This Mexican chicken marinade is packed with bold flavors, from the smoky chipotle to the tangy lime juice, to the fresh cilantro. It will make any grilled chicken mouthwatering!

About The Recipe

This marinade recipe is all you need to turn boring chicken into a flavorful, and amazing dish that everyone will love.

The ingredients include oil, lime juice, cumin, cilantro, and other seasonings. It’s important to note that the start of the marinade is the chipotle paste, which adds a nice warming flavor and some spiciness. 

Chipotle peppers are a very common ingredient in Mexican cuisine because they have the most amazing flavor. They’re smoky, spicy, and slightly sweet, so they add a lot of depth and deliciousness to many different dishes.

This Mexican chicken marinade recipe takes full advantage of the chipotle flavor, so you should definitely give it a try. 

It’s easy to make and you can whip it up in about 5 minutes. To make the marinade, you just have to combine all the ingredients in a bowl or resealable plastic bag and mix them well. 

Once the marinade is ready, you can add the chicken to the mix and let it sit in the fridge until you’re ready to cook it. The longer the chicken bathes in the marinade, the more flavorful it will be.

The marinade will make the chicken not only flavorful but also super tender and moist and the result will be a deeply flavorful chicken that you can serve with your favorite side dishes or shred and use to make flautas ahogadas, bowl salads, tacos, burritos, and so much more. 

Grilled chicken marinated with Mexican marinade.

How To Make Mexican Chicken Marinade

Combine all the ingredients in a large container, jar, or resealable plastic bag. Whisk/shake vigorously so all herbs and seasonings distribute and dissolve nicely.

Mexican chicken marinade made in a resealable bag.

Add the chicken pieces you’d like to marinate (breasts, chicken thighs, or drumsticks). Turn nicely to coat well the meat.

Seal the bowl or bag and marinate in the refrigerator until ready to cook.

Marinated chicken with Mexican marinade in a bag.

Related: How To Handle and Cook Poultry – by

What Container to Use?

Bowl: For one, you can use a bowl. You just pour the ingredients in and use a whisk to mix them well. Then, you can add the chicken, coat it, and cover it with cling film.

Resealable bag: I recommend using a resealable plastic bag instead. More specifically, a bag that you can re-use every time you make this recipe.

One of the main reasons I recommend using a resealable and reusable plastic bag is that it makes things easier. You don’t have to dirty a bowl and a whisk, you just have to pour the ingredients into the bag, seal it up, and shake it until everything is mixed well. 

Then, you can open the bag again, add the chicken, seal it, give it a good shake to coat the meat, and place it in the fridge until you’re ready to cook.

It makes things a lot quicker and you’ll also have fewer dishes to wash, which is always great. 

Jars: You can also use a jar with a lid for your marinade so you can easily shake the ingredients to integrate them nicely. 8 oz Mason jars are perfect for this.

Containers with tight lids: If you want to use a container, make sure the material is non-reactive. 

Aluminum containers are a no-no because the material will react with the acidity of the lime juice. Instead, go for glass, plastic, or stainless steel containers.

How to Safely Use the Marinade

Marinades are a great way to make any kind of meat or vegetable more flavorful. When you let the food soak in a delicious sauce, you get a deeply flavored dish.

Whether you’re grilling, sautéing, or roasting, marinating your food will lead to more intense flavors, tender meat, and a lot more juiciness. 

However, it’s important to be aware of food safety to avoid making mistakes that will compromise your food. When done wrong, marinated food can lead to food poisoning.

To avoid that from happening to you and the people you’re sharing your food with, here are the best tips you should follow when preparing and cooking marinated food:

  • Use a food-safe container. As mentioned above, using an aluminum or metal container to marinate your chicken is not a good option. If you’re using a bowl or container, make sure it’s made of glass, plastic, or stainless steel. I prefer a sealable and reusable plastic bag. Just make sure it’s food-safe!
  • Cover it well. Whatever kind of food-safe container you use, make sure to cover it well so the marinated food is not contaminated by anything. 
  • Put it in the fridge. Even if you’re just marinating your food for a few minutes, don’t leave it on the kitchen counter. Put the container on the bottom shelf of your fridge instead until you’re ready to cook it. It’s very important to keep the food at a stable, low temperature. Otherwise, the bacteria will grow and make the food unsafe to consume. 
  • Pack it properly. If you’re taking your marinated chicken for a camping trip or a family barbecue, make sure you keep the container sealed and transport it in a cooler with ice. This will keep it out of the sunlight and also maintain a safe temperature to keep bacteria at bay. 
  • Be careful when reusing the marinade. For food safety, always discard the extra Mexican chicken marinade that has come in contact with raw chicken.
  • If you want to baste the chicken with the marinade, set aside some before adding to the chicken and use that instead. 
  • Cook it well. The last thing you have to do is cook the marinated meat or vegetables at the proper temperature. Don’t undercook or overcook the food. Using a food thermometer is highly recommended, especially when cooking meat because it helps you measure the internal temperature to make sure it’s cooked safely and well. 
Authentic Mexican chicken marinade in a jar.

