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 103 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. David Mosseri

    how did I end up with only 1 cup?

    1. It took me 2 months, but I finally perfected the Ancho Chile Powder method! I’ve actually added a lot more information to this post including instructions for baking (great for boneless, skinless chicken breasts) and more ideas on adobo sauce. But I digress. Basically, if you’re using the powder, pour your marinade into a measuring cup and just add water until you get to 2 cups of marinade. That’s what we were missing, the water from soaking the chiles. The consistency of the marinade is quite different (it seems runny when you add water), but it works just as well and tastes just as great. That is what I was thinking in my head, but I wanted to test it out and make sure. There are some brands of chipotles in adobo that have more sauce in the can (I discuss this in the post above) so if you chose one of those, you wouldn’t have to add quite as much water. But anyway. Thanks again for pointing out this deficiency so I could correct it!

    2. David Mosseri

      AWESOME!!! THANK YOU!!5 stars

    3. 1 cup of the marinade? That is incredibly strange if you started with 2 ounces of dried ancho chile peppers, a 7-ounce can of chipotle peppers in adobo, and 1/2 cup oil. The only other variable would be the red onion. I will weigh the red onion the next time I make this so I can advise the size. Each of the main components should account for roughly 25% (1/2 cup) of the total marinade: the soaked ancho chiles, the adobo sauce, the oil, and the red onion.

    4. David Mosseri

      Wow you’re quick on replies! I followed it to a T. I did use 1/4 cup Ancho pepper powder instead of the 2 oz. It made about 1-1/4 cup total.5 stars

    5. Okay. Clearly I need to go back to the drawing board on my Ancho Pepper powder conversion, I am so sorry. It clearly needs to be tested again. I do sincerely apologize. Thank you for telling me about this.

    6. David Mosseri

      LOL Don’t feel bad at all. This is great conversation and it turned out excellent considering I thought it would be almost double potent! You don’t have to apologize at all. Hey, this is free stuff here! I wonder how many fluid ounces you have from the soaking the Ancho peppers?

    7. Wow you are so nice! And yes, I too think the water from soaking the peppers has to be the other variable. In terms of spiciness it should be the same because I ground down the chiles to determine how much powder you would need. But I failed to account for the water that the peppers would absorb. But you were short by about 12 ounces. That seems like a lot. I should also provide the weight of the onion. Thanks again for being so understanding.

  2. Chris

    How many ancho chile peppers are in a 2 oz package typically?

    1. It varies depending on the size of the peppers, but typically it’s either 2 large or 1 large and 2 small. That’s what I’ve seen in my experience. And “large” would be about 3″ to 4″ long, small would be about 2″ long. I hope this helps!

  3. Tom

    When cutting the ancho chile peppers open – do I discard the seeds or the pepper?

    1. Hi Tom, sorry for the confusion. For the Ancho chile peppers, you rinse out and discard the seeds and also remove the stem after they have been soaked. For the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, you only use the sauce, so you can discard the chipotle peppers. I hope this helps. Thanks!

  4. jGC

    Should we be using the Mexican oregano or the regular kind? Can we substitute cumin powder for the seeds?

    1. I am using regular oregano because that is what I have. Mexican oregano is probably delicious too, possibly more authentic even, but I haven’t made it that way so I don’t know how different it would taste. I also used cumin powder, not seeds, so I’m sorry that wasn’t clear. I will update the recipe to reflect “ground cumin” so there is no further confusion. Sorry about that! Thanks for your comment!

  5. Artie

    Can you explain how to soak the chiles? I don’t see any information in the notes.

    1. Hi Artie, I’m so sorry about that! I’ve added information to the notes of the recipe about soaking the chiles. Here is the info: To soak the 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.

