Chipotle Chicken Recipe (Copycat)

Make your own Chipotle Chicken recipe at home! This recipe yields 2 cups of marinade, enough for 10 lbs. chicken. Make some now, freeze some for later!

Make your own Chipotle Chicken recipe at home! This recipe yields 2 cups of marinade, enough for 10 lbs. chicken. Make some now, freeze some for later!

Chipotle Mexican Grill chicken is my go-to meal when I want fresh food FAST. Nothing tastes better than a giant burrito or bowl filled with rice, beans, veggies, guacamole, and of course, the chicken.

The cornerstone of my order at Chipotle is always the chicken. It’s tender and juicy, packed with flavor, and perfect on everything.

Make your own Chipotle Chicken recipe at home! This recipe yields 2 cups of marinade, enough for 10 lbs. chicken. Make some now, freeze some for later!

Even better? Now you can make this Chipotle recipe at home! It makes a huge batch (the marinade flavors 10+ pounds of chicken) so you can enjoy some now and freeze some for later. Or, make it all now for the ultimate party menu!

Recipe Yield

This Chipotle Chicken Recipe will yield about 2 cups of marinade. 1 cup of marinade will flavor 5 pounds of chicken.

If you do the math, that means this recipe will give you enough marinade for 10 pounds of chicken. I always use 1 cup right away and freeze the other for later. I have also been known to give away my second cup of marinade to a friend to share my joy in this recipe.

Make your own Chipotle Chicken recipe at home! This recipe yields 2 cups of marinade, enough for 10 lbs. chicken. Make some now, freeze some for later!

Chipotle Chicken Recipe Options

There are also several ways to make this recipe with more options evolving all the time based on reader questions and requests. Here is a summary:

Marinade Options

  1. Dried ancho chiles and Quick-soak method
  2. Dried ancho chiles and Overnight-soak method
  3. Buy Ancho Chile powder
  4. Make your own Ancho Chile powder

Chicken options

  1. Dark meat (traditional choice)
  2. White meat

Cooking options

  1. Gas grill (outdoor)
  2. Stove-top skillet (indoor)
  3. Baked in the oven

The Chipotle Chicken Marinade

I am not the first person to undertake the quest for Chipotle’s chicken marinade.  Many have come before me, most notably Matt Silverman of ChipotleFan.  His recipe has inspired my version in a very direct sense.

However, I have made it enough times that I think I can offer some original unique insights into the preparation and use of the ingredients as well as the recipe itself. In fact, over time I have developed a lot of useful recipe information as you’ll see below.

Make your own Chipotle Chicken recipe at home! This recipe yields 2 cups of marinade, enough for 10 lbs. chicken. Make some now, freeze some for later!

Marinade Method 1: Soaking Dried Ancho Chiles (Slow-Soak and Quick-Soak Methods)

Slow-Soaking the dried ancho chiles takes at least 12 hours. Once the chiles are soft, I like to open them up, remove the stems, and rinse out the seeds (I recommend using kitchen or latex gloves).  For additional heat, add in seeds from the chipotle peppers.

The Quick-Soaking method was identified by one of my readers (THANK YOU, RYAN!). I tested it and it exceed my expectations. To shave 12 hours off this recipe is nothing short of a miracle. You toast the dried chiles in a skillet and microwave them in water. It works perfectly!

Marinade Method 2: Using Ancho Chile Powder

Ancho Chile Pepper powder is available for purchase, or you may make your own.  1/4 cup of the powder is equivalent to 2 oz. of the peppers (stems and seeds removed, ground up).

However, as one helpful reader pointed out, you won’t wind up with 2 cups of marinade if you simply use Ancho Chile Powder. The process of soaking the dried chiles adds more liquid to the marinade, so you need to add that in if you are using the powder.

Homemade Ancho Chile Powder is DIRT CHEAP when you make it at home - just one ingredient! Add it to soups, salad dressings, and chicken for a spicy heat.

I have tested this, and it’s pretty easy to compensate for the missing liquid. Once your marinade is finished (the last step is adding the oil), pour the marinade into a measuring cup. If you don’t have quite 2 cups, add water until you do.

This marinade will SEEM runny, but it works just as well. And it should: There is a lot of water in the chiles when you soak them overnight in Method 1. Obviously you can add water to your Ancho Chile Powder.

Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce

If you aren’t familiar with Chipotles in Adobo, this ingredient gives food a distinct smoky taste. You only need the Adobo sauce for this recipe, not the chipotle peppers (you can discard them or use them in another recipe such as my Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers).

I use a strainer to separate the peppers and seeds from the adobo. I definitely recommend wearing latex or vinyl gloves during this process.

There are many brands of Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce. It turns out that some brands have more chipotles in the can, others have more adobo in the can. You should be able to extract at least 1/4 cup of adobo sauce out of any 7-ounce can you buy, but Embasa in particular has 1/2 cup or more of adobo sauce in a 7-ounce can. Why does that matter? If you are using Method 2 above, the amount of water you will add to reach 2 cups will be more or less depending on which brand of chipotle peppers you are using.

A note on gluten in chipotle peppers with adobo sauce: Many brands do not have gluten, especially imported brands such as La Morena and La Costeña.  If gluten is of interest to you, please read the label before moving forward as some contain wheat.

Make your own Chipotle Chicken recipe at home! This recipe yields 2 cups of marinade, enough for 10 lbs. chicken. Make some now, freeze some for later!

The Chicken

Chipotle uses boneless, skinless chicken thighs which yields tender, juicy pieces of chicken.  However, I have also tested this recipe with boneless, skinless chicken breasts and have some tips on cooking that, too.

Cooking Method 1: Grilling or Stove-top Cooking (Preferred for Dark Meat)

Grilling is the best option if you have the equipment and talents. (Here is the grill I have and love). Grilled Chipotle Chicken tastes the closest to the Chipotle restaurant chicken and also has the least amount of cleanup.

If you don’t have a grill, though, fear not! I have made this recipe dozens of times indoors.

I have tried using a flat-top indoor cast-iron grill and a large cast-iron skillet with a cover.  I preferred the skillet because it helps prevent a lot of grease and marinade spatters.  Also, being able to cover the skillet meant the chicken could cook through more easily.  Last, the cast iron skillet collected bits of fond which contributed to the most delicious, caramelized pieces of chicken in the whole batch.

