Seems like just about every fast-food restaurant in America has jumped on the chicken sandwich bandwagon, and I’ve tried many of them. (My favorite is also nearly everyone else’s favorite: Popeyes.)

Still, it is rare for me to stop at fast-food restaurants, especially when the thing I’m craving can be made just as quickly and almost as cheaply at home. This Chipotle Chicken Sandwich With Avocado from cookbook author Toby Amidor can be on the table in about 30 minutes, and it definitely scratches my chicken sandwich itch.

No, it’s not deep fried like Popeyes, but it still packs a lot of spicy flavor because it is marinated in a hot rub and then sauteed in a pan on the stovetop.

In “The Family Immunity Cookbook” (Robert Rose, 2021), Amidor, a registered dietitian, shares the sandwich as one of the 101 recipes that she says incorporate healthier choices in ingredients. Her goal is to help people eat well, which helps to support their immune system. Amidor offers insights into the health benefits of certain foods, as well as strategies for shopping, prepping and portioning. She notes that part of making healthful home cooking more accessible is removing the stress in the kitchen by using few bowls and pans and keeping the prep to around 30 minutes. This dish does that.

The sandwich calls for chicken cutlets, which makes it a bit thriftier as well, especially if you slice your own cutlets from breast halves. (See instructions for how to do that in the NOTE below.)

Amidor uses light mayonnaise and reduced fat cheese to keep the fat and calories in line, but I prefer full-fat, and I used pepper jack instead of plain Monterey Jack cheese, for a little extra kick. The spicy chicken cutlet on the toasted whole wheat bun gets creaminess from sliced avocado, making it is easy to go light on or even skip the mayonnaise.

It also is simple to control the spiciness here because you are making the rub. If you use it full-spice, as I did, turn on the vent or open a window because when the chicken hits the hot pan, it fills the air with peppery scents. Or, adjust as Amidor advises: To add spiciness, increase the chipotle powder and smoked paprika by 1 teaspoon. To decrease the spiciness, cut back on the two spices by 1 teaspoon. The recipes calls for 15 minutes to 2 hours of marinating, but keep in mind that the longer you marinate the chicken, the spicier it may get.

Skip the fries or chips, and serve this sandwich with a green or fruit salad instead, so you can keep it light and fresh.

Correction: In an earlier version of this article, Toby Amidor was referred to with masculine pronouns. She is a woman. This version has been corrected.

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NOTE: If you cannot find chicken cutlets at your grocery or have full-size chicken breasts handy, you can thinly slice the larger chicken breasts into cutlets. Use a sharp chef’s knife to carefully and evenly slice through the equator of each breast half so the breast opens like butterfly wings. Separate the halves into two cutlets and trim away any visible fat.

Make Ahead: The chicken must be marinated for at least 15 minutes or up to 2 hours.

Storage Notes: Leftover chicken can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.


Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons canola or another neutral oil, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (from 1 to 2 limes)
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle powder
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt or fine sea salt
  • 4 (5-ounce) thinly sliced boneless skinless chicken breast (see NOTE)
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced
  • 4 whole-wheat rolls, toasted
  • 4 slices Monterey Jack cheese, pepper or plain
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tomato, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 4 large iceberg lettuce leaves (optional)

Step 1

In a medium bowl or resealable container, whisk together the oil, lime juice, chipotle powder, smoked paprika, garlic powder, cumin, coriander and salt to create a thick paste. Add the chicken and turn and, using your hands, massage until fully coated. Cover and refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes or up to 2 hours.


Step 2

When ready to cook, lightly oil a large grill pan or saute pan and set it over medium heat until the oil is shimmering. (Turn on the vent over your stove because the spicy marinade is pungent.) Working in batches if needed, add the chicken in a single layer, and cook until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Discard any remaining marinade.


Step 3

Place several slices of avocado on one half of each roll and top with chipotle chicken and a slice of cheese. Spread 1 tablespoon of the mayonnaise on the other half of each roll and top with lettuce and tomato, if using. Press the sandwich halves together and serve.


Nutrition Information

Per sandwich

Calories: 545; Total Fat: 36 g; Saturated Fat: 3 g; Cholesterol: 106 mg; Sodium: 470 mg; Carbohydrates: 16 g; Dietary Fiber: 2 g; Sugar: 3 g; Protein: 40 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.


Adapted from “The Family Immunity Cookbook” by Toby Amidor (Robert Rose, 2021).

Tested by Ann Maloney; email questions to voraciously@washpost.com.

Did you make this recipe? Take a photo and tag us on Instagram with #eatvoraciously.