Easy and delicious authentic chicken flautas, filled with shredded chicken and fried, then served with a colourful and fresh assortment of toppings.
What are Mexican Flautas?
Flautas is Spanish for “flutes”, an obvious reference to the long tube shape of flautas. Flautas are made from flour tortillas that are filled and then rolled up and fried until extra-crispy and with a savoury, spiced filling.
How are Flautas different from taquitos? Taquitos are generally made from smaller, corn tortillas, so they are shorter and often flatter.
Why you'll love this authentic chicken flautas recipe
- These authentic flautas are a wonderful marriage of simply seasoned chicken, rolled in tortillas, fried until crispy and served with abundant fresh toppings and Mexican cheese and crema.
- These simple, authentic chicken flautas make a wonderfully fresh meal, unlike some heavily-spiced and cheese-laden versions.
- Not only are chicken flautas a feast for the eyes, they are incredibly easy to make and wonderfully delicious!
- Chicken - as noted above, you can start with 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) that you would use for nachos is fine here. Alternately, any Mexican-inspired sauce is fine (enchilada, chipotle etc.)
- Large flour tortillas
- large flour tortillas are traditional for flautas. In fact, it is the use of flour tortillas that differentiate flautas from taquitos, which are made with smaller corn tortillas.
Flautas Topping Ideas
When it comes to chicken flautas, I'm all about the toppings. I like to think of it as a both a garnish and a salad :) Here are some options for toppings. You don't need to use all of them, but you'll really want to for the best flautas experience.
- Iceberg lettuce - simply thinly sliced.
- Quick Pickled Red Onion - easy to make with red onion, cider vinegar and sugar (details in recipe card below)
- Cheese - Queso fresco or Mexican cotija cheese would be the best, most traditional option. Neither of these are available in my area, so I opt for crumbled feta cheese, which is a great alternative.
- Mexican Crema - you can certainly use store-bought if you have easy access, but it is easy to make your own Crema using sour cream, thinned with a bit of heavy cream or half and half (details in recipe card below)
- Cilantro - lots of fresh, chopped cilantro is always a good addition.
How to make Chicken Flautas: Step-by-Step Photos
How to Bake or Air Fry Chicken Flautas
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 air fry chicken flautas? Yes! Preheat your air fryer to 385F. Brush the tops of the shaped rolls with cooking oil (or spray with cooking spray) and place seam side down into the air fryer, in a single layer with a bit of space in between. Air fry for about 8 minutes, flipping the flautas over halfway through cooking.
- Can I fill the flautas 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. You can add whatever you like. Black beans, green chiles or extra spicing is all good.
- 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 or guacamole are good alternate (or additional) options.
What to serve with chicken flautas?
I think flautas are pretty much a complete meal in themselves, but if you are looking for a side, Mexican rice and some avocado slices would be great.
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.
Authentic 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.