead, refrigerate, then re-heat on a baking sheet in a 350F oven until warmed through.
- What are some other topping options? Fresh pico de gallo, salsa, salsa verde or roja, sour cream and avocado are good alternate (or additional) options.
- What can I serve with the flautas?. These are great with Mexican rice underneath the flautas!
I pared back the toppings here for the photos, so you could actually see the flautas, but these are best with a heaping mountain of toppings, so don't hesitate to load them up. It's like a salad on top of the main course, instead of on the side ;) It also ensures that you get a bite of the fresh topping flavours along with the flautas in every bite.
Chicken Flautas (Flautas de Pollo)
- 3 cups cooked shredded chicken, or *see Note 1
- 1/3 cup tomato salsa, mild, medium or hot
- 1/3 cup water
- 3 large flour tortillas
- Oil for frying
Quick Pickled Onions:
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, or white vinegar
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, less if fine salt
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 2 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
- Pinch salt
- Iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced
- Quick Pickled Red Onion
- Crumbled Feta Cheese
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Mexican Crema
- Make the Quick Pickled Red Onion: Place the sliced red onion in a small bowl. Add the vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Cover and let stand at room temperature while you make your flautas.
- Add the cooked chicken to a skillet over medium-low heat. Pour salsa over-top, then the water. Stir to combine. Cover the skillet and allow the chicken to warm with the salsa and water for 4-5 minutes. (The water should have been absorbed. If not, cook uncovered for a minute or so to cook it off). Remove the chicken mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or alternately just in a bowl with two forks). Run the mixer on low for a minute or two to shred the chicken. Set aside.
- Place a large tortilla on a cutting board. Cut the rounded edges off from each side, making a rectangle (see Step by Step photos above the recipe card). Place a row of the shredded chicken down the centre of the rectangle, then roll the tortilla up around it, rolling from the longer side. Place it seam side down, so it doesn't un-roll. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
- Heat a 1/2 inch of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. (I like to cook just one at a time, in a small skillet. They cook up quickly and you don't need as much oil to get the 1/2 inch in a smaller skillet). Add one of the rolled tortillas to the skillet, seam side down. Allow to cook about 30- 45 seconds, then begin rolling it a quarter turn and allowing it to brown a bit before rolling it a quarter turn again, until the tortilla is evenly golden all around. Remove to a cooling rack and repeat with the remaining rolls.
- While flautas are cooking, take a moment to stir together the sour cream and cream for the crema. Set aside.
- Place warm flautas on a platter. Top with topping ingredients, placing them in the order listed in the ingredients, finishing with a drizzle of the crema. (*I love to generously add the toppings, almost to the point you can hardly see the flautas.)
Nutritional information provided for general guidance only and should not be relied upon to make personal health decisions.