How To Make Chipotle Chicken Marinade

This Chipotle Chicken Marinade is delicious! It produces wonderfully seasoned chicken with just the appropriate amount of heat. You’ll want to prepare this chicken again and again because it has a beautifully blackened outside and a juicy inside.

Chipotle Chicken Marinade

Tasty Chipotle Chicken Marinade

It’s time to be inventive as the warm weather approaches and we excitedly fire up our grills! If you’re bored of the same old chicken recipes and want to up your grilling game, we’ve got the recipe for you! Grilled Chipotle Chicken, a delectable combination of smokey, spicy, and acidic tastes, is now available.

This has rapidly become my favorite marinade for chicken! It’s not only tasty, but it’s also simple to make and grill. The marinade is made using red wine vinegar, honey, olive oil, and a variety of herbs and spices, as well as a heaping spoonful of chipotle pepper for that characteristic smokey bite. Lime juice and cilantro, freshly squeezed, offer a bright, citrusy touch that wonderfully complements the thick, smokey heat.

So grab your ingredients, light the grill, and let’s begin cooking! I’m excited to hear what you think of this dish!

Chipotle Chicken Marinade

Grilled Chipotle Chicken Marinade Ingredients

  • Choose boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs for simpler grilling and even cooking. For superior flavor and quality, choose organic or free-range chicken.
  • Red wine vinegar provides tang and aids in the tenderization of the chicken.
  • Honey: This sweetness balances out the tanginess of the vinegar and the heat of the chipotles. Add more honey gently and to taste for a sweeter marinade. A hotter marinade? Use less words.
  • Extra virgin olive oil: Using good oil improves the flavor of the marinade.
  • Garlic, minced: Garlic has a strong, fragrant taste. In a pinch, substitute 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder.
  • Ground cumin, dried oregano, and paprika provide depth, warmth, and flavor. Feel free to change the quantities to your liking.
  • Fine sea salt and pepper: Seasoning the marinade correctly is essential for flavorful chicken.
  • Chipotle pepper in adobo sauce: This essential ingredient lends a smokey, spicy flavor to the dish. Canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce may be found in the foreign section of most supermarkets (La Costea® brand is my favorite). Adjust the amount to your preferred level of heat, but bear in mind that lowering the amount will also reduce the overall taste.
  • Lime juice and zest: Fresh lime juice and zest offer a fresh, zesty accent that complements the deep, smokey notes. We like to zest using a microplane before juicing with this citrus juicer.
  • Cilantro, finely chopped: Cilantro adds a fresh flavor that complements the other components. If you dislike cilantro, simply leave it out.

Quick Tip

To keep leftover chipotle peppers, wrap them in parchment paper and place them in a freezer-safe bag. Thaw at room temperature or short in the microwave as required.

How To Make Chipotle Chicken Marinade 

  • Pound the chicken pieces to a uniform thickness for even cooking to ensur consistent cooking and to avoid overcooking thinner areas.
  • Grease the grill grates: Before cooking, thoroughly oil the grill grates to keep the chicken from sticking.
  • Use a meat thermometer: Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest portion of the meat to ensure the chicken is cooked to the appropriate temperature (160°F).
  • Allow the chicken to rest: After grilling, cover the chicken with foil for 5-10 minutes. This aids in the redistribution of liquids, resulting in a more tender and juicy chicken.
  • Preparing the marinade ahead of time and storing it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days allows you to swiftly marinate and grill the chicken when you’re ready to cook.
Chipotle Chicken Marinade

