Tequila And Lime Grilled Chicken Recipe

Tequila and lime chicken has the same balance of flavors that you'll find in a perfect margarita, minus the orange liqueur — in fact, according to developer Julianne De Witt, this recipe is sometimes known as margarita chicken. As she tells us, it's "simple enough to prepare on a weeknight if you marinate the night before." In fact, she goes on to say, "The longer the chicken is marinated, the better it tastes," although you don't need to marinate the meat for 24 hours. In fact, De Witt cautions that you really shouldn't leave it in the marinade for longer than that because after more than a day of marinating, the acidic lime juice might make the chicken mushy.

This chicken dish is something that De Witt says "taste[s] even better the next day," and the best part of it is that you don't even have to reheat the leftovers but can instead eat them cold. You could also use the chicken to top a green salad, boost the flavor of a mayo-based chicken salad, or as a filling for tacos or quesadillas. The chicken should be good in the refrigerator for up to three days but can always be frozen if you need it to last longer.

Collect the ingredients for the tequila and lime grilled chicken

The marinade for this chicken dish is made from tequila, lime juice, lime zest, salt, pepper, brown sugar, oregano, ancho chile powder, garlic, and cilantro. Mix these all together, add some boneless, skinless chicken thighs, and you're ready to get cooking. (Once the marinade has had a chance to soak in, that is.)

Step 1: Combine the marinade ingredients

Prepare the marinade by adding the tequila, lime juice and zest, salt, pepper, brown sugar, oregano, ancho chile powder, garlic, and cilantro to a medium-sized bowl.

Step 2: Mix the marinade

Whisk the ingredients together.

Step 3: Marinate the chicken

Add the chicken thighs to a baking dish in a single layer and pour over the marinade.

Step 4: Chill the chicken

Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to overnight. Flip the chicken once in the marinade.

Step 5: Fire up the grill

Preheat a grill to 400 F.

Step 6: Cook the chicken on one side

Remove the chicken from the marinade, place it on the barbecue, and grill on one side for 5 minutes.

Step 7: Cook the chicken on the other side

Flip the chicken and grill for 5 more minutes, until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 F.

Step 8: Garnish and serve the chicken

Serve, garnished with more minced cilantro and lime slices, if desired.

What does ancho chile powder taste like, and what can I use as a replacement?

Ancho chiles are the dried form of the poblano, which is a mild, sweet pepper that only registers 1,000–1,500 units on the Scoville scale. In comparative terms, this puts poblanos — and, by extension, anchos — about halfway between bell peppers and the mildest of jalapeños when it comes to their heat level. De Witt describes ancho chiles as being "subtly spicy, fruity, and smoky," while they can also be said to have a somewhat earthy flavor.

If you'd prefer to use diced fresh peppers instead of powdered dried ones, you could certainly swap them for poblanos, while Anaheims are also quite mild. Canned green chiles would also work for this purpose. If you do want a smoky pepper and you don't mind spicing things up a bit, chipotle powder would take the heat level up a notch, while smoked habanero powder, if you can find it, would make for a much fierier dish. For smoky flavor without too much heat, though, smoked paprika will probably be your best bet.

Can you cook other types of meat in this cilantro-lime marinade?

While De Witt likes to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs, you can also use this marinade for chicken breasts or even use bone-in chicken parts, such as wings or drumsticks. Of course, you needn't limit yourself to using it with chicken alone, as it would also taste great with other types of meat. Use as a marinade for turkey cutlets or pork chops, for a steak you'll be using to make fajitas, or with fish, shrimp, or any other type of seafood.

Of course, as De Witt points out, even if you're just switching to a different type of chicken, "Cooking times will vary," and this also applies if you decide to use a different cooking method. This marinade, as it happens, isn't just good for grilling, but can also be used if you're baking, pan-searing, or sauteeing. Whatever you choose to cook, and whatever way you wish to cook it, using a meat thermometer will help ensure that your food reaches the optimum temperature.

Tequila And Lime Grilled Chicken Recipe
4.9 from 14 ratings
This recipe opts for grilled chicken thighs, but the versatile, margarita-inspired tequila and lime marinade can work with nearly any cut of meat.
Prep Time
4.08
hours
Cook Time
10
minutes
Servings
4
servings
chicken with salad and rice
Total time: 4 hours, 15 minutes
Ingredients
  • ½ cup tequila
  • 4 limes, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons Mexican oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ cup minced cilantro
  • 12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Optional Ingredients
  • ‌Minced cilantro
  • Lime slices
Directions
  1. Prepare the marinade by adding the tequila, lime juice and zest, salt, pepper, brown sugar, oregano, ancho chile powder, garlic, and cilantro to a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Whisk the ingredients together.
  3. Add the chicken thighs to a baking dish in a single layer and pour over the marinade.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to overnight. Flip the chicken once in the marinade.
  5. Preheat a grill to 400 F.
  6. Remove the chicken from the marinade, place it on the barbecue, and grill on one side for 5 minutes.
  7. Flip the chicken and grill for 5 more minutes, until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 F.
  8. Serve, garnished with more minced cilantro and lime slices, if desired.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 625
Total Fat 18.1 g
Saturated Fat 4.8 g
Trans Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 403.3 mg
Total Carbohydrates 12.1 g
Dietary Fiber 3.1 g
Total Sugars 3.6 g
Sodium 1,244.3 mg
Protein 85.6 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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