Copycat Chipotle Chicken made with a handful of basic ingredients. This succulent chicken recipe results in amazing flavor, just like your favorite takeout chipotle chicken. I have also included a mild version in the recipe card below.
If you’re a frequenter of the fast food chain, Chipotle Mexican Grill, you’ll be delighted to know I have reverse engineered Chipotle’s chicken so that you can enjoy it at home to your heart’s delight.
Chipotle burrito bowls and Chipotle burritos have been a staple for me ever since my college days. They’re just so jam packed with fresh flavor, are nice and filling due to the high protein content, and are just so crave-worthy.
While I’ve got no qualms sauntering into a Chipotle to get a burrito bowl to go, I also adore making them at home.
This way, I’m in control of the ingredients and I can make a big batch of chicken for meal prepping meals throughout the week.
Let’s discuss the simple ingredients for Chipotle chicken. You can find all of them at any grocery store!
Ingredients for Copycat Chipotle Chicken:
Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs: Skinless chicken thighs are the the reason we’re all here! While skinless chicken breasts work too, I find dark meat has more flavor due to their fat content.
For this reason, I recommend using thighs over boneless chicken breasts because you’re guaranteed moist chicken with the best flavor versus running the risk of dry chicken.
Chipotle Chiles in Adobo Sauce: Canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce is the main ingredient that gives the chicken that classic chipotle flavor. It is also what gives the chicken spicy flavor.
You can increase or decrease the amount according to your personal taste. I have included instructions below for a mild version of this recipe. You can find this ingredient in the aisle labeled “Mexican Food” or “Ethnic Food” at your local grocery store.
Avocado Oil: A little oil brings more flavor to the marinade and also helps lubricate the meat during the cooking process. You can use olive oil or vegetable oil if you prefer.
Fresh Lime Juice: A little fresh lime juice brings a delicious citrus flavor and a nice acidic zing to the chicken. You can also use rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar or lemon juice here.
Red Onion & Garlic: Fresh onion and fresh garlic cloves add a big boost of flavor, making the chicken so inviting.
If you don’t have one of them on hand, onion powder or garlic powder can be used as a replacement although I do recommend sticking with the fresh ingredients if at all possible for the best results.
Paprika, Dried Oregano, Ground Cumin, Sea Salt and Black Pepper: These seasonings add warm flavor without adding spice. If you have ancho chili powder on hand, feel free to add 1 to 3 teaspoons.
Now that we’ve covered the simple ingredients, let’s make this delicious copycat Chipotle chicken recipe!
How to Make Copycat Chipotle Mexican Grill Chicken:
If you don’t have a small apparatus for blending food, you can finely chop everything with a sharp knife and mix the marinade ingredients together in a small bowl.
Transfer the raw chicken thighs and the chipotle chicken marinade to a large zip lock bag or a large bowl. Seal the bag (or cover the bowl with plastic wrap) and swish everything around until the chicken pieces are well-coated in marinade.
Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes, ideally overnight.
Bring the marinated chicken out of the refrigerator and place it on the counter to allow it to come to room temperature about 15 to 20 minutes prior to cooking. This ensures the chicken cooks evenly so that it gets a nice sear on the outside while cooking the inside.
Heat a large skillet (both a cast iron skillet or a large nonstick skillet work) over medium-high heat with 1 to 2 tablespoons of avocado oil (or cooking oil of choice), or enough oil to coat the surface of the skillet. Note: a grill pan, an outdoor grill, or air fryer work too.
Allow the skillet to heat up for a few minutes until it becomes sizzling hot.
Carefully transfer the marinated chicken thighs to the hot skillet and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, or until a golden-brown crust forms.
Flip and cook for another 6 to 8 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of each chicken thigh to verify the internal temperature. Chicken is safe to eat once it has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees F or higher.
Chicken thighs generally taste best with the best texture after reaching 185 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place chicken on large cutting board and let the chicken rest for 10 minutes.
Use a sharp knife to cut the chicken into slices, or chop it into small pieces.
Serve chipotle chicken with your choice of side dishes, or use it in burrito bowls, burritos, or salads.
I love making chicken burrito bowls with cilantro lime rice, corn salsa, guacamole, homemade red chili tomato salsa and sometimes Instant Pot black beans, fajita veggies (sauteed onions and bell peppers) and grated cheese. I find these toppings closely mimic what you get at the Chipotle restaurant.
Choose your favorite toppings for a chicken burrito bowl like pico de gallo, sour cream, brown rice, pinto beans, cabbage slaw, romaine lettuce, and more!
You can enjoy the juicy chipotle chicken in different ways for easy lunches or a delicious dinner any night of the week that never gets old.
Store any leftover chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Is This Recipe Spicy?:
This chipotle copycat recipe is, in fact, spicy. For those who enjoy spicy food, it is just the right level of spice without being over the top. I have included instructions below for those who are spice averse and prefer mild food.
How to Make This Recipe Mild:
The recipe as written is spicy. If you’re looking for a delicious mild version of this Mexican inspired chicken recipe, here’s what you do.
Omit the chipotle chilies in adobo sauce and instead use ⅓ cup of canned enchilada sauce. You can use your favorite store-bought enchilada sauce or homemade enchilada sauce for this. I use Hatch Organic Red Enchilada Sauce.
In addition to this replacement, replace the ancho chili powder with 1 teaspoon of paprika.
This will result in fabulously flavorful mild Mexican chicken.
And that’s it! An amazing copycat Chipotle recipe that you’ll want to put on constant rotation.
The way I see it, this is a great recipe for meal prep, as it is so versatile and easy to make in bulk. Make a double batch or a triple batch on repeat!
Plus, the whole family will love it! Just be sure to make the mild version if you’re serving kids who don’t like spicy food.
Make it the next time you’re craving spicy chicken or Mexican food.
Leave a comment below letting me know how you love serving your chipotle chicken!
If you love easy chicken recipes like this one, also try out these reader favorites.
More Healthy Chicken Recipes:
- 5-Ingredient Crock Pot Mexican Shredded Chicken
- Instant Pot Whole Chicken
- Honey Herb Chicken Drumsticks
- The Best Grilled Chicken Thighs
- Asian Baked Chicken Breasts
- Immunity-Boosting Turmeric Chicken Soup
- Instant Pot Chile Verde Shredded Chicken
Enjoy this easy chicken recipe for busy weeknight meals!
Copycat Chipotle Chicken
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 2 Tbsp avocado oil plus more for cooking
- ⅓ cup red onion finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce + 1 Tbsp adobo sauce*
- 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
- 2 tsp paprika*
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground oregano
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- Bring the marinated chicken out of the refrigerator and place it on the counter to allow it to come to room temperature about 15 to 20 minutes prior to cooking. This ensures the chicken cooks evenly so that it gets a nice sear on the outside while cooking the inside.
- Heat a large skillet (both a cast iron skillet or a large nonstick skillet work) over medium-high heat with 1 to 2 tablespoons of avocado oil (or cooking oil of choice), or enough oil to coat the surface of the skillet. Note: a grill pan, an outdoor grill, or air fryer work too.
- Allow the skillet to heat up for a few minutes until it becomes sizzling hot.
- Serve chipotle chicken with your choice of side dishes or use it in burrito bowls, burritos, or salads. I love making chicken burrito bowls with cilantro lime rice, corn salsa, guacamole, homemade salsa, black beans, fajita veggies (sauteed onions and bell peppers) and grated cheese. I find these toppings closely mimic what you get at the Chipotle restaurant.
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