A bowl of copycat chipotle chicken on a kitchen towel, with bowls of tortilla chips and a black bowl with corn salad in the background
| | |

Copycat Chipotle Chicken

Share or Save This Recipe For Later

No ratings yet
Smoky adobo paired with warm spices, and chicken thighs brings bold flavor to this Copycat Chipotle chicken recipe!

This Copycat Chipotle Chicken is juicy, tender, super easy to make, and best of all – budget-friendly! With simple ingredients such as chicken thighs, adobo sauce, ACV, garlic, chili powder, and cumin, you have a delicious meal that tastes just like your Chipotle fave. Great for serving it with warm tortillas or on top of a fluffy bed of lime rice!

A bowl of copycat chipotle chicken on a kitchen towel, with bowls of tortilla chips and a black bowl with corn salad in the background

In our home, Chipotle nights are almost like a family tradition. We can’t get enough, whether it’s a hurried dinner on a hectic weekday or a lazy meal for those chill weekends. Their perfectly seasoned chicken was the first thing my kids tried, and when I tell you they were immediately hooked, I mean it! They always asked for seconds, so I knew I had to whip up my own copycat Chipotle chicken recipe at home for whenever the craving struck.

My secret? Marinating the chicken thighs in a homemade adobo marinade, infused with the perfect balance of chili powder and cumin. It truly captures that signature Chipotle taste!

Copycat Chipotle Chicken Overview

Cuisine Inspiration: Mexican-American
Number of Ingredients: 9 (excluding salt, pepper, and water)
Total Cook Time: 50 minutes (excluding chill time)
Primary Cooking Method: Pan-searing and baking
Dietary Info: Low-carb, gluten-free (check your adobo sauce and vinegar)
Key Flavor: Smoky and Spicy
Skill Level: Beginner

Notable mentions

  • Best Marinade In Town: Letting the chicken marinate overnight unlocks a juiciness and depth of flavor that’s just unbeatable. The wait is 100% worth it!
  • Stovetop to Oven Magic: The two-step cooking method I use in this chipotle chicken recipe ensures perfectly seared and succulently baked chicken every. single. time.
  • Simple Ingredients: No fancy, hard-to-find items here – everything you need is likely in your pantry or fridge. The only ingredient you might be missing is adobo sauce, but it’s super easy to find.
  • Leftovers for the Win: Trust me, you’re going to want to make extra. This chicken is the gift that keeps on giving, perfect for a next-day lunch or a quick dinner redo!

Ingredients to make Copycat Chipotle Chicken

  • Chicken Thighs: Boneless and skinless. They soak up all the flavors from the seasonings and end up perfectly tender.
  • Adobo Sauce: ½ cup, straight from a can of chipotle peppers. This stuff is the secret to that deep, smoky flavor! You can easily find it in the international aisle of your nearest grocery store.
  • Chili Powder: Brings in some warmth and a subtle kick.
  • Cumin: For an earthy note that pairs amazingly with the heat from the chili.
  • Oregano: Because oregano makes everything better!
  • Black Pepper & Salt: A pinch of both to season the chicken just right.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: 2 tablespoons for the marinade, plus a bit more for cooking. It’s all about that rich, smooth texture.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Adds a zesty tang and tenderizes the chicken.
  • Garlic: Minced, because what’s a marinade without some garlic?
  • Onion: Diced. It’s not just for flavor – it adds a nice little crunch.
  • Water: ¼ cup to thin out the marinade and ensure even coating.
Overhead shot of ingredients for making copycat chipotle chicken on the table before mixing

