Honey Chipotle Chicken

$8.61 recipe / $1.44 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
5 from 5 votes
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A few weeks ago I made some delicious Chipotle Peach Salsa, but I never seem to use a whole can of chipotle peppers for one recipe, so I make a habit of freezing the rest to save for other recipes. And today I used up some of those leftover chipotle peppers in this super easy and delish Honey Chipotle Chicken. ;) I love quick pan-seared chicken as a simple dinner main, so I whipped up a quick honey-chipotle marinade and then seared the marinated chicken until the marinade turned into a light glaze. The result was a sweet-smoky-spicy chicken with the most deliciously caramelized finish. So, if you find yourself with some extra canned chipotle peppers, you’ve got to try this chicken!

Honey Chipotle Chicken thighs in a skillet from above.

What’s in the Honey Chipotle Marinade

I like to keep things simple, so I whipped up this super simple yet flavorful marinade using canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, honey, lime juice, salt, garlic, and oil. It’s got all the elements: salt, fat, acid, and heat! …and a little sweetness to round it out. ;)

How Long to Marinade the Chicken

I suggest marinating this chicken for a minimum of 30 minutes, but if you prep this in the morning or even the night before, even better! Just make sure to flip the chicken a couple of times as it marinades to maximize contact with all the flavorful ingredients, and refrigerate as you marinade if marinating longer than one hour.

Can I Use Chicken Breasts

You can use this honey chipotle marinade on chicken breasts, just keep in mind that you’ll want to prepare the breasts a little differently than the thighs to make sure they don’t dry out too much. I recommend either filleting the breasts into two thinner pieces or pounding them until they are an even thickness, about ¾-inch thick. This will ensure that the chicken cooks through before the sugars in the marinade begin to burn.

That being said, chicken thighs are WAY more forgiving. The high-fat content of the thighs keeps them juicy and tender, even if they need to be in the skillet a little bit longer. I’m definitely team #chickenthighs for this recipe!

What to Serve with Honey Chipotle Chicken

I served my honey chipotle chicken with my favorite bean salad, Cowboy Caviar, and some rice, but you’ve got lots of options here! You could whip up a simple Avocado and Tomato Salad, Sweet Corn Salsa, or maybe some Cucumber and Black Bean Salad. I also think this sweet and spicy chicken would be a great topper for something like my Loaded Mashed Potato Bowls!

A piece of honey chipotle chicken on a bed of rice with bean salad on the side.

Honey Chipotle Chicken

5 from 5 votes
The marinade for this sweet, smoky, and spicy Honey Chipotle Chicken is simple and delicious! It's an easy and flavorful dinner main dish!
Overhead view of honey chipotle chicken in the skillet.
Servings 6 thighs
Prep 5 mins
Cook 15 mins
Marinate Time 30 mins
Total 50 mins

Ingredients

  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce ($0.30)
  • 2 Tbsp honey ($0.54)
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice (about one lime) ($0.59)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced ($0.08)
  • 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil, divided ($0.08)
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs ($6.78)
  • 2 sliced green onions (optional) ($0.22)

Instructions 

  • Mince the chipotle peppers. Combine the minced peppers in a bowl with the honey, lime juice, minced garlic, salt, and 1 Tbsp cooking oil.
  • Place the chicken thighs in a shallow dish and pour the marinade over top. Toss the chicken in the marinade until evenly coated.
  • Marinate the chicken for a minimum of 30 minutes, up to one day. If marinating longer than one hour, refrigerate the chicken as it marinates.
  • When ready to cook the chicken, heat a large skillet over medium. Once hot, add the remaining 1 Tbsp cooking oil and swirl to coat the surface of the skillet.
  • Add the marinated chicken to the skillet and cook on one side until the water released by the chicken evaporates, the marinade has reduced to a glaze, and the chicken has browned. Flip the chicken over and cook on the second side until browned and cooked through.
  • Top with sliced green onions and serve.

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Nutrition

Serving: 1thighCalories: 205kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 22gFat: 9gSodium: 390mgFiber: 1g
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Close up side view of honey chipotle chicken in a skillet.