Tangent: the foil-covered brick.  Other Chipotle Chicken recipes recommend flattening your chicken with a brick.

Yes, I went to the gardening section of my local discount store and picked up a paver for forty-eight cents.  I covered it in foil.  I laid it on my cooking chicken in various stages.  I found the whole thing to be very awkward and scary.  The brick became extremely slippery.    If you’re really into that sort of thing, a safer idea is to invest in a cast-iron grill press.  It has a handle and has other uses as well if you’re into grilled sandwiches.

Make your own Chipotle Chicken recipe at home! This recipe yields 2 cups of marinade, enough for 10 lbs. chicken. Make some now, freeze some for later!

Cooking Method 2: Baking (Preferred for White Meat)

If you want to go the boneless, skinless chicken breast route, Chipotle baked chicken is your friend! It turns out there is a fool-proof method for tender, juicy chicken breasts. Who knew? Place the marinated chicken breasts in a baking dish and cover with parchment paper, tucking the paper around the sides so the chicken is completely covered. It works like a charm!

Make your own Chipotle Chicken recipe at home! This recipe yields 2 cups of marinade, enough for 10 lbs. chicken. Make some now, freeze some for later!

Cater Your Own Party

Because this Chipotle Chicken recipe makes enough marinade for 10 pounds of chicken (or even more if you stretch it a little), it’s IDEAL for parties. Several readers have put it to use for birthday parties and graduation parties. It’s great when guests can customize their own tacos, bowl, or burrito, and you can get a head-start on the marinade the day before.

Pair it with my other Chipotle copycat favorites such as cilantro lime rice, GUACAMOLE, grilled veggies, black beans (not an exact copycat but still great AND made in a crock pot), corn salsa, tomato salsa, and the ever-delicious Chipotle Honey Vinaigrette. I also have a recipe for these awesome homemade tortilla chips if you really want to go all in.

You’ll be a legend.

Chipotle Chicken Recipe (Copycat)

Yield: 12

Prep Time: 20 min

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour 20 min

Make your own Chipotle Chicken recipe at home! This recipe yields 2 cups of marinade, enough for 10 lbs. chicken. Make some now, freeze some for later!

Ingredients:

  • 1 (2 ounce) package dried ancho chiles, quick-soaked or using the overnight method
  • 1 (7 ounce) can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano (see notes)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil or olive oil, plus more for oiling the cooking surface
  • 5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken, trimmed

Directions:

  1. Split open each softened ancho chile and rinse the inside to remove the stem and all seeds (wearing gloves is recommended). Place in the bowl of a food processor or blender.
  2. Strain adobo sauce into a small bowl, pressing down on the peppers to extract as much liquid as possible (you should have at least ¼ cup). For an especially spicy dish, add chipotle pepper seeds to taste. Add strained liquid to the food processor. Discard chipotle peppers or reserve for another use.
  3. Add red onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, 2 Tablespoons salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper to the food processor. Pulse several times until a coarse paste develops.
  4. With the motor running, pour ¼ cup canola oil through the feeding tube and continue to process until smooth. You should have two cups of marinade. Reserve one cup for immediate use and freeze the remaining for future use.
  5. Meanwhile, place half the chicken in a large freezer-safe plastic bag. Spoon in half the marinade, close the bag, and mash around to distribute. Add in remaining chicken, remaining ½ cup marinade, and repeat the mashing until all chicken is evenly coated. Place the plastic bag in a dish and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or overnight.
  6. To cook on a grill, indoor grill pan, or cast iron skillet (preferred method for dark meat), preheat over medium-high heat. Coat with 2 Tablespoons canola oil. Grill the chicken in batches, turning occasionally until the internal temperature reaches 165°F on a thermometer and bits of caramelized fond have begun to cling to the outside of the chicken, 10 to 15 minutes. Add 1 - 2 Tablespoons oil to your grilling surface between batches.
  7. To bake in the oven (preferred method for white meat), preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a baking dish with oil or nonstick spray and arrange chicken in a single layer. Cover with parchment paper, tucking the paper around the chicken so it is completely covered. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken reaches 165°F when tested with an internal thermometer.
  8. Remove to a cutting board and chop into small pieces. Season to taste with salt. Serve on tortillas or in bowls with additional toppings as desired.
Notes:
  1. ¼ cup Ancho Chili Pepper powder may be substituted for the dried Ancho chiles. Skip step 1 and add the powder with the other spices in Step 3. After processing the marinade in a food processor, pour into a measuring cup. Add water to reach a total of 2 cups of marinade.
  2. Slow-Soaking method for ancho chiles: Place in a bowl and add enough water to cover completely. Top with a small plate or bowl to weigh down the chiles so they are completely submerged. Soak at least 12 hours or overnight. Drain well.
  3. Quick-Soaking method for ancho chiles: Remove stems and seeds from dried chiles (wearing gloves is recommended). In a dry skillet over medium-low heat, toast the chiles until fragrant but not smoking, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and add 4 cups (1 quart) water and 2 Tablespoons adobo sauce. Microwave on HIGH for 6 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Add peppers to the food processor, using the reserved cooking liquid to rinse as much adobo as possible from the canned chipotle peppers in Step 2.
  4. Use regular (sometimes called Italian) oregano. Mexican oregano is completely different and tastes like marjoram.

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More Chipotle Recipes:

Chipotle Cilantro Lime Rice

Chipotle Cilantro-Lime Rice {Copycat Recipe} | Culinary Hill

Chipotle Honey Vinaigrette

That smoky-sweet Chipotle Honey Vinaigrette you love and crave, now made in your own kitchen with easy pantry ingredients. Your new favorite salad dressing!

Slow Cooker Black Beans

Slow Cooker Black Beans are inexpensive, easy, delicious, and nutritious. Perfect as a healthy main dish or as a side to your Mexican favorites.

Chipotle-Style Guacamole

Chipotle Guacamole {Copycat Recipe} | Culinary Hill

Grilled Peppers and Onions

Chipotle Grilled Peppers and Onions, a copycat recipe for the tastiest grilled fajita veggies to ever grace your burrito bowl. Naturally vegan and gluten free.

