This copycat recipe for Chipotle chicken is spot-on, and arguably even better than the original restaurant favorite! The chicken can sit in the marinade overnight for an easy weeknight dinner. Cook the chicken on the stove top, in the oven, on the grill, or in the air fryer, and then use it in your favorite Mexican meal.

Cooked Chipotle chicken sliced and on a cutting board.

Many years ago, my husband suggested replica Chipotle burritos for lunch, and while I will get either chicken or barbacoa in my burrito, burrito bowl, or tacos, my husband is a straight-up chicken burrito lover, so I knew that’s what I’d make. 

A round of searching for the perfect Chipotle chicken recipe led me to this amazing marinade. When my husband smelled it, he said he just wanted to eat it by the spoonful. It’s amazing and makes the BEST flavorful, juicy chicken!

Ingredients for the Chipotle Chicken Marinade

This marinade is phenomenal and gives the chicken all of its flavor. It comes together quickly and smells phenomenal! Here is what we use:

Ingredients for Chipotle chicken marinade prepped and labeled.
  • Red Onion + Garlic – The base of the aromatics for the marinade.
  • Adobo Sauce – This is from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (you can freeze and save the peppers and any additional sauce for future uses).
  • Olive Oil – Or you can use your favorite cooking oil.
  • Ancho Chile Powder – This specialty chili powder is sometimes available in supermarkets with a large international spice section but can also be purchased online.
  • Cumin, Oregano, Salt, and Pepper – Cumin and oregano are standard Mexican spices and impart a sweet smokiness.
  • Chicken Thighs – Boneless skinless chicken thighs are perfect for this recipe; they absorb the marinade well and stay nice and juicy with no fear of drying out, which can sometimes happen when cooking chicken breasts.

The marinade could not be simpler to make – add the onion, garlic, adobo sauce, olive oil, chile powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper to a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Pour into a measuring cup and add enough water to reach 1 cup. 

Poke holes all over the chicken with a fork, then combine the chicken and marinade in a resealable plastic bag, turning it over so that the marinade coats all of the chicken.

The chicken can be marinated for an hour or up to one full day. Of course, the longer you let it stew in that marinade, the more the flavor will soak into that chicken.

How to Cook the Chicken

You can cook the chicken by baking, grilling, or using an air fryer, but I really, really recommend that you sauté in a pan, preferably a cast iron skillet if you have one. Doing so will guarantee a wonderfully crusted exterior, which is this chicken’s creme de la creme. 

It’s super simple; here’s how we cook it:

  1. Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. 
  2. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. 
  3. Add the chicken to the pan and cook, turning occasionally, until completely cooked through, 165 to 175 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. (I recommend cooking in two batches and adding more olive oil in between if needed).
  4. Remove the chicken to a large cutting board and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes. Slice or chop the chicken as desired. 
Three photos side-by-side: marinade ingredients in food processor, marinade in measuring cup, and chicken thighs on a cutting board with holes being poked in with a fork.
Three photos side-by-side: Pouring marinade over chicken in ziploc bag, marinaded chicken in sealed ziploc bag, and chicken being cooked in a pan.

Enjoy!!

Ways to Enjoy This Chipotle Chicken

You could use this chicken in any scenario that involves chicken, but the most obvious (or most popular) is to make burritos or a burrito bowl with it. Use the chicken as the base and add your favorite toppings:

You can also use this chicken as a jumping-off point for any of the following:

  • Chicken tacos
  • Chicken fajitas
  • Chicken enchiladas
  • Salads
  • Chicken wraps

To round out your meal, serve tres leches cakealfajores, or churros for dessert!

Bowl of sliced Chipotle chicken with corn tortillas and cilantro in the background.

Recipe Tips and Notes

  • Chicken – While chicken thighs are the preferred meat for this recipe, you can also make this recipe with chicken breasts.
  • Spice Level – I would give this a mild spiciness level; we have family members who are pretty averse to spice and have eaten without an issue.
  • Adobo Sauce – You will not need all of the sauce from the can of chipotle peppers, but you can freeze the remainder (use an ice cube tray for easy measuring!) and the chipotle peppers for another recipe.
  • Storage – Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Freezing – You can freeze the marinade, the marinaded raw chicken, and the cooked chicken. Use an airtight, freezer-safe resealable bag or container. Thaw the marinade or the marinaded chicken in the refrigerator overnight before using.

More Favorite Mexican Recipes

Enjoy these other Mexican main dishes for dinner!

Watch the Recipe Video:

If you make this Chipotle chicken recipe and love it, remember to stop back and give it a 5-star rating – it helps others find the recipe! ❤️️

Copycat Chipotle Chicken Recipe

The key to this amazing copycat recipe for Chipotle chicken is the marinade, and getting a nice sear on the chicken for those crunchy bits of cooked marinade!
4.95 (122 ratings)

Ingredients

  • ½ medium red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons adobo sauce, from a small can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Water, as needed
  • 3 to 4 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs

Instructions 

  • Make the Marinade: Place the onion, garlic, adobo sauce, olive oil, chile powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper into a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Pour the marinade into a 1-cup measuring cup and add enough water to reach to 1 cup.
  • Using a fork, poke holes all over the chicken thighs and place in a resealable plastic bag. Pour the marinade over, seal, and use your hands to move the marinade around so that all of the chicken is evenly coated. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
  • Cook the Chicken: Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken to the pan and cook, turning occasionally, until completely cooked through, 165 to 175 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. (I recommend cooking in two batches and adding more olive oil in between, if needed). Remove the chicken to a large cutting board and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes. Slice or chop the chicken, as desired. Serve in a burrito, in a salad, or on its own!

Notes

  • Chicken – While chicken thighs are the preferred meat for this recipe, you can also make this recipe with chicken breasts.
  • Spice Level – I would give this a mild spiciness level; we have family members who are pretty averse to spice and have eaten without an issue.
  • Adobo Sauce – You will not need all of the sauce from the can of chipotle peppers, but you can freeze the remainder (use an ice cube tray for easy measuring!) and the chipotle peppers for another recipe.
  • Storage – Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Freezing – You can freeze the marinade, the marinaded raw chicken, and the cooked chicken. Use an airtight, freezer-safe resealable bag or container. Thaw the marinade or the marinaded chicken in the refrigerator overnight before using.
Nutritional values are based on one serving
Calories: 343kcal, Carbohydrates: 4g, Protein: 44g, Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 215mg, Sodium: 1838mg, Potassium: 644mg, Fiber: 1g, Vitamin A: 860IU, Vitamin C: 1.5mg, Calcium: 50mg, Iron: 2.8mg

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!

Photography by Dee Frances

This recipe was originally published in May 2016.