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!
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!
Honey Chipotle Chicken
- 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)
- 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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How to Make Honey Chipotle Chicken – Step by Step Photos
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.
Mince about three chipotle peppers, or about ¼ cup once minced.
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.
Place six boneless, skinless chicken thighs in a shallow dish, then pour the honey chipotle marinade over top.
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.
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.
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.