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The Best Summer Taco Dinner: BBQ Chicken Tacos with Avocado Coleslaw and Raspberry Serrano Sangria

Recently, on a time-crunched work day, inspiration struck when a craving for tacos found a lone breast of BBQ-rubbed chicken in the freezer. I wasn’t quite sure how to make the barbecue spice meld with a classic taco, but I was hungry enough to make it work. I let the chicken thaw during the day and by the time I came home from work I had a plan.

The usual tomatoes, black beans, and peppers were not going to make this bird fly; I had to use the traditional barbecue as my muse. That’s when I decided a coleslaw topping would bring these little tacos together perfectly.

So there I was, on a random Tuesday night, throwing together a simple dinner (less than 30 minutes) that was not only super healthy, but about to be pretty darn good. It was so good my family has requested it weekly all summer, and each time I oblige I’m able to fine tune the recipe to the point that I’m ready to share it with all of you.


I prepare the chicken for these tacos with my own spice blend. The dry rub with paprika, sage, crushed thyme, coriander, ginger, onion powder, garlic powder, cracked black pepper, and Kosher salt give a wonderfully familiar barbecue taste. I toss chicken breasts in a freezer bag with the blend and let it marinate in the refrigerator for one to eight hours.

BBQ Chicken Tacos Recipe

- 4 chicken breasts
- 1 Tbsp. Kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp. coriander
- 1 Tbsp. onion powder
- 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
- 1 Tbsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. sage
- 1 tsp. ginger
- 1 tsp. crushed thyme
- 1 tsp. cracked black pepper
- 16 tortillas

The coleslaw comes together so easily that no lead time for preparation is really needed. Once the chicken goes on the medium-high grill start working on this in between flips.


I prefer freshly shredded red and green cabbage. However, if you don’t want the leftover cabbage, or just don’t even want to bother with that one step, the pre-shredded bag of dry coleslaw mix works fine. To the shredded cabbage add thin, julienne-style slices of orange bell pepper and freshly diced bites of pineapple.

The dressing makes a lighter coleslaw than any you’ve had before since it uses 0% fat plain Greek yogurt and avocado instead of mayo. Added to this are serrano peppers, coriander, Kosher salt, and a little lime juice. Then, the vegetables are tossed with the dressing. Even without the tacos this would make a great cookout side.

Avocado Coleslaw Dressing

- 1 cup red cabbage, shredded
- 1 cup green cabbage, shredded
- 1 orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 serrano pepper, finely diced, seeds removed
- 1 cup fresh pineapple, diced
- 3 oz. 0% fat plain Greek yogurt
- 1/2 avocado, mashed
- 1 tsp. Kosher salt
- 1 tsp. coriander
- 1/2 lime juiced

The chicken is grilled until cooked through to the middle. In the last few minutes before the chicken is removed from the grill I place corn tortillas on the upper rack; grilling each side about one minute. This toasts them a bit and and crisps the edges.


Once back inside, use two forks to shred the chicken while still hot and the juices are flowing; this allows more of the chicken to mix with the spices and ensure that flavor gets on each bite, rather than just on the skin.

Each tortilla is filled with 1/3 cup of grilled chicken and about 2 tablespoons of coleslaw. Serve two tacos per person, especially if serving with chips and salsa or guacamole.


What may have been another boring chicken taco comes to life with bright colors of red cabbage, orange peppers, yellow pineapple, and green avocado. The coleslaw topping adds a delightful crispness to each bite of the otherwise soft taco, and the sweetness of the pineapple coupled with the tanginess of the avocado yogurt dressing cools each bite of the kicking chicken flavor. This recipe for BBQ Chicken Tacos may very well be the best you’ve ever made… and the healthiest at 280 calories per two-taco serving!

No taco dinner is complete without a glass of sangria… at least during the summer! One of my earliest finds on Pinterest was a recipe for this Raspberry + Serrano Sangria from Treehugger.com. Obviously I pinned it immediately and wish I’d gotten around to making it sooner. We used an A to Z Pinot Gris, a very light and crisp white that is perfection in these hot summer months, to pour over raspberries, strawberries, granny smith apples, mint leaves, and serrano peppers.

Suspect but thirsty, this sangria was an instant crowd pleaser. A sweet complement to our bold tacos, the serrano left a noticeable bite at the end of each sip but didn’t interfere with the other flavors.

Dessert wasn’t necessary at the end of this meal because everyone scooped out the fruit and nibbled on the mint leaves!

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August 8th, 2012

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