30-Minute Weeknight Dinners Don’t Get Better Than This…
…because this honey chipotle chicken recipe has it all. Juicy, fall-apart tender chicken that absolutely bursts with rich, spicy-sweet flavor despite cooking for a mere 25 minutes. PLUS! It’s basically a pantry recipe, calling for simple staples that you probably always have on hand.
Not sure about you, but that is a dinner situation that I can get down with any night of the week.
So here’s the deal – these honey chipotle chicken tacos are basically my idea of the perfect chicken taco.
Good ol’ boneless, skinless chicken gets a dusting of my go-to homemade taco seasoning. It simmers away in a simple honey chipotle sauce made with beer for extra flavor. The chicken gets seriously fall-apart tender & soaks up so much smoky-spicy-sweet flavor. (It’s not spicy-spicy…there’s a good smoky kick that we balance out with the sweetness of honey!)
& best of all, you can serve it up any which way your heart desires. If you’re not in the mood for tacos, it’s also fantastic in taco salads, burrito bowls, quesadillas, nachos…you name it!
This honey chipotle chicken recipe has been a reader favorite here on PWWB since it was first published back in 2017. I originally shared it as an Instant Pot recipe, but over the years I’ve grown to prefer making it in a skillet, so we’re refreshing it today with this slightly different method. This version is still totally easy & weeknight-friendly. Plus, it delivers the smoky-sweet flavor you may already know & love. & if love cooking with your Instant Pot or slow cooker, be sure to check out the Recipe Notes for full directions with these alternate cooking methods!
Honey Chipotle Chicken Recipe Highlights
You will LOVE this Honey Chipotle Chicken recipe because it’s…
- PERFECTLY SPICY-SWEET, thanks to a generous dusting of my go-to taco seasoning & the best smoky-sweet honey chipotle sauce. It absolutely bursts with rich flavor despite a short cook time – life’s too short for bland chicken!
- SERIOUSLY QUICK & EASY! It calls for simple pantry staples that you probably already have on hand & it comes together in 35 minutes or less!
- TOTALLY VERSATILE. Serve it up as honey chipotle chicken tacos, burrito bowls, salads, nachos, quesadillas, you name it. Plus, it’s a skillet meal that’s both slow cooker & Instant Pot-friendly, perfect for a quick & easy weeknight meal.
There’s seriously nothing not to love about it. ♡ Read on to learn more about this Honey Chipotle Chicken, or jump straight to the recipe & get cookin’!
Honey Chipotle Chicken – Key Ingredients
My favorite thing about this easy chicken recipe is that packs a big punch of flavor but doesn’t require a complicated ingredient lineup. Instead, we rely on just a handful of pantry staple ingredients that you probably always have stocked in your kitchen.
Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.
Here’s what you need…
- Chicken – Feel free to use either chicken thighs or chicken breasts for this honey chipotle chicken. Because it’s seared & simmered, I prefer thighs – they’re a little more forgiving & don’t dry out easily. If you choose to use breasts, either pound them out flat or butterfly them by slicing them in half lengthwise to help ensure they cook evenly & quickly.
- Taco spices – My go-to blend is a simple yet flavorful combination of chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, & onion powder. If you like an extra kick of heat, add a dash of cayenne.
- Chipotle peppers – One of my favorite pantry staples, they provide bold smoky & spicy flavor. Learn more about chipotles below!
- Honey – A generous drizzle adds sweetness to offset the smokiness of the chipotles.
- Beer – For extra rich, earthiness that marries together the spicy & sweet flavor of the chicken. I suggest using a lighter beer – I typically opt for Modelo Especial when I make Mexican & Tex-Mex dishes. (And if you’re not a beer lover, don’t be deterred – the beer infuses the chicken with rich, complex flavor without tasting especially beer-like…I promise!)
Ingredient Spotlight ⇢ Chipotle Peppers
What are chipotle peppers? ⇢ Chipotle peppers are simply jalapeño peppers that have been smoked & dried. Because they have an incredible signature smokiness, I like using them whenever I want to add a big punch of smoky flavor with minimal effort.
Where to find them? ⇢ Most conventional grocery stores here in the US carry canned chipotles packed in tangy-smoky adobo sauce. You can typically find them in the ‘international’ aisle.
How spicy are chipotle peppers? ⇢ Since they’re dried & preserved, I find chipotle peppers to be a little spicier than a fresh jalapeño. If you’re really sensitive to spicy foods but still want the smoky flavor, skip the chipotles & use their adobo sauce instead. It’s boldly flavored but much more mild in terms of spiciness.
