Chipotle Chicken Recipe (Copycat)

Skip the restaurant and make your own copycat Chipotle Chicken recipe at home. The marinade is quick, easy, healthy, and tastes even better than the real thing! Make white meat or dark meat and follow my instructions for either baking or grilling. 

I just had to recreate perfect copycat recipes for my favorite items on the Chipotle menu. Serve with a heap of fluffy copycat Chipotle rice, the creamiest guacamole, fajita veggies, and corn salsa! Don't forget the pinto beans. And the meats! Luscious grilled steak and sofritas so everyone can build their bowl exactly the way they want it.

Chipotle chicken in a white serving bowl.
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The perfection of Chipotle Mexican Grill, made even more perfect because you get to eat it in the comfort of your own home, whenever you want it.

Chipotle Chicken is tender and juicy, packed with flavor, and perfect on everything. And whether you want to grill it, sauté it, or bake it in the oven, I've got all your options covered!

Want to make Chipotle Chicken for a taco party, or just meal prep for the week ahead? Use the handy slider in my recipe card to adjust the quantity up to where you need it. It's just that easy!

How to Make Chipotle Chicken Marinade

That smoky, spicy flavor in Chipotle's chicken comes from two primary ingredients: Dried ancho chiles and adobo sauce.

To create this flavor, you can:

  1. Buy Ancho Chile powder on Amazon (Culinary Hill may earn money if you buy through this link)
  2. Make your own Ancho Chile powder
  3. Soak Dried ancho chiles (Culinary Hill may earn money if you buy through this link)

Marinade Method 1: Using Ancho Chile Powder

Ancho Chile Pepper powder is available for purchase (see link above), or you can make your own.

  • 1/4 cup of the powder is equivalent to 2 oz. of the peppers (stems and seeds removed, ground up).

Marinade Method 2: Soaking Dried Ancho Chiles

  • 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.
  • Quick-Soaking shaves 12 hours off this recipe. You toast the dried chiles in a skillet and microwave them in water. It works perfectly!

Chipotle Chicken Ingredients:

Skip the restaurant and make your own copycat Chipotle Chicken recipe at home. The marinade is quick, easy, healthy, and tastes even better than the real thing! Make white meat or dark meat and follow my instructions for either baking or grilling.

Chipotle does not use red onion in their marinade. However, the recipe tastes better with it, so it comes down to this philosophical question: Do I post the recipe that tastes closest to Chipotle's recipe, or do I post the recipe that tastes the best? I kept the onion.

  1. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a food processor or blender.
  2. Blend until smooth, then transfer to a plastic bag or covered container.
  3. Add the chicken, mash around to distribute, and let marinade for 30 minutes.

Skip the restaurant and make your own copycat Chipotle Chicken recipe at home. The marinade is quick, easy, healthy, and tastes even better than the real thing! Make white meat or dark meat and follow my instructions for either baking or grilling.

How to Cook Chipotle Chicken

If you've ever been to the restaurant, you know Chipotle grills their boneless, skinless chicken thighs on a flat-top grill.

Here are your cooking options at home:

  1. Stove-top skillet (indoor, similar to Chipotle's method)
    Skip the restaurant and make your own copycat Chipotle Chicken recipe at home. The marinade is quick, easy, healthy, and tastes even better than the real thing! Make white meat or dark meat and follow my instructions for either baking or grilling.
  2. Gas grill (outdoor, minimal cleanup)
  3. Baked in the oven (cover with parchment paper for juicy chicken every time)

Photo collage of three photos, the right in the upper right hand corner is the seasoned chicken covered in parchment paper, below is a seasoned sliced chicken breast, and the upper left are three seasoned chicken breasts in a white baking dish.

I always recommend cooking chicken to 165 degrees. But, in culinary school, we cook chicken to 160 degrees and then allow the chicken to rest. It will go up another 5 degrees or so with what we call "carry-over cooking."

Slice or dice and use for burritos, tacos, bowls, salads, everything!

 

What is a substitute for adobo sauce?

Whisk together:

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder (or 1/2 teaspoon each smoked paprika and cayenne powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • Pinch EACH of oregano, garlic powder, and salt

What can I do with my leftover Chipotle peppers and/or adobo sauce?

