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How much nutrition is in a Mexican chicken taco?

Tacos are a popular Mexican food that have become widespread in many countries around the world. A typical chicken taco consists of spiced chicken meat, onion, cilantro, and salsa wrapped in a corn or flour tortilla. While tasty, many people wonder about the nutritional value of chicken tacos.

Calories in a Chicken Taco

The number of calories in a chicken taco can vary significantly depending on the size of the tortilla, amount of fillings, and ingredients used. On average, a single 6-inch chicken taco contains around 300-400 calories. A large, fully loaded chicken taco may contain 500 calories or more.

Here is a breakdown of the approximate calories for each ingredient in a typical chicken taco:

Ingredient Calories
6-inch flour tortilla 150
3 oz chicken, cooked 165
2 Tbsp salsa 10
1 Tbsp onion, chopped 5
1 Tbsp cilantro, chopped 1
Total (average) 331

As you can see, the flour tortilla and chicken provide the bulk of the calories in a typical taco. Loading up on high-calorie sauces, cheeses, guacamole, and sour cream can quickly add 100 or more extra calories to the taco.

Protein in Chicken Tacos

Chicken is one of the best sources of high-quality protein. A 3-ounce portion of cooked chicken breast contains about 28 grams of protein. After the tortilla, chicken is the main source of protein in a chicken taco.

Most flour or corn tortillas contain around 3 grams of protein each. So in a single chicken taco you can expect to get approximately 31 grams of total protein. This represents about 62% of the recommended daily value for protein.

Protein is important for building muscle mass and supporting an active lifestyle. The protein in chicken tacos comes primarily from the lean chicken breast meat rather than fat or skin.

Fat and Cholesterol

Chicken breast is a lean cut of meat without much fat. A 3-ounce portion of roasted chicken breast only contains about 3 grams of fat without skin. The addition of oil or deep frying can significantly increase the amount of fat and calories in a chicken taco.

Most of the fat in a chicken taco comes from the tortilla. A single 6-inch tortilla may contain around 5 grams of fat. So the total fat per taco generally ranges from 8-12 grams depending on the tortilla and cooking method.

Cholesterol is only found in animal products. The lean chicken in a taco contains about 80 mg of cholesterol. So a single taco made with a 6-inch tortilla and 3 ounces of chicken has around 80 mg of cholesterol.

Ways to Reduce Fat and Cholesterol

For those concerned about fat and cholesterol, there are several ways to make chicken tacos healthier:

  • Use leaner cuts of chicken or remove skin/fat before cooking
  • Choose smaller corn tortillas instead of large flour tortillas
  • Limit high-fat sauces, cheeses, sour cream, and other toppings
  • Use cooking methods like grilling instead of frying
  • Drain excess fat after cooking chicken


Traditional corn and flour tortillas used to make chicken tacos are high in carbohydrates. A 6-inch flour tortilla contains about 20 grams of carbs, while a corn tortilla has around 12 grams.

The chicken filling does not significantly contribute to the carbohydrate content. All together, a single chicken taco made with a flour tortilla will have around 22 grams of carbs. Tacos made with corn tortillas are a bit lower in carbs.

Tortilla Carb Comparison

Tortilla Type Total Carbohydrates
6-inch Flour 20 grams
6-inch Corn 12 grams

Flour tortillas tend to be higher in carbohydrates than corn. Keep portion sizes in mind when monitoring total carb intake.


Tortillas used to make chicken tacos also contribute a significant amount of dietary fiber. A 6-inch flour tortilla contains about 1-3 grams of fiber, while corn tortillas contain around 2 grams.

Fiber is important for digestive health, maintaining steady blood sugar levels, and promoting feelings of fullness after eating. Each chicken taco made with a standard-sized flour or corn tortilla contains approximately 3-5 grams of fiber, or up to 20% of the recommended daily fiber intake.

Vitamins and Minerals

Chicken tacos can provide a range of vitamins and minerals, especially from the tortilla and salsa ingredients. Here are some of the key vitamins and minerals found in a typical chicken taco:


  • Vitamin C – from salsa ingredients like tomatoes, onions, peppers
  • Vitamin A – from salsa ingredients and chicken
  • Folate – from corn and flour tortillas
  • Niacin – from corn and flour tortillas
  • Riboflavin – from corn and flour tortillas


  • Calcium – from corn and flour tortillas
  • Iron – from corn and flour tortillas, chicken
  • Magnesium – higher amounts in corn tortillas
  • Phosphorus – found in chicken
  • Zinc – provided by chicken

The salsa ingredients (tomatoes, onions, cilantro) and seasonings in chicken tacos also contribute an array of antioxidants.

Sodium Content

Sodium can accumulate quickly in chicken tacos from the tortillas, meats, salsas, and any additional salt used in cooking. On average, a 6-inch flour tortilla contains around 230 mg of sodium.

A 3-ounce portion of chicken breast has approximately 70 mg sodium. And 2 tablespoons of salsa can range from 150-300 mg sodium depending on variety.

So a single chicken taco can easily contain 500-600 mg sodium. The recommended daily limit for sodium is 2300 mg, so this represents 20-30% of the maximum daily amount.

To help reduce sodium intake, choose lower-sodium ingredients when assembling chicken tacos at home. Low-sodium tortillas and salsas are widely available.

Potential Health Benefits

Chicken tacos made with lean meats, fresh produce, and whole grain tortillas can be a healthy meal option. Potential benefits include:

  • High-quality protein – from the chicken to support muscle growth and satisfaction after eating
  • Fiber – from whole grain or corn tortillas to aid digestion
  • Vitamins and minerals – from fresh veggies in salsa that provide key micronutrients
  • Moderate calories – tacos are not extremely high in calories, especially when made with healthy ingredients

Potential Health Risks

There are also some potential downsides to consider if eating chicken tacos frequently or in large quantities:

  • High sodium – can quickly add up, especially from tortillas and salsa
  • Saturated fat – may be high if using fatty meats or cooking oils
  • Calories – can escalate when adding high-calorie toppings like cheese or sour cream
  • Refined carbs – flour tortillas have more refined grains than corn tortillas

Overall, chicken tacos can be incorporated into a healthy diet when made with nutritious whole food ingredients. Moderating portion sizes and sodium is important.


Chicken tacos can provide a good amount of protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. A single 6-inch chicken taco averages around 300-400 calories and contains approximately 31 grams of protein when made with a 3-ounce portion of chicken. The combination of corn or flour tortillas with chicken, vegetables, and salsa makes tacos a nutritious meal.

However, sodium, calories, saturated fat, and refined carbs can add up quickly, especially from larger portion sizes and unhealthy toppings. Overall, chicken tacos can fit into a balanced diet when prepared with a focus on fresh, wholesome ingredients like lean chicken breast, antioxidant-rich salsa, and fiber-rich tortillas.