This ancho marinade is quick and easy to make and excellent on boneless, skinless chicken breast. Ancho chili powder is the star ingredient and gives this marinade a rich, deep, smoky and slightly spicy flavor. A little bit of brown sugar and lime juice add sweetness and acidity while still letting the ancho chili flavor shine.
Marinade ingredients and notes:
- The purpose of brown sugar in this recipe is two-fold:
- it adds a touch of sweetness to the marinade
- it balances the ancho flavor and prevents the marinade from getting bitter
- This recipe calls for only ¼ teaspoon of lime juice, which may sound like very little but it's just the right amount. When testing this recipe I found that any more lime juice gave the chicken a fruity flavor that, in my opinion, clashed with the ancho chili. (For ideas as to how to use the remaining juice from the lime, check out these ginger beef meatballs or this Thai pineapple chicken curry recipe!)
How to make it:
See full ingredients & instructions in the recipe card below!
Step 1. Add all marinade ingredients to a bowl and whisk until well combined.
Step 2. Add chicken breast to the marinade and turn around until well coated. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
How to use the marinade:
I recommend cooking the marinated chicken breast in the oven:
- Lightly oil a cast iron pan with vegetable oil.
- Set the cold pan in the oven, then heat the oven to 400 degrees F. with the pan in it.
- Once the oven is heated, transfer the chicken into the hot pan and cook, turning over once.
How spicy is this marinade?
This marinade has a medium level of spiciness.
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Full Printable Recipe
- measuring spoons
- cutting board or cutting mat
- knife OR garlic press
- plastic wrap
- meat mallet or rolling pin
- cast iron pan
- kitchen tongs
- meat thermometer (recommended)
For the marinade:
- 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
- 1 medium-sized garlic clove, peeled and minced or pressed through a garlic press
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon light brown sugar*
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon lime juice
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
For the chicken:
- 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 8 ounces), pounded into even thickness
- vegetable oil, to coat the bottom of the pan
For the marinade:
- Add all ingredients to a bowl and whisk until well combined. (The marinade will be fairly thick, almost like a paste.)
For the chicken:
- Transfer the chicken into the bowl and turn around so that the meat is evenly coated with marinade.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Lightly coat the bottom of a cast iron pan with vegetable oil, then transfer the cold pan to the oven. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. with the pan in it.
- Once the oven is heated, transfer the chicken breast into the hot pan using kitchen tongs. (Try to keep as much of the marinade on the chicken as possible.)
- Cook until the meat has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. (5 to 8 minutes per side, depending on the thickness).
- Let the cooked chicken rest for 5 minutes, then serve.
Nutrition Information (Estimated):
Nutrition values provided on this website are generated from a nutrition database and are estimates only. The accuracy of the nutrition information for any recipe on this website is not guaranteed. Nutrition values can vary quite a lot depending on which brands are used.