Food & Drink

Grilled Cumin-Cayenne Chicken Thighs

This easy grilled chicken dish features bold, spicy flavors. Add more cayenne to get the heat.


I love bold, spicy flavors and this easy grilled chicken dish has those in spades. If you like your food really hot, kick the marinade up a notch or two by adding more cayenne pepper powder. 


  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 small onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 Tbsp fresh oregano, or 1 tsp. dried, preferably Mexican
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. Cayenne pepper powder, or to taste
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp peanut or other oil
  • 2 Tbsp orange juice, preferably freshly squeezed
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • About 1½ pounds boneless chicken thighs, or 2 pounds thighs with bones
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish


  1. Preheat a gas grill, start a wood or charcoal fire or preheat a broiler; the fire should be moderately hot, and the rack should be about 4 inches from the heat source.
  2. Combine the garlic, onion, oregano, cumin, cayenne, cloves, salt, pepper and oil in a blender or small food processor, and blend until fairly smooth. Add the juices, taste and adjust seasoning; the flavors should be powerful.
  3. Smear the sauce over the chicken thighs; if time allows, marinate 30 minutes or so.
  4. Grill 6 to 8 minutes per side, or until meat is nicely browned and cooked medium or better on the inside. (Thighs with bones will take longer, about 20 minutes total.) Serve, garnished with the cilantro.

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