With bright flavors that pop, these grilled chicken wings get their scrumptious flavors from a dynamite tequila lime marinade.
Grilling is all about using fire to create flavor and texture. For these tequila lime wings, we wanted to pair a marinade with bright flavors and a simple grilling technique that makes it easy for anyone to make delicious grilled wings with just the right amount of char.
This chicken wing recipe is perfect for lounging with friends while sipping on a few refreshing Mezcal Margaritas. Marinating the chicken wings before putting grilling them allows the flavor from the tequila and spices to infuse the wings while tenderizing the meat.
Whether you’re feeding a whole party or just looking for an easy summer dinner, throwing a few wings on the grill is one of the best ways to make delicious crispy chicken wings.
In this piece
A Delicious Grilled Chicken Wing Marinade
When we started developing this tequila lime marinade, we wanted it to be packed with flavor, yet light enough that it didn’t overpower the chicken.
Marinades like this can easily overpower a dish by bringing so much heat that they send folks running for a glass of milk or are so sweet that the dish tastes like it came from one of those margarita slushy machines that sit on the counter at dive bars.
Using a bit of chili powder, cumin, chipotle, and garlic powder along with salt and pepper give the wings a balanced flavor profile that includes bright citrus notes from the lime, a touch of heat from the chipotle, depth from the tequila, and a southwestern vibe from the chili powder and cumin.
If you prefer wings with more heat, up the chipotle in the marinade by 1/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon.
There are a couple of ways to marinate chicken wings. The most popular is to combine the wings and marinade in a large plastic bag that is placed in the fridge.
We think a better way to marinate the wings is to use a 9 by 13-inch pan with a cover. We’re partial to this one from Pyrex. The advantage of using a baking dish is it produces less waste than a plastic bag, is easier to keep in the fridge while the wings are marinating, and is less likely to create a mess.
The ideal length of time for marinating chicken wings is 1 to 2 hours in the fridge. If you’re running short of time, the wings will still turn out great in as short as 30 minutes.
We don’t recommend going beyond 8 to 10 hours. Once they’ve been marinating that long they won’t pick up any additional flavor and may start to break down and become mushy.
The marinade for this recipe will cover anywhere from 2 to 3 lbs of wings and can easily be doubled or tripled for larger gatherings.
How to Grill Chicken Wings
This grilled chicken wing recipe will work equally well for whole chicken wings or ones that have been broken down into flats and drumettes, which are sometimes called “party wings.” If you’re serving whole wings, add another 5 to 7 minutes of cooking time.
The best grilled chicken wings are juicy and tender on the inside with crispy skin and a bit of char on the outside.
Chicken wings can be grilled directly over medium to medium-high heat on a gas or charcoal grill. Whichever type of grill is being used, it’s a good idea to have a cooler area set aside to be able to move wings if they start to flare up. An easy way to map the heat zones on a gas grill is to use the White Bread Test.
Start by preheating the grill to medium to medium-high heat and making sure the grates are clean so the wings don’t stick to them.
Once the wings have finished marinating, they can go directly on the preheated grill. The wings should be grilled over medium heat and turned every 5 to 7 minutes to avoid burning them. To help the wings cook evenly rotate them from hotter to cooler places when turning them.
An advantage to grilling wings compared to other cooking methods is that there’s no need to pat them dry or use corn starch to crisp up the outside. Using the heat and flames from the grill crisps up the skin while adding a little char creating layers of delicious flavors.
The chicken wings are done when they are firm to the touch, crispy on the outside, and cooked to 165ºF internal temperature. To measure the wings’ temperature, insert a digital thermometer into a thicker part of a drumette, making sure not to touch the bone.
Tips for Better Grilled Wings
- Avoid using sugar or brown sugar in the marinade or dry rub for the wings. The addition of sugar makes it more likely that the direct heat from the grill will burn the wings.
- If the skin isn’t as crispy as you’d like, turn one burner up to high and place the wings skin side down over the top of it. To keep the wings from burning, they should be checked every 30 seconds or so and taken off the heat as soon as the skin has reached its desired level of crispiness.
- The wings can be served as soon as they come off the grill and do not need to be rested.
Serving the Wings
Since grilled wings are often served outside or at parties, it’s easier to serve them with dipping sauces rather than tossing them a sticky hot sauce.
For these tequila lime wings, we developed a simple yogurt sauce that can be made while the wings are marinating. It uses thick Greek yogurt along with a touch of tequila and a little bit of lime juice to compliment the chicken’s flavor. The wings also go well with Ancho Chili & Honey BBQ Sauce.
We’re such big fans of chicken wings that we wrote an entire piece all About the Best Chicken Wings on the Internet. A few of our best chicken wing recipes include:
Crispy Baked Chicken Wings – These wings are the best way we’ve found to cook wings that balance plump and juicy chicken on the inside with crispy skin on the outside.
Smoked Chicken Wings – This tasty smoked chicken wing recipe uses Tabasco and a homemade spice rub with deep smoky flavors and some heat to create bold, flavorful smoked wings that are nice and crisp on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside.
Korean Chicken Wings – Our Korean chicken wings are full of ginger, garlic, and the deep umami flavors that make Korean BBQ so delicious.
Leftover and Reheating Wings
Once the wings have been cooked, they will keep in the fridge for three or four days. The best way to reheat them is on a medium grill for 10 to 12 minutes, turning them halfway through.
They also can be reheated in a 350ºF oven for 10 to 15 minutes. The wings should be placed on a rack, similar to our baked chicken wing recipe, to keep the outside nice and crispy.
The Tequila Lime Dip will keep in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. Besides chicken wings, it’s also great with fresh vegetables and as a topping for tacos.
- 2 lbs chicken wings
Chicken Wing Marinade
- 2 oz tequila
- 2 oz lime juice, fresh squeezed
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp chipotle, ground
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
Tequila Lime Dipping Sauce
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- ¾ oz lime juice
- ¼ oz tequila
- 1 tsp chili powder
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp salt
- In a small bowl combine the tequila and lime juice with the chili powder, cumin, chipotle, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.2 oz tequila, 2 oz lime juice, 1 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp chipotle, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper
- In a large baking dish, mix the wings and the marinade together. Making sure the wings are evenly coated.2 lbs chicken wings
- The wings should marinate for 1 to 2 hours in the fridge.
- Grill the wings on a medium to medium-high grill, turning them every 5 to 7 minutes. Depending on the grill the wings usually take 25 to 30 minutes to cook all the way through.
- The wings are done when they’re firm to the touch, crispy on the outside, and cooked all the way through with an internal temp of 165ºF.
- Serve the grilled wings with some Tequila Lime Dipping sauce.
Tequila Lime Dipping Sauce
- The sauce can be made while the chicken wings are marinating1 cup Greek yogurt, ¾ oz lime juice, ¼ oz tequila, 1 tsp chili powder, ½ tsp cumin, ½ tsp salt
- Combine the yogurt, tequila, and lime juice with the chili powder, cumin, and salt.
- The sauce should be stored in the fridge.