Chipotle Chicken Recipe (Copycat)

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Chipotle Chicken (Copycat) recipe captures the exact Chipotle flavors for you at home with the chili, garlic, cumin and vinegar notes without leaving home! 

We love the magic of making restaurant favorites at home. Fill your Mexican buffet with Chipotle Barbacoa Beef, Chipotle Cilantro Lime White Rice, and Chipotle Corn Salsa and Chipotle Guacamole you don’t need a second mortgage for!

Chipotle Chicken Copycat Recipe
 Chipotle Chicken Recipe

Chipotle Chicken is a super flavorful, marinaded, grilled chicken you can make at home in no time at all. Then, once you’ve made it, you will literally top it on everything you can because it is so flavorful (yet healthy) that you will find yourself eating salads just to add this chicken on top. It is that good.

The first trick to achieving the same spicy and aromatic Chipotle chicken in your kitchen is to start with a seasoned marinade. Marinades use oils, herbs and spices to amplify flavor and to tenderize. This technique can be used on chicken, pork, beef and vegetables too. This Chipotle chicken marinade has a familiar list of ingredients– chipotle chili powder, dried oregano, and cumin can be found in multiple Chipotle menu items. You likely have these spices in your pantry already! The restaurant only uses a total of 51 ingredients and bases their recipes on the combination of smoky heat and deep Mexican herbs and spices. We can do the same at home.

The second trick for making copycat Chipotle chicken is to grill the marinated chicken on a medium high grill. An outdoor grill is great but you can sear chicken on an indoor grill pan as well to get that charred outer layer. Grilled chicken breasts risk drying out when cooked but you will overcome that trouble by pounding the chicken breasts into a thin, half-inch thickness BEFORE marinating. The chicken will cook quickly and you’ll keep all that juicy goodness inside your meat as it cooks on the grill.

How do i marinate chicken?

  1. Pound the chicken to an even thickness about ½ inch thick
  2. Add all of the ingredients into a large, resealable plastic bag. Mix well after closing then place in the refrigerator for 6 hours.
  3. Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade. Grill the chicken for 5-6 minutes a side on a medium high grill.

How long should I marinate chicken?

Most marinades are effective from anywhere from 2 hours to overnight. We recommend marinating with this chipotle chicken marinade for at least 6 hours to develop that restaurant quality flavor.

A great time saver for weeknight meals is to put the chicken in the marinade in the morning before work, then it is ready and waiting to be grilled when you get home.

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SAFE TEMPERATURE FOR COOKING CHICKEN:

When cooking (or grilling) chicken you must cook your chicken to a safe minimum cooking temperature of 165 degrees °F (per foodsafety.gov) to avoid any issues with possible contamination. While the chicken rests it actually holds this temperature which allows it to kill any germs that may be remaining, so remember to rest the chicken for 5 minutes before serving.

how do I get grill marks on chicken?

Heat the grill to medium high heat. Make sure to let the grill preheat completely. The chicken marinade contains oil so you don’t need to further oil the grill. Lay the chicken done away from you on the grill and let it stay in one position. The chicken will release from the grill on its own and then you can use tongs to flip the chicken over to the second side.

The most important part of getting the chicken to look the same as chipotle is the “double cooking” that chipotle does. Once the chicken breast has been cooked they chop it into small pieces, then continue to cook it on the griddle until the small pieces form their own crust. Do not skip this part of the cooking, it is essential. You can also see this cooking method used when I made my Halal Cart Chicken and Rice (Copycat), the texture and the flavors of the chicken are completely different than a classic Easy Grilled Chicken.

Alternative methods to cook chipotle chicken

Grilling chicken is the best way to mimic the style of food cooked at Chipotle Mexican Grill, but there are alternative methods you can use at home. This marinated chicken recipe can be cooked in the slow cooker, stove top, or baked in the oven.

  • Slow Cooker: Do not pound the chicken breasts if cooking in the slow cooker. Simply add all of the ingredients to the slow cooker and cook on high for 3 hours or on low for 6 hours.
  • Stove Top: Cut the chicken into cubes before marinating. Cook the chicken cubes in a large saucepan on the stove top until cooked through.
  • Oven Baked: Place the pounded and marinated chicken breasts on a baking tray and roast at 400° F for 18-20 minutes.

How to use Chipotle Chicken (Copycat) recipe

  • burritos
  • tacos
  • enchiladas
  • quesadillas
  • taquitos
  • salads
  • bowls

More Copycat Recipes

Did I mention I have the ENTIRE Panda Express Menu?!

Chipotle Chicken Copycat in pan

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Chipotle Chicken Recipe (Copycat)

5 from 19 votes
  • Yield: 6 servings
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Course: Main Course
  • Cuisine: Mexican
  • Author: Sabrina Snyder
Chipotle Chicken Recipe (Copycat) captures the exact Chipotle flavors for you at home with the chili, garlic, cumin and vinegar notes without leaving home!

