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 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 Tbsp 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