Pollo Asado Rojo Wings

pollo asado rojo wings
pollo asado rojo wings on a plate with wine
Smokey, spicy, tangy, you will not be able to stop yourself from eating a dozen.

These red-stained wings hit all notes.

These pollo asado rojo wings are my creation inspired by many Mexican food dishes. Namely pollo asado & al pastor, but I wanted to create something spicier and fruitier that would pair well with wine (or a summer beer). Wings are the perfect blank palette for any flavor combination as this fatty chicken and skin can take the punishment from the grill while absorbing anything you can throw at it.

My wife and I are pretty much a beer family, but every now and then we’ll ignorantly stare down the wine aisle wondering where to start. I had a Riesling company reach out to me recently and happened to ask me if I’d be willing to create a dish that would pair with one of their Rieslings for some late summer BBQ. I admit I was pretty nervous, being a complete n00b with wines.

As seen on LIVE with Kelly & Ryan

Check out the Live segment of me cooking this on the LIVE with Kelly & Ryan show!

YouTube video
wings with lighter sauce
Wings with less chipotle in the sauce.

This sauce is boss.

This pollo asado rojo sauce takes a little work, but also cuts down on the need to apply a rub or make something separate for a glaze – you end up just using more of it. The high level of acidity in the sauce tenderizes the chicken quickly too, so you can start marinating just 2-4 hours before you plan to grill.

I love the addition of smoke with this recipe, so if you have a smoker you’re in for a treat. The thick marinade absorbs smoke particles very well and adds another depth of flavor.

First: Adobo

First you make the adobo, taking the garlic, spices, oil, and achiote paste and cooking it down on low heat. The spices bloom with flavor, the garlic fries lightly with that oil, and the achiote paste starts to break down and emulsify with everything. This step is crucial. Ignoring it means you’ll have a funky, chunky, adobo.

Second: Blend

The adobo cools quickly, and that’s when you toss it in the blender with the rest of the ingredients. Blending it for just a minute or two will create the marinade and you’re ready to go.

pollo asado rojo wings prep with sauce
Thick marinade absorbs the perfect amount of smoke flavors.

What is achiote and bitter orange?

Reading the recipe below you might be like… what the heck, I can’t make this? You can! Let me break it down for you:

Bitter oranges are a very common ingredient in Mexico, being one of the main ingredients for famous dishes such as cochinita pibil. We don’t have them fresh in Arizona, so I will buy the bottled marinade.

Achiote Paste is a mix of toasted spices and annatto seeds (known in Mexico as achiote) which are the main ingredient that makes everything red. This paste is the main ingredient for al pastor, and is extremely potent on it’s own. It’s not spicy, but fruity and herbal. It’s amazing if you decide to make it freshbut you can also buy it pre-made and it’s still delicious.

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pollo asado rojo wings on a plate with wine

Pollo Asado Rojo Wings

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These Pollo Asado Rojo wings hit all of the notes: smokey, spicy, tangy, savory… you will not be able to stop yourself from eating a dozen.

  • Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


  • 2 lbs chicken wings
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 tsp achiote paste
  • 2 chipotles in adobo, finely minced
  • 2 tsp adobo sauce from chipotles
  • 2 tsp cumin, ground
  • 2 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 2 tsp black pepper, ground
  • 1 ¼ cups bitter orange juice
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp kosher salt


  1. Heat the oil in a nonstick pan over med-low heat. (I do not use a skillet, as the achiote paste tends to cook fast and can get bitter if not careful.) Add the cumin, pepper, oregano, achiote paste, chipotles and adobo sauce into the oil and cook for a few minutes, stirring to incorporate everything together. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
  2. Put the cooled achiote mix into a blender with the bitter orange juice, sugar, and salt. Blend until fairly smooth and set aside. Adjust to taste – more chipotle for heat, more OJ for acid, etc.
  3. Reserve 1 cup of marinade, this will be used to baste the wings.
  4. Place the wings in a large zipper plastic bag. Pour in the rest of marinade, and refrigerate between 2-4 hours. The high level of acid will tenderize the chicken too much if you wait longer.
  5. Preheat your smoker to 250°F. Remove the chicken wings from the marinade and rub off excess sauce so it doesn’t clump on the grill. Place the wings on the grill and smoke them for 45 minutes undisturbed.
  6. Remove the wings from the grill and let them rest. Crank up the grill to 400°F. Place the wings back on, and baste with the reserved marinade. Let the wings grill at the high heat for about 6-8 minutes on each side, basting as you flip. They will need to read at least 165°F with an instant-read thermometer when inserted into the thickest portion of each piece.


Bitter orange juice can be substituted for half OJ and half lime juice.  It will not be the same flavor, but it’s fairly close.

  • Author: Brad Prose
  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 90 minutes
  • Category: Chicken wings
  • Method: Grilling
  • Cuisine: BBQ
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