Monterey Chicken with Pico de Gallo {Chili’s Copycat}

The flavors in this Monterey chicken {a Chili’s copycat recipe} are out of this world delicious! Tender grilled chicken, topped with bacon, cheese and a simple homemade pico de gallo. Yum!

This Monterey chicken is so good, it makes me want to cry.

Seriously. It is soooooo good.

It seems a travesty to have to even try to wrap words around the deliciousness.

If you’ve had this Monterey chicken dish at the restaurant, Chili’s, I can 100% guarantee that the homemade version is a million times better.

Bold claim, I know, but I’m guessing you know as well as I do that making easy, popular restaurant dishes at home* for a fraction of the cost (and with fresher flavors) is totally worth it.

*but maybe we can all agree that SOME dishes are just better left to the fine dining professionals and the reason it’s fun to eat out in the first place (horrific flashbacks of the time I tried to make a from-scratch butternut squash-stuffed ravioli with a braised lamb and leek number – it was so, so bad)

If you aren’t familiar with Monterey chicken, let’s talk specifics here.

You’ve got yourself thin pieces of chicken that get dunked in a marinade for a quick minute (or up to 24 hours if you want to make it ahead!).

That marinade is filled with the simplest of all ingredients – it’s almost bizarre how much flavor it imparts to the chicken.

Then, you take that juicy, tender, grilled chicken and top it with crisp bacon and creamy jack cheese.

That’s not all, of course, because the tasty factor is further elevated by a simple, homemade pico de gallo (tomato salsa).

The flavor.

Oh my gosh, the flavor!

Every single person in my family declared this one of their favorite meals ever.

That’s saying a lot when I have at least 4/5ths of my children deathly loyal to this creamy alfredo sauce and another child who usually wants to eat nothing other than these pancakes for all of her foreseeable future meals.

And as you know, Brian’s loyalty has always been to this sweet and sour chicken.

I sensed a shift in the universe when this Monterey chicken was served.

We all kind of looked at each other, like “who are we and how did we get here?”

Loyalties were instantly redefined and new favorites cemented.

It is the perfect meal for a warm evening or for company, and it’s simple enough for a weeknight (even easier if you marinade the chicken and prep the pico ahead of time).

Usually I spend at least 17 minutes of my life leading up to Father’s Day interrogating Brian about what he wants for his Father’s Day meal.

But not this year.

He’s getting Monterey chicken, and I feel totally fine about usurping his decision-making ability because I already know he loves it like crazy (and probably going with brownie pudding for dessert unless a few new recipes I’m trying out over the next few weeks pan out like I hope they will).

That green salad you see in the back of some of the pictures is actually a ridiculously delicious avocado, black bean, corn and romaine salad.

I don’t think I’ll officially post the recipe, but if you throw those ingredients together and whisk up the following dressing, you’ve got the basic idea (so yummy).

Dressing: 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, pinch of sugar or drizzle of honey, 1/4 teaspoon cumin and chili powder, salt and pepper to taste.

Amazon affiliate links included below.

A quick note about grilling: you can use a variety of methods to cook this chicken.

I use my CampChef pellet grill; any other outdoor grill will work as well.

Additionally an indoor grill pan would work great, or try out the broiler in your oven (keep the pan at least six inches away from the heating element) or just a regular, every day skillet.

The key, no matter what method you use, is to make sure the chicken cooks to the perfect temperature without overcooking.

An instant-read thermometer makes that task super easy (this inexpensive one works great). Cook the chicken to 165 degrees F when the thermometer is inserted at the thickest part. Easy peasy!


Herb-Roasted Potatoes or Twice-Baked Potatoes
Mexican Chopped Salad
Buttermilk Drop Biscuits

One Year Ago: Delicious No-Bake Cookie Dough Bites
Two Years Ago: Foil Packet Sweet Potato Tacos
Three Years Ago: Easy Brazilian Cheese Bread {Pao de Queijo}

Monterey Chicken with Pico de Gallo {Chili's Copycat}

5
5 / 5 (29 Reviews)
Did you make this recipe?   Leave a review »

Ingredients:

Chicken:

  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt (I use coarse, kosher salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 thin-cut boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or slice thick chicken breasts in half, like a hamburger bun, or pound to about 1/4-inch thick)

Toppings:

  • 6 strips thick-sliced bacon or turkey bacon, sliced or chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded pepper jack or Monterey jack cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes, about 2 medium tomatoes or 3 Romas
  • 1/4 cup small diced red onion
  • 2-3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced jalapeno (leave seeds and ribs in for more heat)
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. For the chicken, in a small bowl, whisk together the Dijon mustard, Worcestershire, brown sugar, salt and pepper.
  2. Place the chicken in a gallon-size ziploc bag or shallow dish. Coat the chicken with the marinade mixture; there isn’t a ton of marinade, so a thin coating is just fine. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or up to 24 hours).
  3. While the chicken marinates, in a large skillet, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon to a bowl to cool slightly. Add the shredded cheese and toss. Set aside.
  4. For the pico de gallo, in a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, garlic, jalapeño, and lime juice. Drizzle with a teaspoon or so of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper (important!). Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  5. Preheat a grill pan or outdoor grill (could probably even use an oven broiler or regular skillet on the stovetop) to medium-high.
  6. Remove the chicken from the dish or bag, letting excess marinade drip off. Cook the chicken for about 4-5 minutes per side (exact time will depend on thickness of chicken) until an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees F at the thickest part.
  7. Without removing the chicken from the grill pan/grill, top the chicken with an equal amount of bacon cheese mixture, cover the grill or pan until the cheese is melted, another minute or so.
  8. Serve the chicken with the pico de gallo and prepare to be wowed – so delicious!
All images and text ©.

Follow @melskitchencafe on Instagram and show me the recipes you are making from my blog using the hashtag #melskitchencafe. I love seeing all the goodness you are whipping up in your kitchens!

Recipe Source: adapted from Cuisine at Home April 2017 (altered basically all ingredient amounts to increase the recipe beyond two servings and changed up a few other things, like not using bacon grease in the pico de gallo)