How to make Copycat Chipotle Chicken

Step 1: Mix The Marinade And Marinate The Chicken

  1. To make the marinade, add the adobo sauce (save the peppers for another use), chili powder, cumin, oregano, pepper, salt, 2 tablespoons olive oil, vinegar, minced garlic, and water to a medium bowl. Whisk together.
  2. Add in the diced onion to the marinade and whisk.
  3. Add the chicken thighs to the bowl and mix with the marinade.
  4. Place the chicken thighs in a zip-top bag and pour in the marinade. Seal it and make sure the chicken’s well coated. Store it in the fridge and let it sit for 8 hours, or even better, overnight.
A step by step image collage on how to make copycat chipotle chicken with marinade ingredients mixed in a bowl, chicken mixed with the marinade, and chicken marinating inside a bag

Step 2: Prep the pan and preheat the oven

  1. Get a large frying pan hot with a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. Also, preheat your oven to 400°F. Prep a baking sheet with parchment or foil and coat it with a layer of non-stick spray.

Step 3: Sear and Bake The Chicken

  1. Sear the chicken in the pan. 3-5 minutes on each side will do, or until it starts to brown. Don’t overcrowd the pan, sear in batches if you need to.
  2. After searing, move the chicken over to the baking sheet.
  3. Let the chicken cook in the oven for about 30 to 40 minutes. You want it cooked through so it’s easy to pull apart and not pink inside.
  4. Once it’s done, chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces and serve.
A step by step image collage on how to make copycat chipotle chicken with chicken searing in a pan, chicken placed in a baking sheet before cooking in the oven, chicken after cooking, and chicken cut into pieces in a bowl

Making This Copycat Chipotle Chicken as a Dump Freezer Meal

Transforming the Chipotle Chicken into a dump freezer meal makes it so easy to enjoy those bold, smoky flavors anytime. This method is perfect for meal prep or those days when you want a delicious dish without too much effort.

Preparation For Freezing:

  1. Prepare the Marinade: In a bowl, mix together the adobo sauce, chili powder, cumin, oregano, black pepper, salt, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, minced garlic, and water. Add the diced onion to this marinade.
  2. Marinate the Chicken: Place the chicken thighs in a large zip-top freezer bag. Pour the prepared marinade over the chicken, ensuring each piece is well coated.
  3. Seal and Store: Remove as much air as possible from the bag before sealing it. Gently shake the bag to ensure the chicken is evenly coated with the marinade. Label the bag with the date and recipe name.
  4. Freeze: Lay the bag flat in your freezer, allowing for space-efficient storage and even freezing.

Cooking From Frozen:

  1. Thawing: For best results, transfer the bag from the freezer to the refrigerator about 24 hours before you plan to cook. This ensures a safe and even thaw.
  2. Cooking Adjustments: Once thawed, cook the chicken as per the recipe instructions. Remember to sear the chicken in a pan before transferring it to the oven. The cooking time in the oven may need a slight adjustment based on the chicken’s temperature.

To adapt this recipe for the slow cooker, you can follow these variation steps:

  1. Marinate the Chicken: Prepare the marinade as per the original recipe, combining adobo sauce, chili powder, cumin, oregano, pepper, salt, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, minced garlic, diced onion, and water in a bowl. Marinate the chicken thighs in this mixture in a zip-top bag, just as you would for the freezer meal preparation.
  2. Slow Cooker Method: Instead of searing the chicken and then baking it, place the marinated chicken thighs directly into your slow cooker. Pour any remaining marinade over the chicken.
  3. Cooking Time: Set your slow cooker to low and cook the chicken for about 6-8 hours. If you’re short on time, you can cook it on high for about 3-4 hours. The goal is for the chicken to be tender enough to easily shred.
  4. Final Steps: Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the slow cooker and chop or shred it into bite-sized pieces, as per the original recipe. If the chicken has released a lot of liquid, you might want to reduce it on the stove to concentrate the flavors before adding it back to the shredded chicken.
  • Swap the Apple Cider Vinegar: Ran out of ACV? No problemo! Distilled white vinegar or fresh lime juice are perfect stand-ins. They’ll still tenderize your chicken and give it that signature tangy kick.
  • Spice it Up: If you’re a fan of heat and want to add a little extra oomph to your marinade, toss in some diced chipotle peppers or a handful of jalapeños.
  • Try Some Sweetness: For a sweet twist, try adding a spoonful of honey or brown sugar to the marinade. It balances the heat and adds a subtle sweetness that makes the chicken extra special.
  • Use Chicken Breasts: Although this copycat Chipotle chicken recipe calls for thighs, chicken breasts work just as well. Just remember they might cook a bit quicker, so keep an eye on them!