How to Make Honey Chipotle Chicken – Step by Step Photos

Can of chipotle peppers open so you can see the peppers in the sauce.

Canned chipotle peppers in adobo are the base for this marinade. You can find these at most major grocery stores in the U.S., usually near the other Hispanic ingredients.

Chopped chipotle peppers

Mince about three chipotle peppers, or about ¼ cup once minced.

honey chipotle marinade in a bowl with a spoon.

Combine the minced chipotle peppers with 2 Tbsp honey, 2 Tbsp lime juice, 1 minced clove of garlic, 1 Tbsp cooking oil, and ½ tsp salt.

honey chipotle marinade being poured over chicken thighs in a dish.

Place six boneless, skinless chicken thighs in a shallow dish, then pour the honey chipotle marinade over top.

Marinating chicken thighs in a shallow dish.

Toss the chicken in the marinade until they’re evenly coated. Marinate the chicken for a minimum of 30 minutes, up to one day. If marinating longer than one hour, make sure to cover and transfer the chicken to the refrigerator.

Chicken thighs cooking in a skillet.

When you’re ready to cook the chicken, heat a large skillet over medium. Once hot, add the remaining 1 Tbsp cooking oil and swirl to coat the surface. Add the chicken thighs and cook over medium until all of the water they release evaporates, the marinade has reduced to a glaze, and the chicken has browned on the bottom.

Finished honey chipotle chicken thighs in the skillet.

Flip the chicken thighs and cook until browned on the other side and cooked through. Flip the chicken back and forth as needed to achieve an even level of browning on both sides. Top with sliced green onions, then serve.

A honey chipotle chicken thigh on a bed of rice on a plate next to bean salad.
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  1. I tried cooking this on the grill after marinating it for a few hours. The marinade tasted delicious, but it didn’t stick to the chicken. I will have to try it again and cook it in a pan like the recipe says.

  2. Oh. My. Goodness. The Honey Chipotle Chicken Thighs is ahh-mazing!!! I marinaded the chicken over night in the fridge instead of 30 minutes to give the meat more flavor. My kitchen smelled good while the chicken was cooking, and my sister and I served the dish with white rice and Pico de Gallo mixed with black beans. This dish is sweet and savory at the same time. Thank you for sharing, Miss Beth!! 😁

  3. I thoroughly enjoy your recipes and the explanations with photos you include.
    One suggestion I will offer is that marinade is a noun, marinate is the verb. That is, you marinate chicken in a marinade. This process is marination.
    Looking forward to more as I photo with my phone to have ingredient lists while shopping and procdures while not near my computer.

    Thanks,
    David

  4. Sounds delicious. What’s the recipe for those great looking beans? Looks like a meal I would love

  5. Winner winner!  The whole family loved this one – and the only hard part was finding the chipotle peppers in adobo 😉. It’s our current favourite recipe on the site!!

  6. Delicious chicken with excellent mild/medium heat and well-balanced flavor! I made it with Spanish chick peas and rice and it’s a fabulous combo I highly recommend!

  7. I made this over the weekend and grilled the chicken. It was amazing! Family loved it.

  8. Have you ever tried to freeze the chicken thighs in the marinade for easy dinner in the future?

    1. No, but it sounds like a delicious experiment! My favorite! XOXO -Monti

  9. Would it be possible Beth to sub out the chipotle peppers in adobe sauce of something else? I have both spices from the Badia line on hand. just trying to avoid another trip to the grocery store. Thanks

    1. HI! If you have it, try roasted red pepper. If not use 1/4 cup tomato sauce or bbq sauce. XOXO -Monti

  10. It’s good, but like with all honey-based marinades, I can’t figure a way to get the internal temperature right before the meat starts to burn on the outside. Any tips?

    1. My advice is to stir more often and turn down the temperature a touch to avoid scorching the dish. XOXO -Monti

    2. In that situation I would add a little water to the pan–it will delay burning while the water evaporates.

  11. Incredibly good!

    I increased the marinade ingredients by a small amount and added some soy sauce in place of salt, then let the remaining marinade reduce separately while the chicken was cooking.

    Tossed it together and then served as tacos, 10/10 A+ would recommend!