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.

Round out your Chipotle menu with my cilantro-lime rice, guacamole, fajita veggies, and corn salsa! Add steak and sofritas so your friends and family have even more choices.

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. 
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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. 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 crowd? Use the handy slider in my recipe card to adjust the quantity up. 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 may make your own.

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

Add this fragrant, warm flavor to your spice cabinet in just a few minutes with my recipe for Homemade Ancho Chile Powder. Much cheaper than store-brought!

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 method was identified by one of my readers (THANK YOU, RYAN!). 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!

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.

Combine all the marinade ingredients in a food processor or blender.

A square photo of the dark red Chipotle Chicken marinade in a food processor.

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)
  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."

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. 

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 94 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 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 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

Comments

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  1. Linda

    Hi, I’m sorry… I’m a little confused after reading the comments and your blog/watching the video. I am trying to make this this weekend for about 35-40ish people. I don’t have a chance to test out the recipe. In your comments, you say that the ingredient list you wrote up is good for about 10lbs of chicken. Is that still true? Or is what is currently written on the ‘Ingredients’ good for ~5lbs of chicken? Also, in your video it doesn’t show you adding any water into a measuring cup, but we should not skip that step of adding water to the marinade, right? Just wanted to make sure. Also, do you think it would be ok to precut all the chicken, then marinate, and then cook it? Or is it better to marinate the chicken thigh whole, cook the entire thigh and then cut up? Thanks for any advice you may have!

  2. Olivia Brown

    Wow! That is the ultimate comfort food. I haven’t had chipotle chicken in a long time. I think I’ll be making this soon. My heart goes out to you. Thanks!5 stars

  3. Rabia Razzauqe

    Hello Megan! Thank you so much for this. I had a quick question-
    I’m having a Chipotle Bar Party tomorrow, and I wanted to see- could this recipe be made in a crock pot and be adapted to make chipotle flavored shredded chicken?

    Could I just throw everything in the crock pot with some broth and shred it or would you have any other suggestions on modifying it?

    Thank you!5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Rabia, I’m so sorry I didn’t reply to you in time. The answer is, you can definitely make it in a crockpot and shred it. Did you try it, or did you plan something else because I never replied? So sorry about that. I’ve made it in a crockpot before and it works really well. I hope your party was a success! Thanks!

  4. Nicole Marie

    This recipe is best!! I love Chipotle and this recipe right here taste just like their chicken. This makes me soo happy!
    I made the chicken along with the guacamole and cilantro lime rice. Followed the recipe and marinated the chicken over night. Then the next day, my husband threw it on the grill. It was absolutely delicious, juicy and filled with flavor! Can’t wait to make this again. 
    Thank you for sharing this recipe along with the rest. You’re amazing!!5 stars

  5. Ida Kelsey

    Do you have any recipes that use those leftover chipolte peppers that were in the adobe sauce. I hate to toss them but don’t want a bunch of lost peppers in my freezer.5 stars

  6. Josh Dunn

    Can I just use a Chipotle pepper or two from the can with adobo sauce instead of dealing with finding ancho in my small town?5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Josh, yes absolutely! You can do whatever you want. The recipe will still taste great. And I know what you mean, I live in Southern California and sometimes those anchos just aren’t around like you’d expect them to be! Proceed. And you’ve played with chipotle peppers before right? So you know they are really spicy? Okay good. :D

  7. Gretchen

    I added about 1/2 cup cos the marinade only made half a cup. Is that too much water? I cooked the chicken in the skillet, but the meat was really thick. I’m going to try to cut the chicken meat into thinner pieces. Not giving up on this marinade yet.5 stars

  8. Gretchen

    Tried this today, marinated the chicken for 4 hrs and it didn’t have any flavor and the chicken was dry. What am I doing wrong? Will the thickness of the chicken breast matter? Does adding water as mentioned in the steps dilute the flavor of the marinade? Was really hoping to like this recipe.4 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Gretchen, how much water did you add? And did you cover the chicken with parchment paper as directed? The thickness of the chicken breast could matter if you did not adjust your baking time based on it. So for example if you were cooking chicken breast cutlets, they would cook much quicker and potentially get tough and rubbery. However, the parchment should help prevent them from drying out.

