Chipotle Salsa Baked Chicken

This casserole produces a lot of sauce! Use it to spoon over rice or pasta, or for dipping tortilla chips.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6


  • 1 15-ounce can fire roasted tomatoes (or canned whole or crushed tomatoes if fire roasted are not available)
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup, packed, chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 chipotle chili peppers in adobo, plus 1 teaspoon adobo sauce (less or more to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or thighs), trimmed of excess fat, cut into 3-inch wide pieces
  • 4 ounces grated or sliced Monterey jack cheese

Serve with or over

  • Avocados
  • More chopped cilantro
  • Sour cream
  • Corn or flour tortillas
  • Rice
  • Pasta


1 Place tomatoes, onion, garlic, cilantro, chipotle peppers and adobo, lime juice and salt in a blender or food processor.  Pulse a few times so there are no more large chunks of anything, but not so much so that the salsa is completely smooth.

2 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the chicken pieces in a casserole dish, just large enough to fit them all in a single layer (about 8x10-inches).  Spread the chipotle salsa over the chicken pieces, turning the chicken pieces to coat them all over with the salsa.

chipotle-salsa-baked-chicken-method-1 chipotle-salsa-baked-chicken-method-2

3 Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes (30 minutes for thighs). Remove the foil, and sprinkle or layer the cheese over the chicken. Bake uncovered for 10 minutes more.

Serve over rice, pasta, or with tortillas on the side, along with chopped avocado, more cilantro, crema fresca or sour cream.

Variation: This is a bake-in-the-oven recipe. You could easily adapt the recipe to the stovetop this way:  sear the chicken pieces first in a little olive oil, remove the chicken, add the onions to the pan, cook them till soft, add the garlic and chiles, cook a little longer, add the tomatoes, lime juice, cilantro, and salt, then add the chicken, coat the chicken with the sauce, bring to a low simmer, cover, cook for 25 minutes, sprinkle with cheese, cover and cook for a few more minutes until the cheese is melted.

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  • Maggie @ Mama Maggie's Kitchen

    I love easy recipes especially those with big, bold flavors. Must pin for later!

  • Jasmine

    Wow! This recipe is a winner. Such nice combination of flavors. Dinner was a success tonight and this definitely will be a go to meal for me when I prepare chicken breasts. The salsa flavor is smoky, rich and delicious!! After reading some reviews I did cut the chipotle peppers to 1.5 instead of 2, but I think we can handle 2 so will try that next time. I also cooked the chicken for about 15-20 minutes extra since I had extra chicken breast and separate potatoes in the oven. Thanks again for such an amazing recipe. You never disappoint.

  • Paula

    Perfect! This recipe has an awesome flavor. I just had to cook chicken longer than posted. Def will be making this again.

  • Tina

    Be sure to cut them down to size because, after 25 minutes, mine was still raw. I cut them the right size width-wise but my chicken must have been substantially thicker. It turned into a marathon of waiting to eat until way too late in the evening. I ended up eating something else for dinner that night.

  • Paula

    Just made this tonight as written. Very good recipe. Taste like it was from a Mexican restaurant. I like spicy and will say 2 of the chilies in adobe sauce was the right amount. It was spicy but not over the top!


  • Sandy

    Fabulous! I made this tonight and my husband can’t stop raving about it. I shredded the leftovers before putting them away and now we’re looking forward to some amazing nachos tomorrow night.

    Next time I might make the salsa the night before to make it even quicker. Can I assemble the chicken through the cover-with-foil step? Or is that a no-no with raw chicken?

    Thanks, Elise, for this wonderful recipe. So often I feel like weeknight cooking is a choice between easy and flavor, but this is full-flavored AND incredibly easy. Now I can’t wait to try the salsa verde chicken bake.

    • Elise

      Sure, you could easily assemble the night before. I’m so glad you like it!

  • Amy

    This was amazing!! The salsa is wonderful by itself and the chicken was really flavorful. I used crushed fire roasted tomatoes and I broiled it without the foil for no real reason other than the fact that I make a similar Italian cheesy baked chicken dish that is broiled and I just like the way the chicken comes out cooked that way. I did not find the salsa to be watery cooking in this manner. Thanks Elise for another great recipe. I have been a fan of your site since I found your instructions for how to make hard boiled eggs 5 years ago :) You have saved the day many times over the years with your recipes!

  • Amber

    Elise – Making this tomorrow and wondering if you’ve ever added Yukon Gold potatoes? I thought they’d be a great addition, and would soak up some of that yummy chipotle salsa!