Baked Lime Tortilla Chips

Bake your own Homemade Tortilla Chips in 10 minutes! Extra thin tortillas ensure crunchy snacks every time, perfect for salsa and guacamole.

134 comments

  1. What a fun theme! And I could feel the fear of the kitchen situation with the brick. Glad everyone survived ! ;) Can’t wait to see the rest of your Chipotle copycats!

    Luci’s Morsels – fashion. food. frivolity.

    • Yeah, all I can say is the brick thing is not cool. And it’s not just because I’m uncoordinated… although I am. :) This was a fun series to create, and even more so to EAT! I love Chipotle, and I really love being able to eat massive quantities in one sitting.

    • I think I’m on 3 weekends in a row making the Chipotle chicken… we just gobble it right up. :) Not sick of it yet! And now that I know I can freeze half the marinade, that makes it so much easier to eat this All.The.Time. :)

    • if you do use 10lbs if chicken would you double your spices etc? going to have a large party.

    • The recipe for the marinade above is enough for 10 lbs. of chicken; you don’t need to double the spices. I talk about it in my post, but not everyone has time to read my babblings. You will end up with 2 cups. of marinade based on my ingredients above (2 oz. dried chiles, 1 can of chipotle peppers, etc.). That is enough for 10 lbs. of chicken. I apologize for the confusion and I’ll try to reword the recipe so it makes more sense. I normally make the whole marinade recipe, freeze half, and cook 5 lbs. of chicken right away. Please let me know if you have any other questions!

  2. This is so delicious. I love this. Great idea.

  3. This recipe is pretty awesome!!!! It’s very very close to Chipotle’s chicken. My husband has been asking forever to make it and I thought I’d never find something even close. I was wrong! I LOVE the ancho chiles and the chipotles!!!! Thank you for this awesome recipe, you now have one happy new fan :))

  4. Hi, I would like to make this, however, does it come out very “hot/spicy”? My reason for asking is that I don’t believe the Chipotle Restaurant version is spicy at all. I mean I don’t ever remember it being spicy any time I’ve ordered it at one of their restaurants.

    • Hi James, thank you for your question. First, I think “spiciness” is very subjective. If I eat chipotle’s chicken with sour cream and cheese or a burrito shell, it is never spicy because those offset. But if I eat it plain, sometimes it’s spicy. Having said that, I don’t think this marinade is super spicy. It has flavor, but you are using 1 cup of marinade per 5 pounds of chicken. And when you cook it, some of the marinade comes off. At worst, you may find a spicy bite here and there, but not really. My toddler (almost 2) eats it with no problem, and it’s not like we eat jalapenos for fun around here. To minimize the spiciness, be sure to get rid of all possible seeds from your adobo sauce. In the recipe I recommend straining, so you shouldn’t really have any, anyway. Have I answered your question? Or offered any help at all? I hope so. Spicy as in flavorful, yes. Spicy as it hot, no. Not really. Good luck.

  5. I’m really excited to try out this recipe. Where can I find the chipotle peppers and ancho chiles? Also, since I don’t have a grill, would baking the chicken be an option? TIA!

    • Hi Ann, thanks for stopping by! Chipotle peppers are at most grocery stores, Walmart, and Target. They will be in the Mexican food aisle near things like green chiles and salsa. Just look for a small can, “chipotle peppers in adobo.” Ancho chiles are not as widely available, but Walmart and grocery stores do have them. They are large, dried chiles (maybe 6″ long or so) usually sold in clear plastic bags. International food markets also often carry them. McCormick also sells a bottle of Ancho Chile Pepper in their “gourmet” line of spices, so you could look for that. I will figure out how much of that spice you will need, if you go that route, and post another reply today letting you know. Just in case. Also some international food markets might sell “bulk” spices, and if so, you could find ancho chile powder there which would also work.

      Last, no problem about the grill! I usually use a cast iron pan now on my stove top. Baking the chicken would certainly work, but you would probably not got as many “caramelized” pieces as you would from a skillet. It will still be delicious and flavorful, I’m sure. If you don’t want to run your oven, you could also cook the chicken in a regular skillet (nonstick or otherwise) on your stovetop. Good luck!

    • Thank you so much! Everything worked out and it tasted great!

  6. I made this yesterday – SO GOOD! Thanks for the recipe! Just wondering if you put any of the marinade on the chicken afterwards and it seemed a bit…dry? that’s not the write word, but just not as seasonful as chipotle. Thanks again for the great recipe!

    • Hi Katie, I can imagine a lot of scenarios where the chicken might be dry. It hasn’t happened to me, but here are my suggestions. First, make sure you’re using dark meat, because chicken breast will obviously be drier. Also, as you cook the chicken in batches, if your skillet or grill pan seems dry, be sure to add more oil. Also, I appreciate the tip on adobo sauce. I think since you switched to the Adobo seasoning, that probably made your chicken much drier. I wonder if more liquid should be added to the marinade if you aren’t using adobo sauce? I also want to research adobo sauce and look at brands so I can (hopefully) suggest one that doesn’t have gluten. What a bummer! Thanks for your comments, and I hope your next batch is not so dry. I do think swapping the adobo sauce for seasoning was probably the biggest factor, if you followed the rest of the recipe. Thanks for your feedback!

  7. ALSO….those who are gluten free like me, BE CAREFUL with Adobo sauce…the ones I was looking at had the dreaded wheat in it. SO I actually just got some adobo seasoning instead.

    • Hi Katie, I did some investigating and found a few brands of chipotle peppers in adobo without wheat. One is La Morena, the other is La Costena. Both are imported from Mexico and I found them at my local Walmart. I took pictures of the cans, so if for any reason you’d like to see them, just let me know and I can email them to you. Good luck!

  8. Meggan, were you able to figure out how much dried Ancho chili powder would be needed in place of the actual chiles?

    • Lindsay, yes! Yes I was, sorry for not replying until you reminded me. It’s 1/4 c. of ancho chile powder. Thank you for checking back and sorry for the delay. I’m going to update the recipe now as a standard way to make it going forward. Thanks again!

  9. I am guessing 1/4 C means 1/4 Cup

  10. I am guessing 1/4 C means 1/4 Cup

  11. I made all of this for my bunco gathering and all the gals went crazy! They said it was BETTER than Chipolte. I went on youtube and found a recipe for their medium salsa and used Chipolte Fan’s corn recipe……….it was AWESOME all together. Thanks!