  9. Rabiya Chaudry

    Hi Megan,

    Quick question. I am making this recipe for a large amount of people (50) and was wondering if it will make a different if I were to marinate and bake the chicken breast as cut up pieces or will that just ruin it all.

    Thanks!
    Rabiya5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Rabiya! You make me laugh! You can definitely bake it, you’ll be fine. Cover the chicken with a piece of parchment paper while you back it so the moisture is trapped and the chicken stays juicy. You’ll be just fine! It’s going to taste amazing! Please note 4 pounds of chicken will serve 8 people. My recipe was wrong, it said 4 pounds of chicken served 20 people (obviously that’s crazy). I just fixed it. Sorry for the confusion. Please let me know if you need anything else!

  10. Rebecca

    Thank you for this recipe. It looks absolutely delicious.

    I am just wondering:
    How does a 4 oz serving have 20 g of fat? 
    Chicken (16 g fat x 4 lb = 64 g)
    Olive oil (14 g fat x 4 tbsp = 56 g)
    Total fat, approximately, is 120 g. Divide that by 20, and a 4 oz serving should have about 7 g of fat. 

    I am trying to monitor my macronutrients, and I want to make sure I am not missing something. Thank you again.5 stars

    1. Rebecca

      Oh, thank makes sense. Thank you, Meggan! You are awesome! 5 stars

    2. meggan

      Hi Rebecca, I’m so sorry for all of the confusion here! First, I use a 3rd-party nutrition label generator which access a nutrition info API, the same as sites like MyFitnessPal use. So that’s one thing. The 2nd thing is, the nutrition label was generating completely inaccurate so I’m REALLY glad you pointed this out to me. For one thing, it was using 5 pounds of chicken WITH SKIN, but the chicken should be boneless skinless. Also, the recipe is not for 20 servings. It used to be (I used to have the recipe make 10 pounds of chicken) but I scaled it down to 4 pounds of chicken, so now it serves 8. So an entirely new label is on the site. If you feel like taking a look, I hope you are much more satisfied with what you find! The last one was a total disaster. So sorry about that.

  11. Nick

    I tried this recipe and it’s great. I have a question though. Why no vinegar. On Chipotles site vinegar is one of the ingredients for the chipotle chicken.5 stars

    1. Nick

      No problem. Thanks for sharing the recipe. I’m going to try your others!5 stars

    2. Nick

      Yeah it also contains no chili powder. https://www.chipotle.com/ingredient-statement

    3. meggan

      The ancho chile powder is basically simulating the flavor of the dried Chipotle chiles you see pictured in their ingredient list. It’s the same thing – they are showing it without the adobo sauce. However, I have friends that work there and the marinade shows up in a bag and they can’t even say for sure what’s in it. I have tried making the chicken with just chipotles in adobo, without the ancho chile powder, and I don’t think it tastes quite right. However, I should probably try making it with the adobo and see how it tastes.

    4. meggan

      That’s fascinating! They changed their recipe. I swear I’m not making this up – I live and die by their ingredient list. It’s how I formulate all of the Chipotle copycat recipes on my site. So they must have added it at some point within the last 6 months. They also used to have red onion in their recipe but don’t anymore. I appreciate you pointing this out! I can definitely try adding it. I’m guessing it’s a really small amount since it’s the last ingredient in the list, but still. I’m curious to know how it affects the marinade. Thanks Nick! Sorry for the confusion.

  12. Tashina Schimming

    This chicken is OUT OF THIS WORLD AMAZING!!!!!!! I actually used chicken breasts and baked for 30 minutes at 450. Heavenly!!!! Thank you!!!5 stars

    1. meggan

      Thank you so much Tashina!!!! You made my day! Glad you liked it and I hope you make it again!

