Chipotle Chicken is a super flavorful yet easy recipe for making the restaurant favorite at home. Chicken breasts are pounded thin, marinated in a chipotle in adobo sauce, then cooked until juicy and tender. Serve this spicy, copycat chicken in a burrito bowl, as tacos, or enjoy it as a main dish!

Chicken is marinated and then cooked in a skillet.

Copycat Chipotle Chicken Recipe

There has yet to be a chicken recipe I’ve found that’s more flavor-packed than this copycat Chipotle Chicken!

Thanks to the combination of chipotle peppers, Mexican spices, lime juice, and a hint of sugar, you get a marinade that is unlike any other.

And when you start with a good marinade, you get the most tender, juicy, and incredible-tasting meat!

For those of you that are big fans of the Chipotle restaurant chain, then you’ll be happy to hear that this chicken recipe tastes just like it! (Maybe even better?!)

So yes, you can now have chipotle chicken ready to eat at home whenever the craving strikes!

But don’t stop at the chicken! Pair it with this Chipotle copycat Cilantro Lime Rice, Chipotle Corn Salsa, Chipotle Fajita Veggies, or complete it with a Chipotle Burrito Bowl.

Chicken, spices, onion, lime, and oil are the ingredients for this dish.

Ingredients

To make this copycat Chipotle chicken recipe you need:

  • Chicken. Either skinless chicken breasts or thighs will work. Breasts are leaner, but boneless skinless chicken thighs pack more flavor.
  • Chipotle chiles. You are looking for the chipotle chiles in adobo sauce. You should be able to find a can or jar in the Mexican food or ethnic section of your local grocery store.
  • Onion. A finely diced onion is needed for a deep, authentic flavor. A red onion is recommended, but you can use a white, sweet, or yellow one if needed.
  • Garlic. Don’t skip the minced garlic, the flavor won’t be the same. If you have to, though, garlic powder can be used.
  • Lime. Opt for fresh lime juice, not the bottle if at all possible.
  • Spices. For that traditional flavor, be sure to use chili powder, ground cumin, and dried oregano. Of course, sea salt and pepper are also needed.
  • Brown sugar. A bit of sweetness really balances out the spices.
  • Oil. Either olive oil or avocado oil work well.

How to Make Chipotle Chicken?

Below you’ll find the basic steps for making this chipotle chicken recipe:

Prepare the Marinade

To make the flavorful marinade, you need a food processor or a blender. You really want to purée the ingredients so the flavor is evenly distributed throughout the chicken.

Place the chipotle chili and adobo sauce in the bowl or the pitcher. Add in the diced onion, minced garlic, lime juice, spices, sugar, salt, black pepper, and oil.

Process the marinade ingredients on high for 20 to 30 seconds. There should be no chunks or obvious pieces remaining.

Marinade ingredients are placed in a food processor.

Prep the Chicken

If you are using chicken breasts, it is essential to pound them so they are roughly the same thickness throughout. This ensures that each piece cooks at the same rate and eliminates dry edges.

To do this, cover your chicken breasts with plastic wrap or place them in a Ziploc bag to avoid a mess. You can also simply lay them on a cutting board.

Use a meat mallet to pound the breasts until they are no more than 1 inch thick. Cut each piece into 5- to 6-ounce portions.

Chicken is pounded thin.

Marinate the Chicken

Place chicken into a large mixing bowl. Carefully pour the chipotle marinade over all of the pieces.

Use tongs or a fork to toss the chicken to ensure each piece is completely coated. Let the chicken rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. You can leave it up to 24 hours, but not any longer as the chicken will break down too much from the acidity and take on a mealy texture.

Cook in a Skillet

When you’re ready to prepare the marinated chicken, add the last tablespoon of oil to a large skillet (you can also use cast-iron) over medium heat. Wait at least 1 minute for it to fully heat up.

Place the chicken in the pan, ensuring the pieces aren’t touching. Cook for 7 to 8 minutes on each side for breasts, or 9 to 10 minutes per side for thighs.

After flipping, brush any remaining marinade over the chicken. The meat is finished cooking when an internal temperature reaches 165℉. There should be no pink left inside, either.

Meal Prep and Storage

  • How to prep ahead of time: You can make up the marinade up to 2 to 3 days in advance, or make the marinade and combine with the chicken the night before (but not more than 24 hours ahead of time.)
  • How to store: Place leftover chipotle chicken in an airtight container or Ziploc bag and keep in the fridge for up to 3 to 4 days.
  • How to freeze: Cooked chicken will last in the freezer in a freezer-safe container for up to 4 to 5 months.
  • How to reheat: For best results, warm chicken up in the microwave or a skillet over medium-low heat.

How does Chipotle make their chicken?