    2. Artie

      Thanks! Can’t wait to make this. :)

  6. WeNeedJesus

    Recipe was spot on for chicken and white rice..even better than restaurant!! Wow. I did make a quick version of beans and corn salsa for my first time so it would save me time and I could focus on the chicken and rice. I grilled the chicken which really helps to keep authentic flavor. (BBQ on med heat, about 350 deg, flip after 10 min, cook 10 more min, should be done or close. Test with thermometer. 165 degrees in fattest part is safe. Pull it off grill and cover with foil for 7 min or so and dice it up. If it wasn’t 165 degrees, move away from direct flame but maintain bbq heat level for 5 more min, but you shouldn’t need to.) Family LOVES Chipotle and agreed it was awesome. Thank you!!5 stars

  7. Jawana

    This is by far, the best copycat recipe for the Chipotle Chicken dish! All of the spices presented matched perfectly! The only challenge that I had was cooking the chicken in a pan on an electric stove. Cooking it that way (I believe) gave it a gummy consistency. I had to almost burn the chicken for it to become more firmer. The chicken thighs that were used may not have been the best selection choosen. Perhaps grilling it or cooking on a gas stove would have produced better results for me. It’s winter here so I thought I’d try it indoors instead! Really miss my gas stove though. Gas stoves cook so much better. Thank you so much for sharing such an awesome recipe! Splendid! 5 stars

  8. Matthew Bartley

    Loved this chicken. Huge Chipotle fan, and my whole kitchen smells just like the restaurant after cooking this! I would have loved to have grilled the chicken, but my trusty cast-iron pan did just fine. I’m not a big marinade fan, choosing instead to season and perfectly cook meat to make it taste delicious, but this marinade was spot on and worth every minute of the overnight wait. Excellent!5 stars

    1. Wow, this is high praise! Thank you for taking the time to make the recipe and report back. A happy review doesn’t hurt. :) I am really glad you liked it. I spent a lot of time making this recipe over and over again myself. I too wish I could grill the chicken, but I always use a cast iron pan. Thanks again for your comment.

  9. katydidindeed

    Are you using Mediterranean oregano or Mexican oregano?

    1. I used Mediterranean oregano. It’s an excellent point to make though, maybe Mexican oregano would be a better ingredient here.

  10. Kim

    I made all of this for my bunco gathering and all the gals went crazy! They said it was BETTER than Chipolte. I went on youtube and found a recipe for their medium salsa and used Chipolte Fan’s corn recipe……….it was AWESOME all together. Thanks!5 stars

    1. Love Bunco! :) I am so glad the recipe was a success for you. I am definitely going to look up/work on the salsa recipes too because they are so.good. Thank you for leaving a comment!

  11. Sonia Khawaja

    I am guessing 1/4 C means 1/4 Cup

    1. Hi Sonia, you are correct. Going forward I will always write out “cup” instead of abbreviating. Sorry for the confusion!

  12. Lindsay

    Meggan, were you able to figure out how much dried Ancho chili powder would be needed in place of the actual chiles?5 stars

    1. Lindsay, yes! Yes I was, sorry for not replying until you reminded me. It’s 1/4 c. of ancho chile powder. Thank you for checking back and sorry for the delay. I’m going to update the recipe now as a standard way to make it going forward. Thanks again!

  13. Katie

    ALSO….those who are gluten free like me, BE CAREFUL with Adobo sauce…the ones I was looking at had the dreaded wheat in it. SO I actually just got some adobo seasoning instead.

    1. Hi Katie, I did some investigating and found a few brands of chipotle peppers in adobo without wheat. One is La Morena, the other is La Costena. Both are imported from Mexico and I found them at my local Walmart. I took pictures of the cans, so if for any reason you’d like to see them, just let me know and I can email them to you. Good luck!

  14. Katie

    I made this yesterday – SO GOOD! Thanks for the recipe! Just wondering if you put any of the marinade on the chicken afterwards and it seemed a bit…dry? that’s not the write word, but just not as seasonful as chipotle. Thanks again for the great recipe!5 stars

    1. Hi Katie, I can imagine a lot of scenarios where the chicken might be dry. It hasn’t happened to me, but here are my suggestions. First, make sure you’re using dark meat, because chicken breast will obviously be drier. Also, as you cook the chicken in batches, if your skillet or grill pan seems dry, be sure to add more oil. Also, I appreciate the tip on adobo sauce. I think since you switched to the Adobo seasoning, that probably made your chicken much drier. I wonder if more liquid should be added to the marinade if you aren’t using adobo sauce? I also want to research adobo sauce and look at brands so I can (hopefully) suggest one that doesn’t have gluten. What a bummer! Thanks for your comments, and I hope your next batch is not so dry. I do think swapping the adobo sauce for seasoning was probably the biggest factor, if you followed the rest of the recipe. Thanks for your feedback!

