Chipotle Chicken Marinade

Lately I’ve been craving Mexican food, maybe it’s the weather… or because it’s simple to cook or… maybe it’s because it goes well with an ice cold beer… who knows? But when I want Mexican… I want this simple and quick marinade!


I use this recipe when I make chicken fajitas, quesadillas and nachos. I can’t say that I’ve tried it on beef, but pork is great also! The great thing about this recipe is that you can control the heat factor, so if you want it spicier you just add more chipotles!


What is chipotle in adobo?? Chipotle: is a smoked-dried jalapeno. Adobo: is Spanish for sauce which is prepared by stewing the chipotles with tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, salt, and spices like ground cumin and dried oregano, but mainly it’s the peppers which gives it flavor!}.

When I make this for my for my family I only use two maybe three, but if it is my husband and myself {which is extremely rare} I add another one or two, we like it spicy! Just take my advice… don’t taste the adobo sauce straight up… or your tongue will fall off, no I’m just kidding, but MAN is it spicy… hopefully that doesn’t scare you I don’t want you think the recipe I’m giving you is extremely spicy… trust me on this… mixing it with the oil, honey and garlic plus the grilling really tones it down… for crying out loud my girls ate it and they weren’t crying for their milk {hmmm maybe I should up the chipotles!}. All I can say is YUM!

Here we go… the ingredients are as pictured: Olive Oil, Honey, Chipotles in Adobo, {ground} Cumin, two Garlic cloves, and the usual Kosher Salt and Black Pepper.

In your food processor add the olive oil. I so love my mini food processor for salad dressings and marinades!! I think you can get them for 20$!! Totally worth it!

Then add the honey…

salt and pepper…

and the cumin… Don’t turn it on just yet…

Smash and peel the two garlic cloves. I love garlic… eat it almost everyday… even for breakfast… just you wait, you’ll be eating it too!

Roughly chop the garlic, it doesn’t have to be pretty or fancy.

Throw it in with all the others.

Next open the can of chipotles in adobo {you can find these easily at your local grocery store in the ethnic food isle}. Here is where you have the control… to make it spicy or not-so-spicy. So start with two… then work your way up the next time. For a small can it sure does hold a lot of chipotle chiles!  You could save these in an airtight container and even add a few to your salsa!

Line em’ up and roughly chop.

Add them to the other ingredients, tightly lock the lid into place and let ‘er rip! {Here is where you could add in the optional ingredients listed below with the recipe!}

It should be thick…but not chunky.

Pour the marinade over top of the chicken.

Toss them around and cover with plastic wrap or a tight-fitting lid.

I would definitely refrigerate them for about an hour and a half. Pull them out and let them sit on the counter for 30 minutes to bring them up a bit in temperature. Cold chicken on a hot grill is not a good idea… or that’s what Bobby Flay said once… I think.

Over medium to medium high heat grill the chicken until it reaches around 170 degrees internally with a thermometer, or 6-10 minutes per-side depending on thickness.

Don’t forget to let your chicken rest for about 5 minutes before slicing, cover it with aluminum foil and let it chill. Then you can slice it up thin and use it for quesadillas, tacos etc. And just like that… you’re a rock star!

My cookbook Simply Scratch : 120 Wholesome Homemade Recipes Made Easy is now available! CLICK HERE for details and THANK YOU in advance! 


Chipotle Chicken Marinade

Sweet and smoky. A marinade that will kick you in the pants! In a good way of course!

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 12-16 minutes

Total Time: about 30 minutes


3 tablespoons Olive Oil

2 cloves of garlic smashed, peeled and roughly chopped

1 tablespoon Honey

1/4 teaspoon cumin

2 Chipotle Chiles in Adobo, roughly chopped {seeds and all}

A heavy pinch of Kosher Salt and Black Pepper

Optional: Throw in some fresh lime zest or chopped cilantro leaves.


In a mini food processor add olive oil, honey, salt, pepper, cumin, garlic and chopped chipotles.

Let the food processor run until the marinade is thick but not chunky.

Pour over chicken and marinade for two hours {remove 30 minutes prior to grilling}.

Heat your grill to medium/ medium high heat and grill until the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees.

Let rest for 15 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

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21 Responses to “Chipotle Chicken Marinade”

  1. #
    Daisie — July 27, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    I make a really yummy Chipotle in adobo and sweet potato soup. I'm always left with a bunch of chipotle's and don't know what to do with them. Now I have a new recipe to try with them! Thanks!