Chipotle makes their famous chicken by pounding it thin, marinating it in a Chipotle pepper sauce, and then cooking it on a skillet. This spicy and delicious chicken is the perfect protein for both burritos and bowls.

Chipotle chicken is cooked in a skillet.

Is Chipotle chicken spicy?

While there is definitely some spice to the chicken, it is not considered a spicy dish. However, some people have a lower tolerance for spicy foods and may consider it too hot.

Is Chipotle chicken healthy?

Chipotle chicken is a healthy and delicious protein. Seasoned with flavorful spices and cooked on a grill or skillet, you can feel good about enjoying this dish in a variety of ways.

Juicy chicken breasts are seasoned with chipotle peppers.

Dietary Modifications

The recipe you’ll find below is already gluten-free and low-carb as written. Here are some adjustments and substitutions you can make to help it fit your other dietary requirements:

  • Sugar-free: Leave out the brown sugar.
  • Paleo: Skip the sugar or substitute with honey or agave nectar.

Expert Tips and Tricks

  • Dealer’s choice. While breasts are leaner, the dark meat of chicken thighs are more flavorful.
  • Thinner for dinner. If using chicken breasts, be sure to pound them to no more than 1 inch thick.
  • Let it sit. Be sure to marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes to get the best flavor.
  • Pay attention. The chicken will cook differently depending on the cut you choose.
  • Get creative. This copycat chicken is delicious on bowls, tacos, burritos, or by itself.
  • Go big. Make a double batch so the whole family can enjoy it and have leftovers.
Serve up this Chipotle chicken with rice, cheese, corn, and pico.

What to Serve with Chipotle Chicken

When you’re ready to serve up this spicy chicken, you can’t go wrong with any of these easy and healthy recipes.

A rice base like Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice, Mexican Rice, or Instant Pot White Rice is the perfect start.

This Mexican Street Corn Salad is easy and so tasty.

And don’t forget the Refried Black Beans or Instant Pot Black Beans. Pico de Gallo and sour cream are favorite toppings, too.

More Chipotle Copycat Recipes

Sometimes you just need a little Chipotle in your life. If you don’t want to leave the house, whip up any of these copycat recipes to get your fix.

Cilantro Lime Rice and Guacamole are classics.

You can easily make your own Chipotle Burrito Bowl and fill it with Fajita Veggies.

Or, opt for Barbacoa Tacos with Chipotle Corn Salsa.

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 2 votes

Chipotle Chicken Recipe

Chipotle Chicken is a super flavorful yet easy recipe for making the restaurant favorite at home. Chicken breasts are pounded thin, marinated in a chipotle in adobo sauce, then cooked until juicy and tender.
Copycat Chipotle chicken is easy to make at home.
Yield 6 servings
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
Total 55 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1 ¼-1 ½ lbs. chicken breasts or thighs
  • ¼ cup chipotle chiles in adobo sauce 1 chile + sauce
  • ¼ cup red onion finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. chile powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. oregano dried
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. oil divided

Instructions 

  • Add chipotle chiles and adobo sauce to a food processor or blender along with the diced onion, minced garlic, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, oregano, sugar, salt, black pepper, and 2 tablespoons of oil. Process on high speed for 20-30 seconds or until smooth and combined.
  • If using chicken breasts, pound the chicken with a meat mallet until it’s no more than 1-inch thick and cut into four 5-6 ounce pieces.
  • Add the chicken to a large bowl and pour the chipotle marinade on top. Toss chicken until it is well coated and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  • After marinating, add the remaining tablespoon of oil to a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Wait for it to heat up, about 1 minute, and then add the chicken. Cook for 7-8 minutes per side if cooking breasts, or 9-10 minutes per side if cooking thighs. Brush the chicken with any remaining marinade halfway through cooking. You’ll know the chicken is done cooking when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees and the middle is no longer pink.
  • Serve immediately with a sprinkle of finely chopped cilantro or dice and serve in a Chipotle Burrito Bowl.

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 2 votes

Video

Notes

Meal Prep and Storage

  • How to prep ahead of time: You can make up the marinade up to 2 to 3 days in advance, or make the marinade and combine with the chicken the night before (but not more than 24 hours ahead of time.)
  • How to store: Place leftover chipotle chicken in an airtight container or Ziploc bag and keep in the fridge for up to 3 to 4 days.
  • How to freeze: Cooked chicken will last in the freezer in a freezer-safe container for up to 4 to 5 months.
  • How to reheat: For best results, warm chicken up in the microwave or a skillet over medium-low heat.

Nutrition

Calories: 197kcal, Carbohydrates: 5g, Protein: 21g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 0.04g, Cholesterol: 60mg, Sodium: 603mg, Potassium: 417mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 302IU, Vitamin C: 4mg, Calcium: 35mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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