  12. I made all of this for my bunco gathering and all the gals went crazy! They said it was BETTER than Chipolte. I went on youtube and found a recipe for their medium salsa and used Chipolte Fan’s corn recipe……….it was AWESOME all together. Thanks!

  13. Are you using Mediterranean oregano or Mexican oregano?

  14. Loved this chicken. Huge Chipotle fan, and my whole kitchen smells just like the restaurant after cooking this! I would have loved to have grilled the chicken, but my trusty cast-iron pan did just fine. I’m not a big marinade fan, choosing instead to season and perfectly cook meat to make it taste delicious, but this marinade was spot on and worth every minute of the overnight wait. Excellent!

    • Wow, this is high praise! Thank you for taking the time to make the recipe and report back. A happy review doesn’t hurt. :) I am really glad you liked it. I spent a lot of time making this recipe over and over again myself. I too wish I could grill the chicken, but I always use a cast iron pan. Thanks again for your comment.

  15. This is by far, the best copycat recipe for the Chipotle Chicken dish! All of the spices presented matched perfectly! The only challenge that I had was cooking the chicken in a pan on an electric stove. Cooking it that way (I believe) gave it a gummy consistency. I had to almost burn the chicken for it to become more firmer. The chicken thighs that were used may not have been the best selection choosen. Perhaps grilling it or cooking on a gas stove would have produced better results for me. It’s winter here so I thought I’d try it indoors instead! Really miss my gas stove though. Gas stoves cook so much better. Thank you so much for sharing such an awesome recipe! Splendid!

  16. Recipe was spot on for chicken and white rice..even better than restaurant!! Wow. I did make a quick version of beans and corn salsa for my first time so it would save me time and I could focus on the chicken and rice. I grilled the chicken which really helps to keep authentic flavor. (BBQ on med heat, about 350 deg, flip after 10 min, cook 10 more min, should be done or close. Test with thermometer. 165 degrees in fattest part is safe. Pull it off grill and cover with foil for 7 min or so and dice it up. If it wasn’t 165 degrees, move away from direct flame but maintain bbq heat level for 5 more min, but you shouldn’t need to.) Family LOVES Chipotle and agreed it was awesome. Thank you!!

  17. Can you explain how to soak the chiles? I don’t see any information in the notes.

    • Hi Artie, I’m so sorry about that! I’ve added information to the notes of the recipe about soaking the chiles. Here is the info: To soak the chiles, place in a bowl and add enough water to cover completely. Top with a small plate or bowl to weigh down the chiles so they are completely submerged.

    • Thanks! Can’t wait to make this. :)

  18. Pingback: Chipotle Chicken {Copycat} And Nachos Recipe

  19. Should we be using the Mexican oregano or the regular kind? Can we substitute cumin powder for the seeds?

    • I am using regular oregano because that is what I have. Mexican oregano is probably delicious too, possibly more authentic even, but I haven’t made it that way so I don’t know how different it would taste. I also used cumin powder, not seeds, so I’m sorry that wasn’t clear. I will update the recipe to reflect “ground cumin” so there is no further confusion. Sorry about that! Thanks for your comment!

  20. When cutting the ancho chile peppers open – do I discard the seeds or the pepper?

    • Hi Tom, sorry for the confusion. For the Ancho chile peppers, you rinse out and discard the seeds and also remove the stem after they have been soaked. For the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, you only use the sauce, so you can discard the chipotle peppers. I hope this helps. Thanks!

  21. How many ancho chile peppers are in a 2 oz package typically?

    • It varies depending on the size of the peppers, but typically it’s either 2 large or 1 large and 2 small. That’s what I’ve seen in my experience. And “large” would be about 3″ to 4″ long, small would be about 2″ long. I hope this helps!

  22. how did I end up with only 1 cup?

    • 1 cup of the marinade? That is incredibly strange if you started with 2 ounces of dried ancho chile peppers, a 7-ounce can of chipotle peppers in adobo, and 1/2 cup oil. The only other variable would be the red onion. I will weigh the red onion the next time I make this so I can advise the size. Each of the main components should account for roughly 25% (1/2 cup) of the total marinade: the soaked ancho chiles, the adobo sauce, the oil, and the red onion.

    • Wow you’re quick on replies! I followed it to a T. I did use 1/4 cup Ancho pepper powder instead of the 2 oz. It made about 1-1/4 cup total.

    • Okay. Clearly I need to go back to the drawing board on my Ancho Pepper powder conversion, I am so sorry. It clearly needs to be tested again. I do sincerely apologize. Thank you for telling me about this.

    • LOL Don’t feel bad at all. This is great conversation and it turned out excellent considering I thought it would be almost double potent! You don’t have to apologize at all. Hey, this is free stuff here! I wonder how many fluid ounces you have from the soaking the Ancho peppers?

    • Wow you are so nice! And yes, I too think the water from soaking the peppers has to be the other variable. In terms of spiciness it should be the same because I ground down the chiles to determine how much powder you would need. But I failed to account for the water that the peppers would absorb. But you were short by about 12 ounces. That seems like a lot. I should also provide the weight of the onion. Thanks again for being so understanding.

    • It took me 2 months, but I finally perfected the Ancho Chile Powder method! I’ve actually added a lot more information to this post including instructions for baking (great for boneless, skinless chicken breasts) and more ideas on adobo sauce. But I digress. Basically, if you’re using the powder, pour your marinade into a measuring cup and just add water until you get to 2 cups of marinade. That’s what we were missing, the water from soaking the chiles. The consistency of the marinade is quite different (it seems runny when you add water), but it works just as well and tastes just as great. That is what I was thinking in my head, but I wanted to test it out and make sure. There are some brands of chipotles in adobo that have more sauce in the can (I discuss this in the post above) so if you chose one of those, you wouldn’t have to add quite as much water. But anyway. Thanks again for pointing out this deficiency so I could correct it!

    • AWESOME!!! THANK YOU!!

