Irresistibly crispy on the outside and filled with shredded honey lime chicken and plenty of melted monterey jack cheese on the inside, our Air Fryer Taquitos are the perfect Game Day snack. Serve shredded cheese, an easy guac and plenty of lime sour cream to finish them off.
Honey Lime Air Fryer Taquitos
Aside from classic chips and salsa, when it comes to tex-mex snacks, taquitos reign supreme.
Okay nachos and quesadillas are pretty great too. But right now, we are all about the air fryer taquito! With their crispy exterior, soft inside and dunkable nature, these guys fit right in with all of our game day favorite. (Right up there with Cheeseburger Sliders and Buffalo Chicken Dip.)
For our version of the air fryer taquito, we pack tender citrus and honey-laced shredded chicken inside soft corn tortillas. And cheese. Lots of cheese.
We roll ’em up, throw them in the air fryer and let it work its magic. And it’s magic. They are perfectly crunchy on the outside and edges, and even slightly chewy in some of the overlapping parts of the tortilla. Another little treat? The bits of chicken and cheese that peek out of the ends of each taquito become irresistibly crispy as they cook.
We like to serve them with a simple guac (just avocado, lime juice, garlic, and cilantro), a quick garlicky lime sour cream, and classic salsa.
But why the air fryer and not the oven?
I’m a novice to the air fryer and I will admit, I wasn’t sold on it for a very long time. It’s HUGE first of all. I mean, where do you people store this thing? And can’t you get the same results in the oven?
However, after I saw it do its thing at a friend’s house a while back I was sold. Want crispy fries in minutes? Done! Forgot to plan dinner and feeding your kids frozen corn dogs from the freezer instead? Five minutes in the air fryer and it’s like you’re at the state fair.
Not only do you not have to pre-heat the air fryer, but it cooks your food in a fraction of the time it would take in the oven. Our air fryer taquitos take a mere 6-10 minutes to cook.
Ingredients in Air Fryer Taquitos
Chicken. While we could simply buy a rotisserie chicken (if you want to do that, read below), we use bone-in skin-on chicken thighs for a few reasons.
- They are less expensive than buying a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken or uncooked chicken breasts
- Chicken thighs have SO much flavor which is essential in a recipe that requires very few ingredients.
- Using bone-in and skin-on means the meat is going to stay extremely tender and moist during the cooking process. And since the chicken essentially gets cooked twice – once to cook the chicken and once to “fry” the tortilla – it’s important to use a cut of meat that will stand up to the process.
Garlic. We go heavy one the garlic here – four whole cloves.
Lime juice + Chicken stock +Honey. The combination of lime and honey is such a classic combination and while subtle in the end product, it really helps to liven up the chicken filling. We add a little bit of chicken stock to loosen up the sauce and make sure it can evenly coat the chicken.
Cilantro. Just as we do with the garlic, we add a heavy hand of cilantro as well.
Cheese. Our favorite cheese to use for our air fryer taquitos is monterey jack cheese. It’s more flavorful than mozzarella and melts like a dream. I know taquitos don’t traditionally have cheese in them, but I say, go for it.
Corn tortillas. Try to get a brand you know won’t fall apart the second you roll the air fryer taquitos. A good way to judge them is to look in the package and see if any of the tortillas are already falling apart. If they are, move on to something else.
Non-stick cooking spray. Instead of saturating each tortilla with olive oil, I like to spray both sides of the tortilla with non-stick cooking spray.
Make the honey lime chicken
- Brown the chicken. You want to start off by browning the chicken. It doesn’t have to be super crispy and brown, you just want to get a little bit of color on both sides to add flavor to the chicken itself and the sauce. Once the chicken is brown on both sides, transfer it to a plate.
- Cook the garlic. Chicken skin renders a lot of fat, so before you throw the garlic in, you want to drain all but two teaspoons of the fat. Throw in the garlic and sauté for a minute or two until it has softened.