How To Serve Your Grilled Chicken


Is this marinade spicy?

Yes, since it includes chipotle paste and chili powder or flakes. However, you can adjust the amount of those two or leave them out completely.

Is this recipe gluten-free?

Yes. Our Mexican chicken marinade doesn’t contain any products with gluten.

Where can I find chipotle paste?

The chipotle paste can be found here on Amazon and in Mexican grocery stores. If you can’t find paste you can use chipotles in adobo sauce and just chop them.

How long last this Mexican chicken marinade?

5 days in the fridge and up to 2 months in the freezer. I recommend using a bag for storing the marinade.

How long do you need to marinate the chicken?

For bone-in chicken (thighs, drumsticks) recommend time is at least 6 hours. For smaller cuts like chicken tenders or breast cubes, 30 minutes will be enough.

Mexican chicken marinade recipe.

Spicy Mexican Chicken Marinade

1 cup
This easy Mexican chicken marinade is spicy, tangy, and with a wonderful warming flavor. Use it to coat any cut of grilled or pan-fried chicken.


  • 2 limes (juice)
  • cup vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp chipotle paste (read notes)
  • 1 tsp chili powder or flakes
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • ½ cup cilantro (chopped)
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 ½ Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 ½ Tbsp oregano
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 ½ tsp salt


  • Add all ingredients to a resealable bag, jar, or container.
  • Shake/whisk vigorously so the seasonings dissolve well and combine.
  • Add chicken to the bag or container and shake/turn to coat on all sides.
  • Refrigerate or freeze until ready to cook.


  • The chipotle paste can be found here on Amazon.
  • You can sub chipotle paste with chipotles in adobo sauce and just chop them.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 770kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 74g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 53g | Sodium: 4086mg | Potassium: 537mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1358IU | Vitamin C: 44mg | Calcium: 247mg | Iron: 7mg
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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    This is the very best Mexican marinade I have found. I use it for both chicken and beef, for burritos, tacos, tostados. Everything Mexican. I marinate my meat and then freeze it in portions perfect for my family, so delicious. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  2. 5 stars
    This marinade was easy to make and has wonderful flavors. I marinaded chicken thighs both boneless skinless with bone in and skin on for 6 hours. It was a little thick, maybe because I used Olive Oil, but all I did was add a little more to thin it some. I think the star of the ingredients was the recommended chipotle paste which I bought from Amazon. Grilled them and rested about 10 minutes – Super Good!

  3. When I make this with chipotles in adobo sauce it comes out very thick. Add more oil to thin?? It still tastes very good but its like a spread instead of a marinade. Thanks

  4. This recipe is great and I could see this working on many different kinds of meats or even on vegetables – my only note is that for someone who is watching calories/looking to make healthier substitutions, the vegetable oil had to be omitted from my version of the recipe. I ended up using the juice of 2 fresh limes and using 1/3 water instead – still extremely flavorful and moist.

  5. 5 stars
    Hi Maricruz, just dropping you a note to say this came out DELICIOUS!! Thanks for the wonderful recipe. So much flavor and the chicken came out perfectly moist. Fantastic !!

  6. 5 stars
    I have a favorite chicken marinade now. I let my chicken marinate for around 18 hours and cooked it in my pressure cooker along with a cup of chicken broth. It turned out so good and I love the flavor of it. I will use this regularly for my meal prepping.

    1. Hi Jolene, yes, you can use the marinade to cook chicken with other cooking methods. If you use a crockpot you might want to add a bit of water or chicken stock, then cook the chicken until tender (how long will depend if you use bone-in or boneless).

  7. Can you clarify the “chili powder or flakes”. Do you mean actual chili powder you would use for chili or “red” chili flakes in a powder form?