Copycat Chipotle Burrito Bowl

published Aug 8, 2023
Copycat Chipotle Burrito Bowl Recipe

All the signature elements come together in this copycat Chipotle chicken burrito bowl: juicy chicken, cilantro-lime rice, and zesty corn salsa.


Prep30 minutes

Cook30 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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a burrito bowl with all of the elements separated into sections of the bowl
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Brett Regot

Watching someone build a burrito bowl right in front of your eyes is one of the reasons why Chipotle is so beloved. You get to watch as your choices are scooped into an oval bowl and passed down from the hot food section to the wide array of toppings at the end. 

Chipotle’s marinated chicken is always juicy and tender, and while it’s the star of a Chipotle chicken burrito bowl, the other supporting characters shine too. Fluffy cilantro-lime rice, black or pinto beans, corn salsa, pico de gallo, guacamole, cheese, and sour cream all join in to make it hearty and delicious. Here’s how to make this masterpiece in your own kitchen.

What Goes into a Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl

There are a lot of components that go into a Chipotle chicken burrito bowl, so I like to concentrate my energy on making a flavorful chipotle chicken, cilantro-lime rice, and corn salsa. While the rest of the toppings can be homemade, they’re also easily purchased pre-made at the grocery store: canned black or pinto beans, guacamole, cheese, lettuce, salsa, and sour cream are all the tasty options you can use to finish building your perfect burrito bowl.

Ingredients Needed for the Chicken Marinade

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for the easy blender marinade for the chicken:

  • Aromatics: Coarsely chopped red onion and garlic
  • Canned chipotle sauce: A 1/3 cup of sauce from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce adds tons of flavor, but not a lot of spicy heat since the actual peppers aren’t blended into the marinade.
  • Spices: Chili powder, cumin, oregano, and black pepper make up the spice blend.
  • Water and oil: Help everything blend together smoothly

Different Ways to Customize Toppings

What makes Chipotle burrito bowls such a winner is the fact that each person can mix and match the toppings they want on their bowls. Here are the toppings and how you can customize them:

  • Black or pinto beans: Use whole cooked beans; canned are just fine.
  • Salsa: Go chunky with a pico de gallo, or pick a blended green or red salsa instead (or both!).
  • Cheese: Cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Mexican blend cheese are all good options.
  • Guacamole or avocado: Keep it simple with diced avocado, or make some guac if you’re feeling extra.
  • Sour cream: Sour cream is easy to find, but you can also sub in crema or even a little Greek yogurt if you want some creaminess.

If You’re Making a Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl, a Few Tips

  1. Butterfly the chicken breasts. Butterflying chicken breasts means that there’s more surface area that the marinade covers for more flavorful chicken. Thin chicken breasts also cook more quickly and evenly, but if you don’t feel like butterflying, use chicken tenders or thin-cut chicken breasts instead.
  2. Don’t skip the corn salsa. One of my favorite parts of the burrito bowl is the zingy corn salsa, which adds freshness and sweetness. The corn salsa can be made ahead of time; I’d recommend making it while the chicken is marinating.
  3. Outsource the toppings. If you’re short on time or want to reduce prep time, see what you can buy already made. Salsa, pre-shredded cheese, chopped romaine lettuce, and avocado instead of guac (or buy pre-made guacamole) can all be purchased easily.
  4. Grill the chicken if you can. The chicken can be cooked on the stovetop in a cast iron skillet or a grill pan, or you can even grill it on an outdoor grill. A grill pan or outdoor grill will give beautiful grill marks and a little char.

Other Ways to Serve a Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl

The beauty of this recipe is that you aren’t limited to just making burrito bowls. Once the rice and chicken are made, you can use them and the toppings to make hard or soft tacos, or even stuff everything into tortillas for chicken burritos. You can also increase the amount of lettuce and add some more veggies for a salad instead, or stuff the chicken with cheese into tortillas to make quesadillas.