Ingredients

  • 3 chicken breasts , boneless skinless
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 cup distilled vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic , minced
  • 6 tablespoons rice bran oil , divided (vegetable oil is ok)
  • 1/4 cup water

Instructions

Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

  1. Pound the chicken to an even thickness, about a half inch thick.
  2. Add all the ingredients together (save 2 tablespoons of oil) in a large ziplock bag (removing as much air as possible), mixing it well together after closing, and marinate for at least 6 hours.

  3. Remove from marinade and add to a medium high heat grill and cook for 5-6 minutes on each side until cooked through then chop roughly. 

  4. Add chopped chicken and 2 tablespoons of oil to a large pan on medium high heat to crisp for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Nutrition Information

Yield: 6 servings, Amount per serving: 261 calories, Calories: 261g, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 24g, Fat: 17g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 72mg, Sodium: 531mg, Potassium: 445mg, Vitamin A: 230g, Vitamin C: 2g, Calcium: 20g, Iron: 0.9g

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert.

Keyword: Chipotle Chicken Copycat Recipe
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Comments

  1. I’m not a commenter but I’m quite literally stopping in the middle of dinner to tell you this was AMAZING. I cooked it on the stovetop, marinade juices and all. It was/is so amazing. I made it with cilantro lime rice and it’s perfect and the VINEGAR is such a clever and perfect umami ingredient. Thank you for this!!!

  2. Looked up a chipotle chicken recipe and saw two which both looked pretty good but one had a huge amount of ratings while this didn’t. So I went with this one bc i knew it was going to be one of those delicious recipes that People just haven’t noticed yet and it was very good!

    If I could I’d eat chipotle every night and this was a great alternative. I meal prep so I’ll be using this recipe every week till I’m tired of it.

    I made this chicken recipe with some cooked bell peppers and onions on top of some brown rice. (:

  3. Made this tonight with Mexican red rice, grated cheese, guac, pico de gallo and warmed tortillas for like a burrito bowl effect. AMAZZZZING! Followed the recipe to a T, wouldn’t change a thing.
    Thank you!

  4. Hi Sabrina – it’s Sabrina again. What are your thoughts on saving a small portion of the virgin marinade to use during the second crisping of the chopped chicken in the skillet? Thanks 🙂

  5. Hi Sabrina – my name is Sabrina too! So one question, how long would you cook the chicken per side if using thinly sliced chicken breast? Thank you.

  6. Shout out to Sabrina, I made this as a Chicken Burrito Bowl and it cam out perfectly. It was sooo bomb, even my boyfriend was impressed and ready for seconds. I was craving Chipotle but I am living abroad and was like, lemme look online real quick. Founds Sabrinas recipe and it came out so good. Def gonna do again! Thank you chica!

  7. My family and I just moved from the US to the UK and have needed a taste of home. We tried your recipe and it was a big hit!! Spot on!!
    Thanks so much, really made our day!

  8. My boyfriend and I made this tonight (with the rice and black beans) as our local chipotle is closed due to lockdown. This was FABULOUS! Thank you so much

  9. Hi I was wondering if the vinegar is absolutely necessary or if I can substitute it for something else? My partner hates vinegar so I try my best to accommodate his taste buds

    1. I haven’t tested it but usually lemon or lime juice are good substitutes for vinegar. If you decide to try, I’d love to know how it turns out. Good luck!

  10. Hi! I am excited to try out your recipe, but am having some difficulty with finding chipotle chili powder. I continue to find chipotle chili pepper, but I’m not sure this is the same thing. If not – could you direct in where to find the powder? Thank you!

    1. I’m so sorry this comment got stuck and I just came across it. I know your meal is long gone now. The names are interchangeable as long as it is in powder form.

  11. Hi Sabrina! So glad I found your site. I can’t wait to try your recipes. Can you please tell me if this recipe can be frozen after you marinate the chicken and then defrost and cook it later? I’m trying to do more freezer meals and cook later during the week.

  12. This is very good, but I wouldn’t say it is the exact replica of Chipotle’s chicken. It was much more smokey in flavor than Chipotle’s. However, it is very good.

  13. THANK YOU Sabrina, This was a fabulous dish. Best of all, I had all the ingredients in my pantry. Five stars for easy preparation, five stars for easy grilling/pan frying and ten stars SUPERB SATISFACTION to the tastebuds. Grilling and pan frying makes this such a delicious recipe. We LOVED this recipe. I will be trying many more of your recipes!
    THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

  14. I’m trying this recipe for tomorrow’s dinner. Just put it in the fridge to marinate over night. We will let you know the results tomorrow! Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  15. This recipe is SO GOOD. It’s certainly a favorite in our house hold. My significant other loves chipotle and so this recipe has now become a weekly request. The only substitution that I make is instead of using water I use organic bone broth. If for some reason I didn’t have that on hand (we always do) I would use chicken stock. Just my personal preference. Otherwise I follow this recipe exactly and always double the qtys due to the amount of chicken that I make (usually 6-8 breast). I am so happy I found this recipe. Sabrina is so talented and I cannot wait to try her other recipes. If you don’t follow her on Instagram I strongly suggest you do. You will not regret it!

