Fire up the grill for this mouthwatering marinated and glazed chicken. The winning combination of zesty citrus together with hints of tequila and smokiness will impress everyone at your next summer backyard barbecue…and all year long!
Tequila is one of the world’s oldest types of alcohol. It’s best known as the Mexican liquor shots that, when overindulged, will lower a person’s inhibitions enough to act foolish and do questionable things (yep, been there!).
Lesser known, though, is that tequila has magical powers outside of a shot glass — and without the worry of having the worst hangover of your life. It kills germs like a disinfectant. It has the potential to make diamonds, produce biofuel energy, and function as a weight loss supplement. Spas use it in treatments to tighten and detoxify pores, as well as relieve stress and anxiety. It even has healing properties for diabetes, colitis, irritable bowel, Crohn’s, and even cancer.
Yet in all its splendor, the most magical — and my favorite — way to use tequila is in the kitchen. It has a pungent and sweet taste that, when used as a cooking ingredient, adds a wonderful layer of flavor to a dish like none other. It’s especially good to use as a tenderizer and flavoring for chicken, which is why I used it for this recipe.
When I started to pull this dinner together, the goal was to recreate a fiesta chili lime chicken dish I had at local restaurant. I loved the combination of tangy, sweet, and spicy flavors so much, I wanted to try and make it into a tasty family dinner. Unfortunately, I failed at my attempt to replicate that dish. I did, however, end up with this amazingly delicious creation instead.
All I did was toss chicken thighs along with some tequila and four staple seasonings into a Ziplock bag. I then gently massaged the bag for a few minutes to thoroughly mix the ingredients and coat the chicken. (Sure, I could have whisked the marinade ingredients separately in a bowl before adding to the bag, but who has time for that!?)
After a time marinating in the fridge, I tossed the chicken thighs on a hot grill to cook, basting often with a honey lime sauce to create a deliciously glazed topping.
I can’t even begin to describe how good these turned out. My hubby liked them so much, he asked me to make it again the following week. Yep, they’re that good and over the top tasty.
I’m not encouraging anyone to start cleaning their bathrooms with tequila, rubbing the libation all over their bodies to relax, or start slamming down shots to fix their IBS and lose a little weight. I am, however, recommending that you enjoy the magical powers of tequila in your cooking. This recipe is a good start, and it won’t disappoint.
- The type of outdoor grill you use is a personal choice for sure. Believe it or not, I still use a Portable Charcoal Grill for old-school backyard barbecues. I also use a 2-Burner Propane Grill that we bought several years ago. It’s a workhorse and cooks very well.
- You’ll need tongs and spatula and this Grilling Tool Set is super handy and well made. While cooking, you’ll want to baste the chicken frequently using a Basting Brush and check for doneness using a Digital Meat Thermometer.
- Making this dish inside of the house is as easy as it is on the grill outside. This Cast Iron Grill Pan sears the chicken nicely on the stovetop and can go directly into the oven to cook the chicken to perfection. See Helping Hands below for more tips on cooking inside.
- Complete your Mexican dinner with a helping of Southwest Pasta Salad (recipe coming soon) and a side of Fiesta Grilled Corn on the Cob. Amazingly good!
- Other excellent sides include Authentic Tableside Guacamole, chips with corn and black bean salsa, or a bowl of cilantro lime rice.
- Skip the burgers and serve these grilled chicken thighs at your next outdoor summer barbecue. It’ll be a celebration for your mouth and in your backyard, and you’re sure to get rave reviews.
- Let leftover chicken cool completely, then store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to four days.
- Remove leftover meat from the bone and toss chicken into salads or on top of nachos for a delicious mustgoes meal.
- This grilled chicken pairs perfectly with margaritas or a tall, cold beer. Serve your guests an ice cold drink in Cooling Beer Glasses or Frozen Margarita Glasses. Or combine the two using Mexican Margarita Glasses with Clips for a delicious CoronaRita.
- For wine lovers, a dry Riesling like a Heart & Hands Dry Riesling or a Fritz Haag Riesling also goes well with this dish.
- This recipe uses budget-friendly, bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, which tends to deliver a flavorful punch and juicer results. Boneless thighs and chicken breasts of any variety (skinless, boneless, or bone-in) are also quite tasty substitutes.
- Marinating the chicken adds flavor and helps to promote tenderness. Plan for the chicken to soak in the marinade for at least three to four hours, or overnight if preparing for a large meal or gathering the next day. Unless you’re in favor of food poisoning and countless hours on the potty, avoid using any marinade that’s been in contact with the raw chicken as a baste while cooking.
- Not all taco seasonings are equal. The blend of ingredients and overall quality can vary from product to product. I only use Spice Island Premium Taco Seasoning and highly recommend it if you don’t already have a favorite.
- In homage to my Cajun heritage, I always use Tabasco Brand Jalapeño Pepper Sauce. I’m sure other brands will work just as well.
- If you prefer to not use tequila, substitute with either pineapple juice or orange juice.
- Get the grill good and hot before putting the chicken on. Start on the skin side first for about 5 minutes. Be sure to get that slight char without burning the chicken, then flip the chicken and cook another 5 to 7 minutes. Don’t forget to baste with the glaze sauce.
- Chicken is ready to serve when the internal temperature reaches 165° F. For the most accurate temperature reading, insert a Digital Meat Thermometer into the thickest part of the meat and avoid touching the bone.
- Rainy day or not in the mood to grill outdoors? No worries. A cast iron skillet works well, too. Preheat the oven to 425° F. Heat the skilled on the stove until good and hot, then add a tablespoon of oil to the pan and fry the chicken skin-side down first until browned. Flip and fry the other side until slightly browned. Brush marinade on chicken and transfer skillet into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until internal temp reaches 165° F. Turn oven to broil and cook an additional minute or two to get a nicely charred chicken thigh.
If you enjoyed this recipe, please consider leaving a comment and star rating below. It’s always refreshing to hear how others like a recipe, find success with it, or tweak to suit. I’d love to hear from you!