Grilled Chicken Fajitas with Chipotle Chicken Marinade
Apr 28, 2021, Updated Jul 11, 2022
These Grilled Chicken Fajitas combine a tasty and slightly spicy garlic chipotle marinade for chicken breasts, and are perfect for fajitas. This Grilled Chicken Fajita Recipe can work for any cut of chicken and is full of incredible flavor.
Making a marinade for chicken is a great use for leftover (or excess) chipotle in adobo sauce. Find out how to use that sauce in a delicious chicken marinade.
Table of Contents
- Grilled Chicken Fajitas Recipe Inspiration
- Chipotle in Adobo
- Marinade Ingredients
- How to Make Chipotle Chicken Marinade
- Grilled Chicken Fajitas
- When Is Chicken Done?
- Making The Grilled Chicken Fajitas
- Wine Pairing for Grilled Chicken Fajitas
- Related Recipes
- Grilled Chicken Fajitas Recipe with Chipotle Marinade
Grilled Chicken Fajitas Recipe Inspiration
My mom is the queen of salsa, and her range is quite unique. One such salsa has inherited the name “Revenge Salsa,” and if you look at the ingredients it’s not hard to understand why. There’s a full bulb of garlic mixed with a full can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Super garlicky. Spicy. Intense. Yet, it’s also super irresistible!
But outside of eating it as a salsa, it actually makes for an incredible marinade for chicken. I’ve adjusted the actual salsa ingredients to make it more marinade-friendly and lowered the amount of garlic significantly (your friends will thank you). When used as a marinade the chicken takes on some of those rich smoky flavors from the chipotle, but it is not very spicy once grilled or smoked.
Chipotle in Adobo
Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce is basically smoked and dried jalapeños that are canned in a purée of sauce. The sauce can be a number of ingredients but most often some type of tomato paste or tomato purée, vinegar, chile spices, and garlic. The heat will come from the peppers themselves based on the heat units, so some days a can may be spicy, others not so much. It’s always a good idea to test the spiciness before using it in a recipe.
And it’s also one of those ingredients you see from time to time used in very small quantities, yet it usually comes in a 7-ounce can leaving you with a bunch left over.
Case in point, our Smoked Burgers with Mexican Chorizo and Chipotle Aioli. While trying to figure out what to do with the leftover chipotle we used for the aioli in that recipe, I decided it was finally time to share this tasty recipe here.
So what do you do with leftover canned chipotle in adobo?
Use it as a marinade.
The ingredients for our grilled chicken fajitas marinade are simply blended together, but the balance of flavor is perfect and using olive oil helps in emulsifying the marinade.
- Chipotle in Adobo
- Tomato Sauce
- Fresh Lime Juice
- Olive Oil (helps with the emulsification)
- Kosher Salt
- Coarse Black Pepper
How to Make Chipotle Chicken Marinade
It’s easy. Just blend it together in a blender or food processor.
Just throw the chipotle peppers and some of the sauce into the food processor, then add some garlic, cilantro, tomato sauce, olive oil, honey, some salt and pepper, and some fresh lime juice to brighten things up, and then pulse away.
- Place the marinade into a plastic bag and then add your chicken breasts.
- Zip the baggie almost all the way, and then gently squeeze out any excess air. Finally seal it and then place in your refrigerator for 4 to 24 hours (less than four hours and you won’t really get much flavor, and in that case it’s better served as a finishing sauce).
- After the marinating, remove the chicken, discard the marinade and then it’s time for the grill. Don’t worry about patting off the marinade, leave it on there! If you want to add poultry seasoning you can, but that may add too much flavor. We skip any additional seasoning.
To make this easy for yourself, before grilling anything, be sure all your fajita ingredients are prepped. Specifically:
- Have your tortillas out and ready to warm up when the chicken comes off.
- Have your toppings, like salsa, sour cream, and guacamole ready. Trust us, when the food is done and hot, no one wants to wait for the toppings.
- Pre-shred any cheese you want to use.
- Slice up fresh tomatoes and cilantro for topping.
- Be sure rice and beans or any other sides are done.
And a grilled chicken fajita is perfect for building your own meal. Once those are all prepped it’s time to grill some chicken.
Grilled Chicken Fajitas
You can see our tutorial for more details on how to grill chicken. But the short version, is that we’ll throw the marinated chicken onto the grill using a two-zone method of grilling. And with grilled chicken fajitas we are adding a cast iron pan and our onions and peppers to cook them at the same time.
- Prep Grill: Prepare the grill targeting 400 – 450 degrees Fahrenheit using the two-zone method of grilling (or direct/indirect). Lump charcoal adds the best flavor.
