Spice up happy hour with Grilled Chicken Fajita Wings. This simple, flavor-packed marinade levels up any grilled chicken wings in a snap.
Classic chicken fajitas are incredibly popular in the Southwest, typically served with a variety of grilled chiles and onions, sour cream, and other tasty toppings.
Why This Recipe Works
Flavor packed. Strong spices and lime juice make a bold marinade, which can be easily adjusted for heat. Grilling with mesquite brings out the earthy flavors, adding another layer of tasty.
Simple to prepare. There’s a good chance you have most of the spices in your house already. Mix them in a bowl with lime juice and oil, and wait patiently as your wings soak it up.
Adaptable. Yes, this recipe is designed for chicken wings. Don’t let that stop you from exploring other cuts, or even meats! This marinade works well for shrimp, beef, and even pork.
Twisting those flavors into chicken wings, however… these are truly next-level fajita flavors. This is a simple marinade from my cookbook, Chiles and Smoke!
Ingredients You’ll Need
There’s a great chance you have most of the spices already. The nice thing about this recipe is that you simply have to mix the marinade in a bowl and pour it over the wings. Grill, and eat.
- Chicken Wings – Team drums or team flats? Neither will last long with this recipe.
- Chili powder – Make sure you read the ingredients and know the flavor. Most premixed chili powders have different blends.
- Chipotle powder – Using this adds a level of heat and smoke, which is hard to duplicate. Use ancho chile powder for a mild flavor if you don’t want the heat.
- Ground turmeric – This earthy spice is fairly classic for fajitas, giving that golden color and earthy flavor.
- Ground ginger – Pungent and pairs well with the turmeric and other flavors form the chili powder.
- Fresh lime juice – Needs to be fresh! This juice is the key to the marinade, tenderizing the meat and brightening the flavors.
- Olive oil – Whisking this in at the end emulsifies the marinade, creating the perfect coating to transfer all of the powdery spices to the entire surface of the meats.
Step 1: Mix and Marinate
Combine all of the spices and lime juice in a bowl and whisk together. Slowly stream in the olive oil while whisking to create an emulsion.
The dark orange fajita marinade should thicken up quickly. It’s tough to taste and adjust, as the marinade is meant to be quite salty and pungent. You’ll just have to trust me on this one!
Allow the wings to marinate for at least 4 hours, if possible. Do not go over 12 hours or the texture of the chicken will start to firm up due to the acid.
Step 2: Smoke the Wings
Fire up your grill or smoker! Let’s give these chicken fajitas wings a smoke bath.
I highly recommend using a charcoal grill if you can, unless your smoker has the ability to sear for a finish. Cooking the wings indirectly not only builds smoke flavor but allows you to crisp them up right at the end.
Preheat your grill or smoker for a medium-high heat of about 350°F. Use a chunk of mesquite wood for an authentic flavor.
Cook the wings indirectly for about 35-40 minutes, flipping as needed. Your target temperature is about 165°F internally. This may take longer, just be watching.
Step 3: Sear to Finish
Once the wings hit their target temperature, sear them directly over the coals to finish.
If you’re using a pellet smoker, crank the heat up to 400-425°F and sear them off.
Flip the wings as needed to make sure they are crispy on all sides. The target temperature is about 180-185°F which will make them crispy, and easy to tear off the bone.
How to Serve Fajita Wings
Finish the wings with a squeeze of lime for a bright finish. This livens them up and adds a little moisture.
We love to serve the wings with Smoked Pickled Jalapenos, an added crunch, and a bit of heat.
Fajitas are typically served with sour cream, guacamole, and other toppings. Use what you love for dipping! In the photos, you’ll see a bowl of sour cream mixed with lime juice for a zesty, simple sauce. These chicken fajita wings are good on their own if you don’t want to dip!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, in fact, the Chiles and Smoke cookbook uses chicken breast. Try it also with beef, shrimp, and even pork!
The wings can be made on a smoker without searing if needed. Simply keep cooking until they reach about 180-185°F.
Yes, and also the air fryer. Just use the same temperature and timing, make sure you are monitoring the wings during the cook.
It’s time to go beyond salt and pepper brisket! Spanning beef, pork, chicken, seafood, and vegetables, each chapter also incorporates a variety of chiles, from spicy Jalapenos to bitter Shishito Peppers.
- 2 pounds of chicken wings
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- Juice of 2 limes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, more as needed
- Lime juice to finish the wings
- Mix all of the ingredients for the marinade into a bowl, except the olive oil. Whisk to mix them together, and slowly stream in the olive oil to create an emulsion. It should be a thick brown sauce, but thin enough to be able to spread over the wings. Add more oil if needed.
- Place the wings in a resealable plastic bag and pour the marinade in. Mix the wings thoroughly to ensure they are coated and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours, up to 12.
- Preheat a grill or smoker for indirect cooking at 350°F. Remove the wings from the fridge and allow them to warm up at room temperature as the grill heats up.
- If using a charcoal grill, add some mesquite wood chunks or chips for an added smoke flavor.
- Place the wings on the grill away from the heat to cook them indirectly. Close the lid and allow them to cook for about 30 minutes undisturbed. Check on the wings and rotate them as needed, making sure they cook evenly. Continue to cook this way for another 15-20 minutes or so until the wings reach 165°F.
- Move the wings over the coals directly to crisp them. Cook and flip the wings until they are about 180-185°F and crispy on the outside. If using a pellet smoker, increase the heat to 400-425°F for this step.
- Remove the wings from the grill and finish with a squeeze of lime. Optionally serve with a side of sour cream and lime juice.
- Don’t allow the wings to marinate for more than 12 hours or the lime juice will toughen up the chicken.
- Make sure you finish the wings with a squeeze of lime at the end, it brightens up the flavors.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Marinate Time: 4 hours
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Category: Chicken & Poultry
- Method: Grilling
- Cuisine: Appetizer
Keywords: chicken wings, chicken fajita, chicken fajita wings, grilled chicken fajita, grilled chicken wings