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 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?
- Pound the chicken to an even thickness about ½ inch thick
- Add all of the ingredients into a large, resealable plastic bag. Mix well after closing then place in the refrigerator for 6 hours.
- 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
More Copycat Recipes
- Panda Express Orange Chicken (Copycat)
- Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana Soup (Copycat)
- Olive Garden Italian Salad Dressing (Copycat)
- Olive Garden Five Cheese Ziti al Forno (Copycat)
- Cheesecake Factory Chicken Madeira (Copycat)
Did I mention I have the ENTIRE Panda Express Menu?!
- 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
- Pound the chicken to an even thickness, about a half inch thick.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add chopped chicken and 2 tablespoons of oil to a large pan on medium high heat to crisp for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Thank you for such a tasty, easy, and repeatable recipe. Home cooks appreciate the time you took to share! One of my favorites.
Delicious as I followed the recipe and doubled it. I made copycat chipotle beans for rice bowls…mmmm. And topped with sliced avocado, cilantro. Feeds a crowd or great for meal prep.
Made this chicken for burrito bowls for a group of about 30 high school volleyball players. It was so good, everyone loved it!
I am not a cook but I am so proud of myself! I was looking for a go to recipe for chicken meal prep and this was the one. There’s lots of recipe that include canned adobo sauce with chipotle peppers and I just didn’t want to keep wasting a can. I was able to find the chipotle Chilli powder on Amazon and that’s all I needed! Thank you soooo much Sabrina, I’m a new fan!
Just fyi in the adobo- I open a can and use what I need. Then I scoop some into snack ziplocks and freeze in a freezer bag. Works well. I too hate waisting a can for just one recipe!
Can you mix this marinade up and refrigerate it?
This was amazing, all I could find was dried chipotle peppers, How would I sub that in?
We tried this last summer or the summer before and we absolutely LOVE it! We don’t grill year round so it’s always a treat to start grilling in the summer months and add this to the rotation. Thanks!
Hello this is a taste recipe, but chipotle only uses the chicken thighs.
We LOVE this recipe and make it a couple times a month! Have you ever substituted steak for chicken to copycat the steak at Chipotle? This is on my menu this week and thought about it…thanks!
Super delicious marinade! Used breast tenderloins and marinated for 2 hours. Definitely a keeper!
This recipe is phenomenal. I use it to curb my Chipotle cravings. I will add it to a copy cat chipotle salad which includes kale, black beans, pico, guac and lime juice. The chicken goes perfectly and is extremely easy to make. It’s in my heavy rotation of meals.
Tired of spending so much at Chipotle for stuff we could make at home, I decided to try this (along with copycat beans and rice). It was really for my kids since I don’t even eat there, so I have no idea if it really tastes like Chipotle! 😉 But wow, this marinade was legit! Sooooo tasty! I used thighs just because it was what I had, and I grilled them on our gas grill. So flavorful. I will use this marinade again and again. Thank you!
I think that Chipotle uses chicken thighs which are much more flavorful than breasts.
It’s not what I was thinking it would be but is spicy but not at all as tasty as I was expecting
Chipotle’s doesn’t use powder they use the same adobo that is used in their Barbados, and marinate it over night
I haven’t tried it yet but am looking forward to it. I’m confused that no ones recipe includes bacon fat that is obviously in it. At least it is in our locations.
I can’t believe how similar this tasted but it’s better because it’s even healthier. Chipotle uses dark meat and I’m told sugar in their marinade so for this to not and taste so close is awesome.
This recipe is delicious! Thanks for sharing it.
This chicken is so yummy. I use avocado oil and grill the whole chicken breasts on a grill pan, then cut them into cubes and grill again. We use it in our home made chipotle bowls. The whole family loves this recipe, thank you so much!
Hi! I’m super excited to try this! ? I was wondering if I planned on baking the chicken, do I still need the oil? Or should I remove the oil if I plan on just baking it. Thanks in advance!
I just made this as in its still sitting in the pan cooling but I had to immediately comment on how good this is. I sliced the chicken breast into thin strips then marinated and holy heck it’s so delicious and smoky and tender. Thank you for the awesome recipe!
Do you think I can make the grilled chicken ahead of time and then do the second pan fry later to heat it before serving? Also, if I am serving it in tacos would slicing work also or would you stick to the cubes? Thanks!
Hello, of course you can make it ahead of time, whatever is easiest for you. As for how big you want the chicken to be in your tacos, shredding is perfectly fine. All depends on what you like.
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