  2. #
    Laurie @simplyscratch — July 28, 2010 at 5:46 am

    Daisie I would LOVE to have that recipe!!… if you're willing to share it!! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. #
    Garcon de Croissant — July 28, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    The chicken looks really juicy in the second to last photograph. Perfect grill marks too!

  4. #
    The Cilantropist — July 28, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    This sounds amazing! I love chipotles in adobo sauce, and this is so quick! 🙂 I will be bookmarking this to try for a weekday dinner.

  5. #
    Kim Kelly — October 17, 2010 at 12:37 am

    Chipotle is a favorite in our household! I'm certain this will go into our regular rotation!! Nicely done!

  6. #
    Chelsea — October 21, 2010 at 3:32 am

    I loved this recipe! I used it for the chicken in our chicken tacos tonight and it was awesome! Check it out here:

    Thanks for the awesome recipe!

  7. #
    Madison @ — November 23, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    This recipe looks lovely. Your photos are really good – they make hungry!! I definitely will be trying this one very soon as we love love chicken around here!!

  8. #
    Carly — September 25, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    It says this up above – {Here is where you could add in the optional ingredients listed below with the recipe!} – am i blind cause im not seeing the additional options listed anywhere.

  9. #
    Andrea McConnell — January 5, 2013 at 7:27 am

    I came upon this site by pure chance while searching for a chicken marinade. Let’s just say…I am so glad that I did! I made this tonight and it was fabulous! I tripled the marinade and used a whole can of chipotles, as I was feeding quite a few and we like things spicy. It was definitely spicy but oh so delicious. My kids, ages 7 and 10, gobbled it down and even asked for seconds. I had a few chicken breasts left over and will be using them in in my taco bake for dinner tomorrow night. Thanks again, big hit with me and my family!

  10. #
    Ayesha — January 7, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    I’m going to use this marinade for burritos.

  11. #
    Susanne — January 19, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    I love those chipotles in abobo. I freeze the unused portion and then you can just slice them off when you want them. Much easier to handle.

  12. #
    John — February 7, 2013 at 11:36 am

    Thanks for the recipe, it looks really great. It looks like the chicken could also be cut into strips or chunks or something and skewered on a shish kebab so the yummy marinade would have more surface to coat.

  13. #
    Anne — May 7, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    I’ve made this a few times for my daughter on chicken. I slice it up like fajitas and she makes a spinach wrap with it to take to school for lunch. She loves spicy things (her mother does not)! Super easy recipe! Thanks.

  14. #
    Rosie — April 25, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    This recipe is just amazing!!!!!! Easy , delicious, creative! I run through your recipes to cook weekly.

  15. #
    Sandy — April 28, 2014 at 12:48 am

    What a fabulous marinade!! We loved it and I will definitely be making it many more times!! I used 4 chipotle chillies and although they taste hot out of the can, the finished result is more smokey and tangy. Very easy to do also. Thanks!!

  16. #
    H. K. Lynn — May 28, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    Wonderful marinade! I added the juice of a whole lime (would add more next time) but the rest was your recipe item for item. I only marinated for about an hour for fear of the chicken being too spicy but it could have used more time. Best grilled chicken I have ever made, thanks to you! Forget those store-bought Chipotle-Lime marinades that I used to buy! Out if curiosity, what lens are you using to take the beautiful pictures? 50mm?

  17. #
    Geo — August 29, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    You forgot the tequila…

    Source: The San Francisco Chronicle; June 2, 1999

    This marinade also works well with chicken.


    –2 tablespoons chipotle chiles en adobo
    –4 garlic cloves
    –2 tablespoons tequila
    –2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    –2 tablespoons olive oil
    — 1/2 teaspoon salt
    –Freshly ground pepper to taste
    –2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
    –1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, shelled

    INSTRUCTIONS: Combine the chipotles, garlic, tequila, lime juice, olive
    oil, salt, pepper and cilantro in a food processor; process until the
    mixture is pureed.

    Put the shrimp in a bowl or heavy duty resealable plastic bag.

    Add the marinade and set aside for 20 minutes.

    Grill or broil the shrimp for 3 minutes, turn and cook an additional 3 or 4

    Eat as is with a salad for a light dinner.

    Leftover shrimp are great added to a pasta salad or rice if you can keep
    from eating them all.

    Serves 4.

    PER SERVING (The calories and other nutrients absorbed from marinades vary
    and are difficult to estimate, therefore this analysis does not include the
    marinade): 145 calories, 28 g protein, 1 g carbohydrate, 2 g fat (0 g
    saturated), 209 mg cholesterol, 204 mg sodium, 0 g fiber.


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