These easy Chicken Flautas are made with soft flour tortillas filled with spiced chicken, cheese, and black beans, then rolled and fried to crispy perfection! They are kid-friendly and just right to enjoy as an appetizer or serve with all the fixings and sides for a wonderful Mexican dinner!
Taco Tuesday is fantastic, but that's not the only day of the week we enjoy eating Mexican food at our house. Some of our other favorite Mexican recipes that we make over and over are Ground Beef Enchiladas with Homemade Mexican Rice (aka Spanish Rice) or Sweet Pork Barbacoa, which could even be used in place of the chicken in these flautas!
Homemade Flautas are a favorite!
Growing up we ate LOTS of Mexican food in Southern California. I might be biased, but it's some of the best you will find anywhere. One of my favorite menu items at Mexican restaurants are the chicken flautas.
These would be absolutely perfect for a Cinco de Mayo celebration, but don't let that stop you from making them all year round!
What is a flauta?
Flautas originated in Spain where they got their name from their flute-like appearance ("flauta" is Spanish for "flute"). But they really gained popularity in Mexico where they are typically served more as a snack or street food. They can vary widely in terms of shape, size, fillings, and flavor, and are often confused with taquitos. Actually, the term flauta and taquito are frequently used interchangeably, although in my experience taquitos are typically smaller and made with corn tortillas while flautas tend to be a bit larger and made with flour tortillas.
Regardless, they are incredibly delicious and we eat them more as a dinner option unless we are serving them as an appetizer for a party or having leftovers for lunch the next day.
Chicken Flautas ingredients
- Chicken: You can use any cooked chicken, but we most often make these with a rotisserie chicken picked up from the store. Baked, roasted, grilled, or pan seared chicken will all work just as well if you season them with a little salt and pepper first since we are adding in a lot of flavor with additional Mexican spices.
- Cheese: I like to use a blend of monterey jack or pepper jack and sharp cheddar cheese. Or you could just pick up a Mexican cheese blend at the store.
- Black beans: These are great for adding nutrition and bulk. Beans are inexpensive and help stretch your protein so you get more servings. Plus, they taste delicious!
- Green chilies: We always use the mild fire roasted diced green chilies to add flavor without increasing the heat. But if you like things spicy, go right ahead and use the hot chilies instead!
- Spices: I use a combination of chili powder, garlic powder, ground cumin, onion powder, chipotle chili powder or smoked paprika (either will work for adding a smoky, deep flavor), oregano, salt & pepper. But don't be overwhelmed by the list of spices! If you don't have something on hand, just skip it and the flautas will still be delicious.
- Lime juice: A squirt of fresh citrus brightens up the filling like you wouldn't believe! Limes are one of my secret weapons in many of my recipes.
- Fresh cilantro: There is nothing like fresh cilantro for bring out that fresh Mexican taste! It's one of my favorite herbs and used widely in Mexican cuisine.
- Tortillas: Look for the soft taco sized tortillas at the store rather than the large ones. Or you can always make your own from scratch.
- Oil: This is used for frying, although I will include instructions below for how to bake these flautas or make them in the air fryer instead.
Best tortillas for flautas
You can use flour or corn tortillas for your flautas, although we like using flour tortillas best. The soft flour tortillas crisp up well and just give a great texture and flavor to the flautas.
Are yellow or white corn tortillas better for flautas?
Either one is delicious and this depends on your personal preference. We like yellow corn tortillas though for their nutty corn flavor. If you opt for yellow or white corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas, be sure they are fresh and warm them in the microwave wrapped in damp paper towels so they are flexible enough to wrap around the flauta filling without them tearing.
How to make Flautas
- Make the filling: Start by shredding your chicken and mixing it together in a large bowl with the spices, beans, cheese, green chilies, and lime juice. Stir so everything is evenly distributed.
How to roll flautas
- Warm the tortillas: Wrap a stack of tortillas in damp paper towels and microwave them for 60-90 seconds until they are pliable. This makes it so much easier to roll up the flautas.
- Fill and roll up: Scoop about ½ cup of the filling and arrange it in a line about ⅓ of the way from the edge of a tortilla. Roll the edge over the filling and continue to roll up into a tight tube, securing the tortilla with a toothpick. Set aside and repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling until they have all been used up. This is a good place to freeze the flautas if you want to have some on hand for another day.
- Fry: Heat about 1 inch of oil to between 350 and 375 degrees F in a large heavy skillet. Use a thermometer to watch the oil temperature so your oil isn't too hot (which will burn the outside) or too cold (which will soak into your flautas more and make them greasy). Use tongs to carefully set 3-4 flautas at a time into the hot oil with the seam side down. Fry for 1-2 minutes per side until golden brown.
- Drain, then serve: Transfer the fried flautas to a wire rack set over a baking sheet to drain. Repeat until all of the flautas have been cooked, then remove the toothpicks and serve with your favorite toppings!
What to serve with Flautas
As far as making this a complete meal, I recommend serving Horchata or this Easy Brazilian Lemonade for a beverage that the entire family can enjoy. For a restaurant-style experience, sides like Homemade Mexican Rice (aka Spanish Rice) and Instant Pot Refried Beans make for really filling plates!
As for garnishes, these flautas, while delicious all on their own, are even better with all the fixings!
