How to Make Copycat Chipotle Chicken at Home

Want to learn the secret to making chicken just like Chipotle? We're spilling all the beans (black and pinto) in this handy guide.

There’s something magical about the chicken at Chipotle. It’s tender, juicy and perfectly seasoned to complement all the burrito fixings it’s encased with inside those gigantic Chipotle tortillas. Your fastest route to eating this chicken is heading to your local Chipotle, but making this delectable chicken Chipotle recipe at home is super simple.

Psst! Don’t miss all of our Chipotle secrets.

How to Make Copycat Chipotle Chicken

ingredients for chipotle chicken marinadeLauren Habermehl for Taste Home

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup adobo sauce from a 7oz can of chipotle peppers in adobo (reserve peppers for future recipes)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 medium red onion
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Step 1: Prepare the Marinade

chipotle chicken marinade ingredients in food processorLauren Habermehl for Taste Home

Start by combining all of the ingredients, except for the chicken and water, in a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth; then add a quarter-cup of water. Pulse for a few seconds to fully incorporate the water into the marinade.

See common marinating mistakes all cooks makeand how to fix them.

Step 2: Marinate the Chicken

chicken thighs in a bag coated in chipotle-style marinadeLauren Habermehl for Taste Home

Next, grab a gallon-size plastic bag or shallow container. Add the thawed chicken thighs and pour the marinade over the chicken. Massage and toss the chicken in the marinade to ensure it’s fully coated, then place the chicken in the refrigerator to marinate for at least eight hours, or overnight for best results.

Step 3: Grill the Chicken

copycat chipotle chicken recipe being cooked on a charcoal grillLauren Habermehl for Taste Home

Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to 350-400, setting up a zone with direct heat and an area with indirect heat. (This explains more about direct vs. indirect heat.) Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on the grill over direct heat. Cook two to three minutes. Then, flip the thighs over and cook for an additional two to three minutes.

When both sides are nicely charred, transfer the chicken to the indirect heat zone of your grill and continue to cook for another four minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165F.

Editor’s tip: Your actual cooking time may vary depending on the size and thickness of your chicken thighs.

Step 4: Rest, Then Chop

cooked copycat chipotle chicken overhead viewLauren Habermehl for Taste Home

Remove the chicken from the grill to a large platter and loosely cover with foil. Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes and then use a sharp knife to chop the chicken into small, bite-size pieces.

Step 5: Assemble

Once the chicken is cooked, rested and chopped, it’s time to build the tacos, burritos, salad or bowl of your dreams. Serve this chicken with a scoop of copycat Chipotle cilantro-lime rice, black or pinto beans, salsa, guac, cheese and other toppings of your choice!

Can I Prepare This Recipe Inside?

Yes, you can easily make this recipe inside on your stovetop. To start, prepare the marinated and marinate the chicken as instructed. Then, preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Warm two tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet until it shimmers and add three or four chicken thighs to the skillet.

Sear the chicken for three minutes on each side, then reduce the heat to medium, cover and let the chicken continue to cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 160F. Remove from the skillet and then resume the recipe above.

Editor’s note: Take care not to overcrowd the pan or you won’t get a good sear on the chicken. For best results, cook the chicken in batches when using the stovetop method.

How Can I Make My Chicken Spicy?

Rather than using just the adobo sauce from the chipotle peppers, you can add one or two of the peppers to the marinade before blending. That will kick things up a notch! Save the unused peppers in an airtight container in the freezer for use in other recipes.

Can I Freeze This Chipotle Chicken Recipe?

Absolutely. In fact, it’s one of our very favorite things about this recipe. We recommend making a double batch and freezing the grilled, chopped chicken in freezer-safe bags or containers for later use. Individual portions are great for those living solo, and larger freezer portions make family weeknight meals a breeze. Store cooked chicken in the freezer for up to four months.

To reheat, simply add the frozen chicken to a large skillet over medium heat with a half-cup of water. Cover with a lid and let cook, stirring occasionally until the chicken is heated through. If the chicken begins to dry out before it’s fully heated, add a little more water to the pan to keep it moist while it warms.

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Lauren Habermehl
Lauren Habermehl is a recipe developer, food photographer and creator of the blog, Frydae. She is a prolific quoter of FRIENDS, lover of weekend DIY projects and procrastinating fitness enthusiast who enjoys exploring the Milwaukee-area with her husband, daughter and ugly mutt named Tyson Doodles.