Best Grilled Margarita Chicken… Ever!

As I’ve mentioned a time or two, it’s very easy for a recipe to capture my attention when it has “best” or “favorite” in its title.  Let alone “best ever” with “best” and “ever” separated by an ellipsis (that’s…wait for it…three dots in a row) to heighten the anticipation and then finished off with an exclamation point.  With all that in the title, I expect a recipe to deliver big time—and this one for Margarita Chicken sure did!

I love all the flavors of Mexico, and I do love me a good Margarita.  This recipe combines Margarita ingredients and throws in some olive oil, fresh cilantro, garlic, onion salt, and black pepper to deliver on its claim that this is the best Margarita chicken ever.  The chicken was so juicy and flavorful, and the chicken came off the grill with attractive grill marks from the caramelization of the honey in the marinade.

After I tasted the marinade (pre-contact with chicken), I knew I was going to take it a step further than the original recipe and make it into a sauce for drizzling on the cooked chicken.  That really took it over the top.  Hmmm…maybe I should add an extra exclamation point to the title.

One year ago:  Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Sandwiches

Two years ago:  Cilantro Lime Rice

Best Grilled Margarita Chicken… Ever!

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  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion salt
  • 2 tbl. lime juice
  • 2 tbl. orange juice
  • 3 1/2  tbl. tequila
  • 3 1/2  tbl. triple sec
  • 1 tbl. honey
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs. skinless, boneless chicken breast halves*
  • Extra cilantro for garnishing

*I like to buy packages of chicken containing three breasts; then I split the breasts lengthwise.  This way portion size is approximately 4 oz. (1/4 lb.) each, and they cook faster.

For thickening marinade

  • 1 tbl. cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water


Place cilantro, pepper, garlic, and onion powder in the bowl of a blender. Pour in lime juice, orange juice, tequila, triple sec, and honey.  Purée on high speed until smooth, then reduce speed to medium-low, and slowly add the olive oil; blend until creamy.  Place chicken breasts in a resealable plastic bag or glass bowl; pour marinade over top and toss to coat.  Refrigerate for 2 hours or longer.

Remove chicken from the marinade, shake off excess, and reserve remaining marinade.  Put reserved marinade in a small pan.  Make a slurry from the cornstarch and water.  It will mix easier if you place dry cornstarch in a small cup or bowl and whisk in the water.  Add the slurry to the marinade in the pan.  Cook over medium heat, bringing mixture to a slow boil or lively simmer, and whisk constantly.  Be sure to boil the mixture for at least 5 minutes to eliminate any chance of salmonella from the raw chicken.  You may need to add more water during this time as it may become too thick before the 5 minutes are up.  Then continuing cooking the marinade until it thickens to your liking—if it’s gotten too thick, just add more water.

Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat and lightly oil grate.

Grill the chicken until tender and juices run clear, approximately 7 minutes per side.

Serve with a drizzle of cooked marinade and garnished with freshly chopped cilantro.

Fran’s Notes

Once you have a batch of this delicious chicken, there are so many ways you can enjoy it.

You can make a southwestern chicken salad with it or chicken tacos with the usual Mexican garnishes.  Or you can simply have it as is with a favorite side.  Some of mine are Mexican rice, cilantro rice, green basmati rice, black bean couscous salad and black bean and sweet corn quinoa saladFresh tomato or tomatillo salsa would be great as well—it’s all good!

Source:  Adapted from an recipe

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