How To Use Marinated Chipotle Chicken 

  • Tacos: Serve the chicken in grilled corn tortillas with guacamole or mashed avocado, cotija cheese, and a splash of sauce.
  • Burritos or burrito bowls: Combine Chipotle Chicken, rice, beans, salsa, lettuce, cheese, and sour cream in a tortilla or burrito bowl.
  • Salads: To make a tasty salad, toss the chicken with mixed greens, black beans, corn, avocado, cherry tomatoes, and a Cilantro-Lime Dressing or saved marinade.
  • Quesadillas: Layer the Chipotle Chicken, cheese, chopped onions, and bell pepers between two tortillas. Grill or heat in a skillet until the cheese melts and the tortillas crisp. Dip the quesadillas into the reserved marinade sauce. (Follow the steps in this post for Ground Beef Quesadillas). Save part of the marinade that the chicken has been sitting in before adding the chicken.
  • Nachos: On a baking sheet, layer tortilla chips, Chipotle Chicken, black beans, cheese, jalapeos, and chopped tomatoes. Top with sour cream, guacamole, and salsa when the cheese has melted.
  • Rice bowls: Place the chicken on a bed of rice and top with your favorite veggies, beans, and a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt. Drizzle with the remaining marinade.
  • Enchiladas: Roll tortillas with Chipotle Chicken and cheese. Cover with Enchilada Sauce and bake until bubbling in a baking dish. If desired, top with more cheese. (Full instructions may be found on this Shredded Beef Enchiladas page).
  • Sandwiches or wraps: For a quick and tasty lunch, layer Chipotle Chicken with lettuce, tomato, avocado, and a spicy mayo (or conserved marinade) in a sandwich or wrap.

Quick Tip

Use leftover chipotle chicken in salads, sandwiches, wraps, or quesadillas the next day for a great, simple supper.

Chipotle Chicken Marinade

More Chicken Recipes You Might Like


  • 1.5 up to 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or thighs)
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon each: ground cumin and paprika
  • Fine sea salt and pepper
  • 1 heaping tablespoon chipotle pepper (with surrounding adobo sauce) (Note 1)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice, plus 1 tsp lime zest (plus 1 more lime for serving, optional)
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped–optional (plus more for serving)
  • Optional: make tacos! See Instruction #7 for our favorite way to enjoy this chicken


  • PREP: Trim the fat from the chicken breasts and cut them in half crosswise. To guarantee consistent grilling, pound the pieces to an even thickness (with a meat mallet or the bottom of a frying pan). Set aside the prepared chicken in a large resealable bag. Trim unwanted fat from thighs and store in a big resealable bag.
Chipotle Chicken Marinade
  • MARINADE: In a small blender jar or food processor, combine everything except the chicken and optional cilantro. Season to taste (I use 114 teaspoon salt and 12 teaspoon pepper.) Blend until smooth, then add cilantro. 13 cup of the mixture should be left aside for a finishing sauce later.
Chipotle Chicken Marinade
  • COAT CHICKEN: Place the remaining marinade in the bag with the chicken. Seal the bag and massage the chicken with your hands to ensure it is evenly covered. Marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 8 hours in the refrigerator.
Chipotle Chicken Marinade
  • Preheat a grill to medium-high heat (450 degrees Fahrenheit). Generously oil the grill (I saturate a rolled-up paper towel in vegetable oil and spread it over the grill grates with tongs). Please do not skip this step!
  • GRILL CONTINUATION: Remove the chicken from the bag with tongs, allowing excess marinade to drain out. Place the chicken on the grill flat. Grill the chicken for 3-5 minutes each side, rotating once halfway through (or until the thickest section of the chicken registers 160 degrees F. and the flesh is beautifully browned). When the chicken is done, it should readily come up off the grill grates. (I scrape up and flip the chicken to the other side using a sharp metal turner.) Carryover heat will raise the temperature of the chicken to 165 degrees F.
  • SIT BACK AND ENJOY: Cover the chicken with foil and place it on a platter. Rest the chicken for 5-10 minutes to allow the fluids to redistribute. Slice or cut thinly. If necessary, season with more salt. Warm the reserved 13 cup marinade and sprinkle or brush it evenly over the chicken (with a pastry brush). If preferred, garnish with more cilantro and lime wedges and serve.
  • SERVING SUGGESTION: We like to toast corn tortillas before putting guacamole or mashed avocado on one side, topping with a large handful of this chopped up chicken, then pouring the sauce over. Enjoy with some cotija!


Note 1: Chipotle peppers provide a smoky, spicy flavor to the dish. Canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce may be found in the foreign section of most supermarkets (La Costea® brand is my favorite). Adjust the amount to your preferred level of heat, but bear in mind that lowering the amount will also reduce the overall taste. To keep leftover chipotle peppers, wrap them in parchment paper and place them in a freezer-safe bag. Thaw at room temperature or short in the microwave as required.

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