- Pico de gallo
- The BEST Guacamole Recipe Ever
- Easy Mexican Restaurant-Style Salsa
- Mexican crema or sour cream
- Crumbled queso fresco or cotija cheese
- Shredded iceberg lettuce
- Chopped cilantro
- Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing for dipping
Flautas Recipe tips
- Cook extra chicken the next time you are grilling or baking chicken or buy an extra rotisserie chicken from the store to shred and have on hand for easy recipes like this one. You can even freeze the meat so it's ready to go just by thawing on the counter for a few hours before using it in a recipe.
- Don't overfill the flautas when you are rolling them. You don't want the filling falling out the end of the tortilla tube or the flautas bursting while you fry them.
- Be sure to fry the flautas seam-side down first to help seal them.
Chicken Flautas Recipe variations
Consider this recipe a jumping off point and feel free to adapt them as much as you like! Here are some of our favorite ways of changing up these flautas, although the approach of filling, rolling, and frying remains the same.
Use corn tortillas: It's really common to use corn tortillas in place of flour tortillas, although for us, that marks the difference between flautas and taquitos. But what's in a name when it tastes incredible, right?
Vegetarian: You could definitely do a meatless version with just your favorite beans and rice or even just cheese for these flautas.
Air fryer chicken flautas
Preheat the air fryer to 375 degrees F. Place the flautas in a single layer, seam side down and brush with a little oil or spray with cooking spray. Cook for 7-10 minutes until crispy and heated through.
Baked chicken flautas
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Arrange the flautas on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper. Brush the tops of each flauta with a little oil or spray them with cooking spray and sprinkle with a little coarse salt (optional). Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown and crisp.
Chicken Flautas storage and make ahead instructions
Store any leftover flautas in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. Reheat them in the air fryer for 4-5 minutes until heated through to crisp them up, or in the microwave or oven (although they won’t crisp up as well).
You can assemble your flautas 2-3 days in advance and keep them stored in the fridge until you are ready to cook them.
Freezing Homemade Flautas
Or freeze them for up to 3 months and thaw in the fridge overnight before frying the next day. Or bake or cook in the air fryer straight from frozen. Just add a couple extra minutes to your cook time so they have time to heat all the way through.
You can also freeze the flautas for up to 3 months either before or after cooking them. Store them with a piece of parchment paper between layers in an airtight container.
Chicken Flauta FAQs
The two terms are often used interchangeably, but I feel like flautas are most frequently made with flour tortillas and have more filling, while taquitos are made with corn tortillas and are rolled tighter with less filling.
The best way to ensure your flautas stay rolled up is to start with warm, pliable tortillas. Heating them in a damp towel should provide enough moisture that the flautas will stay rolled up if you lay them seam side down while assembling the rest of the flautas.
You can eat flautas with a fork, which makes things easier and cleaner, especially if you top them with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, and a drizzle of crema or sour cream. Or you can eat the flautas by hand and simply dip them into salsa, sour cream, or guacamole.
The best way to avoid tortillas breaking while you roll up your flautas is to make sure you are using fresh, high quality tortillas that are pliable and warmed in the microwave while wrapped in damp paper towels. Also, flour tortillas are much less likely to break than corn tortillas.
More Recipes Like This
- Shredded Beef Chimichangas
- Smoky Chicken Tinga Tacos
- Vegetarian Swiss Chard and Pinto Bean Burritos
- Ground Beef Enchiladas
- Cheesy Chicken Quesadillas
- Baja Fish Tacos Recipe
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Homemade Flautas Recipe
- 3 cups shredded chicken
- 2 cups shredded cheese (monterey jack, cheddar, pepper jack, or a Mexican cheese blend are our favorites)
- 14.5 ounces black beans, rinsed and drained
- 4 ounces mild fire roasted diced green chilies
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder or smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- 10-12 flour tortillas
- 2-3 cups vegetable oil for frying
- Combine all of the filling ingredients in a large bowl and mix well to evenly distribute the spices, chicken, beans, and cheese.
- Cover the tortillas with a damp paper towel and microwave for 60 seconds to warm them so they are more pliable for rolling.
- Fill each tortilla with about ½ cup of the filling, arranging it in a line toward the bottom of one side of the tortilla. Roll the tortilla tightly into a tube and secure with a toothpick. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling.
- Heat about 1 inch of oil in a large heavy duty skillet. Use a thermometer to watch and regulate the oil temperature while frying.
- When the oil reaches 350-375 degrees F, add 3-4 flautas at a time, being careful not to crowd the pan. Fry for 1-2 minutes per side, until golden brown. Remove with tongs to a wire rack set over a baking sheet to drain. Repeat with remaining flautas.
- Remove the toothpicks and serve on their own or with your favorite toppings.
- Baked Flautas: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Arrange the flautas on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper. Brush the tops of each flauta with a little oil or spray them with cooking spray and sprinkle with a little coarse salt (optional). Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown and crisp.
- Air Fryer: Preheat the air fryer to 375 degrees F. Place the flautas in a single layer, seam side down and brush with a little oil or spray with cooking spray. Cook for 7-10 minutes until crispy and heated through.
- Make Ahead: You can assemble your flautas 2-3 days in advance and keep them stored in the fridge until you are ready to cook them.
- Freezer Instructions: Or freeze them for up to 3 months and thaw in the fridge overnight before frying the next day. Or bake or cook in the air fryer straight from frozen. Just add a couple extra minutes to your cook time so they have time to heat all the way through.