Copycat Chipotle Burrito Bowl Recipe

All the signature elements come together in this copycat Chipotle chicken burrito bowl: juicy chicken, cilantro-lime rice, and zesty corn salsa.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


For the chicken:

  • 1/2

    medium red onion

  • 3 cloves


  • 1/3 cup

    sauce from 1 (7-ounce) can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

  • 1/4 cup


  • 2 tablespoons

    vegetable oil, plus more for cooking the chicken

  • 1 tablespoon

    chili powder

  • 2 teaspoons

    kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon

    dried oregano

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 pounds

    boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, or a combination

For the rice:

  • 1 cup

    long-grain white rice

  • 1

    large bunch fresh cilantro

  • 1 clove


  • 1

    large lime

  • 2 tablespoons

    vegetable oil

  • 1 1/3 cups


  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

Topping options:

  • 1 (about 15-ounce) can

    black or pinto beans

  • 4 ounces

    cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Mexican blend cheese

  • 1/2

    medium head romaine lettuce

  • Guacamole or 1 medium ripe avocado

  • Sour cream

  • Corn Salsa

  • Salsa or pico de gallo


Marinate the chicken:

  1. Coarsely chop 1/2 medium red onion (about 3/4 cup) and 3 garlic cloves. Place both in a blender.

  2. Drain 1 (7-ounce) can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, reserving the sauce. Add 1/3 cup of the sauce (reserve the remaining sauce and peppers for another use), 1/4 cup water, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper to the blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into a large zip-top bag or large bowl.

  3. If using boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut 2 pounds in half horizontally (also known as butterflying). If using chicken thighs, no need to cut. Place the chicken in the marinade and turn to coat. Seal the bag or cover the bowl. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or up to overnight. (This is a good time to make the corn salsa.)

Make the rice:

  1. Place 1 cup long-grain white rice in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cold water, swishing the rice around with your hands, for about 15 seconds. Shake off the excess water and set aside in the strainer to continue draining.

  2. Finely chop the tender stems and leaves from 1 large bunch fresh cilantro until you have 1 cup. Mince 1 garlic clove. Finely grate the zest of 1 large lime, then juice the lime until you have 2 tablespoons; reserve the lime zest and juice for finishing the rice.

  3. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the rice and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until starting to brown and fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes.

  4. Add 1 1/3 cups water, 1/2 cup of the cilantro, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Stir to combine and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the rice is tender, 15 to 17 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the chicken.

Cook the chicken:

  1. Heat a large cast iron skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, remove the chicken from the marinade and wipe off the excess marinade with paper towels.

  2. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to the skillet or brush the grill pan lightly with vegetable oil. Cooking in batches so as not to crowd the pan, add enough of the chicken to the pan so there’s room between each piece. Cook until well browned and charred in spots, and the internal temperature of the chicken registers at least 165ºF, 2 1/2 to 4 1/2 minutes per side.

  3. Transfer to a clean cutting board and repeat cooking the remaining chicken, brushing the grill pan or adding more oil to the skillet before each batch.

Assemble the bowls:

  1. When the rice is ready, remove the saucepan from the heat and let the rice steam, still covered, for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the remaining ingredients for the burrito bowls.

  2. Prepare the following, placing each in a separate bowl or in piles on a platter or rimmed baking sheet as you complete it: Drain and rinse 1 (about 15-ounce) can black or pinto beans under hot water. Grate 4 ounces cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese on the large holes of a box grater if needed (about 1 cup). Core and thinly slice 1/2 medium head romaine lettuce. Halve, pit, peel, and dice 1 medium avocado.

  3. Place guacamole, sour cream, corn salsa, and salsa or pico de gallo in separate bowls. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Uncover and fluff the rice with a fork. Add the remaining cilantro, lime zest, and lime juice, and gently stir to combine.

  4. To build each bowl, divide the rice and beans between 4 bowls, then top with the chicken and desired toppings.

Recipe Notes

Grilling: The chicken can be grilled on an outdoor grill. Heat the grill to medium-high, direct heat (about 425ºF) while the rice cooks. Wipe the excess marinade off the chicken, then place on oiled grill grates. Cover and grill until dark grill marks form and the internal temperature of the chicken registers at least 165ºF on an instant-read thermometer, about 4 minutes per side.

Substitutions: Chicken tenders or chicken cutlets can be used in place of the chicken breasts or thighs.

Make ahead: The chicken can be marinated up to 1 day ahead. The rice can be cooked up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container; reheat in the microwave.

Storage: Leftover chicken and rice can be refrigerated in separate airtight containers for up to 4 days.