A delicious year-round marinade, this Mexican Chicken Marinade is perfect for any cut of grilled or pan-fried chicken!
This recipe was originally published on June 10, 2020. It was updated with blog post information and recipe refinements on April 27, 2021.
A zesty and smoky marinade made with mainly pantry staples, this Mexican Chicken Marinade makes any cut of chicken ultra juicy! Whether you have 30 minutes or 12 hours to marinade, I give you tips for flavorful and succulent chicken every time.
This chicken is great served with simple sides for an easy weeknight dinner but it's also great for your next cookout and meal prep! Read on for more serving suggestions.
Spice up your dinner routine with my new favorite chicken marinade: this Mexican Chicken Marinade!
This time of year is always the time of year that I go back to the drawing board, wondering what marinades to grill with. There's something about it being almost a whole year since I last fired up the grill that causes me to almost forget all of the grilling I did the previous year.
Am I the only one who does this?! Please tell me I'm not alone.
This year, to help save from this conundrum next year, I'm determined to record my recipes and file them here on the site so I can come back to them.
I'm also whipping up some new recipes to keep the rotation fresh. After all, I want to do everything I can to help us all make the very most out of my time outside this summer, given who cooped up we've been this spring!
Some of my favorite flavors lately have been Mexican-inspired. I mean, don't even ask how many days in the last two weeks I've eaten breakfast tacos for brunch or lunch. 😬 Also, I've been pretty much living on Taco Tator Tot Casserole. There's something so lively and versatile about Mexican seasonings; comfort food that can still be on the healthier side.
I also love to make up a big batch of chicken fajitas or taco meat and serve them in various ways throughout the week. On said breakfast tacos, on rice bowls, in quesadillas, or burritos -- you name it.
These Mexican marinated chicken breasts (or thighs!) are just the same. I served them for dinner for the two of us with grilled corn and tortillas and enjoyed them the next day with a quinoa bowl. The following day, I made a quesadilla with the chicken. Can I tell you what a great week it's been?!
So, grill (outside or on the stovetop) this chicken up and enjoy it (and meal prep victory!) for a few days to come, Or, introduce it to your crew at your next barbecue or cookout and I have a good feeling you'll have a memorable chicken marinade for the years to come. 😍
Table of contents
- Recipe pro-tips:
- How to make this chicken on the stovetop:
- How to double or triple this recipe:
- Serving suggestions:
- Storage directions:
- Tools needed for this marinade recipe:
- Other delicious chicken and grilling recipes to check out:
- Taco Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
- Chicken Fajitas
- Sweet Chili Grilled Chicken
This Mexican Chicken Marinade is...
- Lightly spicy
Whether you're looking for a fourth of July grilling recipe, or just another chicken recipe to add to your family's weekly rotation, this versatile and delicious chicken marinade recipe is for you!
This juicy Mexican chicken recipe is tasty served in tacos, quesadillas, and burritos but it also is fantastic served on its own. Grill up a batch for meal prep or delight your crew with this chicken at your next barbecue or cookout!
- Olive oil
- Minced garlic
- Ground Cumin & Dried Oregano
- Lime juice -- fresh juice has great flavor, but you can also use bottled juice
- Canned chipotles in adobo sauce -- see my notes below on where to find this!
- Chicken - boneless skinless chicken is easiest but I also include notes on how to make this recipe with bone-in chicken
How to make Mexican chicken marinade:
- Whisk up all the marinade ingredients in a medium to large size mixing bowl until combined.
- Add the chicken to the marinade and turn the chicken in the marinade until covered.
- Zip up the bag or cover the bowl and let the chicken marinate for 30 minutes up to 12 hours.
- Preheat the grill or a grill pan on a stovetop.
- Add the chicken to the grill or grill pan and cook until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear.
- Remove the chicken from the heat and place on a plate. Cover the chicken and let it rest for 3-5 minutes. Serve warm!
- Adjust the heat in this recipe by adjusting the amount of chipotle peppers - 1 ½ tablespoon of the peppers will impart a smoky flavor to the recipe whereas 2 ½ tablespoons will also give this recipe a kick of heat and spice.
- To save time & fuss, chop the chiles and cilantro with kitchen shears - make preparing the ingredients super easy by adding the chiles and cilantro to small cups and cutting up with kitchen shears. It's easy and keeps the mess to a minimum.
- Pre-heat the grill - just like baking, this chicken cooks the quickest and most evenly when the grill is preheated. Most gas grills take 5-10 minutes to preheat, but double-check the temperature gauge to double-check.
- Watch for grill hot spots - if some pieces of chicken cook quicker than others move the chicken around on the grill to ensure that they're evenly being exposed to the heat.
- Watch the grill temperature - keep an eye on the temperature of the grill. If it overheats, turn the temperature down or open up the grill. This will keep the chicken from burning.
How to make this chicken on the stovetop:
Make this chicken on the stovetop by sauteing it over medium heat in a large non-stick skillet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray (or drizzled with olive oil) for 8-10 minutes, or until heated through to 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the thickest part of the chicken.
You can use Mediterranean oregano -- the type of oregano that is most common here in the United States -- but dried Mexican oregano is best for this recipe. The flavor profile is more citrusy, making it perfect for this marinade.
