This copycat Chipotle chicken recipe is chicken thighs marinated in a blend of chilies, garlic and herbs, then cooked to tender and golden brown perfection. This chicken tastes just like what you would find at Chipotle restaurant!
My whole family loves to eat at Chipotle restaurant, so I’ve started making some of these dishes at home. We adore their famous Chipotle carnitas, Chipotle barbacoa, cilantro lime rice, Chipotle guacamole, and this smoky and savory chicken.
What is chipotle chicken made of?
Chipotle uses a marinade to flavor its chicken. The marinade is made from the following ingredients:
- Onion: While this recipe is often made with white onion, I like to use red onion because it has a milder, sweeter flavor.
- Ancho Chile: This is a mild type of dried chile that is typically used in Mexican cuisine. You can either buy whole dried chilies and soak them until they get soft, or else use ancho powder. I’m using ancho chile powder here because it’s easier to locate in most grocery stores.
- Garlic: Use freshly chopped garlic for the best flavor.
- Adobo Sauce: Chipotle chiles are sold in cans of adobo sauce. This ingredient can be found in the international foods aisle of most grocery stores. The sauce has an intensely smoky flavor, but is not overly spicy. If you prefer that your chicken have some spice to it, you can also mince 1-2 chipotle peppers and add them to the marinade.
- Oil: The Chipotle restaurant uses rice bran oil, which is a neutral flavored oil. I have found that it’s not easy to locate this oil at the store, so I use olive oil, or another neutral flavored oil.
- Herbs and Spices: This marinade also includes traditional Mexican seasonings such as cumin and oregano for added flavor.
How do you make chipotle chicken?
Start by placing all of the marinade ingredients in a blender, then process until a mostly smooth liquid forms. Pour the marinade into a large bowl or a resealable plastic bag. Add chicken thighs to the marinade, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Remove the chicken from the marinade, then cook it using your preferred method. Let the chicken rest, then cut it into slices or chunks and serve.
Tips for the perfect dish
- I really prefer to use chicken thighs because they are more flavorful than chicken breasts and also less likely to dry out. That being said, if you prefer white meat, chicken breasts will also work.
- You can let the chicken sit in the marinade for up to 12 hours. Any longer than that and the texture of the chicken may start to change.
- I typically grill my Chipotle chicken, either outside on a grill or indoors on a grill pan. When the weather is cool and I don’t feel like grilling, I bake the chicken in the oven.
- Leftover chicken will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can also freeze any extra cooked chicken for up to 2 months.
How to serve chipotle chicken
The beauty of this recipe is that the chicken can be served in so many different ways.
- Burrito Bowl: Make my super popular burrito bowls, but use this chicken instead of the chicken marinade listed in the recipe.
- Tacos: Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces, then place in warm tortillas with lettuce, salsa and cheese.
- Enchiladas: Dice or shred the cooked chicken, then roll it up in tortillas and top with sauce to make the best green chile chicken enchiladas.
- Soup: Chop up any leftover chicken to make a Mexican chicken soup, or a chicken tortilla soup.
- Fajitas: Use this marinade to make chicken fajitas! Cut the marinated chicken into slices, then sear in a pan along with bell peppers and onions. Serve with tortillas, beans, guacamole, salsa and sour cream.
More Mexican style recipes to try
Chipotle Chicken Video
- 1/2 cup red onion coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup olive oil or neutral flavored oil such as rice bran oil or vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic chopped
- 2 tablespoons adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- Place the red onion, water, olive oil, ancho chile powder, garlic, adobo sauce, salt, pepper, oregano and cumin in a blender or food processor.
- Blend until you have a mostly smooth mixture.
- Pour the marinade into a large bowl or resealable gallon sized bag. Add the chicken and coat with the marinade.
- Refrigerate the chicken for at least 1 hour, or up to 12 hours.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade. Heat a grill over medium high heat, or preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Grill the chicken for 7-8 minutes per side or until a thermometer registers at least 165 degrees F.
- OR bake the chicken for 20-25 minutes until cooked through.
- Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes. Cut into slices or cubes, then serve immediately.