Chipotle Tequila Lime Chicken bursts with delectable flavors, and can be grilled, sautéed or baked. It's excellent in salads, tacos, sandwiches, or served as a main course with sides.Above: It's delicious served with or in a salad.
Chipotle Tequila Lime Chicken carries a ton of delicious sweet, spicy and tangy flavors.
Whether you serve it as a main course drizzled with its scrumptious sauce, or chopped into a salad, everyone will flip for it!
Above: Chipotle Tequila Lime Marinade (grapeseed oil, tequila, honey, lime zest, chipotles and garlic)
What does alcohol do in a marinade?
- In marinades, alcohol does not tenderize, but it does help season the protein and can carry amazing flavor.
- I like using tequila in marinades for chicken because it adds a delicious smoky flavor.
What does citrus do in a marinade?
- Too much acid in a marinade can actually dry out and toughen protein. So while citrus does enhance flavor, it should be used minimally and not for long periods of time.
- While it’s quite popular to use citrus juices in marinades, I often prefer to only use citrus zest. The zest contains the essential oils of the citrus and is therefore filled with pure flavor.
- So while a little bit of citrus juice can work well in a marinade, the zest packs a lot of flavor and you won’t risk changing the texture of the protein.
Ideas for serving Chipotle Tequila Lime Chicken
- Add it to a chopped salad, or any other salad you’d like to. It’s a great way to turn a side salad into a hearty main course.
- It's delicious in tacos, burritos, tostadas, etc.
- Serve it with Mexican beans, rice and a salad for a great well rounded meal.
The possibilities are really endless.
Above: The marinade deglazes the pan where the chicken was sautéed, cooks over high heat for a few minutes, and is fantastic drizzled over the chicken.
Recipe Tips and Substitutions
- If you lightly pound any thicker parts of the chicken breasts before you begin, it will cook more evenly. Use a smooth meat mallet or the bottom of a small sauté pan, with the chicken between two pieces of plastic wrap.
- For less heat, use less of the chipotles in adobo, or only the (adobo) sauce and none of the actual chiles with seeds.
- While the cooking time will be much longer, you can use this tequila lime marinade with bone-in chicken as well. (If you do, bake it in a 375°F oven for approximately 30 minutes — just until it’s cooked through.)
- If you choose to grill the chicken breasts, the cooking time will be similar to sautéing it.
- To serve the chicken hot, it’s best to do so immediately after it’s cooked.
- If you’re using the chicken for sandwiches or in a salad, let it cool completely and then slice it.
- And finally, to serve it as an entrée, I would definitely drizzle it with the sauce (which is made from heating the leftover marinade). If you don’t drizzle it and use the chicken differently, I’d still make the sauce and save it — even if it’s to dredge a piece of bread in. It’s so tasty!
Can you make it ahead?
As I mentioned, if you’re planning to serve the chicken hot, it should be served as close to cooking time as possible.
You can make it ahead if it will be used cold in salads, sandwiches, etc. Up to two days ahead is okay. (To keep it as juicy as possible, don’t slice it until you’re ready to use it.)
Above: Right out of the pan, the chicken is drizzled with the cooked marinade.
I hope you love every last bite of this Chipotle Tequila Lime Chicken!
More marinated chicken recipes:
- Marinated Achiote Chicken
- Baked Coconut Mango Chicken
- Herbs de Provence Orange Roasted Chicken
- Honey Mustard Chicken
Chipotle Tequila Lime Chicken
- ¼ cup grapeseed oil
- ¼ cup good quality tequila
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped chipotles in adobo sauce
- 1 tablespoon lime zest (from about 1 large lime, washed and dried)
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (4 small or 2 large)
- salt and pepper
- Make the marinade. In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the chicken, and whisk to blend.
- Marinate the chicken. Trim the chicken breasts of any excess fat. Pour the marinade into a heavy-duty zip-lock bag and add the chicken. (To avoid leaking in the refrigerator, put the bag in a second bag or a bowl.) Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours and ideally overnight.
- Cook the chicken. Remove the chicken from the bag, and let any excess marinade drip off into the bag. Place the chicken on a clean, dry surface. (Do not throw out the marinade!) Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper, coat the bottom of a large sauté pan with grapeseed oil and place it over high heat. When the pan is hot, add the chicken. You should hear a sizzling sound when it hits the pan, and if you don’t, wait until it’s hotter. Sauté just until it’s cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. (Times will vary, depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts.)
- Deglaze the pan/cook the marinade. As soon as you remove the chicken, pour the leftover marinade from the bag in the pan. With the heat about medium-high, use a flat-edged spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan to dislodge any stuck, caramelized bits of the marinade from sautíng the chicken. Work them into the liquid and bring to a boil. Since it’s just a small amount, it will look more like a strong simmer than a boil, and it will be thick. Turn the heat to low and simmer for just a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Rest, slice and serve. Let the chicken sit for a few minutes (slice if desired), and drizzle with the cooked marinade.
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Your chicken looks so good. I’ve never tried cooking with tequila! Now I should! Love all of that chipotle flavor, too.
The smoky flavor it adds is delicious. Thanks for visiting and I hope you enjoy! 🙂 ~Valentina
Making this! Thanks Valentina!
Gerlinde de Broekert
I never cooked with tequila but I can't see why. It must produce a tender moist chicken. I have to try it.
Hi Gerlinde, I hope you try and love it! The smoky flavor from the tequila is so good. 🙂 ~Valentina
Tequila is not always found in the liqueur cupboard on this side of the Pond - an interesting marinade I shall most certainly try the next time I have all the ingredients . . .
I hope you love it! Thanks, Eha. 🙂 ~Valentina
Love tequila. Love lime. This cannot go wrong ! Or, maybe it can if I drink while cooking ...... I'll let you know ! LOL
Ha! Sounds like fun to me. Enjoy the cooking and the results. Thanks. 🙂 ~Valentina
Roz | La Bella Vita Cucina
I can only imagine how tenderized the chicken is from the tequila and lime! My husband would love this for when he cooks while I'm at work. Can't wait to try it, Valentina.
Thanks so much for visiting, Roz. I hope you both love it! 🙂 ~Valentina
Ben | Havocinthekitchen
Interesting point on alcohol - I've always mistakenly thought it works as a tenderizer. Anyway, I've never used tequila for a marinade, and it sounds great.The chicken itself looks terrific - loving this caramelization! And I bet it also tastes wonderful.
Thanks so much for checking out this recipe, Ben. I do love the caramelization! Enjoy. 🙂 ~Valentina
Jeff the Chef @ Make It Like a Man!
I hardly had to get past the title to know that I'd love this. Chipotle, tequila, and lime ... what a great combo. We eat a lot of chicken at my house, and we're always looking for new ways to make it, so thanks! I'm right there with on sopping up a good sauce with bread! Count me in!
You are so in, Jeff! 😉 I hope you love it and thank you. 🙂 ~Valentina
Great recipe. The chipotle provided the right amount of heat and that smoky taste. Cooked up four chicken breasts. Last night, main dish with salad. Tonight, tacos with avocado salsa and tomatillo sauce. Thanks Valentina.
Hi Tom! Thanks so much for writing in. I'm so happy this was a hit, and so great to have leftovers to try other things with. I bet it will be so tasty with the avocados and tomatillo sauce. Sounds perfect. 🙂 ~Valentina
David Scott Allen
Of course I love this combination of flavors, and I bet it makes the chicken just so tender - and I love the hint about using zest more than the juice! I think citrus (when used too long) makes the meat mealy. Definitely one to try soon.
Hope you love it, David. Thanks so much. 🙂 ~Valentina