    1. You can tent it with foil for about 10 minutes before chopping to help be able to handle it better if you’d like but you don’t have to. Enjoy!

  16. How much chicken – 1 1/2 lbs? This makes it easier for me…what do you think about cooking the meat in an air fryer? Still pound it thin? I want to try and get my almost 14 year old to make this – she is oppositional to almost any kind of work in the kitchen – so not like me…I loved helping my mom cook.

  17. Hi I was looking forward to making this, however I do not have a grill. Do you mind telling me if it were to be possible only using the stovetop. If so do you mind letting me know an alternative cooking instruction like how long and what temperature? Thank you so much.

    1. This recipe can also be done on an indoor grill pan on the stovetop. I also give alternate instructions in the post above for making this in a slow cooker or baked in the oven as well. Hope that’s helpful!

  18. Very well detailed and written. You leave nothing out for “guess work”. Thank you so much for your obvious hard work!

  19. Love this recipe! It tastes much better than chipotle chicken. I love how I can have chicken that tastes close to chipotle’s chicken and have the ability to control the amount of salt used on the chicken. Great in burritos, in a bowl, or on a salad. I recommended this recipe to my mom and hope she will try it soon!

  20. I can’t say this tasted exactly like Chipotle but it definitely was tasty. I will also be the first say that it could’ve been the cook’s error (me). I also skipped the pan cooking and grilled it completely, it was yummy.

  21. Thank you so much Sabrina!! I’m so excited by how the chicken turned out. New favorite for sure!

  22. Made this tonight! It was awesome! We’re not able to get to our usual Chipotle during this time, so my hubby wanted me to learn to make it at home! Good job with this recipe, some people use ingredients that are not in my pantry, but this was attainable!!

  23. OMG! Literally so good, it tastes just like the real thing! Keeping this recipe forever! And no I’m not just saying that.

  24. PHENOMENAL!! Tastes EXACTLY like it!! I made cilantro lime brown rice, corn salsa, fajita peppers/onions, seasoned black beans & topped it w/white queso, creama & sauce. A lot of work to do it all but extremely good & worth it!!

  25. This was a absolutely delicious! My husband and I made chicken (grilled) bowls for dinner and we both agree they were better than Chipotle’s. This chicken marinade will definitely be falling into our regular rotation.

  26. I would substitute fresh lime juice for the water and vinegar. Also use olive oil instead of vegetable oil

  27. This sounds delicious and I’m going to attempt to make it this week.

    On a side note, I believe there is a typo near the top were you mentioned 51 ingredients:

    > The restaurant only uses a total of 51 ingredients and bases their recipes on the combination of smoky heat and deep Mexican herbs and spices. We can do the same at home.

  28. I see that everyone loves it. Does it compare to Chipotle? If so then I will buy the other spices. I have done this one time and it was not the same. Thank you in advance.

    1. I used 1/2 chicken thighs and half breast! It has great flavor even though I only marinated the seasoned chicken for like 3 hrs.

  29. Sabrina:
    Thank you for sharing this. We’ve been trying to copy Chipotle’s chicken marinade, because they have went up on their prices. Yeah, they were okay-priced when they didn’t complain about people asking for good serving sizes. Now, last time I went in there, they said that I asked for too much of each ingredient, and they wanted to charge me for a second bowl. So, I am no longer, NEVER GOING back. And, people also have gotten sick from eating Chipotles around where I am, because I think some of their food sanitizing is not as good as before. So, thank you for sharing. Their food is just too expensive now for what you get.

  30. Made this for Grandson graduation party, the night before! He loves it! We have warmers w/sternos! How do I keep this chicken from not drying out? Make another marinade & pour over, any suggestions? [email protected] Judy

    1. So sorry I’m just now seeing this. It got caught in my spam filter. I would suggest keeping it covered with foil to help keep it from drying out. How did it all turn out?

    2. Hello Judy,

      Most people don’t realize that Chipotle use boneless, skinless chicken thighs. It’s the reason why their chicken is so moist and flavorful. You may want to give thighs a try. It’s what I use to make chicken nachos and tacos.

      LaShonda

    1. Sorry I don’t have that information. You might be able to find an online resource that you can input the ingredients and it’ll help give you that information.

    1. THIS WAS DELICIOUS, thank you!!

      I am sitting on the couch like its thanksgiving dinner after making this! I coupled it with a lot of other copycat chipotle recipes and made burrito bowls which were fantastic. Although I think I shoulda marinated it more (ex overnight instead of exactly 6 hours) and I think it would taste better if I made it on a griddle/flat grill rather than normal grill
      Otherwise my new favorite chicken!!

  31. This chicken looks so tasty! I could use it on so many recipes! I use chicken all the time. It’d be great to have in my fridge or freezer ready for me!