You know what they say… Sky’s out, thighs out! Let’s just say the weather isn’t the only thing heating up these pre-summer evenings. My new Grilled Hot Chili Chicken Thighs recipe is definitely playing a part in it at our house. Inspired by North African harissa paste, I created a hot chili marinade for these chicken thighs that is out of this world! Not only did I let the chicken thighs marinade overnight, but I also set some of the marinade aside to spread across the cooking chickens as a finishing touch. The end result? Deliciousness.
Chipotle for my Hot Chili Chicken Thighs
Has anyone started to notice my unwavering love for chipotles? I’ve been like this since day one, if that counts for anything. My first seasoning even calls the pepper out by name (Chipotle Garlic, aka my first love). It’s something about that smoky heat it brings to a dish that I just can’t get enough of. Fun fact, a chipotle pepper is actually a smoked and dried jalapeño pepper. It’s not the hottest of all peppers, which is an added bonus in my eyes because you can control the level of heat in a dish by adding more or less of this pepper.
The chiles and peppers get us kicked off for this dish. Red Bell pepper, dried chipotle peppers and New Mexican chiles served as the base for my hot chili chicken thighs marinade. Following the peppers was a plethora of spices. Among those spices were caraway seeds and coriander powder. I call these out mostly because I haven’t used them much in my other chicken recipes and they help make this recipe even more unique. Caraway seeds bring forth a bittersweet nuttiness and coriander comes in with a sweet earthiness. I love throwing twists like this into a recipe. It’s like a new spin on familiar flavor profiles.
Now, The Grilling Part
It’s important to note that this is, in fact, a marinade recipe. This means we blend our marinade the day before and let our chicken thighs bath in it overnight. For this Grilled Hot Chili Chicken Thighs recipe, I poured about one third a cup of the marinade in a side bowl. We will spread some of the marinade across the top of the chicken thighs as they finish cooking, so it’s important that we have some marinade that has never come in contact with the raw chicken meat. Salmonella is a real thing, I’ve never had it and hope none of us ever do. Place the extra marinade into the fridge, we’ll get it back out as we finish up the recipe the following day.
Now, back to the main event, grilling time. Preheat the grill by dumping some hot coals on one side of the grill. Then, add the chicken thighs directly over the coals. We’re going to get a quick sear on each side of the chicken. Next, move the chicken thighs over to the opposite side of the grill (not over coals). We will close up the grill to let the hot chili chicken thighs finish cooking indirectly. Cook the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit internally. Top each chicken thigh with the marinade we had set aside as the chicken get’s within a couple minutes of hitting it’s internal temperature.
Dinner is Served
When the Grilled Hot Chili Chicken Thighs are done cooking, pull them from the grill and set of a serving dish. I added two halves of a grilled lemon to serve as garnish because not only do they look good, but the citrus brings a fun tang to the chicken thighs. Best enjoyed with friends and family. Cheers!
Grilled Hot Chili Chicken Thighs
Skys out, thighs out! Grilled Hot Chili Chicken Thighs are heating up our spring evenings and prepping us for summer.
- 8-10 Chicken Thighs bone in
- 1 Lemon charred for garnish
- Chopped Cilantro for garnish
- Honey for drizzle
Hot Chili Paste:
- 6-7 Dried Chiles Chipotle, Guajillo, Ancho or NM Chiles, rehydrated
- 1 Red Bell Pepper
- 6-7 Garlic Cloves
- 2.5 tbsp of Red Wine Vinegar
- 8 oz of Tomato Paste
- 2 tsp of Smoked Paprika
- 1.5 tsp of Sea Salt
- 1.5 tsp of Black Pepper
- 1.5 tsp of Ground Cumin
- 1 tsp of Cinnamon
- 1 tsp of Caraway Seeds
- 1 tsp of Coriander Powder
- 1 tsp of Dried Oregano
- 1.5 tbsp of Olive Oil
- 1 Lemon juiced
In a blender, add all the ingredients for the hot chili paste. Blend until thickened. Save 1/4 of the paste for basting the next day. Add your chicken thighs to a bowl along with the rest of the paste. Mix thoroughly and set in the fridge to marinate for at least 4 hours but ideally overnight.
Preheat your grill for a two-zone grilling/smoking method at medium high heat (around 350F). Make sure to clean and oil your grates thoroughly.
Pull your chicken out and discard of the excess marinade. Add the chicken skin side down over the direct heat to sear for 1 minute. Flip them over and sear for another minute on the other side. Once seared to your liking, pull all the chicken to the cool side of the grill and smoke for another 1-1.5 hours until 170F internal.
As the chicken are about to come off, glaze the outside of the chicken in the reserve paste. Pull off your chicken to rest for 5 minutes and char your lemon.
Garnish your chicken with a honey drizzle, cilantro and the charred lemon. Enjoy!
Derek is the driving force behind Over the Fire Cooking. He started cooking with live fire in 2016 and decided to start a social media page so his friends and family could follow the journey. Fast forward to today and Over the Fire Cooking has spread across multiple platforms with millions now following Derek’s fire cooking journey. He’s a southern fellow who enjoys everything from classic BBQ to Central and South American inspired dishes. Whatever he’s cooking up, it’s guaranteed to be so freakin’ delicious!