If you love the chicken from Chipotle Mexican Grill this copycat Chipotle Chicken recipe is for you! Bold, earthy flavors in moist, perfectly cooked chicken. Make it in the air fryer or oven. Great in so many dishes!
Tender, succulent chicken in a flavorful marinade cooks perfectly every time in the air fryer (preferred method)....or the oven. This homemade version of Chipotle's chicken is one of the tastiest chicken recipes and so easy to make.
No need to go out to a Chipotle restaurant when it's so delicious made at home. Our slimmed down version makes it a great choice for so many great recipes.
Why you'll love recipe:
- Very easy recipe
- Flavor is like the real thing (maybe even better)
- Make it in your own home at a fraction of the cost
- Always moist and tender
- The cooked chicken is great in so many different dishes
- Perfect for meal prep (make a double batch and freeze it)
What makes it skinny?
- We used boneless skinless chicken breast instead of chicken thighs. Using white meat over dark meat shaves off a quarter of the calories.
- The olive oil in the marinade ingredients is cut down (some oil is both healthy and needed to impart the seasonings to the chicken).
- The other ingredients deliver bold flavors without loads of calories.
Recipe Ingredients Notes
Chipotle chilies en adobo. You'll need a can of chipotle peppers in adodo sauce (en adobo). They can be found in the international food section of the grocery store.
You'll use two chipotle peppers and two tablespoons of sauce which can be taken from the jar. We recommend using two chilies unless you want it hot, then use three.
Boneless skinless chicken breasts. These can range in the amount you'll get for two pounds which is fine if you are making the recipe to use in other dishes. If serving as a main dish aim for 4-6 ounce breasts.
Garlic. Use peeled, whole cloves. They will be pureed for the sauce (no need to dice them).
Apple Cider Vinegar. This adds a subtle but wonderful flavor to the sauce. If you don't have apple cider vinegar white distilled vinegar can be substituted.
How to Make Copycat Chipotle Chicken - Air Fryer Method
STEP 1. Preparation
Place the chicken breasts in between two layers of wax paper or in a plastic bag. Gently pound to an even thickness. The goal is not to make the breasts thin but to ensure they are an even thickness so they'll cook evenly.
STEP 2. Make the marinade + marinate chicken
Combine the red onion, garlic cloves, chipotle chilies, adobo sauce, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, cumin, oregano, salt and black pepper in a blender (photo 1). Blend until fully pureed (photo 2).
Place the chicken in a gallon Ziploc bag or a food storage container. Pour in the marinade and turn chicken over to fully coat (photo 3).
Place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours up to overnight.
STEP 3. Air Fry
When ready to cook remove chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade.
Place the chicken into the air fryer basket in a single layer (you may need to cook in batches) (photo 4). Set the air fryer to cook at 360 degrees for 18 minutes. Turn the chicken over halfway through cooking.
The chicken is done when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees (photo 5).
NOTE: if cooking very small or thin chicken breasts they may cook faster.
Remove and let the chicken rest for 3-5 minutes before cutting.
Follow the first two steps above. When time to cook preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the chicken into a baking dish (photo 6) and bake for 25-30 minutes until the internal temperature of 165 degrees is reached (photo 7). Let it rest 3-5 minutes before cutting.
How to use Copycat Chipotle Chicken
The Chipotle Mexican Grill uses their chicken in burritos, bowls and in salads. But there are so many different ways to use it!
- Make a Mexican Chicken Bowl (think Chipotle burrito bowl slimmed down)! Use our Greek Chicken Bowl as inspiration. Layer fresh iceberg lettuce, sliced tomatoes, some Mexican cauliflower rice, diced or sliced chipotle's chicken, black beans, some mango pico de gallo and a dollop of non-fat Greek yogurt (instead of sour cream). Even a sprinkle of cheese. Serve with lime slices and some chopped fresh cilantro for garnish.
- Sliced on regular green salads or Taco Salad
- In sandwiches or wraps
- Chopped and cooked with scrambled eggs, omelet, in an air fryer frittata or Instant Pot egg bites
- Add it to soup
- Sliced and added to a skinny charcuterie board for a south of the border flavor
- In street tacos or quesadillas
How to Store
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
How to Freeze it
Allow the juicy Chipotle chicken to cool. It can be sliced, chopped or left whole. Add portions to freezer-safe bags and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator for best results.
How to Freezer Marinate Chicken
If you want to get a jump on future meals or making batches of this delicious copycat Chipotle chicken you can also freezer marinate the chicken. You'll make the marinade as directed and combine it with the chicken in a freezer bag.
Freezer for 6-8 weeks then thaw in the refrigerator when ready to cook it. The chicken must be cooked within 24 hours of thawing.
Always discard marinade chicken has been in and do not reuse it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Chipotle uses chicken thighs for their chopped chicken. Chicken thighs tend to have more flavor because they are a fattier cut of chicken. Making this copycat of chipotle's chicken with chicken breasts is just as delicious with less fat.
This chile and sauce combination creates a unique spicy, smoky flavor and they are available at most grocery stores or online. If needing to substitute use 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika and ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper to the marinade. You could also use 1 teaspoon of Tabasco chipotle hot sauce.
More recipes you'll love!
Chipotle Chicken Copycat recipe (Air Fryer + Oven methods)
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
- ½ medium red onion peeled, cut into large pieces
- 2-3 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
- 2 tablespoons adobo sauce from the can of chipotles en adobo
- 3 large garlic cloves peeled
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Place the chicken breasts between waxed paper or in a plastic bag and gently pound to an even thickness using a meat mallet or the bottom of a skillet.NOTE: this is not to make the chicken breasts thin but just to create an even thickness.
- Prepare the marinade: combine the 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 6 hours or up to overnight.
Air Fryer method
- Remove the chicken from the marinade (discard the marinade). Place the chicken in the air fryer basket (you may need to cook in batches). Cook at 360 degrees F for 18 minutes, turning the chicken over halfway through cooking. The chicken should register 165 degrees internal temperature when done.
- Remove from the air fryer and allow to rest for 3-5 minutes before cutting it.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the chicken in a baking pan. Bake 25-30 minutes until the internal temperature is 165 degrees. Allow to rest 3-5 minutes before cutting.