Who doesn't love Mexican food, especially a Chipotle chicken bowl or burrito bowl? The Chipotle chicken marinade is the key to success when trying to replicate these dishes. The adobo sauce creates the best flavor in their marinated chicken, and you have to get that right. I have tried other copycat recipes for their chicken, and I find my Chipotle Chicken Recipe Copycat the best. It has great flavor, medium heat, and my cooking methods, air fryer and oven both produce juicy chicken with bits of crispy edges.
MARY'S TWO CENTS
If you want to save some money, skip the trip to Chipotle and make your own delicious chicken copycat at home. It comes in as frugal on my pricing scale, saving you money and gas. You'll want to make extra to use in any othe Chipotle dish, like burritos and bowls.
WHAT MAKES THIS CHIPOTLE CHICKEN COPYCAT RECIPE SPECIAL ?
- Chipotle's chicken is legendary. When you make it at home, you can recreate many of the the dishes on their menu without driving.
- The ingredients are readily available at your local grocery store. Most grocery stores carry all the ingredients you need, but many of them are probably in your kitchen right now.
- This is a great recipe for meal prep. I cook for two people, but this recipe serves six. I can easily adjust it to two servings in the recipe card below, or make the full recipe. If I make the full recipe I divide the cooked chicken into thirds, use one and freeze the other two for later.
- The chicken will stay moist and fresh if you place it in plastic bags, squeeze out all the air, close the bags, then place them in another airtight container in the freezer. I have little freezer treasure chests of cooked proteins, ready to go when I need them. It is a great way to get dinner on the table in very little time. Use within three months.
For the full recipe with quantities, see the recipe card at the end of the post.
- You can use boneless skinless chicken breasts or skinless chicken thighs if you prefer dark meat. boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts. I use a combination of chicken thighs and breasts. Chicken breasts are much thicker and take longer to cook than chicken thighs. Be sure to pound the chicken breasts so they are an even thickness to make cooking times the same.
- For the chipotle chiles in adobo sauce use the whole chiles and reserve the remaining sauce for something else..
- If you don't have or don't like cumin, (yes, these people exist) substitute chili powder in the same amount. It will taste a little bit different though.
- If you don’t have apple cider vinegar available, you can also substitute white vinegar or most any other vinegar.
Place chicken pieces individually between plastic wrap or in a plastic bag on your cutting board. Pound to an even thickness using a meat mallet.
Prepare the marinade: Place red onion, garlic, adobo chiles, adobo sauce, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper in a blender and puree.
Place the chicken in a plastic storage bag or storage container. Pour contents of the blender over the chicken.
Turn to even coat chicken. Place in refrigerator and allow the chicken to marinate 2-6 hours or overnight.
To cook the chicken in an air fryer: Evenly space pieces of chicken in the air fryer. Set the temperature to 370 degrees. Cook for 10 minutes.
Turn and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the chicken is golden brown and the juices run clear.
To cook the chicken in the oven: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the chicken in a baking pan. Bake 20 minutes.
Turn and bake another 10 minutes or until the internal temperature is 165 degrees and the juices run clear.
Remove from and let the chicken rest 5 minutes. Dice into small, bite sized pieces.
The chicken is now ready to be used in your favorite recipes.
Chipotle chiles in adobo sauce adds a bit of heat along with a smokey flavor. If you don’t have any on hand, and can’t find them in a local store, you can try substituting a teaspoon of Tabasco chipotle hot sauce in its place. If you don’t have that, then a 50/50 mix of smoked paprika and cayenne pepper can be used.
The longer you marinate the chicken the more flavor it will have. The minimum amount of time it should be marinated is 2 hours. Try at least 6 hours to give it that restaurant-quality flavor. Overnight is even better.
Chipotle restaurants use chicken thighs for their chopped chicken for good reason. Chicken thighs are tender and juicier when cooked. You can use either one or both. Keep chicken breasts from drying out by pounding them so they are the same thickness. This helps to keep them moist. Also, don’t overcook the chicken. It should be cooked until a thermometer inserted into the thickest portion registers 165 degrees f. Remove from the heat and allow to rest 5 minutes before dicing and serving.
LOOKING FOR MORE GREAT CHICKEN RECIPES?
- Air Fryer (optional)
- Baking dish or large skillet (oven proof)
- Large bowl or plastic bag for marinating
- Serve over brown rice with black beans, cilantro and sour cream. Lime juice takes it to the next level. Place a lime wedge on each plate.
- Make cilantro lime rice and top it with the cooked chicken. Don't forget the lime wedges.
- Use the cooked chicken in burritos, tacos, tostadas, taco salads, tortilla soup, breakfast burritos, or a hundred other ways.
- Serve it over my Creamy Parmesan Rice for a nice change of pace.
Chipotle Chicken Recipe Copycat
- Air Fryer optional
- Storage bag or container for marinating
- 2 pounds chicken boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
For the marinade:
- 1 medium red onion
- 2-3 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic or 3 whole garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon oregano (dried)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- Prep chicken by placing each piece between plastic wrap or in a plastic bag and pound to an even thickness using a meat mallet or a heavy can. Place in a storage bag or a covered container while preparing the marinade.
Make the marinade:
- Place red onion, garlic, adobo chiles, adobo sauce, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper in a blender and puree.
- Place the chicken in a plastic storage bag or storage container. Pour contents of blender over chicken. Turn to even coat chicken. Place in refrigerator and all the chicken to marinate for 2-6 hours. You can also allow it to marinate overnight if desired.
To cook the chicken in an air fryer:
- Follow your air fryer directions for preheating. Place several evenly spaced pieces of chicken in the air fryer. Set the temperature to 370 degrees or use the chicken setting (if your air fryer has one) to cook the chicken for 10 minutes. Turn and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the chicken is golden brown and the juices run clear.
To cook the chicken in the oven:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the chicken in a baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn and bake for another 10 minutes or until the internal temperature is 165 degrees and the juices run clear.
- Remove the chicken and allow it to rest for 5 minutes. Dice into small, bite-sized pieces.
- The chicken is now ready to be used in your favorite recipes or frozen for use later.
Approximate nutrition information is provided as a convenience and courtesy only. You are encouraged to do your own calculations if precise data is required.
We take every effort to ensure that the estimated meal cost per serving is accurate. We use a meal cost analysis application that estimates the cost of a recipe based on groceries purchased at a Walmart store in my geographical area, northern California.