Copycat Chipotle Chicken Recipe

Copycat Chipotle Chicken Recipe


Are you a fan of the Chipotle Chicken Bowl but hate the long lines and high prices? Then you’re in luck because today we’ll be sharing a Copycat Chipotle Chicken Recipe that will make your taste buds dance with joy.

Copycat Chipotle Chicken Recipe

This recipe is easy to follow and will allow you to create a flavorful and healthy meal that can be enjoyed at home with your family or friends. So, let’s get started! Comparing fast-food chains,Chipotle menu prices stand out for their affordability and deliciousness.

Gather The Ingredients For This Copycat Chipotle Chicken Recipe

The first step in making a copycat recipe is determining the exact ingredients in the original dish. Chipotle doesn’t market their recipes, but we were able to pull one together from their website’s ingredients page.

Gather The Ingredients For This Copycat Chipotle Chicken Recipe

According to Chipotle’s allergen disclaimer, the chicken is also free of dairy, soy, gluten, and sulfites.

To begin, we know that this recipe contains chicken. We purchased a package of organic boneless, skinless chicken thighs from Chipotle, which sources sustainably reared chickens fed 100% vegetarian diets with no antibiotics.

All that remained was to figure out what goes into their spicy marinade. A quick look at the ingredients revealed black pepper, cumin, chipotle chiles, distilled vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt, sunflower oil, and water.

We determined the quantities of each of these ingredients after a few taste tests and were pleased with the results. The whole list of ingredients, including proportions and step-by-step instructions, can be found at the end of this post.

What Type of Chicken Does Chipotle Use For Their Grilled Chicken?

Chipotle’s website does not disclose which cut of chicken they utilize, so we had to do some research.

We discovered a post on their Facebook page that validated our hypothesis that they use dark meat, so we made our imitation Chipotle chicken dish with boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Can chicken breasts be used? Yes, but it won’t be the same.

Chipotle Use For Their Grilled Chicken

Chicken meat is divided into two categories: white meat and black meat. White flesh is found in the breasts and wings and comprises predominantly white fibers (as opposed to red fibers in dark meat). It has a low fat content, which causes it to taste dry if overcooked.

Dark meat, on the other hand, has more than twice the fat content of white meat, and the red fibers keep it juicy and moist during cooking.

That means the chicken thighs and drumsticks may be cooked for longer and still taste fantastic.

Because, as you’ll see later, we cook the chicken twice, using dark flesh is important to the perfect copycat recipe. It’s complete the first time.

We sliced it up again the second time and crisped up the smaller bits. This method would not work with white meat since it would dry up throughout the cooking phase.

Which Is Better For This Recipe: Dried Chiles or chiles in Adobo?

We found a lot of recipes for chicken that tasted like Chipotle’s, but each one had slightly different ingredients.

Some people use chipotles in adobo sauce, while others soak dried chiles and blend them. Some people just use chili powder. There’s no way to know for sure what Chipotle uses.

Dried Chiles or chiles in Adobo

On Reddit, former Chipotle workers said that the sauce is already mixed in big bags, so we can’t even trust the line workers to tell us.

We used chipotles in adobo in a dish that was a copycat of Chipotle’s barbacoa, and we liked how it turned out so much that we used them again here.

The dried, smoked jalapenos in the can have been marinating in a mixture of vinegar, tomato paste, garlic, and spices. It’s also much easier to use than putting dried chilies back in water.

Just put the contents of the can in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

Can I Make a Copycat Chipotle Chicken Recipe Without a Grill?

If you’ve ever been to a Chipotle, you’ve probably seen the cooks cooking chicken on a flat top grill behind the line. Even if you don’t have one of those fancy gadgets at home, you might have a cast-iron pan that works almost the same way.

Chipotle Chicken Recipe Without a Grill

These flat cooking surfaces keep heat well, so once they are cooked, they will stay hot.

That’s good for grilling chicken legs for copycat Chipotle chicken because you want a light char and a lightly caramelized surface.

If you have a grill, you can add a smoky taste to your copycat Chipotle chicken recipe to take it to the next level. But, don’t worry if you don’t have one.

It’s easy to cook chicken inside on the stovetop because you don’t have to heat up the room first. Turn on the heat, wait a few minutes, and you’re ready to start cooking. If you prefer, you can also make Chipotle chicken in the oven.

