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.

  • ¼ 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.

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 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:

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. 
4.99 from 357 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Marinate Time 30 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Servings 8 servings
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Mexican
Calories 326

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 ground 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 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

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 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 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: 326kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 44gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 215mgSodium: 1008mgPotassium: 633mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 672IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 49mgIron: 3mg
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Comments

    1. Hi Sherri, I don’t see why not! I recommend breaking down the chicken and laying it in a single layer to bake. If you would like to bake the whole bird, I would recommend making sure you remove the giblets and truss the chicken. Since it is a whole chicken, the baking time may vary, since roasting a chicken (depending on its size) can take an hour. – Meggan

  1. Hi Meggan,
    Have you tried this in a slowcooker or instapot yourself and did I read in the comments you were going to post how to directions for that? Thanks so much! Sounds delicious

    1. Hi Rose, I haven’t cooked it the first time that way yet. However, I believe the flavor should be fine, but you’ll miss the crispy, caramelized edges that come from a grill or cast iron skillet. But, that texture loss aside, it should be fine. I’d suggest cooking 4 hours on HIGH or 8 hours on LOW. Hope this helps! – Meggan

  2. I couldn’t find boneless skinless thighs. should i cook them then trim? Or trim then cook and pull off the bone?

    1. Hi Michelle, it’s up to you! I would cook and then trim but it’s honestly just personal preference. Hope this helps! – Meggan

    2. I have made this several times and it’s always a hit. I was just concerned about grilling the chicken with the fat/skin. I’m sure it will be ok. It was definitely less expensive. I’ll let you know how it turns out

  3. Just made this tonight. My opinion – This really is better than Chipotles recipe. It packed a punch of flavor while Chipotle is more subdued. This will be a staple to come in my kitchen for years….Thanks for the recipe. It’s really very good.5 stars

    1. Hi Susan, 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, it should be fine. I’d suggest cooking 4 hours on HIGH or 8 hours on LOW. Hope this helps! – Meggan

  4. Hi Meggan,
    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I tried this many years ago (it was delicious) and found your recipe again recently. I don’t know if I’m overlooking it, but where in the recipe is the mention of how many chipotle peppers are called for? In the directions for using the quick soak method for the anchos, there is a mention of the canned peppers stating they’re included in step 2, but I don’t see any specification there or anywhere else in the recipe. I’m sorry if I’m overlooking it!5 stars

    1. Hi Monique, I’m so sorry for all the confusion. The recipe has evolved over time, so this note is from back when it was made with a can of chipotle chili peppers. You will need 1 ounce of dried chipotle peppers if you are substituting them for ancho chili powder. Sorry for the confusion! I’ve updated the recipe. Thank you – Meggan

  5. So I made this last night, it was quite good but also not quite as flavorful as I would have liked. Being fair I did only marinade for 1 hour, so I figure an overnighter would be a better option. Overall though, very easy to make and really close to what Chipotle serves.

    I did thighs in an air fryer, 390 for about 16 minutes with a flip halfway through. It’s a method I’ve used before with other spice rubbed or marinated chicken thighs and it works out every time. Will certainly make this again as I was quite impressed that right off it was so close, most other recipes you’ve got to fiddle with ingredient ratios because no one knows how to season properly lol.4 stars

    1. Hi Nathan, thanks! Cooking in the air fryer sounds great, so glad you enjoyed! – Meggan

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