Spicy Orange Marinated Chicken

Chicken thighs, pounded thin, marinated in mixture of orange juice, onion, garlic, herbs, and chipotle, then quickly pan fried. Delicious!

Spicy Orange Marinated Chicken
Sally Vargas

The trick to quickly prepared meals is just a little foresight and planning.

In this case you marinate the chicken pieces overnight, but once you take them out of the marinade, they take less than 20 minutes to cook.

My father adapted this recipe from one on a local sausage maker's calendar, of all places. We futzed with it a bit, pounded the chicken thighs for more even cooking, used olive oil instead of vegetable spray, and served it with some of my mother's awesome Spanish rice.

Loved it!

Spicy Orange Marinated Chicken

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Marinating 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 40 mins
Servings 6 servings


  • 2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice from 3 to 4 large navel oranges, or 6 small oranges, peeled and chopped

  • 1 onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)

  • 1/2 of a (7-ounce) can of chipotle chili peppers in adobo (3 1/2 ounces total)

  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried

  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried

  • 1 tablespoon fresh marjoram or oregano leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried of either

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (4 pounds if buying bone-in)

  • Chopped fresh cilantro or parsley and orange slices, for garnish


  1. Make the marinade:

    In a blender or food processor, combine the orange juice or chopped oranges, onion, chipotle in adobo, garlic, cilantro, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, and salt.

    Sally Vargas
    Sally Vargas

    Pulse a few times to make a coarse purée. Transfer to a large bowl.

  2. Trim the fat from the chicken thighs:

    With scissors, snip off the excess fat from the thighs.

    Sally Vargas
  3. Pound the chicken thighs to even thickness:

    Put the chicken thighs between two sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper and pound with a meat mallet or rolling pin until an even thickness of about 1/2-inch.

    Sally Vargas
  4. Marinate the chicken:

    Add the chicken to the bowl of marinade (or transfer both to a zipper freezer bag). Refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.

    Sally Vargas
  5. Cook the chicken:

    Heat the olive oil in a large cast iron pan or heavy skillet on medium high heat.

    Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade, blotting off the excess (but not all) with a paper towel.

    Working in batches, cook the chicken pieces for 5 minutes on each side, or until browned and cooked through.

    Sally Vargas
    Sally Vargas
  6. To serve:

    Sprinkle the chicken with chopped cilantro or parsley, garnish with orange wedges and serve with Spanish rice.

Recipe adapted from one by the National Chicken Council

Spicy Chicken with Orange Marinade
Sally Vargas
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
443 Calories
22g Fat
7g Carbs
56g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 443
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 22g 29%
Saturated Fat 6g 31%
Cholesterol 277mg 92%
Sodium 773mg 34%
Total Carbohydrate 7g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 56g
Vitamin C 27mg 137%
Calcium 38mg 3%
Iron 3mg 15%
Potassium 744mg 16%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.