  23. This is so good! My whole family loved it – even the picky 13 year old! It tastes so much like the real thing. I’m going to try dicing the chicken prior to marinating next time and see how that goes. I used the ancho chili powder and it worked just fine. It takes some time and can be messy – but totally worth it! The cilantro lime rice recipe is also amazing. Thanks for sharing this – now I need a good recipe for their hot salsa! :)

  24. I am a weightlifter and a Chipotle ADDICT. Thank you so, so much for this recipe. It is delicious and very easy to follow for a not-so-great cook like myself lol

  25. Would the chicken retain the same flavor if I cooked the marinated chicken in the Crock Pot or would I have to grill them? I’m a cooking novice but I’d like to make Chipotle burritos for my boyfriend’s birthday. :)

  26. These recipes are fantastic!!! We just made this amazing chipotle chicken, cilantro lime rice, slow cooker black beans, peppers and onions, and guacamole. It was so very close to chipotle, almost better!! (Because we have leftovers for tonight!!). Thank you for sharing these recipes with us. We love chipotle and are so thrilled to be able to recreate our favorite foods at home.

  27. Yes! Excellent! Really delicious! Thank you so much for this!

    I only had a couple of ancho chilies on hand, so I substituted mulatto chilies to weight. I’m not sure how this compares to anchos only, but the flavour I came out with is great. I’ve also seared my first batch in a cast iron pan with a lodge grill press to very fine effect, but it was super messy so I’ll be grilling the rest outside. Mmm, love that Maillard browning!

    FYI: I couldn’t wait two days to taste this chicken, so I used a technique I picked up from another recipe to soften those chilies up in a fraction of the time: I stemmed and seeded and then toasted them all in a dry pan, stirring frequently until fragrant but not smoking, about five minutes, and then microwaved them in a quart of water and two additional tablespoons of adobo sauce for about 6 minutes to soften them. I then used about a quarter cup of that water to rinse the sauce from the chipotle chilis into the food processor to maximize flavour. Feel free to give this procedure a try and report back—it shaved 12 hours off the wait!

    • Ryan, thank you so much for your amazing comment! You are adding value here left and right. :) So first, I’ve never had a mulatto chile but I will definitely see if I can find them! If only for “research” purposes and also because I’m curious. And thank you a million times over for your super-soak technique. I am definitely going to be testing that out so I can add it to my post. That is perhaps the last stone unturned for me, beating the soaking time on those chiles. That’s awesome! Thank you so much! I can’t wait to try it out. I will comment again and let you know when that happens!

  28. You said “2 T. of salt”, did you mean tablespoons or teaspoons? I did two tablespoons, and the marinade was super salty. However, once I marinated the chicken and grilled it, the chicken tasted fantastic. 

    • Hi Jonathan, I did mean 2 Tablespoons. And I would say the same thing as you – the marinade tastes super salty, but the final chicken does not. It sounds like a lot of salt, but when you remember that 2 tablespoons is supposed to season 10 pounds of chicken total, it sounds slightly less crazy… I think. Glad you liked it!!

  29. Hi Meggan,
    Thanks for the recipe! It looks perfect for me! I am going to try to make different freezer meals to start bringing to work. Sooo tired of sandwiches!!! Lol. I can get a bunch of lunches out of this recipe :)
    Appreciated!
    Leigh

    • Hi Leigh, yeah you can! That’s a whole lot of burrito bowls, or tacos, or quesadillas, or sandwiches, or whatever you want to do! Even with juice rice and veggies it’s spectacular, flavoring the whole thing. It’s incredibly popular around my house. :)

  30. I’m really excited to try this! I just ordered my ancho chiles from amazon!

    Do you soak them in the fridge? Or do you just leave the bowl on the counter overnight?

    • Hi Jason, I’m so excited FOR you! :) I do not soak them overnight in the fridge, I just leave them on the counter at room temperature. I have never had any issues. Good luck!

  31. Hello Meggan.

    I’m hosting a picnic this weekend and cooking for 35 adults, I’m planning on cooking 8 pounds of chicken, I have several questions for you, If I add chipotle peppers in adobo sauce with seeds will my chicken be super spicy? we enjoy spicy food, Can I marinate chicken for more than a day? finally I’m planning on cooking boneless chicken breasts for this can I sear in the grill pan and cook in oven? Should I line the pan with parchment paper or oil bottom of  the pan and only cover the top of the pan? Thanks so much!!!

    • I have never added the seeds to my marinade, but yes it would definitely make it spicier. I am not sure HOW spicy, though. It’s hard to quantify spiciness. If you have ever cooked with chipotle peppers, you might have a better handle on what you enjoy. You can marinate the chicken for more than a day, yes. I have marinaded it for 2 days myself. As for your cooking method, I haven’t tried it but I am sure it would work just fine. I would oil the bottom of the pan (it might not even be necessary because there is oil in the marinade, so I don’t think the chicken would stick). The parchment paper just goes over the top of the chicken, not on both the top and the bottom. Did I forget anything? I hope not!!! Thank you and good luck!

  32. Hi Meggan, 

    Thank you so much for the detailed info, this helped me so much! I thought I’d pass along that the first time I made this I used the adobo sauce from a can and it turned out fine but for my second run I used a bottled sauce (no need to dirty a strainer or waste peppers – yay!) and I found the flavor to be spot on! The kind I used was the Badia Chipotle Mild Sauce (beware, there’s nothing mild about it – it has quite a kick), I found it right in my grocery store’s ethnic aisle. 

    • Amy!!! You rock my world. I have been wondering all this time, is ever possible to buy JUST adobo sauce? For some reason I thought this was not possible. I would much rather buy just bottled adobo sauce… I use it all the time! It goes in the Chipotle Copycat salad recipe I’m posting soon, but just 1 Tablespoon, and today I found myself opening a can of chipotle peppers just to get that 1 tablespoon. I put the rest in the freezer until I make the marinade again, but having a bottle of adobo sauce is obviously the answer. Thank you so much for this tip and for the brand name. I will track this down and try it out and add the info to my post (with credit to you, Amy, of course!)! GENIUS!!!

  33. I am having a taco bar at my son’s graduation party and this recipe sounds great!  If I make the chicken in advance, do you think it could be re-heated and kept warm for several hours without drying out?  Thanks for sharing!  I just discovered your blog and can’t wait to check it out.

    • Hi Betsy – YES. I would definitely use dark meat (chicken thighs) and you shouldn’t have any issues. Are you thinking crock pot? People are going to love it! Great idea!