Tips for making the best copycat chipotle chicken thighs

  1. Don’t Rush the Marinade: The longer the chicken bathes in those zesty flavors, the better. Aim for at least 8 hours, or even better, overnight.
  2. Use a Meat Mallet: For the most tender chicken ever, give the thighs a gentle pounding with a meat mallet before marinating. All those tasty marinade flavors will seep even deeper. Plus, it’ll be juicier!
  3. Let It Rest: After cooking, let your chicken rest for a few minutes before chopping. It’s like a little nap that helps the chicken keep all those yummy juices locked in.
  4. Keep an Eye on the Heat: When searing the chicken, get your pan just the right amount of hot. Not too smoky, not too cool. You want a perfect sizzle when the chicken hits the pan to get that beautiful brown skin.
Close up of a dish with a serving of lime rice topped with black beans, shredded lettuce, guacamole, and copycat chipotle chicken

How to store & reheat Copycat Chipotle Chicken

Once your chicken has cooled down, slide it into an airtight container or a zip-top bag and pop it into the fridge. Yup, it’s that simple!

When you’re ready for round two, reheat the chicken gently either in a skillet over medium heat or in the microwave. Nobody likes dry, sad copycat chipotle chicken thighs, so if want to use a microwave, cover it with a damp paper towel to keep it moist.

How long will Copycat Chipotle Chicken last in the fridge?

Your delicious chicken will stay fresh and tasty in the fridge for up to 3-4 days… but I doubt it will stay untouched in your fridge for that long!

Can i freeze This chipotle chicken recipe With adobo?

If you’ve got more chicken than expected, freezing is a great option. Pack it in airtight containers or freezer bags, label it with the date, and it’ll stay fresh for up to 4 months.

What to serve with Copycat Chipotle Chicken

  • Cilantro Lime Rice: Why settle for plain rice when you can zest it up with some lime rice? The zesty lime flavor pairs beautifully with the smoky adobo, and it’s like a little fiesta for your taste buds with every scoop!
  • Corn Salad: Toss together a vibrant corn salad with fresh or grilled corn, a handful of cherry tomatoes, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime. It’s a fresh, crunchy side that adds a pop of color and flavor to your plate.
  • Tortillas: Warm some soft tortillas and let everyone make their own wraps. Stuff them with chicken, your favorite veggies, and a dollop of sour cream. It’s a hands-on, mix-and-match meal that’s incredibly fun and easy to make!
  • Chicken Burrito Bowls: Honestly, who doesn’t like Chipotle’s burrito bowls? To make your own at home, layer rice, beans, this succulent chicken, and your choice of toppings like cheese, lettuce, and salsa into a bowl. You’ll get that Chipotle gem without having to go outside!
  • Black Beans: A side of simmered black beans works wonders with this copycat chipotle chicken. Their creamy texture and earthy flavor are a match made in heaven for the spicy, smoky chicken.
  • Guacamole: Whip up a batch of fresh guacamole! The creamy, cool avocado makes for a great dip or topping.

Frequently asked questions

I don’t have adobo sauce. Can I make my own?

Absolutely! To make your own adobo sauce, combine 1 tablespoon of smoked paprika, 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, 1 teaspoon of vinegar (apple cider or white), ½ teaspoon of garlic powder, and a pinch of salt and sugar. Add a bit of water to reach the desired consistency, and voilá! Homemade adobo sauce.

What other cooking methods can I use?

You can grill the chicken for a more authentic charred flavor. Alternatively, slow-cooking the marinated chicken or using an Instant Pot (high pressure for about 10 minutes) are great options too.

