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Are chicken tacos high in sodium?

Chicken tacos are a popular Tex-Mex food that can be found on many restaurant menus. They typically consist of shredded or grilled chicken, lettuce, cheese, and other taco fillings wrapped in a soft corn or flour tortilla. While chicken tacos can make for a tasty and protein-packed meal, some people worry that they may be high in sodium due to the seasoning and ingredients used. So are chicken tacos actually high in sodium? Let’s take a closer look.

How much sodium is in chicken tacos?

The sodium content of chicken tacos can vary greatly depending on how they are prepared. Here are some estimates for sodium levels in different types of chicken tacos:

Restaurant or fast food chicken tacos

Chicken tacos from restaurants and fast food chains tend to be quite high in sodium. This is because they often use seasonings, sauces, and fillings that are packed with salt. For example:

– A chicken taco from Taco Bell contains 770 mg of sodium.
– An order of two chicken tacos from Rubio’s Coastal Grill has 1,360 mg of sodium.
– A chicken taco from Baja Fresh has around 920 mg of sodium.

So a single restaurant or fast food chicken taco can easily contain 700-900 mg of sodium. Eating a few in one sitting could put you over the American Heart Association’s recommended daily limit of 2,300 mg of sodium.

Homemade chicken tacos

You can control the sodium content more easily when making chicken tacos at home. For example:

– A homemade chicken taco with just chicken, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and a corn tortilla has about 350-450 mg of sodium.
– Adding a sauce like salsa can add around 150-300 mg of sodium per tablespoon.
– Using canned beans, cheese, olives, or other ingredients will also increase the sodium amount.

By choosing low-sodium ingredients and limiting sauces, you can make chicken tacos with well under 500 mg of sodium at home. But it’s easy to go over 600 or 700 mg of sodium per taco if you aren’t careful.

How sodium impacts health

Sodium plays an essential role in regulating fluids and blood pressure in the body. However, most Americans consume way more than the recommended limit, which can negatively impact health. High sodium intake is linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and other problems.

That’s why health authorities recommend limiting sodium to less than 2,300 mg per day, or ideally 1,500 mg per day for at-risk groups. A single restaurant chicken taco could contain nearly half the daily 1,500 mg limit.

Ways to reduce sodium in chicken tacos

If you’re worried about sodium in chicken tacos, here are some ways you can reduce the levels:

Use raw, unseasoned chicken

The chicken itself contains minimal sodium, so start with unseasoned, raw chicken breast instead of canned, processed, or pre-marinated chicken which contains added salt. Grill, bake, or sautée it yourself and control how much sodium goes into it.

Limit high-sodium ingredients

Ingredients like cheese, canned beans, olives, pickles, and tortilla chips can significantly increase sodium. Use these sparingly or look for low-sodium varieties.

Make your own taco seasoning

Store-bought seasoning mixes are notoriously high in sodium. Make your own using spices like cumin, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, and oregano instead.

Use fresh tomato salsa

Jarred salsa can be salty. Make fresh pico de gallo using tomatoes, onions, jalapeños, cilantro, and lime instead. This packs lots of flavor with minimal sodium.

Opt for corn over flour tortillas

Corn tortillas contain around 5-10 mg sodium each, versus around 150 mg for flour tortillas. Sodium can really add up if you eat multiple tortillas.

Skip the salt

Omit added salt when cooking the chicken and assembling the tacos. The other flavors should provide plenty of taste.

Use lime juice

Add zesty lime juice to provide flavor without sodium. The acidity helps all the taco flavors pop.

Load up on veggies

Fill tacos with lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onions, avocado, and other fresh veggies. They add nutrients, crunch, and flavor while diluting the sodium.

Check labels

Reading nutrition labels helps identify high-sodium sauces, seasonings, tortillas, and other products to avoid. Seek items with less than 140 mg sodium per serving.

Healthier homemade chicken taco recipe

This homemade recipe minimizes sodium while maximizing nutrition and flavor.


1 pound raw boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1 pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
1 lime, juiced
8 small corn tortillas
1 cup shredded lettuce
1 tomato, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 avocado, sliced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped


  1. Cut the chicken into 1-inch pieces and place in a bowl. Add olive oil, spices, and 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice. Toss to coat. Let marinate 15 minutes.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook 5-7 minutes until browned and cooked through, stirring occasionally.
  3. Assemble tacos by placing chicken in the center of each tortilla. Top with lettuce, tomato, onion, avocado, and cilantro.
  4. Squeeze lime wedge over each taco before serving.

Nutrition facts per taco:

Calories Fat Sodium Carbs Protein
221 8 g 74 mg 24 g 16 g

This homemade recipe has just 74 mg of sodium per taco, compared to 700-900 mg per restaurant taco. The fresh ingredients provide bold Mexican flavor with a fraction of the sodium you’d get from processed and pre-made options.


Chicken tacos from restaurants and fast food chains are generally high in sodium, often containing over 700 mg per taco. This can quickly exceed dietary limits if you eat multiple tacos. Homemade chicken tacos can also be high in sodium depending on ingredients used. The healthiest approach is to make your own using raw chicken, fresh produce, corn tortillas, and salt-free seasonings. With mindful preparation, you can enjoy flavorful chicken tacos that are low in sodium and high in nutrition. Just be sure to check labels and limit high-sodium ingredients if you want to control your sodium intake.