Qdoba Chicken Recipe: Copycat


Qdoba Chicken Copycat Recipe is a spicy, charred chicken that tastes exactly like what you can buy at the restaurant, but it’s healthier. This homemade version is tender, goes great on salads, burritos and in rice bowls and can be made for only a fraction of the price!

I made this in preparation to go with our rice and bean bowls and we loved it. It kind of tastes like Chipotle’s grilled chicken, but a bit spicier. If you want to pop as much flavor as possible from this recipe, I suggest you allow the chicken to marinate for at least 24 hours. But if you’re in a rush and want to cook it right away, that will also work.

Qdoba Chicken in a bowl with lime wedges
Qdoba Chicken Recipe: Copycat. Photo by CookThink

Charred chicken is the signature aspect of this recipe. It gives it a bit of a crispy crust on the outside of the chicken and maintains the juicy and tender aspects on the inside. To achieve the perfect level of charring, watch the chicken closely as it cooks. Don’t walk away to do something else.

As the chicken cooks, the grease dissipates as time goes on, and the spicy marinade chars quite easily. Heating the pan for 2-3 minutes and then allowing the chicken to seal quickly, helps to maintain the tenderness and juiciness of the chicken and makes it delicious.  And if you’re making this recipe inside, you might as well plan on setting off the smoke detector (no joke).

Shopping List: Ingredients to Make Qdoba Grilled Chicken Copycat Recipe

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp adobo sauce from a can of Chipotle peppers
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper

1. To create the marinade, combine 2 cloves of minced garlic, 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp adobo sauce, 1 tbsp chili powder, 1 tsp cumin, ½ tsp oregano, 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp black pepper in a large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly.

2. Pound chicken breasts between 2 sheets of plastic wrap to thin them out. This will allow a greater surface area to absorb the marinade and will allow the chicken to cook faster.

3. In a Ziploc bag, smother chicken breasts with marinade and refrigerate for as little as 30 minutes, or for as long as 2 days.

Copycat Qdoba Chicken Burrito Bowls

Chicken Burrito Bowls are a great way to serve this delicious chicken. To make a burrito bowl, cook rice and load the bowl up with grilled chicken, beans, pico de gallo, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, salsa, cheese, corn and sour cream. They are quite easy to make, and the combination of the flavors are delicious to enjoy!

Qdoba Chicken in a frying pan with marinade
Qdoba Chicken Recipe: Copycat. Photo by CookThink

Slow Cooker Copycat Qdoba Chicken

Qdoba chicken can be a bit tricky to make in the crockpot so that the charred and grilled aspects are replicated. However, if you want to cook this dish low and slow it can be done. To do so, marinate the chicken as mentioned in this recipe. Then, quickly sear the outside of the meat on the stovetop, in the frying pan. After the chicken has been seared, it can finish cooking in the crockpot on low for 4 hours or until done. Depending on the status of the chicken when it finishes cooking, you might want to char the outside further in a stovetop pan.

Qdoba Bean, Chicken and Rice Burrito

Another great way to use the spicy Qdoba chicken is in the Qdoba bean, chicken and rice burrito. To make this, use a warm soft burrito shell and fill it with 3 cheese queso, pico de gallo, shredded cheese, corn salsa, cilantro lime rice, and black beans. Delicious!

What is a Substitute for Adobo Sauce?

Adobo sauce is a lightly seasoned tomato-based sauce that includes vinegar. So, if you want to simply substitute a few splashes of Tabasco Chipotle Hot Sauce, that will do the trick. The heat won’t be quite as intense, but the smokiness will be present.

To make homemade Adobo Sauce use the following ingredients:
3 cups water
1/8 cup white vinegar
2 dried guajillo chiles
2 dried ancho chiles
1/4 cup oil 1 tsp tomato paste
1/2 cup broth
1 garlic clove minced
½ onion diced
¼ tsp cumin
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
¼ tbsp oregano
¼ tsp pepper
1 tbsp lemon juice

Fry the chilies in hot oil and add water and half of the vinegar to a pot. Boil the chilies in it, allowing them to soak for a few hours.

Blend the peppers with the tomato paste, the remainder of the vinegar and a little broth in a paste.

Sauté the garlic and onion. Add the remaining broth, lemon juice, chile paste and seasonings. Cook until thickened. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Qdoba Chicken cut and ready to eat
Qdoba Chicken Recipe: Copycat. Photo by CookThink

What Can I Do with My Leftover Chipotle Peppers and/or Adobo Sauce?

When it comes to these little guys, a little bit goes a long way. Most recipes call for only 1 or 2 peppers and bit of sauce. So, what is one to do with the leftovers? Leftover Adobo Sauce and Chipotle Peppers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Or place them in a Ziploc bag in the freezer for up to 3 months. They can be used in noodles, blended into a sauce for slow cooking, used to spice up a batch of chipotle honey roasted peanuts, or to season a batch of chili.

Qdoba Copycat Chicken Burrito Recipe Video

Watch our YouTube video for step-by-step instructions on how to make delicious Qdoba Chicken Recipe. You’ll find that it tastes even better than is healthier than the restaurant version.

How To Make Qdoba Grilled Chicken Copycat Recipe


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp adobo sauce from a can of Chipotle peppers
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper


1. Once the chicken has finished marinating, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pan over medium – high heat. Add the marinated chicken to the pan and cook, turning occasionally, until cooked through, about 6-7 minutes per side. Chicken should reach 165F in the thickest part when done.

2. If the chicken is thick and does not finish cooking in the estimated time, it might be necessary to finish cooking it in the oven.

3. Once the chicken has finished cooking, place it on a large cutting board to rest for 10 minutes. Then slice or chop. Serve on its own or in a burrito, salad or rice bowl.

Looking For More Easy Mexican Recipe Pairings?

Chicken Fiesta: Easy Slow Cooker Recipe
Easy Rolled Chicken Tacos Recipe: Taco Bell
Applebee’s Chicken Tortilla Soup Knockoff Recipe
Latin Rice With Chicken Thighs

More Burrito Recipes

Black Bean and Carrot Burritos With Cilantro
Broccoli and Red Bean Burritos

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This is a recipe I came up with to replicate the real thing.

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Sarah is known for her extra fancy yeast breads, melt in your mouth pies, and everything salads. She has won awards as a home cook, and is passionate about helping others feel smarter in the kitchen. Sarah is the cooking genius of the sister duo.

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