    • Elise

      Hi Amber, I haven’t, though if you do, please let us know how it turns out. The chicken may be done before the potatoes. If that happens, just remove the chicken and let the potatoes cook a little longer.

      • Amber

        Elise – Made this last night with the Yukon Gold potatoes. They were a great addition, and I really didn’t have a whole lot of leftover salsa. What I did was kept the chicken breasts whole, and cut the potatoes in super thin rounds; like if you were to use a mandolin cutter (I stopped using mine, but that’s another story). I layered the potatoes on the bottom of the baking dish, put the breasts on top and smothered the entire dish with the salsa. I extended the overall baking time, but not by much. The result was perfectly moist delicious chicken, and super tasty potatoes. Followed everything else to a T other than adding a bit of habanero to the salsa. Will definitely be making this again with all sorts of variations for the side dishes.

        • Elise

          Great, thanks for letting us know!

  • Lisa

    Hi Elise! I have been enjoying your website and recipes for a couple of years now. I love the fact that you include beautiful photos with every recipe, and you have set up a very concise way to look up recipes by category, etc. I have you bookmarked!

    Anyway, I saw this recipe a few weeks ago and wanted to give it a try. It is absolutely delicious! The flavors of this dish are so deep and smoky. I decided to add just a little more garlic, and at your suggestion to “add more of the Chipotle to taste”, so I added 1 more Chipotle pepper and used 1 tablespoon of the adobo sauce instead of the 1 teaspoon since I love that flavor. I also added a bit more of the lime juice because of the addition of the extra Chipotles. The combination of all of the flavors of the sauce is phenomenal. I think next time though I will drain the tomatoes since the excess sauce in the bottom of the baking dish was a little thinner than I expected, although the sauce on top of the chicken itself was perfect. I think the liquid from can of tomatoes must have settled in the bottom of the dish. Also, I will probably sauté the chicken with some canola or olive oil, just to get a nice sear on the outside before placing the pieces in the baking dish since my chicken thighs took a little longer that 30 minutes to cook. I served the chicken with some of your suggestions; sour cream (a must in my opinion to accompany the smoky flavor of the sauce), diced avocado and cilantro. I also served grilled flour tortillas and black beans on the side. We ate half of our plated chicken in the tortillas with the garnishes, and the other half without the tortillas. Both ways were equally as good. Thank you for such a flavorful recipe and one that is so quick to put together on a weeknight! I will be making this dish again and again. Please keep the great recipes coming!

    • Elise

      Hi Lisa, I’m so glad you and your family liked it!

      • Lisa

        Thanks Elise! I am so glad we have some leftover … we are looking forward to having the Chipotle Salsa chicken again tonight! Can’t wait!

      • Lisa

        Hi Elise,

        I just had to tell you that I made this delicious recipe again this weekend for a brunch for 12 attendees celebrating my son-in-law’s 25th birthday. It was a huge hit … everyone loved it and went back for seconds. I am just lucky that I made a large amount and that my guests left a little bit for my husband and I to be able to have another meal :) This chicken is fast becoming a family favorite! I paired the chicken with your Mexican Green Rice recipe which is another winner! I had requests for both the chicken and the rice recipes. Thank so much for your delicious recipes!

  • Deana

    Mine is in the oven now (much longer cooking time though- almost an hour now) can’t wait!! Salsa is not coming from a jar anymore…tasted before putting in oven..very good. Didn’t have all the correct amounts of ingredients had only about table spoon of cilantro, added few Ortega chili’s layered over the chicken, used lots of garlic & 1 onion, also used 3 peppers & 3 tsp of the adobe sauce. I am so happy I found this site (actually image led me to recipe) all because i wanted to do something different with the chicken & I has a tin of the Embassy Chipotle Peppers :) Thank you for sharing this will be made over & over again…. we haven’t even eaten it yet but I can just tell. :)

  • Anne

    This has become a favorite in our household. We have made it at least 10 times and have had others email for the recipe after they have had it. Plus it make the best salsa ever (and I lived in El Paso for six years). Great weeknight meal.

  • Laura

    My husband made this for dinner several weeks ago, and we both loved it! I thought it had just the right amount of kick and it made for great tacos.

    The second time I made the recipe, I omitted the cheese and shredded the chicken after it cooled a bit. Mixed with the salsa, the shredded chicken made for an easier to handle taco filling. We even used the leftovers for nacho toppings.

