Here it is, the payoff for our week long Copycat Chipotle Mexican Grill Recipe series. And it doesn't get much better than this. This recipe walks you through making Chipotle Chicken Bowls at home. Flavorful rice piled high with perfectly cooked chipotle chicken, homemade guacamole and more. Taco night will never be the same!
Why you'll love this recipe
It's like the delicious Chipotle chicken bowls you've come to know, but with the satisfaction (and cost savings!) of making it at home. The chicken is amazingly flavorful - just the right amount of spice with a smoky char from the grill. The guacamole is perfectly creamy. This is such an awesome, healthy way to do taco night!
Chipotle Chicken Bowls Tips and Tricks
- The marinade freezes well, so I usually make a double batch. The second half goes into a freezer safe quart-sized ziploc bag and into the freezer. To use again, I simply thaw it in the fridge for a day, then marinade the chicken in it. It stores well for about 3 months.
- Grilling your chicken outdoors is a must, for two reasons. The open flame helps to char in the flavor, which really makes for a great bite. But - and this can't be overstated - the most important thing is that those chilies need somewhere to escape to. I once tried to make this indoor in a grill pan, and I just about cleared the house out with spice from the marinade. Outdoors, each and every time.
- There's a few concurrent things going on here at once. For that reason, I strongly suggest making your rice in a rice cooker or Instant Pot . This allows you to set it and forget about it while you work on the rest.
- The chicken should rest 5-10 minutes after coming off the grill to avoid you losing all the juices everywhere. This is the perfect time to make your homemade guacamole.
Check out some of our other great recipes, like cajun shrimp and grits, smoked gouda mac and cheese, chicken tikka masala, or 29-hour, super tender sous vide chuck roast. Or, try one of my wife's favorites, my Bacon Lamb Sliders which are 100% flavor-bombs. .
How to Make Chipotle Chicken Bowls
The Night Before - Chipotle Chicken Marinade
Check out the full recipe in this week's earlier installment for Copycat Chipotle Chicken.
The process here actually starts the night night before you eat, so plan ahead. The night before you cook, bring two cup of water to a boil. Remove from heat and drop in dried ancho chili peppers. Cover with a lid and let soak for 10 minutes to rehydrate.
Next, remove the chili peppers from the water with tongs to avoid burning. Rinse under cold water, splitting them open to wash the seeds away. I suggest using gloves for these steps as spicy peppers can bring on problems if you're not careful (don't rub your eyes!). Place the rinsed anchos in a food processor .
Now, open your cans of chipotle peppers and dump into a mesh strainer over a side bowl first. Using your gloved hand, press the peppers to get as much sauce out as your can. Set the peppers and seeds aside and save for another use (we won't be using them here). Pour the strained adobo sauce into the processor.
Next, add your red onion, cumin, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Pulse in the processor about 10 times until the mix begins to smooth. Then add your olive oil run the processor for about 10 seconds. At this point you should have a semi-fluid paste.
Transfer your marinade to a large, gallon sized ziploc back. Fill with your boneless, skinless chicken thighs and mix with your gloved hand until well blended. Seal the bag, pressing out any excess air and refrigerate overnight.
It's Dinner Night!
Pico de Gallo
Dice two small tomatoes, one half red onion and 2 tbsp worth of fresh cilantro. Slice a jalapeno pepper in half and remove all seeds and white membrane. Dice and add veggies to a bowl. Squeeze in juice of half a lime and a tsp of salt. Cover and store in fridge for at least an hour before serving.
Cilantro Lime Rice
Turn your rice cooker on and set to saute. Allow to come to heat. Measure rice and pour into a fine mesh strainer . Rinse with cold water to clean off any excess starch.
When rice cooker is warm, add butter and allow to melt. Squeeze in fresh lemon and lime juice, making sure to not let any seeds fall in. Pour in rice and stir everything together. Cook for about two minutes, then switch rice cooker off. Add in chopped fresh cilantro and salt. Stir everything again. Lastly, pour in water. Close lid to rice cooker and set to cook. For mine, that's putting it on the "white rice" mode. Allow to cook until complete. Mine cooked for about 25 minutes.
Grilled Chipotle Chicken
Yay! It's finally time to finish up your creation. This part is easy. Heat an outdoor grill to about 375°. If you don't have a thermometer, the old rule of thumb is it's at temp if you can hold your hand about two inches above the grill grate for two seconds but no longer.
Oil your pre-heated grate and close for a minute to allow to preheat. Then, arrange your chicken over direct heat on the grill, fat side down. Cook for about 8 minutes, until the fat side has a nice dark brown-light black. Flip and cook until the other side gets the same char, about 5 minutes. Remove and let rest for 5 minutes on a wooden cutting board. Just before plating, chop the chicken into bite sized pieces.
Obviously, you can't make Chipotle Chicken Bowls at home without guac! You can find our recipe for homemade guacamole on the blog, or conveniently right below.
This recipe is pretty straight forward. Begin by getting all your ingredients ready, leaving the avocados for last. To do this, peel your red onion and chop into large wedges and add to food processor . Cut cilantro from punch and add to processor.
