Chipotle Chicken (Copycat)

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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 – Depending on how much you want to buy, we recommend McCormick Gourmet Ancho Chile Pepper and Amazing Ancho Chile Powder.
  2. Make your own Ancho Chile powder
  3. Soak Dried ancho chiles (We recommend Olé Rico Dried Ancho Chiles)

Marinade Method 1: Using Ancho Chile Powder

Ancho Chile Pepper powder is available to purchase, or you can make your own.

  • ¼ cup of the powder is equivalent to 2 oz. of the peppers (stems and seeds removed, ground up).

Ancho chile powder dumped out of a glass jar onto a counter.

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:

Ingredients for Chipotle chicken in various bowls.

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.

Chipotle Chicken marinading in a plastic zipper bag.

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)
    Chipotle chicken cooking in a black skillet.
  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.

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

A Chipotle burrito bowl in a white bowl.

What is a substitute for adobo sauce?

Whisk together:

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder (or ½ teaspoon each smoked paprika and cayenne powder)
  • ½ 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:

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Chipotle chicken in a white serving bowl.

Chipotle Chicken (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. 
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Marinate Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Mexican
Calories 326
5 from 1424 votes




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 ½ 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 degrees 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 degrees 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 Video


To make the marinade with dried ancho chiles:
  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 well.
  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 (I recommend La Costeña) 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.


Serving: 1 servingCalories: 326kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 44gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0.04gCholesterol: 215mgSodium: 1008mgPotassium: 633mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 672IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 49mgIron: 3mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @culinaryhill on Instagram so we can admire your masterpiece! #culinaryhill
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Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

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    1. Hi Summer! You can assume about 25% shrinkage (weight loss) when cooking most proteins including chicken. So while you start with 4 pounds of raw meat, you’ll have about 3 pounds chicken after it’s cooked. 3 pounds = 48 ounces, so each serving should be about 6 ounces of cooked chicken with 8 servings total. Thank you! -Meggan

  1. Great recipe and I loved all your tips! Thank you! I couldn’t believe how tender the chicken breasts were after oven baking and letting them rest before chopping. I’m hoping to make this recipe to freeze and serve at an upcoming party in a chafing dish. I’m worried the chicken will dry out. Do you have any recommendations for how I can minimize this? Should I add more oil to the marinade or should I add some chicken broth when in the chafing dish? Any other recommendations? Thank you so much!5 stars

    1. Hi Julie! I have done this exact thing – made it with chicken breast, baked it, froze it, reheated it. It was great! I understand your concern though. My recommendation would be to thaw it overnight in the refrigerator (rather than trying to thaw it in the microwave or something), then reheat it slowly in a pan or slow cooker, and possibly add some water to help it steam. It shouldn’t be dry if you don’t overcook it when you bake it. You should be fine. Chicken broth in the chafing dish would be good! I just think thawing it slowly and reheating it slowly are helpful, just treating it carefully rather than trying to force these things. You should be fine. You are welcome to add more oil to the marinade too, probably not necessary but peace of mind helps! Thank you! -Meggan

    1. Hi Patti! My vote is to reheat it in a skillet. That’s what I always do, even if I made it in the oven. You could also reheat it in the oven, of course, but that’s a lot of work for reheating something. The microwave is also fine, but sometimes that makes things taste a little off, in my opinion. I vote for skillet! You can add a little bit of oil or leave the skillet dry; it’s up to you. Sometimes I add a splash of water and cover the skillet to cook it through faster. Good luck! Thank you! -Meggan

  2. I can’t wait to try this recipe It sounds simple enough. I’m usually cooking for one or two so when I see 4 lbs of chicken it’s tough sometimes to get the amounts right. I can just improvise it doesn’t always work though lol!5 stars

    1. Hi Mike, I know sometimes it’s annoying to scale recipes down. You seem up for the task. I have also frozen the cooked chicken and then thawed it and reheated it later. Not quite as good as fresh, but still tasty, the flavor holds well. Good luck, I hope you love it and it works out for you! Thank you! -Meggan

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