Puffy Chicken Tacos

  • Serves

    serves 12


Corn or flour tortillas that are deep-fried until they puff are a specialty of San Antonio's Tex-Mex cuisine. This recipe for puffy tacos filled with spicy chicken and guacamole comes from Rolando's Super Tacos. This recipe first appeared in the 2012 SAVEUR 100, with the article San Antonio Tex-Mex.


  • 14 cup olive oil
  • 2 12 lb. bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped, plus 2 cloves minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 (14 oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes in juice, crushed by hand
  • 2 avocados, pitted, peeled, and mashed
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Canola oil, for frying
  • 3 cups masa harina (available from
  • 1 12 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • Shredded iceberg lettuce, diced tomato, and shredded cheddar cheese, to garnish
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Step 1

Heat oil in an 8-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and add to pan, skin side down; cook, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate; set aside. Add garlic, onion, celery, carrot, and bell pepper; cook, stirring, until soft, about 20 minutes. Add stock and tomatoes, and return chicken to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook until chicken is very tender, about 1 1⁄2 hours. Remove chicken from sauce, and let cool; reserve sauce for another use. Discard skin and bones, and shred chicken; set aside. Meanwhile, combine avocados, garlic, lime juice, and salt and pepper in a bowl; chill guacamole until ready to use, covering to avoid browning.

Step 2

Pour oil to a depth of 2″ in a 6-qt. Dutch oven and heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 375°. Stir together masa, butter, and 2 1⁄4 cups warm water in a bowl until dough forms; divide dough into 12 pieces and shape each piece into a ball. Using a tortilla press or rolling pin, flatten each ball into a 6 1⁄2″ disk. Place 1 disk in oil. When it begins to puff, press the end of a metal spatula into the middle of the tortilla so that tortilla bends into a taco shape; hold spatula within tortilla until taco is golden brown and crisp, about 1 1⁄2 minutes. Transfer taco to paper towels to drain; repeat with remaining tortillas. Divide chicken and guacamole among tacos; top with lettuce, tomato, and cheese.

Make Your Own Puffy Taco Shells

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