Transfer to a bag and freeze for future use, or use in:

4.99 from 102 votes

Chipotle Chicken Recipe (Copycat)

Skip the restaurant and make your own copycat Chipotle Chicken recipe at home. The marinade is quick, easy, healthy, and tastes even better than the real thing! Make white meat or dark meat and follow my instructions for either baking or grilling. 
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Mexican
Keyword chicken
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Marinate Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 133kcal
  • 1/2 medium red onion coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons adobo sauce (see notes)
  • 2 tablespoons ancho chile powder or 1 ounce dried ancho chiles, soaked (see notes)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or rice bran oil, plus more for the cooking surface (see notes)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano (see notes)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken

To make the marinade (see recipe notes for dried chiles method):

  • To the bowl of a food processor or blender, add red onion, garlic, adobo sauce, ancho chile powder, olive oil, cumin, dried oregano, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Blend until smooth. Pour into a measuring cup and add water to reach 1 cup.
  • Place the chicken in a large freezer-safe plastic bag. Pour in marinade, close the bag, and mash until chicken is evenly coated. Place the plastic bag in a dish and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or overnight.

To make the chicken on the stove:

  • Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet until shimmering. Add chicken to the pan and cook, turning occasionally, until the temperature reaches 165 degrees on an internal thermometer. Depending on the size of your skillet, you can cook the chicken in batches.
  • Remove to a cutting board and tent with foil for 10 minutes. Chop into small pieces. Season to taste with salt. Serve on tortillas or in bowls with additional toppings as desired.

To make the chicken on the grill:

  • Preheat over medium-high heat. Coat with 2 tablespoons 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.
  • Remove to a cutting board and tent with foil for 10 minutes. Chop into small pieces. Season to taste with salt. Serve on tortillas or in bowls with additional toppings as desired.

To bake the chicken in the oven (preferred method for white meat):

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 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.
  • Remove to a cutting board and tent with foil for 10 minutes. Chop into small pieces. Season to taste with salt. Serve on tortillas or in bowls with additional toppings as desired.

Recipe Notes

To make the marinade with dried ancho chiles (Culinary Hill may earn money if you buy through this link):
  1. 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.
  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.
You can use either Italian or Mexican oregano. They have different flavors (Mexican oregano tastes more like marjoram) but both taste great in this recipe. Feel free to use whatever you have.
Adobo sauce: You can get adobo sauce from cans of Chipotle peppers or you can purchase a jar of just adobo paste (La Costeña makes one). Substitute about 3 tablespoons of paste + 1 tablespoon water.
Rice Bran oil: Chipotle uses Rice Bran oil in all of their products. Olive oil is more widely available (probably already in your pantry) and works equally well, especially if it has a neutral taste.

Nutrition

Calories: 133kcal

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  1. Carolann Beeching

    This recipe tastes exactly like Chipotle! I made a big batch and ate it for a couple of days, it was even better after sitting in the fridge. Thank you!5 stars

  2. Nate

    Hi Chef Hill,
    Thank you for this recipe! I made this and really liked it. I grilled the chicken on high heat (on a gas grill) to sear and get that charring (several minutes each side), then diced it into similar sized chunks as the restaurant and finished in a large pan on medium-high. Then transferred to a large bowl and mixed in a little of the adobo sauce to give it a little extra kick. However, I was tying to replicate the Chipotle Mexican Grill taste. You’re right about the onion–definitely a departure from the Chipotle Mexican Grill taste. Next time, I’m going to remove the onion.4 stars

  3. veronica

    I tried this after wanting to eat chipotle twice in one day. It was excellent!
    I didn’t have the apple cider vinegar so I swapped for white vinegar. I marinated for about an hour and the chicken was so juicy. I made my own chipotle bowls rice beans chicken fajitas sour cream and cheese. I will definitely use this recipe again!5 stars

    1. Andrew

      Where does it say to use apple cider vinegar lol

  4. Becky

    Made this tonight on my indoor smokeless grill using a griddle plate. Came out perfectly and made enough for 2 meals! Thank you!5 stars

  5. Julie Greger

    Love this recipe! We have been staying at home due to Covid-19 and it helps to be able to make some of our favorite foods at home. Thanks much!5 stars

  6. Tina

    Just want to thank you so very much for all you Chipotle copycat recipes!! We made them last night they were outstanding!! Everyone said they were better than Chipotle. I had no idea food this good could be made at home!! They only thing we changed was we used a 1/8 of a red onion in the marinade my son can’t stand onions. Thank you so very much!5 stars