How to Make Honey Chipotle Chicken in a Skillet
This honey chipotle chicken is an easy one-skillet recipe & it comes together really quickly – in just 35 minutes or less! If you love cooking with your Instant Pot or slow cooker, rest assured that this recipe is also both slow cooker- & Instant Pot-friendly! You can find the full directions for these methods in the Recipe Notes, below.
Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.
An overview of the process…
- First, sear the chicken. Dust the chicken with the taco seasoning, then brown it a couple minutes per side in an oven-safe skillet. Why? ⇢ Searing the chicken gives it a browned, crusty exterior. Which helps create rich, deep flavor in these chipotle honey chicken tacos (thanks to the Maillard reaction!). It’s a simple step that translates to BIG flavor.
- Next, simmer in honey chipotle sauce. Combine chipotle peppers, honey, & beer, then pour the mixture into the skillet, coating the chicken. Next, pop the skillet in the oven. The chicken will soak up the spicy-sweet flavor of the sauce and simmer to reach fall-apart tender perfection. Why? ⇢ The oven provides gentle, consistent heat, ensuring the chicken cooks up perfectly without drying out.
- Lastly, shred & serve! Shred the honey chipotle chicken into bite-sized pieces & toss it back into the skillet with a squeeze of fresh lime juice to bring out all of the flavors. The honey chipotle sauce will be a little runny at this point – if desired, whisk in a cornstarch slurry to tighten it up or reduce the sauce over high heat to create an irresistible sticky-sweet glaze. Quick & easy shortcut for shredding chicken! ⇢ My favorite kitchen hack is using a trusty stand mixer to shred chicken. The paddle attachment does all the work, creating the perfectly pulled chicken.
Alternate Cooking Methods – Slow Cooker & Instant Pot Honey Chipotle Chicken:
As written, this honey chipotle chicken recipe uses my preferred method – a simple skillet braise. Based on the amount of time you have, you can easily adapt it with a few other commonly loved techniques:
- Slow Cooker or Crockpot Honey Chipotle Chicken – This recipe is incredibly slow cooker/Crockpot-friendly! Rather than assembling on the stovetop, assemble in the slow cooker & let it do its thing until the chicken is fall-apart tender. If your slow cooker has a browning/searing feature, be sure to sear the chicken prior to slow cooking for maximum flavor. Full slow cooker honey chipotle chicken instructions are detailed in the Recipe Card, below.
- Electric Pressure Cooker or Instant Pot Honey Chipotle Chicken: Similarly, this recipe is also incredibly Instant Pot-friendly – it was originally published in 2017 with Instant Pot preparation. Be sure to use the Instant Pot’s browning/searing feature to sear the chicken before adding in the sauce & sealing the pressure cooker. It’ll cook up in about 25 minutes – full Instant Pot honey chipotle chicken instructions are detailed in the Recipe Card, below!
Serving Suggestions – Honey Chipotle Chicken Tacos & More!
Once it’s simmered & shredded, you are ready to serve your honey chipotle chicken any which way your heart desires! It’s a super versatile recipe that you can use in a multitude of different ways. It’s great on a burrito bowl or on a taco salad, on a pile of nachos, in quesadillas, stuffed in a sweet potato & loaded with toppings, or even piled on slider buns as a fun party appetizer or dinner!
My trusty go-to, though, is honey chipotle chicken tacos. Char up corn tortillas over a gas burner, then load ’em up with shredded honey chipotle chicken & toppings. When it comes to taco toppings, I subscribe to a ‘more is more’ philosophy. You can’t go wrong with a simple sprinkle of chopped cilantro or a squeeze of fresh lime juice, but if you want something really special try my Cashew Crema (the creamiest dairy-free sauce!), these Quick AF Quick Pickled Red Onions, & a good dollop of guacamole.
Other Tips & Tricks:
- Storage & Reheating: Shredded chipotle chicken stores absolutely beautifully! Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop until warmed through.
- Freezer Instructions: This honey chipotle chicken is also a wonderful freezer staple since you can quickly thaw it out and use it on tacos, nachos, taco salads, or burrito bowls in a snap. Feel free to make a double batch & freeze the leftovers for an extra quick dinner down the road! I like freezing it in small portions so it thaws quickly – these are my absolute favorite freezer containers!
I can’t wait for you to try this Easy Honey Chipotle Chicken Tacos recipe. It’s a longtime reader fave here on PWWB, & I know you’re going to love it! If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations!Print
A weeknight dinner fave: Easy Honey Chipotle Chicken! Chicken thighs are dusted with a quick homemade taco seasoning & they simmer away in a simple honey chipotle sauce made with beer for extra flavor. The chicken becomes fall-apart tender, soaks up so much sweet, spicy, & rich flavor, & is perfect for tacos or rice bowls with all of your favorite fixings.
Slow Cooker & Instant Pot directions provided in the Recipe Notes, below.