  34. I am considering trying this for  a group of 25.  Can I make the ckn ahead of time and freeze it?  If so, what is the correct way to heat it without it getting dry.  Looking forward to trying this recipe.  

    • Hi Carolyn, I have never made the chicken ahead cooked and then reheated it. I have, however, frozen the chicken while it’s in the marinade and then cooked it after that. It was perfect! I think freezing & reheating it once cooked would probably work fine although like I said I haven’t tested it. If I were doing it, I’d probably reheat it in the oven at 350 degrees or so, maybe for 30 to 40 minutes, covered in foil. This is just off the top of my head. I will try this out and report back (I will also try reheating in a slow cooker) although likely not in time for you to know for your gathering. I do hope you like it. Also, with regard to avoiding dryness, first be sure to start with the dark meat. That’s your best insurance against dry chicken! Then, using the foil on the pan in the oven should help prevent it from drying out too. Thanks for your question and good luck. I will definitely reply again (and update the recipe) once I’ve tried this out. Thank you so much!

  35. Hey! I want to use a blend of chicken breasts and thighs, and I was hoping to do it all in the crock pot….what do ya think?

    • And yes, using a blend of chicken breast and thighs should work just fine. Again, another option I’ll add to my list to test out. :)

  36. Because I’m thinking more of a pulled chicken for tacos. I know it won’t have the same texture. But hoping it would still give it a great flavor?

  37. Hey! So I want to use a blend of chicken thighs and breasts for pulled chicken tacos. But I’d like to do it in the crockpot? I know it won’t have the same texture but hoping it will still have the great flavor.  Thoughts?

    • Hi there Bee! The marinade is outstanding and I think it would be fantastic in a crock pot and used for tacos. I will add this to my list of things to try out, too. I am currently testing out the freeze-ahead options! I plan to reheat it in a crock pot (although it has already been grilled so it won’t be the same). But I think it would work just fine. Delicious, even!

  38. Hey. So if Im using a total of 5lbs of a mixture of chicken thighs and breasts in the crock pot, how long would you cook it for? And would it be best on low or high do you think?

    • Hi Bee! I’m a big fan of: 3-4 hours on HIGH or 7-8 hours on LOW. This seems to be a the standard crock pot time for most things, including chicken. If you are around, you could always check it earlier and see if it’s done sooner. I think the results (taste-wise) would be the same no matter if you did high or low. 

  39. Thank you so much for your help! It turned out very delicious and just melt in your mouth tender! Perfect ?

    • That is so great to hear!!!! I am definitely going to try making it a slow cooker myself so I can add a section on that to the recipe. Thank you so much for letting me know. :)

  40. Hi,

    This looks like an awesome recipe. I will be using chicken breasts. Do you think it would dry out the chicken if I cut it into small pieces then baked it?

    • Hi Amber, if you follow the parchment paper method I would think that would still trap the moisture and keep the chicken breast from drying out. The trick is to not overcook the chicken breasts. I can’t tell you exactly how long to cook it for if it’s cut up because I haven’t tried it that way, but there is definitely a point where it will be done but not dry. You just have to check the temperature often, I think, to find it! Good luck. :)

  41. You are a rock star. This is so informative. Thank you for reminding me that I want to get a grill press. This recipe sounds so good I can’t wait to try it. But you will never convince me to toss those chipotle peppers ;-) Also I had no idea about wheat in canned chipotles! That stuff pops up in the weirdest places.

  42. This recipe is awesome!! I made 15 lbs of chicken along with the rice for my daughter’s graduation party and it was a HUGE hit, with all of my friends begging for the recipe and my kids asking me to make it again! So much more economical than ordering Chipotle catering!! I used the quick method for the chilies, grilled the chicken thighs then put it in a big electric roasting pan on low for serving, and it stayed nicely moist., although I was pretty generous with the marinade up front, so had some extra and just mixed it in the pan. So glad I just spotted the guac recipe as well. Thanks for your easy to follow and nicely detailed instructions.

    • I love this!!! If you have time to answer this question, did you just use the one marinade recipe (I have previously identified it for 10 lbs. of chicken) or did you double it? Just wondering if the marinade works for up to 15 lbs. of chicken. :) I honestly could see how that would happen because that stuff is so potent. Such a wonderful story. :) Thank you so much for sharing! Glad it was a success!!

  43. Is the 2 tablespoons of salt not too much? I increased the recipie by half, and the salt was the only thing I left at 2 “shy” tablespoons. Really weary about adding a third… Thoughts?

    • Hi Kalli, I personally do not think 2 Tablespoons of salt is too much, and if I were increasing the recipe by 50% I wouldn’t blink an eye adding a third Tablespoon. 3 Tablespoons of salt seems like a fine amount (to me) when you consider that marinade is going to season 15 POUNDS of chicken. I know I had another reader who also though 2 T. of salt seemed like a lot, and that person said the marinade itself tasted too salty, but the finished chicken was perfect. And of course we are all only eating the finished chicken, no one is eating the marinade!

      That being said, you can ALWAYS add more salt to the finished dish if you find it lacking. If you are weary of the salt, just cut back and add more later if you need it. Good luck, I truly hope you love it!

  44. Meggan – Thank you for this fabulous recipe!  I made (Method 2) yesterday.  Such a wonderful smokey flavor.  Both my husband and I loved it.  We started thinking we would make taco salads with the chipotle chicken but quickly changed to chipotle chicken nachos.  Yum!  ANd I froze the remainder of the 5 lbs of chicken thighs.  Good suggestion on the thighs.  Much tastier than breast.  

    • Lisa, I totally laughed out loud at your comments about chipotle chicken nachos. This is what my husband ALWAYS does. I can never get him to make a salad or even a burrito bowl! Has to be nachos. :) I am so glad you both enjoyed the recipe. This makes my day. Happy weekend to you! :)

  45. Hi Meggan, I have a question, do I have to soak the ancho powder in water as well, or pour in the blender with the rest of the ingredients?

    • Hi Tim, you do not soak the ancho powder. Just blend it up with everything. You end up adding more water to your marinade to equal 2 cups, but there is no need to soak the powder. I am sorry this wasn’t clear. I’ll try to fix the wording. Thanks so much for taking a look at this post and please let me know if you have any other questions.