- Heat up Cast Iron Skillet: Place a grill safe skillet over direct heat to warm up with the grill (we use cast iron).
- Grill: Grill the chicken over direct heat for 5 minutes with lid closed, then flip and continue grilling direct another 5 minutes. At this point you should have a nice crust on the chicken, but the inside isn’t close to done yet. While the chicken is grilling direct, add olive oil to the pan and then add the onions and peppers. Stir occasionally and remove when they are soft.
- Finish Cooking Over Indirect: Move the chicken to indirect heat and continue cooking until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 160 – 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Usually about the time we move the chicken to indirect heat, the onions and peppers are done and we remove them from grill.
When Is Chicken Done?
Regardless of whether you smoke or grill your chicken, just make sure you cook the chicken to an internal temperature of 160 degrees to get that perfect balance of moisture and flavor, without overcooking it. Smaller pieces will cook faster than larger pieces, so it’s not about time, it’s about the internal temperature.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it over and over, a good thermometer (like this one) is essential to creating amazing smoked and grilled meats! Never undercook or overcook your meat again, my friends! Boom.
Making The Grilled Chicken Fajitas
Once the chicken is done, remove it from the grill and slice then add it to the cast iron pan with the onions and peppers and stir.
Warm up the tortillas. We like to just throw them on the grill briefly and flip them so they have a little char and are warm. If serving a crowd you can wrap them in foil and keep them warm over the indirect heat.
Then serve. We like to put all the toppings, chicken and peppers, and sides out and then let people make their own.
Wine Pairing for Grilled Chicken Fajitas
If you’re serving these grilled chicken fajitas I’m a fan of a crisp fruity rosé for this. I know I know I sound like a broken record with my undying love of rosé, but it really is a great option for the combination of the mild spicy chipotle flavors, and grilled veggies. Alternatively, these particular fajitas also go quite well with Malbec, a fruity Grenache, fruity Beaujolais (or Beaujolais-style), or even Zinfandel.
This recipe was originally published in April of 2016 and updated in April 2021 to include new photos of recipe, details on the marinade, and other recommended recipes.
- Tequila Marinated Steak Fajitas
- Tri Tip Fajitas
- Chipotle Honey Grilled Chicken Tacos
- Spicy Grilled Chicken Tacos with Avocado Crema
- Easy Blender Salsa
This recipe was originally published in April of 2016 and updated in April 2021 with new photos and more detailed instructions.
If you like this recipe we’d truly appreciate it if you would give this recipe a star review! And if you share any of your pics on Instagram use the hashtag #vindulge. We LOVE to see it when you cook our recipes.
Grilled Chicken Fajitas Recipe with Chipotle Marinade
For the Chipotle Chicken Marinade:
- 4 cloves of garlic, smashed
- ¼ cup cilantro, roughly chopped (about 1 handful)
- ¼ cup Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce,, about 4 peppers and some of the sauce, recommended brand Embasa (comes in a 7-ounce can)
- ¼ cup tomato sauce
- ½ lime juiced
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
For the Grilled Chicken:
- 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
For the Fajitas:
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 bell peppers, sliced (I like a combination of green, yellow, and red peppers)
- ½ red onion, sliced
- 8 small flour tortillas
- Optional Toppings: avocado slices, guacamole, sour cream, salsa, shredded cheese, diced tomatoes
For the Chipotle Garlic Marinade:
- Place all marinade ingredients into the food processor and pulse until everything has broken up and there are no more chunks.
- Place in a large plastic baggie add the chicken and let marinate from 4 hours, up to 24. *Optional: Reserve ¼ cup for fajitas as a topping or as a final brush on the grill before you marinade.
For the Grilled Chicken:
- Prepare the grill targeting 400 – 450 degrees Fahrenheit using the two-zone method of grilling (or direct/indirect). Lump charcoal adds the best flavor. Place a grill safe skillet over direct heat to warm up with the grill (we use cast iron).
- Remove chicken from the marinade. Discard the marinade.
- Grill the chicken direct for 5 minutes with lid closed, then flip and continue grilling direct another 5 minutes. At this point you should have a nice crust on the chicken, but the inside isn’t close to done yet.
- While the chicken is grilling direct, add olive oil to the pan and then add the onions and peppers. Stir occasionally and remove when they are soft.
- Move the chicken to indirect heat and finish until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 160 – 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Usually about the time we move the chicken to indirect heat, the onions and peppers are done and we remove them also from grill.
- Slice the chicken and add back to the pan with peppers and onions for serving. Use for fajitas, tacos, or in a salad with your favorite filling. We love sautéed peppers and onions.
For the Fajitas:
- Warm up your tortillas, and serve them with the chicken, pepper, and onion mixture, and your favorite toppings and sides.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.