Chipotle and ancho chile chicken marinade


I marinated whole chicken thighs here, but you can also use boneless thighs or breasts, or try beef, pork, or even tofu (though maybe pan fry instead of grill it).

It’s finally spring, at least technically it is, and for many people that means it’s time to pull out the grill and get in some outdoor cooking. This is one recipe I’m ready to fire up all year round, though. In fact, that’s exactly what I did this past January. I live in Baltimore, and as you may have heard, the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl this year. Leading up to the big game though were other big games, and for at least two of them, I whipped up this grilled chicken recipe for the get together. While it was hard to fire up the charcoal grill in 30 degree weather while the wind was fighting me as I was trying to light the briquettes, I did win out in the end.

While I’ve used this marinade with chicken thighs, it can be applied to other cuts and other meats as well (I plan on trying this with beef next, and who knows, maybe it would also work with tofu?). I prefer the thighs, though, because they are more flavorful than breasts, and are more moist on the whole.

This recipe is a bit reminiscent of the chicken you can get at Chipotle the chain restaurant, but I like to think it’s a bit more flavorful in terms of salt and spice.


  • 1 dried whole ancho chili (you can probably substitute this with 1 tablespoon of ancho chili powder)
  • 1 dried chipotle pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 medium red onion, quartered
  • 1/4 cup oil (canola/vegetable/olive)
  • 3 lbs chicken thighs (this can also be used with chicken breasts and beef)


1. Combine all ingredients except for the chicken into a food processor or blender. Blend until it becomes a thick sauce.

2. If cooking chicken within an hour, poke chicken with a fork before mixing it with the marinade. Otherwise, marinade between 4 hours to overnight.

3. It’s best to cook it on a grill, but  it can also be grilled/pan fried on the stove top at high heat first, then down to medium until cooked through and juices run clear.


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