    As an aside, my mother-in-law doesn’t like much heat and thought the recipe as-is was a bit too spicy, so when I made the dish for her recently, I cut the chipotle pepper in half. She thought it was perfect, but I thought it needed more kick. I think using 1 1/2 chipotle peppers might be the best compromise for people who want a little kick but can’t take too much.

  • Tina

    Hi Elise! I just wanted to comment again and say that I made the salsa that you link to in the intro paragraph for the recipe (from Gaby Dalkin), and it was WONDERFUL! I chose to make that because it seemed like it would work REALLY well just with tortilla chips as a chips and salsa recipe…the only difference I think is the addition of fresh tomatoes, so it’s a bit chunkier. But it was really good – thanks for sharing that! I love all your recipes!

  • Kay

    Made this last week. I used a combination of breasts and thighs cause that’s what I had, and it turned out great. Loved the smoky flavor. I have never used chipotle before. New great ingredient.

  • Tina

    This was delicious!!! I had to cook the chicken a LOT longer than the recipe suggested…but otherwise, it was fabulous! LOVED the salsa, too. It’s not spicy at all. The husband loved it, and he doesn’t like spicy food.

  • Tom

    I really can’t wait to try this. I’m thinkin of using a Pork Shoulder instead. Spice & Pork go well together! Also I would like to put this in a slow cooker. Anyone try it?

  • Becky

    I wonder if this would work in a slow-cooker – less heat on these hot days. I think probably 3.5 hours on high, or 7 on low? Add the cheese the last 30 minutes.

  • Ann Marie

    We had this last night for dinner, and it was delicious. Definitely making it again. I used boneless thighs, which required more cooking time. And I skipped the cheese, which wasn’t missed. Served over rice with zucchini. Easy!

  • Vonnie Jeffers

    I made this for dinner the other night and it was a HUGE hit! I did the stovetop method and it came out perfectly. I served it with brown rice, sliced avocado’s and sour cream.

  • Mary

    This is totally yummy and easy to make, another classic from the kitchen of Elise Bauer: You know what all of the ingredients are, the recipe is do-able, inexpensive, down-to-earth, realistic, and demonstrates love for good food, which is why people like me stopped subscribing to cooking magazines, sometimes elitist in attitude a #1 turn-off for me, often feature complicated time-consuming recipes that call for expensive ingredients. You rock, Elise, my first go-to resource for all manner of recipes : )

    • A big fan

      I turn as many people on to this site as possible. I have so many friends who love good food but who don’t believe they are capable of cooking. But between Elise and Mark Bittman, perhaps we’ll get more people off the sidelines and into the kitchen.

  • LizD

    My 4 year old, generally picky eater loved this. He even ate the leftovers and asked for seconds. I was short on cilantro so I only put a bit in and added some cumin as well. He doesn’t like green things in his food so that may have helped.

    Either way though – kid and dad approved so it is definitely going on our list of regular recipes!

  • Brian

    This recipe is valuable for the salsa recipe alone! I will never buy a jar of chipotle salsa again! Served it with spanish rice and pinto beans. Very good recipe! Will try it with pasta next time, and there will be many next times!

    • Home made salsa

      [[I will never buy a jar of chipotle salsa again!]]

      Agreed. A can of peppers, a can of tomatoes, a small onion, garlic cloves, cilantro, sea salt…blend it freeze it. Done. Five minutes, start to finish.

      It’s the same idea as making your own salad dressing. Two parts oil, one part vinegar, garlic, splash of dijon mustard…and then whatever sets your wig on fire.

  • Toes

    Substituted green onions (whites and greens) for red and so used a bit more because they are a bit milder. Also added some tequila and some chopped up mexican hot chocolate to the salsa. Used mozzarella on the top. Served with avocado, sour cream and corn chips. Tons of sauce but very yummy over pasta. If there is any sauce left I may poach some eggs in it. Thanks!

  • Alex

    Made this tonight, and it was FABULOUS!!! I am pretty positive that this will become a staple in our house. Thanks Elise, for another winner!!

  • Amanda

    Yum! Just tested this recipe, and I can tell this is going to escalate into “family classic” territory pretty quickly. Delicious!

  • Betsy

    I love your site, Elise! Several of your recipes are now mainstays in my kitchen. This was a perfect recipe to make for my family – my husband and I love the spice of the chipotles, but with the sauce removed the chicken wasn’t too spicy for my children (I shredded some of the chicken and they ate it in tacos).