  15. Ann

    I’m really excited to try out this recipe. Where can I find the chipotle peppers and ancho chiles? Also, since I don’t have a grill, would baking the chicken be an option? TIA!

    1. Hi Ann, thanks for stopping by! Chipotle peppers are at most grocery stores, Walmart, and Target. They will be in the Mexican food aisle near things like green chiles and salsa. Just look for a small can, “chipotle peppers in adobo.” Ancho chiles are not as widely available, but Walmart and grocery stores do have them. They are large, dried chiles (maybe 6″ long or so) usually sold in clear plastic bags. International food markets also often carry them. McCormick also sells a bottle of Ancho Chile Pepper in their “gourmet” line of spices, so you could look for that. I will figure out how much of that spice you will need, if you go that route, and post another reply today letting you know. Just in case. Also some international food markets might sell “bulk” spices, and if so, you could find ancho chile powder there which would also work.

      Last, no problem about the grill! I usually use a cast iron pan now on my stove top. Baking the chicken would certainly work, but you would probably not got as many “caramelized” pieces as you would from a skillet. It will still be delicious and flavorful, I’m sure. If you don’t want to run your oven, you could also cook the chicken in a regular skillet (nonstick or otherwise) on your stovetop. Good luck!

    2. Ann

      Thank you so much! Everything worked out and it tasted great!

  16. James

    Hi, I would like to make this, however, does it come out very “hot/spicy”? My reason for asking is that I don’t believe the Chipotle Restaurant version is spicy at all. I mean I don’t ever remember it being spicy any time I’ve ordered it at one of their restaurants.

    1. Hi James, thank you for your question. First, I think “spiciness” is very subjective. If I eat chipotle’s chicken with sour cream and cheese or a burrito shell, it is never spicy because those offset. But if I eat it plain, sometimes it’s spicy. Having said that, I don’t think this marinade is super spicy. It has flavor, but you are using 1 cup of marinade per 5 pounds of chicken. And when you cook it, some of the marinade comes off. At worst, you may find a spicy bite here and there, but not really. My toddler (almost 2) eats it with no problem, and it’s not like we eat jalapenos for fun around here. To minimize the spiciness, be sure to get rid of all possible seeds from your adobo sauce. In the recipe I recommend straining, so you shouldn’t really have any, anyway. Have I answered your question? Or offered any help at all? I hope so. Spicy as in flavorful, yes. Spicy as it hot, no. Not really. Good luck.

  17. Laura

    This recipe is pretty awesome!!!! It’s very very close to Chipotle’s chicken. My husband has been asking forever to make it and I thought I’d never find something even close. I was wrong! I LOVE the ancho chiles and the chipotles!!!! Thank you for this awesome recipe, you now have one happy new fan :))5 stars

  18. Yead

    This is so delicious. I love this. Great idea.5 stars

    1. Thank you so much Yead, I hope you enjoy it! :)

  19. Chipotle is the only ‘fast food’ I eat, I would eat this copycat everyday :-)5 stars

    1. I think I’m on 3 weekends in a row making the Chipotle chicken… we just gobble it right up. :) Not sick of it yet! And now that I know I can freeze half the marinade, that makes it so much easier to eat this All.The.Time. :)

    2. jodean

      if you do use 10lbs if chicken would you double your spices etc? going to have a large party.

    3. The recipe for the marinade above is enough for 10 lbs. of chicken; you don’t need to double the spices. I talk about it in my post, but not everyone has time to read my babblings. You will end up with 2 cups. of marinade based on my ingredients above (2 oz. dried chiles, 1 can of chipotle peppers, etc.). That is enough for 10 lbs. of chicken. I apologize for the confusion and I’ll try to reword the recipe so it makes more sense. I normally make the whole marinade recipe, freeze half, and cook 5 lbs. of chicken right away. Please let me know if you have any other questions!

  20. What a fun theme! And I could feel the fear of the kitchen situation with the brick. Glad everyone survived ! ;) Can’t wait to see the rest of your Chipotle copycats!5 stars

    1. Yeah, 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 sitting.

  21. Love Bunco! :) I am so glad the recipe was a success for you. I am definitely going to look up/work on the salsa recipes too because they are so.good. Thank you for leaving a comment!

  22. Hi Sonia, you are correct. Going forward I will always write out “cup” instead of abbreviating. Sorry for the confusion!

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