Recreating Qdoba’s Adobo Chicken
I’ve always really enjoyed Qdoba’s adobo chicken in rice bowls. It’s tasty, lower in calories than other meats, and easy to eat. Of course I had to figure out how to make it at home!
To start, I checked some of Qdoba’s menu pages, but they didn’t give much detail on how the chicken is made. So I thought about the name: adobo chicken. Adobo is the deep red sauce in canned chipotle peppers. That had to be an ingredient. Qdoba’s chicken, aside from being blackened, was still quite red, so I added smoked paprika to the marinade both for flavor and the added color. Additionally I’ve added minced garlic, cumin, and dried oregano as these are my go to when making Mexican style marinades. To top it off, I added 4 tbsp of olive oil to help tenderize the chicken.
With the marinade complete, I thought about how to cook the chicken. While this chicken would cook beautifully over a grill, that didn’t seem to be what Qdoba was going for. The blackening on the chicken suggests being cooked on a flat surface. So I fried my chicken in a skillet with some canola oil. The marinade burns very slightly in the oil to get the blackening, so you have to be careful not to cook it too long, otherwise you’ll end up with completely burnt chicken. My trick: finishing the chicken in the oven. When I started frying the chicken, I preheated my oven to 400F, and once they were perfectly blackened, I moved them to a baking sheet and baked until they were 165F internally.
Perfect for meal prep and many ways to serve
If you’re a meal prepper like I am, this Qdoba Copycat Chicken will be your new best friend. Two pounds of chicken is 8 4oz servings, so there’s plenty for dinner one night and days of leftovers. And even better, there are so many ways to serve this chicken.
If you’re going for easy to reheat, I suggest making this chicken into rice bowls. Layer rice, beans, and chicken in a Tupperware and top with salsa and sour cream after microwaving. Try topping it with my smoked tomatillo enchilada sauce instead of salsa for a more unique flavor.
If you’re working from home and have a few minutes to spend making lunch, fold this chicken with cheese into a quesadilla. Quesadillas are one of my favorite work-from-home lunches, and one of my favorite things to order from Qdoba.
Maybe you’re looking for a lower calorie option for lunch. This chicken would be delicious in a salad. Just combine it with your favorite lettuce and salad toppings and there you have a low calorie meal.
A final option is nachos. Top your favorite tortilla chips with Qdoba Copycat chicken, beans, and cheese. Bake at 425F for 10 minutes then add any cold toppings you’d like.
Looking for more ideas on how to use Qdoba Copycat Chicken? Try these recipes, replacing the protein with Qdoba Copycat Chicken:
How to make Qdoba Copycat Chicken
Qdoba Copycat Chicken
- 2 lbs Boneless skinless chicken breasts sliced in half long ways
- 2 tbsp Minced garlic
- 4 tbsp Olive oil
- 2 tbsp Adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers
- 1 tbsp Smoked paprika
- 1 tsp Cumin
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Black pepper
- 1 Chipotle pepper, diced Optional for added spice
- Combine all ingredients except the sliced chicken in a medium sized bowl. Stir to combine.
- Add the chicken piece by piece to the marinade, making sure each piece is coated. Let marinade for at least 30 minutes, up to 6 hours. I marinated my chicken for 2 hours.
- Preheat your oven to 400F.
- Heat ½ tbsp of canola oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Place chicken in the skillet and fry for 3-6 minutes per side. Do not crowd the pan, you may need to work in batches.
- Check the internal temperature of the chicken and note how blackened the chicken is becoming. The marinade will burn a little in the oil, creating a beautiful blackened exterior, but if the exterior is getting too black and the chicken is more than 20 degrees less than 165F, remove it from the skillet to a baking sheet and put it in the oven for 5-10 more minutes, or until it reaches 165F. Repeat until all of the chicken is cooked through.
- Serve the chicken as a whole piece, or chop it into bite size pieces and serve as part of a rice bowl, salad, or quesadilla.