Enjoy this Chipotle chicken recipe from the comfort of your own home. Not only is it crazy-easy to make, but it should save you a few bucks to boot!
This copycat recipe is juicy, tender, and bursting with flavor. Plus, it costs a fraction of what you’d pay if you were to eat out.
Like most people, I have a serious weakness for Chiptole. From their heavenly guacamole to the delicious tacos and burrito bowls, I just can’t get enough.
But my wallet keeps me from rushing there every time a craving hits. So instead, I just make it at home!
This Chipotle chicken recipe makes a close replica of the OG, which means it’s hella delicious.
Bathed in an aromatic Mexican spice blend, it’s packed with flavor, super versatile, and terrific in burritos, tacos, rice bowls, and more.
Copycat Chipotle Chicken Recipe
To make this timeless classic, chicken thighs are marinated for hours in a wet rub made of chipotle and ancho chile peppers, herbs, and spices.
Marinating doesn’t only give the chicken fantastic flavors but makes it extra tender, too.
Then, the chicken is grilled to perfection, adding a smokey flavor to the already tasty dish.
And just in case you’re wondering – no, it’s not spicy.
Chipotle and ancho chiles are considered mild peppers. So while this dish has some level of heat to it, it won’t burn your tongue.
I’ve even served this to kids, and their plates were empty within minutes.
This recipe has two main elements: the chicken and the marinade.
I use boneless chicken thighs here because I like to ensure the meat is tender and juicy.
Of course, you can use chicken breast if you prefer, but note that it’s more prone to drying out since it’s white meat.
This wet rub made with chipotle and ancho chile peppers, olive oil, and spices gives the chicken its robust flavor.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Chipotle Chile Peppers – These are fully ripe, red jalapeños that are dried and smoked. The riper the jalapeños, the higher the capsaicin content. That said, chipotle is slightly hotter than regular jalapeños.
- Ancho Chile Peppers – These are also dried and smoked peppers, but with poblanos instead of jalapeños. Poblanos are milder in heat than jalapeños but have a fantastic flavor.
- Onion and Garlic – The OG Chipotle chicken marinade doesn’t contain onions, but I think they make the chicken taste better.
- Cumin and Oregano – For extra spice.
- Salt and Pepper – To taste.
- Olive Oil – To moisten the dry rub and create a creamy marinade.
How to Cook Chipotle Chicken
This recipe is super easy, but it also calls for a LOT of waiting. So with that in mind, you’ll want to be sure to plan ahead!
Step 1: Rehydrate the chipotle and ancho chiles.
Soak them in water and let them sit for at least 10-12 hours.
When they’re soft, slice the peppers open and scrape off the seeds. If you want a spicier dish, leave the seeds on.
Step 2: Make the marinade.
Blend the peppers, onion, garlic, and herbs and spices in a food processor until it forms a paste. Add the olive oil and blend again until smooth.
Step 3: Pound and marinade the chicken.
Place the chicken inside a Ziploc bag and pound it flat with a meat mallet or rolling pin. Add the marinade and seal the bag.
Massage the chicken, so it gets coated with the marinade, then let it sit in the fridge for 8 hours.
Step 4: Grill the chicken.
Grilling is the second most critical part of making this as tasty as possible. Use medium-high heat for about 5-10 minutes.
A thermometer is the best way to test for doneness. Cooked chicken has an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 5: Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes.
Slice and enjoy!
Tips for the Best Chipotle Chicken
- The length of marinading is subjective, but ideally, the chicken should soak in the liquid rub for at least 8 hours to absorb all its flavors. However, if you’re in a time crunch, try to give it at least 30 minutes. Just keep in mind that the longer the chicken marinades, the tastier and more tender it’ll be.
- Allow the chicken to marinate in the fridge, not on the counter. Placing the chicken at room temperature exposes it to bacteria which can lead to food poisoning.
- This recipe calls for slow-soaking the chipotle and ancho chiles to rehydrate them, which takes about 10-12 hours. If you don’t have that long, you can quick-soak them instead.
- To quick-soak, pour boiling water into the bowl of chiles. Let them soak for 20 minutes, nudging them from time to time to ensure they’re fully submerged.
- If you want spicier chicken, leave the seeds in. That’s where a lot of the fire comes from!
- Can’t find chipotle and ancho chiles? Make a simplified version by using one teaspoon each of ground chipotle and ancho.
- When grilling, don’t go below or beyond medium heat (350-375 degrees Fahrenheit). This is the most ideal temperature range that’ll get you perfectly cooked chicken, inside and out.
- Store leftover chicken in an airtight container. It will be good in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Garnish the chicken with parsley, fresh dill, chives, or a mix of all three. It’s optional but makes it look better.
- If you find the chicken too spicy, cut down the heat by sprinkling a bit of lemon juice on top. Lime will work too!
- You can also balance the heat by serving the chicken with mayo, guacamole, or cold sour cream. That said, if you’re serving it in a burrito with rice and other veggies, that should help tone it down too.
How to Cook Chipotle Chicken on the Stovetop
While grilling is the best way to cook Chipotle chicken, we all know it’s not the most practical method.
Thankfully, you can also cook it on the stove. Here’s how:
- Make the rub and marinate the chicken as instructed. Every step is the same here.
- Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the marinated chicken and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the bottom has browned.
- Reduce the heat to medium and flip the chicken over to cook the other side for 5-7 minutes, or until cooked through. Cooked chicken has an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit – use a meat thermometer to check.
Other Cooking Methods
If the stovetop isn’t an option, you can also cook Chipotle chicken in the slow cooker or the oven. Here’s how:
Slow Cooker Chipotle Chicken
- Make the rub as instructed.
- Coat the chicken with the rub – no need to pound the meat.
- Place the coated chicken in the slow cooker and cook on high for 3 hours or low for 6.
Oven-Baked Chipotle Chicken
- Make the rub and marinate the chicken as instructed.
- Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 18-20 minutes.
How to Serve Chipotle Chicken
There are TONS of ways to serve Chipotle chicken! You can enjoy it on its own or with your favorite dip.
I love this dish with bleu cheese or Ranch dressing and a big pile of fries!
Or, you can use it as an ingredient in your favorite Tex-Mex dishes, such as:
You can also make a colorful burrito bowl filled with cilantro rice, black beans, corn, salsa, pico de gallo, cheese, guacamole, and sour cream.
Of course, don’t forget the Chipotle chicken!
It also makes for a great salad and pasta topping.
Seriously, the possibilities are endless.
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