- Make the sauce. Add in lime juice and chicken stock. This is where a lot of the flavor comes in! All of those brown bits that accumulated on the bottom of the pan when the chicken was cooking? Scrape them all up. Stir in the honey and then bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Simmer the chicken. Add the chicken back to the pan and cover. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through. With chicken, you really want to make sure it’s cooked all the way through. I do this by using an instant read thermometer. You want to get it in the very middle of the thigh close to the bone. Once it reaches 165 degrees it’s done.
- Shred the chicken. When the chicken is done pull it out and let it rest for a few minutes. In the meantime, bring the honey lime mixture to a simmer again and let it cook until it’s thickened. It should take 2-3 minutes. Shred the chicken, add it to the sauce along with a handful of cilantro and toss. It’s ready to go!
Let’s make air fryer taquitos!
- Heat. The most important step when you work with a corn tortilla is to make sure it’s pliable. Usually this means running it through some hot oil, but I find if you wrap them in a paper towel and microwave them for about 30 seconds, you get the same result.
- Spray. Because these are air fryer taquitos, we of course want to emulate that fried texture and look. To do that we spray each tortilla on both sides with a little bit of non-stick cooking spray before filling them up.
- Fill. I like for my taquitos to be on the fuller side so I pack in the filling and cheese. Use a scant 1/4 cup of chicken and a heaping tablespoon of cheese. I kind of like for the filling to spill out the sides. The chicken gets all crispy and the cheese browns. It’s quite delicious.
- Fry. I also like to work in batches. The air fryer will cook about five taquitos at a time, so I make five, pop them in and then make the other five. I repeat this process until they are all fried!
- The time it takes to cook the air fryer taquitos will depend on your air fryer. The first batch will take 7-8 minutes. The following batches will take 5-6 minutes.
Skip making the chicken from scratch
I get it, you don’t have a ton of time. If you want a shortcut, here’s what you can do:
- Buy a rotisserie chicken. Shred the meat.
- Whisk lime juice, honey, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon garlic powder together in a small bowl. Pour over the chicken. Toss until coated.
- Sprinkle cilantro on top. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
- Assemble as instructed!
- 2 1/2 lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken thigh
- 1 1/4 tsp salt, divided
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 15 corn tortillas
- 1 cup monterey jack cheese, shredded
Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a large cast-iron skillet to a medium heat. Coat the bottom of the skillet with olive oil. Add the chicken skin-side down in the skillet. Sear until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes. Flip and sear until brown on the other side, another 2-3 minutes.
Remove chicken thighs from the pan and on to a plate or cutting board. Remove all but two teaspoons of fat. Add garlic. Saute for 1 minute until fragrant.
Add lime juice and chicken stock to the skillet. Use a wooden spoon to scrape all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Stir in honey and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
Add chicken back to the pan. Cover and simmer the chicken until an instant thermometer reaches 165 degrees. Transfer chicken to a cutting board or platter. Let it rest for a few minutes until it's cool enough to handle and the juices settle. Remove the skin and shred the chicken.
Bring the skillet with the honey, lime, and chicken stock to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the liquid has thickened slightly. It should coat the back of a spoon.
Add the shredded chicken to the honey lime mixture. Toss to coat. Add cilantro, toss until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
To assemble. Cover corn tortillas with a paper towel. Microwave for 30 seconds until warm and pliable. Spray a tortilla on both sides with non-stick cooking spray. Place about a 1/4 cup of the filling in the middle of the tortilla. Sprinkle with a heaping tablespoon of cheese. Roll up and place in the air fryer seam-side down. (It should fit about 5 per batch.)
Turn the airfryer on 380 degrees and set the times to 8 minutes. After five minutes, check on them - your time could vary. Make the remaining taquitos while the first batch cooks.
If it's too much work, you can also buy a rotisserie chicken. Simply mix the lime juice and honey together. Leave out the chicken stock. Toss with the lime juice and honey mixture. Toss with 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder and cilantro. Assemble as instructed.