These crispy and satisfying flautas are made from rolled tortillas filled with juicy chicken and topped with salsa, sour cream, cheese, and more! Fry, bake, or air fry them for an easy weeknight dinner or party appetizer!
When I think of flautas, I think of the taquerias in Mexico that serve deliciously crispy chicken flautas piled high with thinly shredded lettuce, lots of spicy salsa roja, a drizzle of Mexican crema, and a generous helping of guacamole. There’s simply nothing better!
I have so many wonderful memories from visiting my family in Mexico and eating flautas for dinner every night, I knew I had to recreate my version for you to make at home!
What Is a Flauta?
Flautas are a Mexican dish made from corn (or flour) tortillas that are stuffed with various fillings such as beef, chicken, beans, or cheese. They’re then fried to golden perfection and often served with various toppings like sour cream or Mexican crema, salsa verde or salsa roja, cotija cheese or queso fresco, shredded lettuce, guacamole, and more!
The Spanish word “flauta” translates to “flute” in English. They’re called flautas because of their long and thin shape, which resembles a flute.
What’s the Difference Between a Flauta and a Taquito?
Flautas and taquitos are very similar, but the main difference has to do with their size. Flautas are generally larger and made with bigger tortillas, while taquitos are smaller and typically use 6-inch tortillas.
There is some disagreement when it comes to the type of tortilla that is used. Some sources say that flautas are made from flour tortillas, while taquitos are made with corn tortillas. However, this is not always the case, and both flautas and taquitos are often made with corn tortillas.
In the end, many people use the name interchangeably because of the minimal differences. However you choose to name them or make them, they’re delicious!
What You’ll Need
- Chicken: I like to use chicken thighs since they are juicer and hold more flavor, but you can also use chicken breasts.
- Onion: I used white onion for its slightly sweet taste, but you can also use yellow onion.
- Garlic and bay leaf: Garlic and bay leaf add more flavor to the base of the chicken thighs.
- Oil: Any neutral oil that is great for frying, like canola, avocado, or any other vegetable oil.
- Tomatoes: I used a tomato mixture to mix into the shredded chicken for even more flavor and to add some moisture.
- Jalapeño: Using a jalapeño is totally optional. I used it in the tomato mixture for a little bit of spice. If you want to add even more spice, use a serrano pepper instead.
- Corn tortillas: Using quality and sturdy corn tortillas is important so that the flautas don’t tear and fall apart while frying.
- Toothpicks: Toothpicks help secure the flauta once its rolled and while frying. Just remember to take them out before serving!
- Toppings: My favorite part. I love to use lots of sour cream, salsa verde, hot sauce, crumbly cheese like queso fresco or cotija, and fresh cilantro.
How to Make Flautas
Step 1: Start by preparing the shredded chicken. Place the chicken thighs, garlic, onion, bay leaf, and salt into a large pot or Dutch oven. Place enough water into the pot to cover the ingredients, bring it to a boil, cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked through.
Step 2: Carefully transfer the cooked chicken into a bowl and allow it to cool enough to handle. Then shred with two forks (or your hands) and set aside.
Step 3: Cook the diced tomatoes, onions, and jalapeño in some olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes until the vegetables are reduced, and the onions are translucent.
Step 4: Add the cooked tomato mixture into the bowl of shredded chicken and mix everything together until fully combined. Add some salt to taste if needed, and set aside.
Step 5: Warm up your tortillas in the microwave between two damp paper towels for 1-2 minutes, flipping halfway through. This will keep them moist and prevent them from drying out and cracking when you roll them up.
Step 6: Start assembling the flautas by placing 1 or 2 heaping spoonfuls of shredded chicken onto a tortilla.
Step 7: Roll the tortilla as tightly as you can and place a toothpick along the seam to secure it shut.
Step 8: Fry the flautas in hot oil for 1-2 minutes per side until golden brown. I like to fry only 3-4 at a time to ensure they are evenly cooked and not overcrowd the pan.
Step 9: Transfer them to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to help soak up any excess oil.
Step 10: Top with your favorite toppings! I love to use sour cream, salsa verde, extra hot sauce, chopped cilantro, and lots of crumbled queso fresco.
These flautas are simple to make and are guaranteed to be a crowd-pleaser. Serve them with your favorite Mexican sides, and you have a delicious meal!
The Best Toppings
Don’t Want to Fry?
If you don’t want to fry your flautas, you can bake or air fry them instead!
To bake: Place the flautas on a lined baking sheet and lightly brush or spray the tops with cooking oil. Bake in a 425°F oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Remove the toothpicks, serve, and enjoy!
To air fry: Preheat the air fryer to 400°F. Place the flautas in a single layer in the basket seam side down. Spray the tops with cooking spray, air fry for 5 minutes, flip and spray again, then air fry for 2 more minutes. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining flautas.
Storing and Freezing
To store, place the flautas in an airtight container or storage bag and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
To freeze, place them in a freezer-safe storage bag and freeze them for up to 3 months.
For the flautas
- 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- ½ white onion + ¼ white onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
- water, as needed
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for frying
- 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
- 1 jalapeño pepper diced (optional)
- 16 corn tortillas
- toothpicks or skewers
- shredded lettuce
- Mexican crema or sour cream
- salsa verde
- salsa roja or your favorite hot sauce
- guacamole or diced avocados
- cotija cheese or queso fresco
- Make the shredded chicken: To a large pot or Dutch oven, add the chicken thighs, ½ white onion, garlic cloves, bay leaf, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, and enough water to cover the ingredients by 1 inch.
- Place the pot on the stove and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F on an instant-read thermometer. Carefully transfer the cooked chicken to a large mixing bowl and let it rest for 5 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Shred with your hands or a fork.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a small skillet or pot over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes, jalapeño, and the remaining diced onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened and the tomato has somewhat reduced.
- Pour the cooked tomato mixture on top of the shredded chicken and stir to combine. Taste and season with more salt as needed.
- Prepare the frying oil: Fill a large sauté pan or deep skillet with about 2 inches of oil and heat over medium-high heat until the temperature reaches 350°F. (To test, drop a small piece of tortilla in the oil. If it sizzles, it's ready.)
- Prep the tortillas: Wrap the corn tortillas in a damp paper towel and heat them in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, flipping the tortillas halfway through until all of them are warm and pliable. Place them in a tortilla warmer or wrap them in a clean kitchen towel to keep them warm during assembly.
- Assemble: Place a heaping spoonful of the shredded chicken onto each tortilla. Tightly roll up each tortilla and secure it closed by threading a toothpick along the seam.
- Fry: Cooking in batches, carefully add 3 to 4 flautas into the frying oil and fry for 1 ½ to 2 minutes per side until golden brown. Transfer them to a large plate or baking sheet lined with paper towels to soak up any excess oil.
- Serve: Remove the toothpicks from the flautas and serve on plates topped with shredded lettuce, salsa verde, salsa roja or hot sauce, guacamole or diced avocados, and crumbled cotija cheese or queso fresco.
- Chicken: To save time, you can shred a store-bought rotisserie chicken instead of making your own or using any leftover chicken you have in the fridge.
- Oil: Any oil that is great for frying works. Canola, avocado, corn, or vegetable are all great options.