  46. A little note about me.  I’ve been eating Chipotle every meal for months now to lose weight (didn’t trust myself to go into a grocery store).  After losing 60 lbs and feeling like cooking on my own again I came across your recipe. All I can say is a big, heartfelt “Thank You!” this recipe ROCKS!  I made it this weekend and loved every bite; the only change I made was to eliminate the salt as I’ve never been much of a salt eater by choice.  I was so thrilled with it I shared it with all of my Twitter followers and will send it out to my department at work in a “Weekly Wellness” blast I do.  Keep up the good work!
    Jennifer 

  47. Sorry, forgot to mention in my previous post the Chipotle peppers (in the adobo sauce) can be blended with tomatoes, onion, cilantro, lemon juice, and other pepper types (anaheim, jalapeno, etc.) to make a killer salsa for chips.

  48. Hello,
    Thank you for this recipe. Everybody seems so happy with it.
    Just a question: Instead of putting the marinade in a freezer can it be kept in a refrigerator? and how long?
    Thank you.

    • Hi Gabriel, you can certainly refrigerate the marinade. I am not sure how long though, at least 1 week. I’m not a food scientist though so I don’t know for sure! I know I’ve kept it refrigerated for over a week and didn’t suffer from any flavor loss or apparent spoilage. I’m glad the recipe was a success!

  49. Do you think you could cook this with the marinade in a slow cooker? Or would the flavor be over powering?

    • Hi Rachel, I haven’t cooked it in a slow cooker. However, I don’t think the marinade would be overpowering. I have cooked this in a cast iron skillet many times and I think it’s probably pretty much the same – nowhere for the marinade to go, it just stays in the pan (vs. cooking it on a grill where some marinade might fall off). I have reheated this chicken in a slow cooker (it was already cooked) which is not exactly the same as what you are describing, but it was delicious! I definitely need to try making this chicken in a slow cooker. I am always re-testing some aspect of this recipe. :) Good luck!

  50. Can’t wait to try this!!! Has anyone tried this using a George Foreman grill?

    • Hi Terry! If anyone has tried, they haven’t commented. But, I think it would work really well. Why not?! It works great on a cast-iron indoor grill pan which is kind of similar, right? Should be glorious. :) Good luck!

  51. Hi Meggan,

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. It was great!! 

  52. Meggan – Thank you for taking the time to work this out and post it. I ran a test last night and it was FABULOUS! I will now make 10 lbs for my husbands BD party. I used the Chili Powder (easy), chicken thighs, and cast iron skillet. Perfection!

  53. Great write-up and I will be sure to look back later for far more posts.

  54. Hi Megan, 
    I’ve read all the comments and your responses.  But, I just want to clarify it before I start making it. 
    1/4 c ancho chili pepper powder
    drain 1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
    1/4 c oil
    1 red onion
    cumin, oregano, black pepper
    Then you add water to bring it to a total of 2 cups
    Is this right?

    • Hi Fay, yes. You do drain the chipotle peppers but reserve the adobo sauce (you probably know this but I just want to make sure). Blend with ancho chile pepper powder, onion, spices, and oil. Pour into a measuring cup and add water until you are at 2 cups. Yes. Good job! I know this recipe is kind of overwhelming.

  55. Hi Meggan!

    This recipe looks great, but I only have a mini food processor and it definitely can’t hold two cups. Would it be possible to make the marinade using a Vitamix blender?

    • Hi Ellen, YES, definitely! I will update the recipe to reflect this. Thank you so much for your question and for making this recipe even better. :)

  56. Hi Meggan,

    We made this for Thanksgiving and it was delicious! We made beans – the bacon (better than Chipotle), salsa, rice, and chicken.  My three-year-old would eat Chipotle 9 days per week if you allowed him and he loved it. This is certainly a more cost-effective option.  Thank you for taking the time to formulate the recipe and sharing.

  57. Pingback: Whole30 Recipes (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner) - Bravo For Paleo

  58. Hi Meggan! I’m excited to try this recipe–it looks amazing! I know you mentioned freezing the marinade, but have you also tried freezing the chicken after it’s cooked? 5 pounds is a lot for just me and my fiancé so I’m trying to figure out if I should make less or freeze some of it for later.

    • Hi Becky, YES! I have definitely frozen the cooked chicken for later and even dumped it in a slow cooker to warm it up. It tasted great. I completely understand the whole not wanting to make a million pounds of chicken at a time, no matter how good it is. :) But you should be fine freezing it after! Worked for me! xoxo

  59. HeyHey Meggan! Can I use Olive Oil instead of Canola oil? (I never use canola and don’t have any, if I buy some I’m unlikely to ever use it again!) Sorry if this is a stupid question, I’m a pretty novice cook!

    • Robyn, YES! Not a stupid question. I use olive oil and canola oil interchangeably for the most part, except perhaps in baking if the olive oil is too fruity. In this instance, you would never notice the taste anyway… and I am going to re-write the recipe to include olive oil!!! I’ve made it that way myself. :D Thanks!!!

  60. I just made this for the second time inside as I don’t have a grill (small apartment). I used a cast iron pan and boneless skinless breast. If you marinade it for at least 30mins and cook it to the correct temperature, it is very tender. I did not personally care for the results in the oven (it wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t very chipotle-like to me). I added a tiny bit of liquid smoke, just a few drops, to the marinade. It just gave it the tiniest hint of a grilled taste.

    Basically, I cooked it and it didn’t even make it to being used in a recipe. I ate it all :( If you like chipotle, this is as good as it gets at home. Honestly, I think I like the home version a bit better. I will try this again when I pick up some thighs from the grocery store.

    • Hi Alice!!! This is a lovely comment despite the sad face. :D You are right, baking chicken breast in the oven is not quite the same as Chipotle’s. But, I’m glad you found a way to make it indoors that you enjoy! Adding the liquid smoke sounds really good, I’m definitely going to try that! Thanks again for sharing your experience. I seriously appreciate it! Take care.

  61. M..Meggan what other kind of animals can I use for this recipe. I tried lamb and it was delicious. I was wondering  if I could use ghost peppers instead of ancho chilies?