  13. yolanda

    Cool parchment paper tip5 stars

    1. meggan

      Thanks Yolanda! It definitely helps the chicken to stay juicy!

  14. James Joseph

    Hi Meghan,

    I have been using this recipe for a while, absolutely love it. Did you change something? The site design/layout has changed, but I feel like the recipe itself changed recently as well. Did you cut the recipe in half? I swear I used an entire onion before, and a 1/4 cup of oil. Please let me know. Thanks!5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi James, I am SO SORRY for your confusion. Yes to everything. Based on tons of reader feedback, I cut the recipe in half and also just recommend the ancho chile powder now instead of dealing with the dried chiles (although all the information for the dried chiles remains in the recipe). People just felt like the post was too long and overwhelming and no one knew what to do. Too many options! So technically all the options are still there, in the recipe itself, but all that extra text is not in the post anymore. And the recipe is smaller. I will add a note to the recipe about this so no one else is confused (one other person who makes the recipe regularly contacted me asking what happened, too!!! I feel so bad! And I’m also flattered!). So. That’s that! 1/4 cup of oil and a whole onion, yes. Just double everything in the recipe if you want to make it the way you made it before, enough for 10 pounds of chicken. Thank you and sorry again, and please let me know if you have any other questions!

  15. Ashwin

    Hi Meggan, where it says to use dried ancho chiles, in the first step to adding the marinade, it says to remove the stem and seeds with gloves. However, in the third step, it says to do the same thing by rinsing it out. What do I have to do?5 stars

    1. Ashwin

      Thanks!5 stars

    2. Ashwin

      Thanks! I wasn’t completely sure what to do.5 stars

    3. meggan

      Hi Ashwin, I am so sorry for the confusion. I completely reworked this recipe and obviously messed up the recipe notes as you have seen. I removed the part in Step 3 because that is leftover from the slow-soak method for ancho chiles which I’m no longer listing on the blog. So, step one is right (removing the seeds and stem while the chiles are still dry, before you power-soak them). I’m so sorry again for the confusion and I corrected it, thank you so much!

  16. Sébastien

    I love this recipe, but did you remove information on the quantity of dried chile ancho? I feel like there’s a lot less information than last time i did this recipe. Is it only 1oz since it’s only for 1 cup of marinade now?5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Sébastien, I’m sorry for the confusion. I got a lot of feedback from readers that my post was too complicated and overwhelming, so yes, I moved a lot of the information to the recipe card. I also cut the recipe in half because people don’t want to make so much marinade. It’s 1 ounce of dried anchos instead of 2, yes, and it makes just 1 cup of marinade for 5 pounds of chicken. I will review this and make sure it’s clear!

  17. easyroasted, 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 sitting5 stars

  18. Yummmm!! This looks like such a simple marinade and I love chipotle peppers and adobo sauce. I look forward to trying this!5 stars

  19. Michelle

    I was wondering if I can cook this in a pressure cooker? Sorry if this has been asked already. Sounds really good.5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Michelle! I’m sure you can. I have zero experience with pressure cookers, but if you know how to cook chicken thighs in one in general, this recipe should work just fine! Thanks for the question.

  20. LN

    i don’t typically follow food blogs and just stumbled upon this recipe randomly but I have now made it more than any other recipe EVER. It is absolutely fantastic and we make it at least weekly. It’s SO flavorful and the chicken thighs are so tender. Such a perfect way to eat healthy. This is the only recipe I follow exactly AS-IS. If you want it spicier, you can add some seeds but that is the only variable I’d think of tweaking now and then. This is actually better than Chipotle and one of my most invaluable recipes. Thanks!5 stars

    1. meggan

      This is the nicest comment I have ever received! THANK YOU! You have made my day, maybe my life. I make this all the time too, and like you said, it’s one of the tastiest ways to eat healthy. Thank you so much for letting me know, and I’m glad you like it! Take care.

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