Is this copycat chipotle chicken spicy?

The spice level of this chicken is more on the “pleasantly warm” side rather than “fire alarm hot”. The adobo sauce and chili powder bring in a smoky warmth, but it’s not overwhelmingly spicy. However, if you’re sensitive to heat, you can always reduce the amount of chili powder.

Overhead shot of a Mexican-inspired meal laid out on a kitchen towel, including a black bowl of lime rice with beans and lettuce, a glass bowl of copycat chipotle chicken, another bowl with corn salad, a stack of tortilla chips, a lime wedge, and a folded tortilla on the side

This homemade Copycat Chipotle Chicken is not just good; it’s “Where have you been all my life?!” good. It’s easy to make, incredibly satisfying, and honestly, it might just outshine the original!

More Easy Chicken recipes:

I want to hear from you! If you try this easy Copycat Chipotle Chicken recipe or any other of my 5 easy recipes on Dinner in 5, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below! I read all the comments and respond!

Overhead shot of a bowl of copycat chipotle chicken on a kitchen towel, with bowls of cilantro lime rice and corn salad next to it
[be_recipe_buttons]

Copycat Chipotle Chicken

Smoky adobo paired with warm spices, and chicken thighs brings bold flavor to this Copycat Chipotle chicken recipe!
No ratings yet
Author Jackie
Servings 8 servings
Course Main Course
Calories 410
Prep Time 10 minutes
Marinade Time 8 hours
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 8 hours 50 minutes

Ingredients
  

  • 4 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs thawed
  • ¾ cup adobo sauce from a 7oz can of chipotle peppers save the peppers for another recipe
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus a bit more for cooking
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon garlic minced
  • 1 cup onion diced
  • ½ cup water

Instructions

  • To make the marinade, add the adobo sauce (save the peppers for another use), chili powder, cumin, oregano, pepper, salt, 2 tablespoons olive oil, vinegar, minced garlic, and water to a medium bowl. Whisk together.
  • Add in the diced onion to the marinade and whisk.
  • Place the chicken thighs in a zip-top bag and pour in the marinade. Seal it and make sure the chicken’s well coated. Store it in the fridge and let it sit for 8 hours, or even better, overnight.
  • When you’re ready to cook, take the chicken out of the fridge.
  • Get a large frying pan hot with a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. Also, preheat your oven to 400°F. Prep a baking sheet with parchment or foil and coat it with a layer of non-stick spray.
  • Sear the chicken in the pan. 3-5 minutes on each side will do, or until it starts to brown. Don’t overcrowd the pan, sear in batches if you need to.
  • After searing, move the chicken over to the baking sheet.
  • Let the chicken cook in the oven for about 30 to 40 minutes. You want it cooked through so it’s easy to pull apart and not pink inside.
  • Once it’s done, chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces and serve.

Notes

  1. Don’t Rush the Marinade: The longer the chicken bathes in those zesty flavors, the better. Aim for at least 8 hours, or even better, overnight.
  2. Use a Meat Mallet: For the most tender chicken ever, give the thighs a gentle pounding with a meat mallet before marinating. All those tasty marinade flavors will seep even deeper. Plus, it’ll be juicier!
  3. Let It Rest: After cooking, let your chicken rest for a few minutes before chopping. It’s like a little nap that helps the chicken keep all those yummy juices locked in.
  4. Keep an Eye on the Heat: When searing the chicken, get your pan just the right amount of hot. Not too smoky, not too cool. You want a perfect sizzle when the chicken hits the pan to get that beautiful brown skin.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5lb, Calories: 410kcal, Carbohydrates: 9g, Protein: 45g, Fat: 21g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 11g, Trans Fat: 0.04g, Cholesterol: 215mg, Sodium: 5450mg, Potassium: 701mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 723IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 82mg, Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

Cuisine Mexican

Share or Save This Recipe For Later

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating