Chicken Chipotle Recipe

This is the very best Chipotle Chicken Recipe!

This juicy Chipotle Chicken can be prepped and cooked almost immediately or marinated for longer for super convenient and sensationally delicious dinner.  The Wet Rub is quick and easy and tastes better than any restaurant!  

Chipotle Chicken with lime and cilantro.


 


Favorite ways to serve this Chicken Chipotle Recipe

Living in San Diego (Carlsbad is north San Diego), I have a plethora of Mexican restaurants at my fingertips.  Thank goodness, because Patrick and I crave Mexican 90% of the time.  But even after all our Mexican tasting, my favorite meat is still my Carne Asada and my favorite Mexican chicken is still my very own Chipotle Chicken recipe!  Its a fraction of the cost of dining out, 10X the flavor and you can whip it up on a craving or prep beforehand to be instantly at your fingertips.  Serve it with Cilantro Lime Rice and Beans Beans for an easy instant meal or tacos, burritos, empanadas, etc..

I’ve used this same Chipotle Chicken Recipe as the crowning adornment of my Southwest Salad with Creamy Avocado Salsa DressingChipotle Chicken Salad with Mango Dressing, Chipotle BBQ Chicken Salad with Tomatillo Avocado Ranch, Chipotle Ranch Chicken Flatbread, BBQ Chipotle Chicken Sandwiches,  and Chipotle TexMex Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Pasta – can you tell I’m obsessed with this Chipotle Chicken recipe?!

Fresh cut Chipotle Chicken with lime and cilantro.

Chipotle Chicken ingredients

The Chipotle Chicken marinade is more of a Wet Rub than a marinade.  I find this concentrates the flavor for even more robust, fiestalicious chicken. 

  • Chicken: You will need one pound of chicken for this recipe. I used boneless skinless chicken breasts, however, this recipe will work with any cut of chicken if you adjust the cooking time. Try it on boneless chicken thighs, drumsticks, chicken wings, etc.
  • Lime juice: You may use fresh or bottled lime juice, but fresh is always best! The lime juice cuts through the robust, earthy seasonings and helps tenderize the meat by breaking down its fibers and connective tissues.

Chipotle Chicken Seasoning

The Chipotle Chicken is bathed in aromatic Mexican spices of:

  • chipotle
  • chili powder for a smoky heat
  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • smoked paprika
  • garlic
  • onion powder

The spices are mixed with olive oil and lime juice to tenderize the meat so its oh so juicy and then slathered all over your chicken.  Just look at those spices ready to create a fiesta in your mouth!

Showing how to make Chipotle Chicken with lime and cilantro marinade.

Depending on your time, you can cook the chicken right away, or wait 30 minutes or better yet, let marinate 8 hours.   The longer the chicken marinates, the more tender and flavorful it will become.

Preparing chicken for Chipotle Chicken with lime and cilantro.

How to make Chipotle Chicken

You can grill your Chipotle Chicken or cook it on your stove.  Both produce fabulous results but your grilled Chipotle chicken will naturally be more smoky and have less cleanup.  Grilling chicken is not always practical, however, so I’ve included directions for both how to grill your Chipotle Chicken and how to cook it on your stove. 

  1. Pound chicken to an even thickness with the side of a can or meat mallet. This quick step: 1) tenderizes the chicken as it breaks up the tissues and 2) the uniform thickness allows the chicken to cook evenly all over.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the chicken rub ingredients together.
  3. Rub the wet rub marinade evenly all over chicken breasts.
  4. Allow chicken to sit for 30 minutes at room temperature or refrigerate up to 8 hours then bring to room temperature before cooking.

Do you wipe marinade off chicken before cooking?

No, you should not wipe the marinade off before cooking. Marinades are designed to enhance flavor by imparting a mixture of spices, herbs, acids, and oils into the meat. Leaving the marinade on the chicken as it cooks creates a savory crust of flavor. It also helps the chicken retain moisture during cooking by acting as a barrier against the heat, preventing excessive moisture loss.

Chipotle Chicken Marinade: stove top directions

  1. If your marinated chicken has been refrigerated, let sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes (time permitting).
  2. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Once very hot, add chicken and cook, undisturbed for 3-5 minutes, or until nicely browned (or blackened if you prefer) on one side.
  3. Turn chicken over, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Cook for approximately 5-7 more minutes (depending on thickness of chicken), or until chicken is cooked through. Remove to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes before slicing.

Grilling directions for Chipotle Chicken

  1. If your marinated chicken has been refrigerated, let sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes (time permitting).
  2. Meanwhile, grease and preheat the grill to medium heat, 375-450°F.
  3. Grill chicken undisturbed for 5-7 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked through. (An inserted thermometer should read 165 degrees F.)  The cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of your chicken.
  4. Remove chicken from grill and let rest 5 minutes before slicing.

No matter how you cook this Chipotle Chicken – it will be epically flavorful, epically delicious and ready to transform your meal into the best Mexican (fill in the blanks____tacos, burritos, etc.), with crazy little prep and crazy huge flavor.   Epic flavor.   It’s waiting…

How to store Chipotle Chicken

To store: Store chipotle chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

To freeze chicken in marinade: Add the chicken to the marinade in a freezer safe bag, squeeze out excess air and freeze for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to use, the chicken will marinate as you thaw the chicken in the refrigerator; cook immediately so it doesn’t marinate for too long and become mushy.

To freeze leftover chicken: Let the cooked chicken cool completely then transfer it to an airtight container or plastic freezer bag and squeeze out any excess air. If you want access to individual pieces of chicken, wrap each chicken breast in plastic wrap before adding to the freezer bag. Freeze for 2 to 3 months.

Chipotle Chicken Recipe FAQs

Is chipotle chicken spicy?

Yes, chipotle chicken packs some heat, but this recipe is not overly spicy. I would say this recipe is about medium spicy, and should be perfect for most people. To make it less spicy, reduce the chipotle pepper to ½ teaspoon. To make it spicier, increase to closer to 1 ½ teaspoons chipotle pepper.

What does Chipotle chicken taste like?

Chipotle chicken is smoky, spicy and a bit tangy from the lime juice. The chipotle pepper is complemented by the warm, earthy, slightly bitter citrus notes of cumin, smoky sweetness from the smoked paprika and aromatic garlic and onion powders. The zesty lime juice cuts through the robust richness.

How long is too long to marinate chicken?

The cut of chicken and acidity level of the marinade will determine how long is too long to marinate the chicken. Marinating chicken for too long can make it mushy because the marinade’s acidic components break down the proteins excessively. In most cases, chicken should not be marinated for longer than 24 hours. In cases with a highly acidic marinade, it should not be marinated longer than 4-8 hours. For thin cuts of chicken marinate no longer than 2-4 hours.

Want to try this Chicken Chipotle recipe?

Pin it to your MEXICAN, CHICKEN, or DINNER Board to SAVE for later!

Find me on Pinterest for more great recipes!  I am always pinning :)!

©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

Close up of cut Chipotle Chicken with lime and cilantro.

If you love Mexican food, you will also love my Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken,  Slow Cooker Carnitas, Skillet Chicken Fajitas, and Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef!

LOOKING FOR MORE CHICKEN MARINADES?

More Favorites from Carlsbad Cravings

Easy Chipotle Chicken Seasoning

The best Chipotle Chicken Recipe seeping with flavor is a meal all in one or instantly transforms tacos, burritos, salads, bowls, etc into the most epic tacos, burritos, salads, bowls EVER! This juicy Chipotle Chicken can be prepped and cooked almost immediately or marinated for longer for super convenient and sensationally delicious dinner. 
Servings: 4
Total Time: 20 minutes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

Save This Recipe To Your Recipe Box

You can now create an account on our site and save your favorite recipes all in one place!

Ingredients

  • 2-3 chicken breasts pounded thin (1 pound)

Chipotle Chicken Rub

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, whisk chicken rub ingredients together and rub evenly all over chicken breasts. Time permitting, allow chicken to sit for 30 minutes at room temperature or refrigerate up to 8 hours then bring to room temperature before cooking.*
  • STOVETOP DIRECTIONS
  • If chicken has been refrigerated, let sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes (time permitting).
  • Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Once very hot, add chicken and cook, undisturbed for 3-5 minutes, or until nicely browned (or blackened if you prefer) on one side. Turn chicken over, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Cook for approximately 5-7 more minutes (depending on thickness of chicken), or until chicken is cooked through. Remove to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes before slicing.
  • GRILLING DIRECTIONS
  • If chicken has been refrigerated, let sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes (time permitting).
  • Meanwhile, grease and preheat the grill to medium heat, 375-450°F.
  • Grill chicken undisturbed for 5-7 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked through. (An inserted thermometer should read 165 degrees F.)
  • Remove chicken from grill and let rest 5 minutes before slicing.

Notes

*Chicken is still delicious even if cooked immediately but is more flavorful the longer the rub marinates.
**Total time does not include marinating chicken as this time will vary per individual.

Did You Make This Recipe?

Tag @CarlsbadCravings and Use #CarlsbadCravngs

Leave a Review, I Always Love Hearing From You!

Carlsbad Cravings© Original

Reader Interactions

leave a review

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

70 Comments

  1. Whitni says

    I made this chicken the other night and it was glorious! So good!!! We use it in a burrito bowl with an avocado cream sauce, mexican seasoned black beans and corn, lettuce, tomato, cotija cheese, and tortilla chips. SO GOOD!

    • Jen says

      I am so happy you loved this chicken and your burrito bowl sounds out of this world!!! Thanks Whitni!

  2. Sheila says

    Delicious, flavorful, and so easy! I made this with your pineapple salsa and avocado creama sauce for tacos. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Not sure what we liked best — the chicken, salsa or the sauce — they were all so good.

    • Jen says

      Oh my goodness, I am loving this with the pineapple salsa and avocado crema! great combo! So happy you loved them all Sheila!

    • Jen says

      Thanks Melissa! Its so versatile that its great to have on hand any night of the week. I hope you love it!

  3. Dorothy Dunton says

    Hi Jen! I love chipotle everything! And smoked paprika and cumin…okay, I just plain love Mexican food! You are fortunate to have so many fresh ingredients available where you live! We live in rural East TN and have a very large garden and a few chickens for fresh eggs (we also have two border collies and a cat). I’m an regular follower of another San Diego blogger, Kevin Is Cooking, who posts fantastic recipes! So glad I found your blog! 🙂

    • Jen says

      HI Dorothy, I am so happy you found my blog as well!! Your garden and chicken and eggs sounds wonderfully picturesque! And I love Kevin is Cooking!! You have great taste 🙂 I hope you find lots of recipes to enjoy here -welcome!!

  4. Jocelyn says

    I made this chicken for dinner tonight. It is excellent, and wonderfully easy. I served mine with coconut rice. Thank you so much!

    • Jen says

      Hi Jocelyn, so happy you enjoyed this chicken and it sounds divine with coconut rice – yum! I hope you find more to love here! Have a great week!

  5. Jacque says

    Question can u marinade the chicken longer then 8 hours??

    • Jen says

      Hi Jacque! Chicken can get mushy if marinated too long with lime juice so I put 8 hours to be safe. That being said, I have marinated this chicken up to 12 hours with no problem. Hope that helps!

  6. Terri says

    I feel bad. I basically copied almost all of your recipes to try on my family for Sunday dinners. They all look amazing and super yummy, and not like they are too difficult to replicate. So Grateful. Keep up the great work and I’ll be back!

    • Jen says

      Hi Terri, thank you for trying my recipes! I hope your family is enjoying Sunday dinners!!!

  7. Amanda says

    Would this work in the crockpot to make as shredded chicken? We love this recipe and use it at least once a week but I thought making it shredded would be really good too !

    • Jen says

      Hi Amanda, I am so happy you love this chicken so much! Yes, I think it should work in the crockpot just fine. I would just make sure to spray the crockpot with nonstick cooking spray and maybe add just 1 tablespoon of water- that should do it! Please let me know how it turns out!

  8. April says

    I made this for dinner and it was delicious. I did add about 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder and 1/2 tsp dried oregano to the seasoning mix but everything else was the same. I served the chicken chopped up in a burrito bowl with the lime rice. So good, I’ll be adding this into the regular rotation. Thank you!

    • Jen says

      Hi April, I love the addition of ancho chili powder and oregano – perfect! So happy this was such a hit and a new regular! Thank you!

  9. Elizabeth G says

    Delicious! Served it with white rice. It has some heat – my daughter added a spoon of refried beans and rolled it with rice & chicken into a burrito. She lived it! Too much heat for my 7-yr old. Hubby ate later & made a point to yell out several times “I” loving the chicken, don’t losethe recipe!” Great dish!! Thanks for sharing it – full of flavor. I marinated for 3 hrs, let sit on the counter for 30 and cooked. Fast, easy, delish (and pretty healthy!!!!)!!

    • Jen says

      Hi Elizabeth, I am so happy this was such a hit with your husband and one of your daughters 🙂 Definitely a versatile recipe! Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  10. Jessica Poindexter says

    I made this tonight for dinner. Because I am quite a wimp when it comes to heat I only used 1/2 a tsp of the chipotles seasoning. Also, full disclosure, I was too hungry to wait for it to marinate so I cut up the chicken, added the spice blend & then juiced half a lime over it in the skillet. It was still awesome. I was glad I served it in soft tacos with refried beans, cheese and avocado to temper the spiciness. I can’t wait to try it again with peppers and onions as a fajita. I’m so glad I found this on Pinterest! I don’t think I have ever made more flavorful chicken. Thanks!

    • Jen says

      Hi Jessica, your quick fix dinner skillet sounds like the perfect hungry solution and I am so flattered this is some of the most flavorful chicken you have ever had – thank you! I am so happy you found me on pinterest too 🙂 I hope you continue to find more recipes to love here!

  11. Kara says

    Thanks so much for another fantastic recipe! We loved this chicken! Very flavorful, easy, versatile, and tender. I marinated it for eight hours and grilled it. I love the fact that you include stovetop and grilling directions…I’m sure it’s just as delicious prepared on the stove. You and your recipes are amazing! 🙂

    • Jen says

      Thanks Kara! YOU and your upbeat comments are amazing! If you are looking for what to try next with this chicken, I highly recommend my Chipotle BBQ Chicken Salad – you use this chicken then slather it in sweet BBQ sauce – drool…. Thanks again for taking the time to comment!

  12. Anu says

    WOW! This chipotle chicken was amazing! So easy to make and its delicious. Definitely making this again. Thank you 🙂

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome! So happy it was such a hit and so many ways it can be used!

  13. Mindy says

    Do you think this could be marinated then frozen and just thawed out and cooked when needed?

    • Jen says

      Hi Mindy, I haven’t personally tried it but yes, I think that should work great!

  14. Nancy says

    What a great rub for this chicken. Used it to make the chicken for your empanadas and it was really nice and flavorful.

    • Jen says

      Thank you Nancy! This rub is so multi-purpose I use it all the time! I’m so glad you loved it for the empanadas!

  15. Gina says

    Cannot wait to try this recipe! My husband enjoys spicy heat, but my small ones do not… How would you recommend reducing the spice for my littles? I can add spice to hubby’s chicken breasts, but wonder how to reduce spice on other breast. Thank you for any suggestions!

    • Jen says

      Hi Gina! I would leave the chipotle seasoning out of the main rub and then just add some chipotle seasoning to the spice rub you are using on your husbands – hope that helps!

  16. Tara says

    Can you cook the chicken in the oven? What temperature would your recommend and for how long?

    • Jen says

      Certainly! It will depend on how thick they are so bake at 350 degrees and start checking for doneness around 15 minutes.

  17. Kari says

    Jen, the chipotle chicken recipe is perfect! Just the flavor I was looking for. Today I’m trying your Carnitas. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    • Jen says

      YAY! Thank you so much Kari, I’m so happy it was just what you are looking for! I hope you love the Carnitas as well! And I highly recommend the Beef Barbacoa – it is my personal favorite!

  18. Kari says

    The carnitas was also a hit! My not-too-easy to please husband loved it! Made a 5 lb pork roast and froze two portions for easy meals. Serve with avocado and street tacos and lime – heaven!

    • Jen says

      yessss! I’m thrilled even the “not-too-easy to please husband” loved them! Thank you!

  19. Laura DAgrosa says

    Absolutely delicious!

    We are neighbors and have similar tastes. (I’m in Vista)
    Trying the empanadas today…

    • Jen says

      Hi neighbor! I’m in Vista all the time 🙂 I’m so happy you loved this Chipotle Chicken and I hope you love the empanadas equally as well! Can’t have enough Mexican recipes!

  20. Olivia Brown says

    This looks really good. I love to get recipe ideas your site. I know the recipes are always terrific.

  21. Jenn says

    Have you ever cooked this in a crockpot/slow cooker? I’m interested in this method.

  22. Katie says

    Thanks for sharing this with the web! Delicious! We had it over rice and cauliflower rice veggie mixture. I can think of several ways to use this already!

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome Katie, I’m so happy you loved it! and YES the possibilities are endless – I even add lime zest, toss it in BBQ sauce, anything and everything!

  23. Day says

    Tried this recipe in burritos with cilantro lime rice last night and the kids are still begging for more. Great in salads, tacos, burritos. Tried and True, Delicious!!!!

    • Jen says

      Yasssss! Thank you so much for making my day! I’m so happy this chipotle chicken was such a hit!

  24. Sarah says

    I made this tonight to go with burrito bowls and it was DELICIOUS! My new go-to recipe. Thank you!

    • Jen says

      Yay! I’m so pleased it’s a new favorite, thanks Sarah!

  25. Maria says

    It turned out perfectly!!!! I served with sweet potatoes and broccoli. Thanks for the great recipe.

    • Jen says

      You’re so welcome Maria! Your whole meal sounds delish!

  26. DGarcia says

    LOVE THIS RECIPE! I use this marinade a couple times a month. I also follow this stovetop method and no longer have overcooked chicken! Thank you!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much, I’m so pleased you loved this recipe and are achieving juicy results!

  27. Tina says

    This is my favorite go-to chicken recipe for burrito bowls. When my college boys are home, I think we make it at least once a week. It’s perfect, quick and easy, and full of flavor. We don’t like bland food around here, and this is awesome. Thank you! Need to try some of your other recipes since we love this one so much.

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Tina, I’m so pleased this is a go-to favorite! If you love flavorful food, you’ve come to the right place!

  28. John says

    I was wondering if you can substitute thigh for drumsticks? Would I need to make any modifications

    • Jen says

      Absolutely! The only difference is the cooking time. Bake them for about 40 minutes at 400 degrees F or until they reach an internal temperature of 175ºF, flipping the drumsticks once half-way through.

  29. Melissa says

    This is my absolute FAVORITE chicken recipe!! Has a bit of spice and delicious dimensional flavor!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much, Melissa! I am so happy this is your favorite!!

  30. Emily says

    Amazing! So glad I tried this out and thankful for it being shared. I sautéed some red onion and peppers to mix in with the cooked chicken and made lettuce cups. This one is getting saved for the weekly rotation is our house. I cooked the chicken on the stove top and kept it on a few minutes longer after flipping to get a crisp. Next time I’m going to add pineapple and serve over coconut rice! So many options.

    • Jen says

      Yay! Thank you so much, Emily, I’m so glad this made it into the weekly rotation! Serving with pineapple over coconut rice sounds delicious!

  31. Anna says

    Can I substitute Chipotle peppers for Chipotle powder?

    • Jen says

      Yes, 1/2 teaspoon of chipotle powder is equal to about 1 large canned chipotle pepper. Happy cooking!

  32. sherry hernandez says

    Hi Jenn I have made this chicken a few times ,in the oven ,can I
    make it in the air fryer? Thanks for always coming through your recipes are awesome!!

    Thanks !!!

    • Jen says

      I’m so glad you have been loving the recipes! Yes, this should work fine in the air fryer! Just make sure to get that internal temperature to 165 degrees F!

  33. Pam says

    I am looking for a recipe to make chicken for around 200 people for a grad party. I have to make a week or 2 ahead and freeze. How would you reheat this and keep it warm? This looks great but not sure how it would be thawed and reheated and kept warm. I am probably better off with a recipe with a sauce like your Mexican chicken?