You can find Mexican oregano in most bodega grocery stores and you can also find Mexican oregano online at Amazon.
Canned chipotles in adobo can be found in most major grocery stores here in the United States. It's often sold in about 7-ounce containers. You can also find it at most bodega grocery stores and online on Amazon.
You can do so many things with canned chipotles. You can use the leftovers in another recipe like chili, stir some pureed chipotles into barbecue sauce to make it smokier, or even stir some into a bloody mary. If you don't want to use your chipotles right away, you can put them in a freezer-safe container or a freezer Ziploc bag and they will last in the fridge for up to 2 months.
You can marinate the chicken anywhere from 30 minutes - 12 hours. The longer you marinate the chicken, the better, though you can still get great flavor with 30 minutes.
For the best flavor with minimal marinating, use smaller cuts of chicken like chicken thighs, chicken tenders, or cut your chicken breasts into halves or thirds. For bone-in chicken, you will want to marinate it for at least 6 - 12 hours.
How to double or triple this recipe:
This recipe is very simple to double or triple. Just multiply the ingredients by your desired amount and follow the recipe as directed.
Serve this Mexican grilled chicken on its own with grilled corn, Mexican rice, and a romaine salad or tuck it in tacos, a burrito or quesadillas.
Because this chicken is so versatile it's also great for meal prep! I love to put it on salads, quinoa or rice bowls, and in wraps.
- Refrigerated: leftover chicken lasts covered in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
- Freezing: unfortunately, this cooked chicken does not freeze well. You can freeze the raw chicken in the marinade for up to 3 months, however. Just defrost it in the refrigerator for 24-36 hours before cooking.
- Reheating: reheat leftover chicken by warming it over low-to-medium heat in the microwave in 30-45 second intervals, or until warmed through. Reheating the chicken on too high of heat will make it chewy.
Tools needed for this marinade recipe:
- Large mixing bowl
- Cutting board
- Chef knife
- Kitchen shears
- Lime juicer
- Grill or grill pan
- Grill turners or grill pan spatula
- Meat thermometer
More delicious chicken and grilling recipes:
- Spicy Honey Chicken Marinade
- The Best Grilled Chicken Thighs
- Curried Yogurt Marinated Chicken
- Sweet Soy Steak Marinade
- Healthier Taco Mac and Cheese
- Taco-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
- Taco Tater Tot Casserole
- Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas
- Instant Pot Chicken Tacos
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- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano*
- 3 tablespoons lime juice (or the juice from 1 large lime)
- 1 ½ - 2 ½ tablespoons diced canned chipotles with adobo sauce
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts or chicken thighs**
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
- Lime slices
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil, salt, garlic, cumin, oregano, lime juice, and chipotles in adobo sauce until combined.
- Add the chicken to the marinade (or, add the chicken to a large Ziploc bag and pour the marinade over) and turn the chicken in the marinade until covered.
- Zip up the bag or cover your mixing bowl and marinate the chicken for 30 minutes to 12 hours.
- Preheat the grill to medium to medium-high heat.
- Add the chicken and cook for 10-12 minutes, flipping every 3-4 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through to 165 degrees Fahrenheit and the chicken juices run clear.
- Remove the chicken from the grill. Cover the chicken with aluminum foil and let the chicken rest for 3-5 minutes.
- Sprinkle the chicken with chopped cilantro and garnish with lime slices. Serve hot!
- Leftover chicken keeps covered in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. The raw chicken also freezes well in the marinade. Just freeze it in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Defrost the chicken in the refrigerator for 24-36 hours before cooking.
- To make this chicken on the stovetop, drain the chicken from the marinade and saute it in a non-stick pan sprayed with cooking spray or olive oil over medium heat for 9-12 minutes, flipping every 2 or 3 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- This recipe is very easily doubled, tripled, or multiplied by any factor. Just multiply each ingredient by the multiple you'd like and follow the recipe as directed.
- You can find canned chipotles at most major grocery store chains and on Amazon.
- Adjust the heat of this recipe by adjusting the amount of chipotle pepper used. 1 ½ tablespoons adds a smoky flavor to the recipe whereas 2 ½ tablespoons brings some heat.
- Save marinating time while imparting great flavor on your chicken by cutting the chicken into smaller pieces before marinating.
*For best results, use dried Mexican oregano.
** Bone-in chicken parts can also be used for this recipe. Marinate them on the longer side and cook them an extra 5-10 minutes on medium-low to medium heat or until 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the thickest part of the chicken.
Serving Size⅙ of the recipe, without the marinade drained
Amount Per Serving Calories 392Total Fat 17gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 12gCholesterol 176mgSodium 442mgCarbohydrates 2gFiber 0gSugar 0gProtein 56g
This nutrition breakdown is just an estimate of the nutritional value of this recipe and cannot be taken as facts. The owners of Mae's Menu are not nutritionists or dieticians and therefore cannot be held accountable for this nutrition estimate. Please contact your nutritionist or medical professional for a nutritional breakdown of this food. Furthermore, this food is not intended to prevent, diagnose, cure, or treat any disease.