Margarita-Brined Chicken Thighs

CATEGORIES: Gluten Free, Grill, Latin, Poultry

So if you’ve been following our blog for a few years, this recipe may not feel new. That’s because it’s not. I posted this a few years ago and it got, like, zero comments. And (to be completely honest) I remember not being entirely in love with it and I didn’t love the pictures and I just felt like if y’all didn’t seem to love it and if didn’t seem to love it, maybe it should just go. So when we redesigned our site last fall, as I went through old posts to clear out things that weren’t really relevant anymore, I deleted it.

Well, apparently that was a huge mistake because then we started getting flooded with comments and questions about the missing margarita-brined chicken thighs recipe. I finally got around to re-making it and I don’t know what I did differently this time, but I loved it. My kids loved it. It was sweet and salty and smoky and citrus-y, perfect for a hot summer night. I served it with watermelon and Lime-Cilantro Rice with Pineapple and it was fantastic. So. I’m sorry for taking it away. And second-guessing myself. And posting ugly pictures. And leaving you all margarita chicken-less. I’ve learned the error of my ways.

I love using boneless skinless chicken thighs in this recipe because, once you trim them, they’re so much tastier and really not bad fat/calorie-wise, plus they marinade and cook so quickly. To get the brine started, you’ll need water, kosher salt, and brown sugar.

Combine those ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir until smooth, then remove from heat. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

While the salt mixture is cooling, put together the rest of the brine–you’ll need water, orange juice, tequila (or lemon, lime, and/or orange juices), orange zest, lime zest, and whole peppercorns.

Combine those ingredients in a large Ziploc bag. Add the salt mixture and stir to combine.

Submerge the chicken thighs in the brine and refrigerate for 4-24 hours.

Halve any remaining citrus and reserve.

When ready to cook, preheat grill over medium heat. Lightly oil the grates, then cook the chicken thighs for 4 minutes per side. When you flip the chicken add the reserved citrus, cut side down. When cooked, remove the citrus from the grill and transfer the chicken to a serving plate. Allow the fruit to cool for a few minutes, then squeeze the grilled fruit over the chicken and serve immediately.

Margarita-Brined Chicken Thighs
Boneless skinless chicken thighs marinated in this citrus-infused brine are incredibly juicy and flavorful.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup water
  2. 1/4 cup kosher salt
  3. 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  4. 1/2 cup cold water
  5. 1/2 cup silver/blanco (clear) tequila (or 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange, lemon, or lime juice or a combination of the two)
  6. 3-4 oranges
  7. 3-4 limes
  8. 3 tablespoons orange zest (you can use the oranges listed above)
  9. 3 tablespoons lime zest (you can use the limes listed above)
  10. 1 cup orange juice (you can juice your fresh oranges or use high-quality bottled juice, or a combination of the two)
  11. 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  12. 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup water, the kosher salt, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil and stir until smooth, then remove from heat. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
  2. While the salt mixture is cooling, combine the cold water, tequila (or citrus juices), orange zest, lime zest, orange juice, and peppercorns. Add the salt mixture and stir to combine. Submerge the chicken thighs in the brine and refrigerate for 4-24 hours. Halve any remaining citrus and reserve.
  3. When ready to cook, preheat grill over medium heat. Lightly oil the grates, then cook the chicken thighs for 4 minutes per side. When you flip the chicken add the reserved citrus, cut side down. When cooked, remove the citrus from the grill and transfer the chicken to a serving plate. Allow the fruit to cool for a few minutes, then squeeze the grilled fruit over the chicken and serve immediately.
Adapted from Southern Living
Adapted from Southern Living
Our Best Bites http://ourbestbites.com/
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8 comments

  1. This sounds wonderful, I love citrus. And I especially love your cute salt-rimmed plate in the picture! 🙂

  2. Dumb question: after I flip the chicken, do I put the citrus cut side down on top of the chicken or just cut side down directly on the grill?

  3. Somehow I don’t remember this one either but it looks right up my summertime grill alley … !!!

  4. Hooray! I’m one of the people that panicked when I couldn’t find this recipe! I LOVE this chicken! Thanks for bringing it back!

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