The ‘Gate Plate: Family-Style Chicken Tacos with Mango Salsa, Guacamole and the Fix-Ins

Simple and scrumptious recipes for college students

“Family meal this Sunday?” 

This was the message my housemate Ellie texted our group chat on a Thursday afternoon. Almost immediately, a flurry of “love” reactions, emojis and enthusiastic responses solidified the plan. The date was set: the kitchen would be in full use for a Sunday night supper.

After scouring the internet for recipe inspiration that would allow each of my housemates a chance to participate in the kitchen, I realized my favorite taco recipe would do just the trick. This week’s recipe for family-style tacos was the first family meal my townhouse cooked together at school. Since there are multiple layers to the tacos — protein, salsa, guacamole, condiments — I figured it was the perfect way for everyone to get involved. I gathered my friends up in the kitchen, laid out our plan of action and waved the green kitchen cloth: “GO!”

Each of my housemates wholeheartedly threw themselves into their role. The kitchen transformed into a chaotic, but extremely productive, assembly line. Sam declared herself the onion-chopper extraordinaire, while Sophie took over the entire left countertop to perfect the guacamole. Annie raced around from each end of the kitchen, ensuring that the fan was on above the stove to prevent the smoke alarm from sounding and that the music was playing loud enough from the speaker so we could cook and dance. Our house radiated the aromas of fresh lime and garlic as our stomachs growled in anticipation of digging into the spread. Standing on the edge of the kitchen, I watched large smiles grow across my friends’ faces as the meal came together. My heart overflowed with warmth and awe for my housemates’ enthusiasm to jump into the kitchen with me. 

As we put the finishing touches on our tacos and gathered around the table to feast, we felt more relaxed than we had in weeks. We declared that whenever we found time in our schedules, we would come together and cook again. Forget a pandemic, hours of homework or even the pile of dirty dishes waiting in the sink — we were just a family, sharing a delicious meal we had all worked hard to create together. 

Family-Style Chicken Tacos with Mango Salsa, Guacamole and the Fix-Ins

This taco recipe is a perfect way to get everyone involved in the kitchen! To make it easy, designate friends to each aspect of the taco-making. This will ensure a fun (and delicious) experience. Feel free to substitute the chicken for your choice of protein, and to include fixings of your choice. 

SERVINGS: 20 tacos

PREP TIME: 30 minutes (including marinade)

COOK TIME:  15 minutes

EASY TIP: To quickly and easily peel fresh garlic cloves, tap the entire head on a hard surface, break up and put the cloves in a closed container and shake! (Pre-minced garlic also comes in a jar 🙂


For the Chicken (or Protein):

  • 1 pound chicken breast, cut into ½ inch strips
  • 2 cloves diced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • A sprinkle of salt and a sprinkle of pepper
  • Olive oil (for the pan)
  1. Combine the chicken, garlic, chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper into a bowl. Let the protein marinate in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
  2. Heat up a saucepan on medium-high with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Make sure the pan isn’t too hot, so the chicken can cook all the way through and retain a nice color.
  3. Add the chicken and cook, making sure both sides are browned and cooked through evenly, about 5-6 minutes.

For the Mango Salsa:

  • 2 ripe mangoes, peeled and diced
  • ½ large red onion, diced
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 10-15 cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cloves diced garlic
  • 1 jalapeno chili, diced (optional)
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped 
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Combine the diced mangoes, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, garlic and jalapeno in a bowl.
  2. Add the juiced lime (can add more lime to taste).
  3. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro, salt and pepper. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

For the Guacamole:

  • 3 avocados, preferably ripe, pitted
  • 2 cloves dice garlic
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Using a fork (or any mashing device you can find!), mash the avocado in a bowl until few chunks remain.
  2. Add the garlic, lime juice, salt and pepper and combine.
  3. Sprinkle with cilantro, if desired, and serve immediately for best taste.

The Fix-Ins:

  • Flour, corn or wheat tortillas or taco shell of your choice
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Chopped Lettuce
  • Extra limes for flavor

Build your tacos, and ENJOY!