My copycat Chipotle Chicken Recipe makes beautifully seasoned, charred, and grilled meat for a spicy exterior and unbelievably juicy center. It takes a couple of hours to marinate, but you can’t deny the results: juicy and full of peppery flavors from the herbs, seasonings, and adobo chiles. Learn how to make Chipotle Mexican Grill chicken in less than 45 minutes and become your friends’ new favorite fast food joint!
Chipotle™ has mastered Mexican flavors. I think we can all agree on that!
And with this Chipotle copycat chicken recipe, it doesn’t matter if I happen to have a location near me or not. I can make it right in my own kitchen!
Chipotle Chicken Recipe
This cult favorite chicken is popular for a reason. The marinade tenderizes and flavors the meat with herbaceous yet spicy seasonings.
Grilled to juicy perfection, Chipotle Mexican Grill chicken can be thrown right into any quesadilla, fajita, taco, burrito… You name it!
With a countertop grill, I get to enjoy my fave barbecue recipes whenever I want!
Ingredients Notes and Substitutions
- Chicken – I like to use breast meat for this Chipotle chicken recipe because it’s delicious, tender, and lower in fat than thighs.
However, you can use either! In fact, the restaurant uses thigh meat.
- Chipotles in Adobo – These little peppers are special: dried and soaked in a spicy, tangy sauce, they’re as acidic as they are hot!
As an alternative, you could use regular whole chipotles and an additional 2 tablespoons of adobo sauce.
- Cumin, Chili Pepper, and Oregano – A mix of warm and earthy, hot and spicy, and peppery.
While this combination gets you closest to the restaurant taste, you can add more of your favorites to the chipotle chicken marinade.
Thyme, paprika, and onion powder would fit right in.
- Olive Oil – The original Chipotle chicken recipe uses rice bran oil, which you can use if you’d like!
Canola or sunflower oil are two more unassuming options that won’t change the overall flavor of the dish.
Tips for Making Chipotle Copycat Chicken
- Don’t marinate for too long
It’s fine to let the meat sit in the chipotle chicken marinade overnight, but don’t let it marinate for any longer than 24 hours!
The lime juice is acidic and will continue to break down the fibers in the poultry, eventually causing it to get mushy and downright gross.
- Control the heat
This copycat Chipotle chicken can be made less spicy by toning down the amount of adobo or black pepper that you use.
Alternatively, use more if you really want to spice things up!
- Don’t disturb the chicken
If you want those iconic grill marks on your copycat Chipotle chicken, don’t mess with the meat other than when you need to flip it.
This will also help keep the marinade from dripping and making a mess on the grate.
Storing and Reheating Leftovers
Cooked chicken will remain safe to eat in your refrigerator for up to 4 days. Longer than that, and you get into bacteria territory — and that is not a place you want to be!
Be sure to store leftover Chipotle copycat chicken in an airtight container to maximize its shelf life.
To reheat, you can microwave in 20-second bursts, toss into a pan with some olive oil, or even slide into the oven.
For each option, just cook until the meat is warmed through and not a moment longer.
Chipotle Chicken Recipe FAQ
The original Chipotle chicken recipe uses thigh meat, not breasts as we do in this recipe.
Keep in mind, however, that the restaurant makes it in large quantities and well in advance, not just before serving as we’re doing here.
So breast meat is more than juicy and tender enough to use here!
The oil used at Chipotle Mexican Grill for chicken is rice bran oil.
They use it in almost everything, including their salad dressing and rice, because it doesn’t have too much of a flavor on its own and it’s also hypoallergenic.
You can certainly use rice bran if you like, but for my copycat Chipotle chicken, I use olive oil.
A whole lot of good stuff! Adobo peppers, cumin, chili pepper, oregano, olive oil, onion, garlic, lime juice, and just a sprinkling of good ol’ salt and pepper.
It’s herbaceous, peppery, and acidic — just what you want in a marinade!
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours.
Other Easy Mexican Recipes
Copycat Chipotle Chicken Recipe
- 1/4 cup diced chipotles in adobo, or 2 whole chipotles + 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
- 2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili pepper
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, or avocado oil
- 1/4 large red onion, roughly chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- 4 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons lime juice, (1 lime)
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- Place all of the ingredients, except for the chicken, in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Process on high speed until a smooth paste forms.
- Pour the marinade over the chicken breasts and stir to fully coat each chicken breast with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 3 hours.
- Preheat grill or stovetop grill pan. Brush grates with additional olive oil, if desired. Remove chicken from marinade and discard excess marinade. Due to the risk of bacterial contamination, do not reuse or consume marinade.
- Grill chicken breasts for 8-10 minutes on each side, or until the center of the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
- Allow cooked chicken to rest for 5 minutes before chopping or slicing into pieces.
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.
Originally published August 2022, updated and republished September 2023
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