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.

Chipotle chicken in a white serving bowl.

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!

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:

 

Chipotle chicken in a white serving bowl.

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. 
4.99 from 128 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Marinate Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 326kcal
Author: Meggan Hill

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

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.

Video

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: 326kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 44g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 215mg | Sodium: 1008mg | Potassium: 633mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 672IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 49mg | Iron: 3mg
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  1. Shadel

    can i freeze the chicken in this chipotle marinade? Also, can this marinade be used with pork?

    1. Meggan

      Hi Shadel, you can freeze the marinated chicken. Just thaw and follow the directions for the way you would like to cook it. I haven’t tried it with pork, but I don’t see why not! – Meggan

  2. Bhavesh

    One of the best ever chicken recipe i have ever tried so far. Thanks for sharing this chipotle chicken recipe.5 stars

  3. Sha

    Thank you! This is perfect (even without adobo sauce, can’t eat it). I replaced adobo sauce with paprika. This is the second time I made this and I wouldn’t change anything in the recipe. Enjoying being able to eat my chipotle chicken at home. Healthy and oh so good. Will enjoy all week.5 stars

  4. Kathryn

    Love this. Keep up the superb work.5 stars

  5. Tee

    Thanks so much for this recipe. Quick question—roughly how much is half a red onion? Appx 1/2 cup?

    1. Meggan

      Hi Tee, you’re welcome! Yes, half a red onion should yield about 1/2 cup. Thank you! – Meggan

  6. Roxana

    Just like the real deal! 5 stars

  7. Jim Thomson

    This recipe works great. I followed the marinade, using 1/2 the red onion called for, but all other items exactly as noted. I pounded the chicken to about 3/4″ thick to facilitate the grilling on the gas grill.5 stars

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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. Christina

      Andrew,
      Apple cider vinegar is listed under substitutions.

    2. Andrew

      Where does it say to use apple cider vinegar lol

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. 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

  20. 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

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