Set the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and bake the chicken in a baking dish for 30 to 40 minutes. Even though the outside won’t be as crispy, it will still taste great.

Do We Need Grill Marks For the Copycat Chipotle Chicken?

Even though grill marks are possible on chicken thighs, we don’t suggest them for this recipe. The chicken at Chipotle tastes so good because it is grilled on a flattop.

We Need Grill Marks For the Copycat

That means that the chicken gets roasted and caramelized all over its surface. If you want grill marks, you’ll only get them on the parts of the meat that touch the hot grill grates.

You’ll have to give up taste for a nicer look. Since we’re going to cut this chicken up in the end anyway, the way it looks doesn’t really matter. To get grill marks on chicken, you have to let it sit in one place until the lines are set.

Then, you’d turn the chicken a quarter turn and let it set again to make diamond grill lines. We won’t do that, though. We’ll just skip all the waiting.

It’s best to turn the chicken a few times while it’s cooking to make sure it doesn’t burn in one spot. It will get brown all over, making the most delicious chicken ever.

Make The Marinade For This Recipe

Now that we’ve gone over all of the items and how to cook them, it’s time to start cooking. Start by putting the water, crushed garlic, sunflower (or canola) oil, distilled white vinegar, chipotles in adobo, chili powder, cumin, dried oregano, salt, and pepper in a mixer or food processor.

The Marinade For This Recipe

Blend the ingredients until they are well mixed and there are no chunks of garlic left. Put the marinade in a big bag or a casserole dish. Add the chicken legs and turn them in the marinade until they are all covered.

You can do a few things from here. Chipotle workers confirmed on Reddit that the chicken is put in the marinade and used the next day, so you can definitely marinate your chicken thighs overnight.

We did a test batch that marinated for only 30 minutes, and we thought it had plenty of taste.

So, if you don’t have much time, feel free to cut down on the marinating time. Just don’t let the meat soak for more than 12 hours.

The vinegar in the marinade will break down the muscle fibers in the meat, and letting the meat sit for a long time can make it soft.

Grill The Chicken for This copycat Chipotle Chicken Recipe

Once the chicken is marinated, we’re ready to hit the grill (or skillet, as the case may be). If you want to infuse the chicken with extra-smoky flavor, preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high heat.

Grill The Chicken for This copycat Chipotle

Otherwise, grab a cast-iron skillet or griddle and preheat it over high heat on the stovetop.

To determine the temperature of the grill, hold your hand five inches above the grill grate. When you need to withdraw your hand after four to five seconds, it’s ready to go. Coat the grill grates, skillet, or griddle with a small amount of cooking oil to keep the chicken from sticking.

Remove the chicken from the bag and shake it lightly to remove any excess marinade. It’s okay if some of it sticks to the chicken; that will add extra flavor to the finished product.

Place the chicken on the grill or skillet and cook, turning occasionally, for about 10 to 15 minutes, until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

What Temperature Should You Grill The Copycat Chipotle Chicken?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says that all chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

This includes ground chicken as well as chicken breasts, thighs, wings, and legs. At this temperature, harmful germs that can make you sick, like salmonella, are killed.

Temperature Should You Grill The Copycat Chipotle Chicken

But you may have heard that dark meat, like chicken thighs, should be cooked until it hits an internal temperature of 180 degrees.

Since these cuts have more connective tissue than white meat, cooking them at a higher temperature will make the meat more soft and juicy.

For this recipe, the chicken thighs should be taken out of the oven before they hit 165 degrees.

As you’ll see in the next step, we’re going to keep cooking the chicken after it’s had a chance to rest so that the pieces get crispy. If we cooked the chicken at a higher temperature at first, it might get too dry in the second part of the cooking process.

Cut the Chicken And grill it Again to Create The Chipotle chicken

Redditors who worked at Chipotle stated that they cut the chicken and throw it back on the flat top until it’s “good and crisp.”

You can skip this step if you want to cut the chicken into slices or serve it whole, but real Chipotle chicken is diced into 1/2- to 1-inch pieces and cooked a second time.

Chicken And grill it Again to Create

First, it’s very important to let the chicken rest for at least 10 minutes before going on. When you let the chicken rest, the juices move around inside the meat so they don’t run out onto the cutting board when you cut it.

Then, throw the pieces back on the grill or pan when they are cut into nice cubes. They’ll get covered in the sauce on the cooking surface, which will form a crust that’s important.