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil or neutral high smoke point oil of choice
- 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts (if using breasts, pound to even thickness or butterfly into 2 (two) 1-inch pieces)
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 2 chipotle peppers (from a can, packed in adobo sauce), finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from a can of chipotle peppers)
- ¼ cup honey
- ½ cup light beer of choice (such as Modelo Especial)
- 1 lime, juiced
- optional: cornstarch slurry (1 teaspoon cornstarch whisked into ¼ cup water)
- kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
- for serving, as desired: charred corn or flour tortillas, cilantro lime rice, black beans, sour cream or cashew crema, pickled red onions, freshly chopped cilantro, queso fresco or cheese of choice, salsa of choice, lime wedges, etc.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Gather & prep all ingredients according to Ingredients List, above.
- Brown the chicken: Add the oil to a medium oven-safe skillet over medium heat. While the oil heats, season the chicken with chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, onion powder, 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Once the oil is hot & shimmers in the pan, carefully add the chicken to the skillet. Cook 2-3 minutes per side, until browned. The chicken will not yet be fully cooked – this is expected & totally fine.
- Mix the chipotle honey sauce: Meanwhile, as the chicken browns, whisk together the chipotle honey sauce. Add the chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, honey, & beer to a small bowl or jar. Whisk or shake to combine. Set aside.
- Roast the chicken: Once browned, remove the skillet from the heat. Pour the chipotle honey sauce over the browned chicken, turning to coat in the sauce. Transfer to the oven & roast for 15-20 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest portion of the chicken registers an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Shred the honey chipotle chicken: Once cool enough to handle, carefully shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces – you can do so using 2 forks, or my favorite trick: pop the chicken thighs directly into in a stand mixer & let the paddle attachment do the work for you (I swear this works!). Transfer the shredded chicken back into the skillet. Squeeze in the lime juice, and toss to combine. If needed or desired, stir in a cornstarch slurry to tighten up the sauce a bit.
- Serve immediately as desired. Place in tortillas for honey chipotle chicken tacos or make a burrito bowl with rice & beans. Finish with your favorite taco night toppings of choice: sour cream or Mexican crema (or try our famous dairy-free Cashew Crema!), pickled red onions, cilantro, etc. Enjoy!
- Chicken thighs vs chicken breasts: I prefer using boneless, skinless chicken thighs in this honey chipotle chicken recipe since they’re flavorful & stay really nice & juicy through roasting, but you can swap them out with breasts if you prefer. Either pound the breasts out flat or cut them in half lengthwise (butterflied) to ensure they roast up evenly.
- Storage & Freezing:
- Storage & Reheating: Leftover honey chipotle chicken will keep, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop until warmed through.
- Freezer Instructions: This honey chipotle chicken is also a wonderful freezer staple since you can quickly thaw it out and use it on tacos, nachos, taco salads, burrito bowls, etc. for an easy dinner down the road. To freeze, transfer cooled honey chipotle chicken to a freezer bag or container, or divide between multiple freezer containers for smaller portions – these are my absolute favorite freezer containers! Freeze up to 3 months. Defrost by placing in the refrigerator overnight to thaw, or by submerging the freezer bag/container in room temp water for 20-25 minutes. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop until warmed through.
- Alternate Cooking Methods:
- Slow Cooker or Crockpot Honey Chipotle Chicken: If your slow cooker has a browning/searing feature, sear the chicken in the slow cooker according to Step 2 of Recipe Directions, above. If not, simply add the chicken, spices, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, honey, & beer to your slow cooker. Slow cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours. Shred & serve according to Steps 5-6 of Recipe Directions, above.
- Electric Pressure Cooker or Instant Pot Honey Chipotle Chicken: Use the Instant Pot’s browning/searing feature to sear the chicken in the Instant Pot according to Step 2 of Recipe Directions, above. Prep the honey chipotle sauce, increasing the amount of beer to 1 cup to ensure the Instant Pot seals properly, & pour over the chicken. Secure the lid on the Instant Pot, ensuring the sure valve is in its sealed position! Cook on high pressure for 12 minutes. Allow the pressure to naturally release for 5 minutes, then carefully quick release any remaining pressure in the pot by flicking the valve to its venting position. Remove the lid. Shred & serve according to Steps 5-6 of Recipe Directions, above.
- Note: This recipe has been updated since its original publish in July 2018. If you are looking for the original recipe, which included Instant Pot preparation, click here to download a printable version!
Keywords: honey chipotle chicken tacos, shredded chicken, skillet chicken dinner, skillet chicken, easy, Mexican, weeknight dinner, Instant Pot, Slow Cooker, Crockpot
Recipe by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Eat Love Eat