This sweet and spicy chicken marinade is so easy and bursting with flavor! Chipotle peppers, brown sugar, whisky, BBQ sauce, and lime are a perfect combo.
So now that I’ve had a few nights of real sleep, I can finally debut my Sweet and Spicy Chicken Marinade! But before I jump into the recipe, let’s talk about spice:
Do you like spicy? How spicy? I, for one, can only stand a teeny tiny bit of spice. Like a little. Like if a jalapeno was resting on a nacho and I take it off, I can still taste the spicy jalapeno juice as I’m eating the nacho and need to have some water. I blame my mother—she never cooked with spice, so I never had a chance to get used to it. Sometimes life just isn’t fair.
For this recipe, the word “spicy” is in the name, so I knew I would need to tone down the spice to suit my palette. But I also knew I had to make it because it sounded so gosh darn delicious! I saw the recipe while watching The Chew (one of the food shows I’m addicted to) and added it to my recipe to-do list instantly. It looked so easy, and the ingredients sounded so good! Garlic, barbeque sauce, brown sugar, lime juice, whisky, and chipotle peppers in adobo, all thrown in a blender to make a marinade. YUM! Video here:
Now I had never cooked with chipotle peppers in adobo before (which I’m now seeing was the main issue with the story I’m about to tell you), but I knew that I would need to decrease the spice. As they were making the chicken on the show, they said it was very spicy. So since the original recipe called for two cans of chipotle peppers in adobo, I figured I would need to tone it down to one can.
As I was adding the ingredients into my blender to make the marinade, I for some reason decided to add the chipotle peppers one at a time, instead of dumping in the whole can (which was definitely divine intervention). I added three out of the 9 or 10 peppers in the can, blended all the ingredients, tasted it to see how many more peppers to add, and WOAH it’s already way too spicy for me! After 3 peppers?! What?! The recipe calls for 2 cans, so far I’ve used 1/3 of a can, and I already can’t handle it! What is going on here?! So I dumped in more brown sugar, which helped a little bit but the marinade was still too spicy for me.
Since there wasn’t much else I could do, I continued with the recipe and marinated the chicken for a couple of hours. I baked it, and it was still too spicy for me to eat (no surprise there). But I could tell from the teeny bites I tried that it probably tasted totally delicious, if it weren’t for my whole mouth being on fire and not being able to taste anything properly.
So the next day, I took a piece to a coworker who I knew liked spicy to see what she thought of it. The good news is she thought it was delicious! The bad news is, she didn’t think it was spicy at all. It’s ok, you can laugh at me. I’ll understand.
So the moral of the story is: Add the chipotle peppers one at a time. One at a time. ONE AT A TIME! You could even add a half of a pepper to start, if you are really worried. With just one pepper, it’s even tame enough for me, so you know it will be tame enough for your family.
And the other moral of the story is, The Chew should have warned me that two whole cans of chipotle peppers is extremely spicy! Like not normal spicy. Like superhuman spicy! Well, at least I’m warning you.
As long as you add the peppers ONE AT A TIME, you will have a new chicken recipe that you are guaranteed to love! It really has amazing flavor, and it couldn’t be easier. You throw everything in a blender to make the marinade, marinate the chicken for a few hours (or even overnight), throw it in the oven, and out comes delicious chicken! Garnish with cilantro, serve with rice, and you’ve got yourself a real winner. Enjoy!
When you make this, you have to tell me—how many chipotle peppers did you use?!
- 8 pieces chicken thighs and drumsticks (you could also use boneless skinless breasts)
- 8 cloves garlic
- 1 cup barbeque sauce (use your favorite)
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup whiskey
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 2 cans chipotle peppers in adobo (you will most likely only need one can, unless you like super spicy)
- Add garlic, barbeque sauce, brown sugar, lime juice, olive oil, whisky, and a pinch of kosher salt to blender. Add 1 chipotle pepper and blend until completely smooth. Continue adding chipotle peppers one at a time until you reach the desired level of spice.
- Place the chicken in a Ziploc bag and pour in half the marinade (you can save the other half for another dish). Toss the chicken to coat all sides, and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Prepare a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Place a wire rack inside the baking sheet. Arrange chicken on the rack and bake for 30 minutes, or until the juices run clear (cooking time may be less if using breasts). Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with rice and lime wedges. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from The Chew’s Sweet and Spicy Chicken Thighs