  • JeanT

    I made this tonight for dinner. It wasn’t as big a hit as I had hoped, but was quite good. I served it with white rice and that was a poor choice.

  • Chipotle in adobo - A perfect staple for the pantry

    I put an extra chipotle pepper in the blender to make the most of the little can of peppers. Extra smokey, not too hot, though each mouthful was washed down with a swig of beer. Served over brown rice, no cheese, but with a bit of cilantro over the top.

    Filling, wonderful.

    Next time, I’ll slice the chicken thinner and make tacos with slices of avocado. (A tip for home cooks…when you want to thinly slice chicken or beef, put it in the freezer for 20 minutes or so to firm it up.)

    And, bottom line, I’ll definitely keep a half dozen little tins of chipotle peppers in adobo in the pantry.

    • Chipotle in adobo - A perfect staple for the pantry

      I was lucky enough to find ripe avocados at the market today, so chicken tacos were on the menu.

      I opened another tin of Embasa brand peppers. They are not very hot if that’s a concern for anyone. Personally, I feel like I could use more heat. I’m sure I’ll make a large batch of this salsa and freeze in little containers and in that case I’ll add a habanero or two, or at least jalapenos with their seeds. I plan to try other brands to see the heat level.

      Otherwise, I recommend Trader Joe’s corn tortillas…twice the price of what you’d find at a corner Mexican market, a dollar vs. fifty cents, but much better texture and firmer.

      • Elise

        I’ve had both great and terrible tortillas from Trader Joe’s. I think it depends on the location. Here in California the tortillas have to be good because of the competition.

        • Chipotle in adobo - A perfect staple for the pantry

          Excellent point. My veggie guy, where I got the avocados, does good business with breads and tortillas, so they’re likely to be fresh from him. But my first stop that day was TJs for the low-priced beer and high-priced chicken thighs, so I grabbed a pack of tortillas while there.

          I could hit my local small chain of Mexican markets for the tortillas and the peppers, but definitely NOT for the chicken, which is of really suspect origin and quality.

          Anyway, thanks for a great recipe. I can’t believe chipotles in adobo were not on my radar until now.

          Two things that are next on my agenda…shrimp tacos in chipotle sauce and your salsa verde chicken bake.

          I’ve found that the Frontera salsa verde is quite, quite good.

          • Chipotle in adobo - A perfect staple for the pantry

            I’ve settled on San Marcos brand of chipotles in adobo.

  • Linda

    Yum and double yum! Worked great – I made a double recipe as I had plenty of chicken and young appetites. I doubled the chipotle peppers and it was just good and spicy. My favorite still might be the Salsa Verde, but this is close!

  • HeatherC

    Elise – I make your recipes all the time and can always count on interesting, delicious results, but I’ve never been moved to comment before. Had to tonight! I made this for dinner and my husband and son absolutely loved it. I was lucky to have a serving – they ate the rest and have asked for it again asap. Loved the chipolte – will add one more chili next time – balanced with the avocado and sour cream.

  • Soyini

    Made this last week, it was AWESOME!!! My family tagged it!

  • Joy

    My husband made this for dinner last night, served over rice. It was so good we had to do rock-paper-scissors to decide who got to take the leftovers for lunch today!
    Thanks for another delicious recipe!!

  • Motyka

    I was inspired to make this tonight when I saw all the warm ingredients and simplicity! I followed the recipe precisely… using boneless chicken thighs and cooking for 30 minutes plus 10 uncovered with cheese. I cooked it in a glass casserole dish covered in aluminum foil; however, there was a significant amount of water left in the dish and I expected more of a saucy salsa like texture at the end. Did I do something wrong? Should I have drained the canned roasted tomatoes or something?

    • Elise

      No, the recipe produces a lot of liquid as written. It’s good for putting over rice or pasta. That said, if it is too liquidy for you, you can reduce the tomato to just one cup. I also find that thighs produce more liquid than breasts in this recipe for some reason. Don’t know why.

  • jen

    that was absurd. hot damn! another delicious recipe! i only had 5 legs and made it anyways. unbelievably tender, moist and yummy!

  • JarJar

    Made this last night, it was very nice. May drain the tomatoes a bit next time as the sauce was a little watery for me, but that’s the only thing I would alter. Good easy recipe for quick mid-week meal, many thanks for it.

  • Love you, love your site

    For the stove top version, would it be better to use canola oil (with its higher smoke point) instead of olive oil?