Cut jalapeno peppers in half. Using a spoon, scoop out all seeds and the white membrane. This is where most of the spice lives, we want that out. As a tip, I wear a glove when I do this to keep the oils from getting on my hands and eventually burning my eyes.
Add olive oil through opening on top and let run for another 10 seconds or so. Guacamole should be pretty smooth at this point. Remove to a boil and serve immediately.
Chipotle Fajita Veggies
Slice half a red onion into strips about ¼ inch wide. Do the same with a red pepper. Heat a small frying pan over medium heat and add olive oil. When hot, add peppers and onions to mix. Cook until softened and season with salt, pepper and dried oregano.
Finish Your Homemade Chipotle Chicken Bowls!
Grab a wide bowl. Spoon in a healthy portion of Cilantro Lime rice, then a helping of Chipotle Chicken (about two thighs worth). Top with shredded mexican cheese, pico de gallo and pepper and onion mix. Finish with a spoonful of guacamole, sour cream and a handful of lettuce. I like to add the same Chipotle hot sauce they have in store, because it adds a good bit of smokiness to the dish.
Serve immediately. You can put out tortilla chips alongside to help scrape up any leftovers.
The internet has other recipes if you're looking for more of your favorite Chipotle toppings. Like this recipe for Chipotle Corn Salsa on my Plan to Eat. Or this one for Chipotle's Black Beans. Mix and match and create your own, just like you're in store!
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Want to make Chipotle Mexican Grill's great tasting food at home? You can with this easy to follow copycat recipe!
Cilantro Lime Rice
- 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp butter (unsalted)
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1.5 cups water
- 1 tbsp fresh cilantro (chopped)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3–4 dried ancho chiles
- 1 small can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
- ½ red onion (lightly chopped)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 roma tomatoes, cut into large chunks
- ½ red onion, cut into large chunks
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ lemon (juice)
- ½ lime (juice)
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp fresh cilantro
- 1 jalapeno pepper (cut in half with seeds and white membrane removed)
- 2 avocados
Pico de Gallo
- 2 roma tomatoes
- ½ red onion
- 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro
- 1 jalapeno pepper
- 1 lime (juice)
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced
- 1 pinch dried oregano
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 pinch black pepper
- sour cream
- shredded Mexican cheese
- shredded lettuce
- Place all marindate ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
- Pour marinade into ziploc bag. Add Chicken to bag and mix around until well covered.
- Place in refridgerator overnight to marinade.
- To cook, preheat a grill to 375°.
- When grill is hot, add chicken and cook for 5 minutes on each side, until each side has a nice char and chicken is cooked through.
- Remove chicken to a wooden cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes.
- Just prior to plating, cut into bite sized pieces.
Pico de Gallo
- Fineline chop tomatoes, red onion, and cilantro and add to a box.
- Slice jalapeno pepper in half and remove the stem, seeds and white membrane.
- Dice the green part of the pepper and add it to the bowl.
- Squeeze in fresh lime juice and add salt.
- Stir everything together. Cover and place in fridge for at least an hour before serving.
Cilantro Lime Rice
- Turn your rice cooker on and set to saute. Allow to come to heat.
- Measure rice and pour into a fine mesh strainer . Rince rice with cold water to clean off any excess starch.
- When rice cooker is warm, add butter and allow to melt. Squeeze in fresh lemon and lime juice, making sure to not let any seeds fall in.
- Pour in rice and stir everything together. Cook for about two minutes, then switch rice cooker off.
- Add in chopped fresh cilantro and salt. Stir everything again. Lastly, pour in water. Close lid to rice cooker and set to cook.
- Peel your red onion and chop into large wedges and add to food processor .
- Cut cilantro from punch and add to processor.
- Cut jalapeno peppers in half. Using a spoon, scoop out all seeds and the white membrane.
- Squeeze in juices from lemon and lime.
- Chop your tomatoes and add as well.
- Slice your avocados in half using an avocado slicer . Peel skin off and add avocados to the processor.
- Close lid to the processor and pulse about 10-15 times.
- Add olive oil through opening on top and let run for another 10 seconds or so. Guacamole should be pretty smooth at this point.
- Remove to a bowl and serve immediately.
Peppers and Onions
- Slice ½ red onion and ½ red bell pepper into ¼ inch wide slices. Add to ahot pan with olive oil. Cook until softened and remove from heat. Season with salt, pepper and dried oregano.
- Spoon in a healthy portion of cilantro lime rice.
- Top with chicken and shredded cheese.
- Spoon on pepper and onion mixture, along with pico de gallo.
- Top with guacamole, sour cream and shredded lettuce.
The internet has other recipes if you're looking for more of your favorite Chipotle toppings. Links are available in the article.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 60 minutes
- Category: Dinner, Main Course
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Mexican, Southwest
- Serving Size: 1 bowl
- Calories: 645
- Sugar: 18.7g
- Fat: 37.1g
- Saturated Fat: 12.7g
- Trans Fat: 0.4g
- Carbohydrates: 62.3g
- Fiber: 15g
- Protein: 25.5g
- Cholesterol: 75.4mg
Keywords: Chipotle Chicken, Taco Night, Cinco De Mayo