This copycat Chipotle Chicken recipe will help you recreate the beloved restaurant dish in the comfort of your own kitchen. Cook this flavorful chicken on the stovetop or grill for an easy dinner at home.
I use this chicken to make copycat Chipotle Burrito Bowls and more!
Next time you’re craving Chipotle’s famous chicken, I highly suggest you give this recipe a try.
We are BIG fans of Chipotle in this house. Their signature chicken was the first thing I tried and I still choose it frequently. It’s amazing in burrito bowls and salads. And, I gotta say, I love that I can custom build a healthy meal for myself at a restaurant that is technically in the fast food category.
I have so much fun recreating restaurant recipes at home and this one was no exception. Chipotle includes a detailed ingredient list on their website which made things easy. Then, it was just a matter of creating a recipe around those ingredients that was home kitchen-friendly. The result is fabulous.
Table of contents
Why This Recipe Works
- Simple Ingredients: The Chipotle Chicken marinade utilizes ingredients that are stocked in most home kitchens.
- Alternate Cooking Methods: The chicken can be prepared on the stove or grill. I’ve included directions for both so you can enjoy this recipe all year long.
- Fast and Easy: The simple prep takes just minutes and after marinating, the chicken cooks quickly.
- Flavor: This recipe recreates the familiar flavors of Chipotle’s chicken so you can satisfy your cravings without leaving the house!
- Versatile: You can create an endless variety of meals from this chicken and the leftovers are great for meal prep.
Ingredients in Chipotle’s Chicken
Chipotle’s ingredients are listed below with my modifications to make this recipe home kitchen-friendly without compromising flavor.
- Chicken – You want to use thin-sliced chicken that is no more than ½-inch thick. This ensures the chicken will have a higher ratio of the flavorful marinade. And most importantly, it will cook more quickly for a super tender result.
- Vinegar – Chipotle uses distilled white vinegar in their recipe which came as a bit of a surprise. But then I tried it and found it to be the thing that had been missing from my previous tests! Vinegar does double duty to both tenderize the chicken and add a bit of tangy flavor. If you prefer not to use vinegar, fresh lime juice has a similar tenderizing effect and bright citrusy flavor.
- Oil – I substitute olive oil for the sunflower oil on the Chipotle ingredient list. Mostly because it’s heart healthy and it’s always stocked in my pantry.
- Chipotle chili – The chipotle chili pepper is a dried and smoked jalapeño which is the hallmark of Chipotle’s flavor profile. Finely ground it becomes chipotle chili powder which is a spicier, smoky version of regular chili powder. I mimic the flavor by combining regular chili powder with a little smoked paprika and cayenne. You get the same smoke and a touch of heat without purchasing an ingredient you might not use frequently. An added benefit is that you can easily control the level of spice.
- Cumin – The classic warm flavor of ground cumin is an important component to the marinade.
- Garlic – A little garlic powder is all you need to add plenty of garlic flavor.
- Oregano – Dried oregano adds an herby element to the flavor profile.
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper – Another excellent benefit to making this recipe at home is the ability to control the amount of sodium. Add salt and pepper to suite your taste.
How to Make Chipotle Chicken
- Marinate: Whisk the olive oil with the vinegar and all the spices in a small bowl. Place the chicken in a plastic storage bag with the marinade. Press out as much air as possible and seal the bag. Then, move the chicken around to mix it with the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours.
- Cook: Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet and add the chicken. Cook for 4 minutes, undisturbed. Then, flip the chicken and cook until well browned on both sides and the internal temperatures reaches 165 degrees F.
- Rest: Transfer the chicken to a cutting board to rest for about 5 minutes.
- Slice: Use a sharp knife to slice the chicken into bite-size cubes (just like Chipotle!).
If your chicken breasts are thicker than ½-inch, you’ll probably need to reduce heat and cover the skillet to cook it through without burning the exterior. This is why it’s best to start with thin-sliced chicken.
Alternate Grilling Instructions
- Prep the grill – Grease the rack of a charcoal or gas grill and prepare the coals or preheat to medium heat.