    Also, when browning chicken thighs, I dust them with a little fresh ground black pepper and a pinch of coarse sea salt.

    • Elise

      Yes, it’s a good idea to use a high smoke point oil such as canola oil or grapeseed oil when browning anything on the stovetop. Pepper can burn though, so I don’t usually sprinkle meat with pepper before browning.

  • Heather

    So chipotles really keep that long? I’m always so paranoid about keeping food. I’m assuming you just put them in a jar and close it, right?

    • Elise

      Hi Heather, I just keep the chipotles in the small metal can in which they came, covered with a little plastic wrap to keep the contents from drying out. There is a lot of vinegar in the adobo sauce, along with the preserving power of the chilies, which helps it keep.

      • Lisa J

        When I have left over chipotle in adobo, I take an ice cube tray and place one chipotle in each container then spoon in 2 tablespoons (one ounce) of adobo sauce over each. Freeze. Once frozen, I pop the cubes out and place in a freezer zip lock baggie. When a recipe calls for a small amount of chipotles, I just pull out the number of cubes I will need and throw the rest back in the freezer.

  • Deb

    Do you think this could cook up ok in a crock pot?

    • reen

      I’ve made very similar dishes in the crockpot and they’ve come out best when I use boneless thighs (less likely to dry out as the liquid cooks down). For this amount, 6-7 hours on Low.

  • Paola

    I am actually on my way to lunch and my coworkers and I decided to go to a Mexican restaurant that have the best Chipotle burrito ever!

    I have one question… what would be a good substitution for Monterey Jack Cheese? I don’t like it that much. Thanks!

    • STH

      Paola, when I made it I used about half mozzarella and half sharp cheddar and it was delicious.

    • Betsy

      I had Muenster on hand, so used that in lieu of Monterey Jack.

  • mantha

    Another triumph for your pretty blue bowls, Elise . . . beautiful image of the serving with cilantro and avocado chunks. I love chipotle insanely — I will even put a dab of peanut butter on a triscuit and shake Penzey’s dried chipotle powder on top (don’t laugh til you try it).

    Any idea how they make the smoked jalapenos? Over a wood fire? Sometimes we get mountains of the peppers in the market and I think how food it would be if I could smoke dry some of them.

  • Gaby

    mmmmmmm love me some chipotle salsa :) And this chicken would be an excellent weeknight meal in our house – Thomas is going to love it. I guess I’ll throw some avocado on top too, because why not!

  • Dave

    Pinned it for later. I think this would great over a pile of chips, kind of like chilaquiles.

    BTW – my father pronounces chipotle so badly that at first I thought he was talking about capicollo ;).

  • Amy

    Yum! This looks amazing! I think I will have to use the stove top method because my food processor broke, and I ordered a replacement part, but they only sent the lid, not the latch attachment so it still won’t work! ARGH. This is frustrating me to no end in case you can’t tell, lol. I never realized how much I used that dang thing until I couldn’t use it.

    My husband doesn’t like chicken breast, though, do you think I could use a mix of breasts and thighs?

    • Elise

      I’ve made this with thighs and made this with chicken breasts, but not together. Thighs usually take a little longer to cook. So if you were to cook them together, maybe cut the thigh pieces a little smaller?

  • Christine

    My favorite way to help use up those cans of chipotles is by adding a chopped pepper or two to barbecue sauce when making pulled pork (or chicken) sandwiches. Top with a little vinegared slaw and YUM.

    This looks great! I just made your chile relleno but stuffed with a black bean and corn mix instead of the chorizo. So good! Thanks.

  • Julie

    Wow! This looks amazing! I’m just wondering if it’s fairly spicey with the chipoltes and adobo. The way you have the ratio of ingredients, is it fairly hot?

    • Elise

      With two chipotle peppers it’s not very hot to my taste, but then I like spicy things. If you think the spiciness might be an issue, start with one chipotle pepper, taste the salsa and add another if you want.

      • Leah

        I’m wondering if using a jar of Chipotle Tomato Roja would give the same great results?

        • Elise

          Hi Leah, I don’t see why it wouldn’t. If you try it, please let us know how it turns out for you!

    • STH

      Hi Julie, just wanted to let you know that I made this last night and it wasn’t spicy at all, even for my super-wimpy-when-it-comes-to-spicy-food boyfriend. In fact, I might add another pepper next time I make it.

      And it was delicious, by the way. I was a little short on chicken, so I added a cup or so of cooked pinto beans and that worked well. I served it over brown rice.