    • Hi Ross! You tried lamb? And it was good? That’s news to me! I’ve been meaning to try it on beef but haven’t yet. Ghost peppers? Aren’t those INSANELY hot? LOL! Sure – use them if you want to! You’re quite the adventurous eater!

  62. AH.MA.ZZZZING!!! I did a Chipotle Bar for a b-day party, and even though I was a little skeptical of getting awesomeness from baked chicken breasts, I decided to try it. I followed the recipe closely with the quick soak method and removed all the seeds, and marinaded 10 lbs in 3/4 of the marinade for about 18 hrs. The only difference was I removed the parchment paper at the end and broiled for a few minutes. It TASTED GREAT when I cut it, and I transferred it and some liquid to a slow cooker to keep warm for the party. Several hours later my exhausted husband and I sat down to a late post-toddler-party-madness dinner. I expected cold and dry chewy chicken. What I got instead was mindblowingly tender chunks of perfection. My goodness. How is that possible? I love you. Thank you.

    • CHRISTINE!!!! I love you too. I love that you made my recipe (took a gamble on a stranger’s blog) and had great results, especially with the chicken breast. I think the broiling was genius – it would add that caramelization normally reserved for grilling. Great idea!!! I’m so glad this worked out for you. Makes me want to cry or sing or something. Take care and thank you so much for your comment which has made my day/week/life.

  63. Hello Meggan, thank you so much for the post! I’m a pretty novice cook and have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m good at following instructions and as I’m typing this comment I’m preparing your recipe and cooking something legit for the first time EVER!

    I have two questions though:
    1. Did you see the ingredients items listed on the Chipotle website for every items they serve on their menu? I’m asking this because you use Ancho Chiles and Adobo Sauce while Chipotle listed only Chipotle Chile on their ingredient list for the chicken. 

    2. I was looking through the rest of your recipes but never found the Vegan Pinto Beans and Brown Rice recipes :(, is there a future release where you will post those two recipes? Or maybe guide me in the right direction to prepare those two items? I would appreciate any feedback.

    Thank you again and have a good one.

    • Hello Moustafa! I’m so excited for you! I firmly believe that when it comes to cooking, practice makes perfect. You’re well on your way. :)

      1. Hmmmm, that is interesting about the ingredients list. I have for sure looked at it, but not recently. Chipotle chiles are typically canned in adobo sauce, so they would get that flavor there. But, maybe they now just use the chipotles (which are dried jalapenos) instead of the anchos (which are dried poblanos). I may have to experiment with my recipe. I do think the flavor really comes through the way I have it now, and hope you agree. But, it would be a lot easier if I could eliminate those dried chiles entirely! I’ll have to work on that. Thank you so much for that insight!

      2. I don’t have the vegan Pinto beans but I hope to add them. I don’t know when, but I will try to move it up in my schedule. I NEED to have them on there! I do have a recipe for the brown rice and I’m sorry you didn’t find it. I will have to make sure it is categorized correctly. http://www.culinaryhill.com/brown-cilantro-lime-rice/

      Thanks so much for you comment and I hope you love what you cook! :) Take care.

  64. Hello, Meggan!  Thank you for this!  Since the restaurant chain has received such negative press lately, we decided it would be better to just do it ourselves.  I have augmented your recipe, followed to the precise letter, with the addition of a jar of Herdez’ Chipotle cooking sauce.  Perhaps redundant, perhaps overkill, but it works for us.  Also, since my wife’s tastes skew spicier than most, I add dried chipotle pepper flakes to the marinade.  But hats of to you, Meggan — the basic recipe alone is better than Chipotle’s in the first place.  I think the Herdez sauce adds an extra layer to the meat such that I can also marinate and place breasts on the grill without loss of moisture.  Also, I use indirect charcoal heat to grill them and then direct heat to achieve the all-important char.  No, I’m not a shill for Herdez; I’m a recently retired federal employee with time on my hands and who cooks for my still-employed wife who used to eat Chipotle chicken bowls once a week.  Thanks to your recipe, she can now have it whenever she wants, and it’s sure to be a hit at our next dinner party.   My gratitude to you is only exceeded by my gratitude.

    • Hi, Darryl! I’m so overwhelmed by your thoughtful, lovely comment. I am definitely going to seek out the Herdez Chipotle cooking sauce. I have to say, I’m trying to train my taste buds to “skew spicier” anyway. I’ve started adding dried chili flakes to everything! Not sure if that will do the trick. :) I do think the breasts run the risk of drying out if grilled, so I can’t wait to try your adaptation. Thank you again for your comment, your tips & tricks, your support, and your gratitude! Also congrats on your retirement. :) Your wife is one lucky lady!

  65. …Speaking of charcoal, what do you think of using mesquite?  I started to buy some today, but I don’t want to mess with something that’s already working out so well.  If it ain’t broke, why fix it?

    • You know, I haven’t dabbled in the whole flavored grilling/smoking situation. My brother has a smoker and knows a lot about that stuff, but I’m just a dreamer at this point. I think if you have the time and the interest, why not give it a shot? You clearly cook for the love of it and there just aren’t enough people like that around!

  66. I made the Chipotle chicken for my son’s high school graduation. People thought I had it catered. I followed your recipe exactly and used the quick soak method. Thank you for the recipe.

    • Hi CariAnn, YAY! That’s awesome! Yes, I always use the quick-soak method now myself. I’m so glad people loved it, and you saved a bundle of money. Thanks for sharing! Take care! And congrats to your son. :)

  67. Could this same marinade be used to make a copycat chipotle steak? If so, what kind of steak should I use?

    Thanks

    • Hi Anakin, you could certainly try it on steak. I don’t know if it would be the exact same as Chipotle’s, but I think it would be delicious. They use round steak for the “steak” and chuck for the “barbacoa.” I hope to test this out at some point and post my findings so we’ll all know for sure! Take care.

  68. hola patry, por favor me dices de qué marca es el lápiz color crema?

    es difícil encontrarlo! mil besos

  69. Can the same recipe be used for the steak?

    • Ho Bonni, it absolutely can although at this point I cannot claim it is a “copycat.” I haven’t tested it or reviewed their ingredients. It’s on my list to do, though! But in the meantime, you can certainly try it out. It’d probably be super delicious, copycat or not. Thanks! Take care!

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