- Cook – Grill the chicken for about 4 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked through. It should register 165 degrees F in the thickest portion when measured with an instant read thermometer.
Freezing raw chicken in marinade is a great way to save time in the kitchen.
- Place the raw chicken in a freezer-safe plastic storage bag with the marinade. Press out as much air as possible and label the bag with the date and contents.
- Lay the bag flat in the freezer and store for up to 9 months. Just thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before cooking as directed in the recipe.
- Burrito Bowls: Layer the Chipotle Chicken over Cilantro Lime Rice or cooked brown rice with black beans. Add fresh veggies, copycat Chipotle Guacamole, and red salsa for flavorful copycat Chipotle Burrito Bowls.
- Tacos: Stuff the chicken into toasted tortillas for delicious tacos. Top them with my easy version of Chipotle’s corn salsa, shredded cheese, sour cream, and diced tomatoes. Add or substitute any of your favorite toppings.
- Burritos: Wrap the copycat Chipotle chicken into a hearty and satisfying burrito. Load it up with Restaurant Style Mexican Rice, beans, cheese, and your choice of vegetables.
- Salads: Use the chicken warm or cold from the fridge to create protein-packed, low-carb salad. It adds satisfying smoky flavor to chopped romaine lettuce, kale, and baby spinach and your favorite salad toppings. Squeeze fresh lime juice over the top for a refreshing burst of citrus.
- Quesadillas: Make a mouthwatering quesadilla by sandwiching the Chipotle chicken between two layers of melted cheese. See the step-by-step stovetop directions in my recipe for Chicken Fajita Quesadillas.
- Nachos: Use the chicken as a topping for loaded nachos. Layer them with melted cheese, jalapeños, guacamole, and sour cream for a crowd-pleasing appetizer or snack.
Refrigerator: Store the leftovers in an airtight container or a zippered plastic storage bag. Transfer to the refrigerator promptly and use within 3 to 4 days for the best quality and flavor.
Freezing Leftovers: If you have a large batch of leftovers, consider dividing them into smaller portions and freezing them. This way, you can thaw and reheat only what you need at a time. To freeze the leftovers, transfer them to freezer-safe containers or bags. Press out any excess air before sealing the bag to prevent freezer burn. Frozen Chipotle chicken can be stored for up to 2to 3 months. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Reheating: Add a splash of water or chicken broth to prevent the chicken from drying out during the reheating process. Warm it in a skillet on the stove over low heat or in the microwave, just until warmed through.
Chipotle Chicken Recipe
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, 1 to 1 ¼ pounds total weight
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar, or the juice from 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
- Place the chicken on a cutting board and use a sharp knife to slice all the way through the center of each piece, horizontally, to create two thin cutlets. Alternately, cover them with a sheet of plastic wrap and pound lightly with the smooth side of a meat mallet to ½-inch thickness.
- Whisk 2 tablespoons olive oil with the vinegar (or lime juice) and all the spices in a small bowl. Place the chicken in a plastic storage bag with the marinade, press out as much air as possible, seal the bag, and squish the chicken around to mix it well with the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours.
- Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over MEDIUM-HIGH heat. Add the chicken and cook for 4 minutes, undisturbed. Flip the chicken over and continue to cook for 3 to 4 minutes more, or until well browned on both sides and the internal temperatures reaches 165 degrees F. If chicken is thicker than ½-inch, you’ll probably need to reduce heat to MEDIUM and cover the skillet to cook through.
- Transfer the chicken to a cutting board to rest for about 5 minutes. Then, slice into bite-size cubes.
- Grease the rack of a charcoal or gas grill and prepare the coals or preheat to MEDIUM heat.
- Grill the chicken for about 4 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked through and registers 165 degrees F in the thickest portion,
- Remove chicken from the grill and transfer it to a cutting board to rest for 5 minutes. Then, slice into bite-size cubes.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated using generic ingredients, and is an estimate not a guarantee. For more accurate results, please refer to the labels on your ingredients at home.