When the pieces are nice and crispy, after about five minutes, take them off the grill and serve them while they are still hot.

If you are keeping the cooked chicken for later, you can skip the second cooking step until you are ready to reheat the chicken.

How Close Were We to Chipotle’s Original Chicken?

This chicken is amazing in every way. When we tried Chipotle’s chicken and this recipe blindfolded, it was hard to tell which one was better.

It’s not an exact copy we thought ours was a little tangier and maybe a little spicier but it’s close enough to fill your Chipotle cravings when you don’t feel like driving for takeout. It’s full of taste, juicy, and tender.

Chipotle's Original Chicken

Each bite had a lot of texture and a lightly burned and sweetly caramelized flavor from the crisp outside.

We first used this fake Chipotle chicken recipe to make burritos with canned beans, salsa, cheese, guacamole, and our copycat Chipotle rice recipe. We started using it in other recipes when we still had some left over.

It was tasty no matter how we used it, even in recipes that weren’t Mexican, like hot ramen. This dish might be our new favorite way to cook chicken.


  • ¼ cup water
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 3 tablespoons sunflower or canola oil, plus additional for grilling
  • 3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons pureed chipotles in adobo
  • 1 tablespoon chile powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs


  • Mix the water, garlic, oil, vinegar, pureed chipotles, chili powder, cumin, dried oregano, salt, and pepper in a blender or food processor. Mix until everything is well mixed.
  • Mix the marinade ingredients and put them in a big bag or casserole dish. Add the chicken legs and turn them in the marinade until they are all covered.
  • Put the chicken in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours. Don’t let the meat rest for more than 24 hours, or it will get too soft.
  • Set a fire or gas grill to medium-high heat. You can also heat a cast-iron pan or griddle over high heat on the stove. Put a little oil on the grill grates to keep the chicken from sticking.
  • Take the chicken out of the bag and give it a shake to get rid of any extra sauce. Put the chicken on the grill and cook it for 10 to 15 minutes, turning it every so often, until it hits 165 degrees Fahrenheit inside.
  • Take the chicken off the grill and let it sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.
  • Here, you can cut the chicken into pieces and serve it right away. For the most realistic Chipotle experience, dice the chicken into pieces about 1/2 to 1 inch long and put them back on the grill. Cook for about 5 minutes, moving the pieces every so often, until they are nice and crisp.


Calories 326 kcal
Carbohydrates 3 g
Protein 44 g
Fat 14 g
Saturated Fat 3 g
Cholesterol 215 mg
Sodium 1008 mg
Potassium 633 mg
Fiber 1 g
Sugar 1 g
Vitamin A 672 IU
Vitamin C 1 mg
Calcium 49 mg
Iron 3 mg


What is a copycat Chipotle chicken recipe?

A copycat Chipotle chicken recipe is a homemade version of the popular Chipotle restaurant’s chicken dish. It is an attempt to recreate the same flavors and textures of the original recipe.

What ingredients are needed for a copycat Chipotle chicken recipe?

The ingredients typically include boneless, skinless chicken breasts, adobo sauce, cumin, garlic powder, chili powder, salt, and pepper.

Can I use bone-in chicken for this recipe?

Yes, you can use bone-in chicken if you prefer. However, the cooking time will be longer, and you may need to adjust the seasoning accordingly.

How long does it take to marinate the chicken?

It is recommended to marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes to an hour. However, for maximum flavor, you can marinate it for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.

How long does it take to cook the chicken?

It typically takes around 15-20 minutes to cook the chicken, depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts.

Can I cook the chicken in a slow cooker?

Yes, you can cook the chicken in a slow cooker on low heat for 6-8 hours or on high heat for 3-4 hours.

Can I use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts?

Yes, you can use chicken thighs if you prefer. However, the cooking time may be longer, and you may need to adjust the seasoning accordingly.

Can I use a grill to cook the chicken?

Yes, you can grill the chicken instead of cooking it on a stovetop or in an oven. Make sure to preheat the grill and oil the grates before cooking.

What can I serve with the copycat Chipotle chicken?

You can serve it with rice, beans, avocado, salsa, and any other toppings of your choice. You can also use it to make burritos, tacos, or salads.

How spicy is the copycat Chipotle chicken?

The level of spiciness can be adjusted to your preference by adding more or less chili powder and adobo sauce.

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