  7. Brett

    Excellent and easy. Marinated chicken approximately 4 hrs and had plenty of flavor. Not spicy at all. Next time I will increase the amount of adobo and add in a few of the chipotle peppers. I have some of the leftover marinade that I will try on some flank steak tonight. Should be great.5 stars

  8. Lexi Loo

    I made this recipe last night. What great flavor! I didn’t have any ancho chilies but it was yummy all the same. I marinated the chicken for a couple of hours before cooking it on the stovetop.5 stars

    1. Meggan

      Hi Lexi, I’m glad you liked it! You’ll have to try it with the ancho chiles next time! ;) -Meggan

  9. Anna

    This was AMAZING! I am doing Whole30 and omitted adobo sauce from a small can of Chipotle peppers because I couldn’t find a compliant brand (and sometimes the spiciness really hits my acid reflux). This recipe was INCREDIBLE. My husband and I had the chicken with your Copycat Fajita Veggies and Guacamole on lettuce. We made enough for the whole week! This is so delicious AND healthy! Thank you!!!!5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Anna, that’s really great! I’m so happy to hear all of this! I do the Whole30 too, it’s such a nice “reset.” I wanted to pass along one of my other favorite Whole30 recipes in case you need ideas. I apologize for the self-promotion and you can just ignore me. But I have this GREAT sweet potato hash, you just have to find Whole30 bacon for it. It’s so good, I love it, I make it all the time (not just when I’m doing a Whole30). Good luck to you! -Meggan

      https://www.culinaryhill.com/sweet-potato-hash-with-bacon-and-red-peppers/

    2. Meggan

      This is GREAT news. Glad you loved it! Thank you so much!! :) -Meggan

  10. Anton

    Who needs a restaurant when you can food this delicious at home? I have used this chicken in tacos, in salads, and even just in sandwiches. Perfect taste!5 stars

  11. Andrea Pollina

    Meggan, I see in the commentS that you reheated it in a slow cooker. I was going to make a triple batch for a Super Bowl party. If I made it the day before and receive it in the slow cooker does it get dry? Did you add water when you put it in the slow cooker?5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Andrea, yes I did a slow cooker reheat one time to see what would happen. I did not add water to the slow cooker and it didn’t dry out. If you use chicken thighs, you should be fine (when the chicken is in the fridge, any residual fat will cling to the chicken, so when you put it in the slow cooker, that will still be there). Of course, adding a couple of tablespoons of water isn’t really a problem either. You can definitely do that. But it’s hard to dry out chicken thighs! If you use chicken breast, that’s another story entirely but I haven’t tried reheating that in a slow cooker. But I still think it would be fine. I feel good about your situation, you’ll be fine! So flattered you are making that for the Super Bowl. It’s going to be great! Thank you again! -Meggan

  12. James Hoelscher

    I ma trying this recipe today with some alterations…
    Adding juice of 1 lime
    I have used Ancho (and other dried) Chiles many times…
    the classic way to re- hydrate them… (from what I learned growing up in south Texas)
    -To me the best way to ‘re hydrate’ them is to
    1. Heat some water to boiling
    2. (While water heats) remove stems and seeds from chiles
    3. cut into strips (not really needed, I just like to see them look like bacon while re-hydrating)
    4. Once water is at a full boil… remove from heat
    5. Put Chiles in hot water… for 15-ish minutes
    6. remove chiles from water (reserve some water for the food processor as needed

  13. Margaret G.

    I don’t usually write reviews but after making this Chipotle Chicken recipe and the Chipotle Cilantro Lime Rice recipe and the Chipotle Pinto Beans and putting them all together in a burrito (along with Pico de Gallo and cheeeeeeese), it tasted just like it came from Chipotle! I’m so glad that I can make this at home now since my nearest Chipotle is miles and miles away. I have tried other copycat Chipotle chicken recipes before, but this is BY FAR the best one! My search has ended! Thanks so much!5 stars

    1. meggan

      Thank you so much Margaret, that’s great news! Cheeeeeeeeeeese! Love it. Thanks for letting me know. -Meggan

