BBQ Chicken Tacos with Tomatillo Salsa

BBQ Chicken Tacos with Tomatillo Salsa |Gluten-Free | Queen of Quinoa

I’m a huge fan of all things involving Mexican food. Smoky parika, super spicy cayenne, sweet tomatoes and soft avocado, all make Mexican dishes unique and delicious. It makes me feel like I’m having a fiesta in my mouth, with bursts of flavor erupting with every bite.

The base of many Mexican dishes is corn, which lends itself very well to someone living on a gluten-free diet. Most traditional Mexican food is naturally gluten-free and needs little adaptation, if any, to make it safe for all us who are sensitive to gluten.

But one of things I admire most about Mexican cuisine is its emphasis on fresh ingredients.

BBQ Chicken Tacos with Tomatillo Salsa |Gluten-Free | Queen of Quinoa

And here in VT, classic Mexican ingredients are in full bloom and we’re getting loaded up with these delicious goodies in our CSA basket each week. This week we opened our bag to find gigantic heirloom tomatoes, brilliantly green and purple tomatilloscrunchy purple cabbage and a bunch of fresh cilantro.

Are you thinking the same thing as me? It was time to throw a Mexican feast for me and Mr. Henderson. This time featuring fresh salsa verde served over warm, shredded chicken tacos. Oh boy was this gonna be good!

BBQ Chicken Tacos with Tomatillo Salsa |Gluten-Free | Queen of Quinoa

And in proper summer fashion, I decided I needed to add a BBQ flare to this dish for a little added fun. Wary at first how the two flavors would intertwine, I was elated when I took my first bite.

The sweet tang from the barbecue sauce was the perfect balance to the smoky roasted tomatillo salsa. Topped with a perfectly ripe avocado and crispy purple cabbage, the tacos were simply sensational!

BBQ Chicken Tacos with Tomatillo Salsa |Gluten-Free | Queen of Quinoa

BBQ Chicken Tacos with Tomatillo Salsa
Recipe Type: Entree
Author: Queen of Quinoa
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 8 hours
Total time: 8 hours 30 mins
Serves: 2
  • 1 large bone-in chicken breast, preferably organic and cage free
  • 1 large white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cans (about 1 liter) ginger ale (no sugar added if you can)
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce (see below for my homemade recipe)
  • 1 pound tomatillos, husks removed and washed
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 4 corn tortillas (I like these ones)
  • 1 cup cabbage, thinly slice
  • 1 avocado, pit removed and sliced
  1. Line the bottom of a crock pot with the chopped onions. Place the chicken breast on top of the onions and add the ginger ale. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Cook the chicken on high for 4 – 6 hours, turning down to low for another 2 – 4 hours.
  3. Once the chicken is done cooking, remove it from the liquid and place on a cutting board until it’s cool enough to handle.
  4. Shred with two forks and place in a small sauce pan.
  5. Add the barbecue sauce to the sauce pan and heat over low heat to warm the chicken back up.
  6. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
  7. Toss the tomatillos in 1 tablespoon olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat.
  8. Roast in the oven until the tomatillos begin to soften and their juices start to ooze out, about 5 – 7 minutes.
  9. Add the roasted tomatillos, cilantro, remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a high speed blender and blend on low until you have a smooth consistency.
  10. Heat the tortillas in a microwave or over medium heat in a dry saute pan.
  11. Serve the chicken onto each tortilla, top with cabbage and sliced avocado and drizzle with tomatillo salsa.
  12. Wrap up and enjoy!

gluten-free | dairy-free | refined sugar-free | egg-free | nut-free | soy-free


Now, if you don’t already know this about me, I try to avoid eating refined sugar whenever I can. Since sugar is one of the top ingredients in barbecue sauce, I decided I needed to whip up my own, easy homemade version for this recipe. You could easily replace this sauce with your own favorite barbecue sauce and the recipe would be just as tasty!


Homemade Sugar-Free BBQ Sauce
Recipe Type: Condiment
Author: Queen of Quinoa
Prep time: 1 min
Cook time: 2 mins
Total time: 3 mins
Serves: 1/2 cup
  • 1/3 cup sugar-free ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce (I used Frank’s Red Hot)
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (start with 1 and add more to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Fine sea salt &amp pepper to taste
  1. Whisk all the ingredients in a small sauce pan and heat over medium heat.
  2. Whisk until the sauce is warm, 1 – 2 minutes.
  3. Either add the chicken to the sauce pan or transfer the sauce to a jar and store for later use.

gluten-free | dairy-free | refined sugar-free | egg-free | nut-free | soy-free

This post is shared on: Gluten-Free Fridays Recipe Party, Whole Food Fridays, Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays

  • Jennifer

    These sound wonderful! I can’t wait to try them!

    • Queen of Quinoa

      Thank you! Please let me know if you do :)

  • Alaine @ My GF & DF Living

    I love the idea of a sugarfree BBQ sauce! You don’t see that very often! These tacos look great.

    • Queen of Quinoa

      Thanks, Alaine! I was surprised how yummy this sauce was without the sugar!

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  • somphet

    the photographys are stunning.

    • Queen of Quinoa

      Thank you!

      • Debbie Graves

        I am Hispanic and corn tortillas are a staple in my home, as well as tamales during Christmas time; both products are corn based. In my research I am not finding corn to be a grain that people are allergic to. Are corn tortillas Gluten Free without having to buy special brands? (Corn, lime, salt, and some water)…Tamale masa is not a flour dough, its fresh ground corn, lard, and seasonings mixed thoroughly for hours until consistency reaches is full potential.

  • Camille

    I have never purchased a tomatilla. Is there a knack for picking these out. I see them in the Spanish market, but not sure how to choose.
    I appreciate any tips on this.