  14. Dan

    I worked at Chipotle for 4 years as a manager but I also have a culinary background in food service. This recipe isn’t terrible… but it’s not the REAL thing and it’s super time consuming for NO reason! So here’s the secret….
    Go to your local grocery store and purchase 2 small cans of chipotles in adobo sauce (this will be found in the international food section or Mexican section at Publix or other grocery chains).
    Puree said cans of chipotles with adobo.
    Pour into whatever bowl, dish, or pan you normally use to marinate.
    Add 1/4 cup of honey and 3 tbsps of vegetable oil…. swirl with spoon to mix.
    Add 4-6 chicken thighs and let marinate 6 hours. Chipotle let’s it marinate overnight but you really don’t need too! After 6 hours you’re good!
    Now the easy part! It can literally be cooked anyway you want to do it! Grill, cast iron skillet, but my preferred method… is using the sauté function on my instapot… browning for 2 mins on each side the setting the pot for 10 mins on pressure cook.

    Thank me later!

    1. Don

      I’d add the honey and oil like Dan suggested. But, yeah, sounds simple and I’m going to try myself.

    2. Don

      I checked out the chipotle site, and they do list chipotle peppers, but if you click on the ingredient, they list dried chipotle peppers. Cans/jars of chipotles in adobo have water, chipotle peppers, tomato paste, vinegar, salt, nacho peppers, sugar, spices.
      So it sounds like all the things they add to the dried peppers are in the peppers/adobo. They just do it long-form to keep it “natural.”

    3. meggan

      Hi Don, so are you saying all we have to do is marinade chicken in Chipotle peppers with adobo, and we’d get the same thing? You might be right! I’ll have to try it! That would be way easier.

    4. Anthony H

      I like you Dan. You making sure I get my Chipotle chicken fix the right way. I appreciate this recipe but I also appreciate hearing how to do this from experience. Thanks my dude! 😎

    5. Bill

      How did Dan’s versions turn out?

    6. Jenn

      Dan
      I am making this tonight! I saw you do it in the IP. Do you add water after you sauté it to pressure cook?

      Thanks in advance! So excited to try this. It’s been marinating overnight!!

      Jenn

    7. Tina

      Thanks for this! Don’t you have to add liquid to the instant pot when you are cooking the chicken?

    8. meggan

      Hi Dan! I definitely like your method WAY better. But what about all the other ingredients that Chipotle has listed on their site as being part of the recipe? (https://www.chipotle.com/nutrition-calculator). There are so many things! Way more than chipotles in adobo sauce, honey, and oil. But I’m trying your way for sure to see if it tastes like the real thing. I mean, you would know, you worked there! I was just wondering if maybe they have special adobo sauce with other flavorings in it. I appreciate your insider scoop! Thanks. -Meggan

  15. Apurva

    This is hands down a true copycat chipotle chicken recipe. You’ve nailed it! Thank you.5 stars

  16. Katherine Seaton

    Excellent!5 stars

  17. Ervin D Fowlkes

    This was amazing with Chicken thighs. So juicy and actually better than Chipotle. Chipotle can be too salty some days. Thank you for sharing.5 stars

    1. Meggan

      Thanks so much Ervin! I’m glad you like it! :D -Meggan

  18. Angela

    What do you do with the chipotle chili’s? I don’t see it incorporated into the recipe.5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Angela, it’s true they aren’t in the recipe (you could add them if you wanted to, but they would make it so very spicy!). My favorite way to use chipotle chiles are in Chicken Tinga (https://www.culinaryhill.com/chicken-tinga/). Another good option is my Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers (https://www.culinaryhill.com/vegetarian-stuffed-peppers/). You could also mix them in with mayonnaise for a spicy sandwich spread if that sounds good to you. I usually put them in the freezer until inspiration strikes! I hope this is helpful. Thanks! -Meggan

  19. Jonathan P

    Delicious recipe! I will definitely be enjoying my burrito bowls all week!
    However I am confused about the nutrition, it says 8 servings at 133 calories each… is that just for the marinade? Or does that include the chicken? When I logged all the ingredients in MyFitnessPal, it came out to 366 calories when divided into 8 servings.5 stars

  20. Ryan

    Has anyone tried cooking the chicken in a slow cooker with the marianade? Wondering how it’d turn out before experimenting.5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Ryan, I have only reheated it in a slow cooker, never cooked it the first time that way. I imagine the flavor would be fine, but you’d miss the crispy, caramelized edges that come from a grill or cast iron skillet. But, that texture loss aside, I assume it would be fine? Thanks for the question! -Meggan

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