Jess Pryles

Char Grilled Chile Lime Wings

chile lime wings
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Zesty and tangy with just the right amount of heat, these citrus spiked chile wings get a char grilled boost of flavor.

Have you ever tried the magical Mexican seasoning Tajin? I happened to consume a great deal of it recently on a trip to Cabo, mainly via the Tajin-crusted rims of the many, many Micheladas that were imbibed. It’s a tangy and salt chili seasoning with an extreme sour note. It definitely inspired me to create these chile lime wings, which I think are the perfect balance of earthy chile and sour lime. So why not just use Tajin, you say? Well, two reasons. 1) That would be lazy as heck. 2) While Tajin is great for cocktails, it’s a little too concentrated and sour to use as seasoning.

Challenge to recreate the same flavors but with a profile suited to chicken wings – ACCEPTED!

chile lime chicken wings with tangy spice

There’s no need to be nervous about cooking chicken correctly, particularly when you have what I consider to be the single most important tool for a meat cook – a great thermometer. I use a Thermapen, which offers precisely calibrated and near-instant readings.  Most importantly, it allows me to know when my chicken has reached the exact safe temperature of 165f. No more guess work. Truth be told, you can actually remove your wings from the grill when they start reading around 161-162f, as they will continue to climb in temperature from residual heat.

The resounding positive comments from my test tasters combined with a completely empty platter at the end of the tasting confirm this recipe to be a raging success. It’s also highly customizable in terms of spice – if you like your wings hot, just increase the amount of cayenne. If you follow the original recipe, you’ll find it well balanced and flavorful, but not too hot for those who are a little scared of spice.

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Grilled Chile Lime Chicken Wings

There are three ingredients in the recipe that are a little more unusual but really help take this recipe next level. You can easily get all these items at speciality stores or online. Sumac - a middle eastern spice that's bright and citrusy. Buy here. Citric acid - a extra punch of sour to help boost the lime flavor. Buy here. Achiote sauce - crucial for lending a deep orangey red color. I've tried a bunch of different pastes and powders, this El Yucateco sauce is the best. Buy here To set up a grill for two zone cooking, follow these instructions.


  • 1.5-2 lb chicken wing segments
  • 1.5 tablespoons Paprika
  • 2 teaspoons sumac (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon guajillo chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon citric acid
  • 2 tablespoons achiote paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1 cup lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon guajillo chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • zest of two limes


  1. For the marinade: in a large non reactive bowl combine paprika, sumac, ancho, guajillo, salt, garlic, citric acid, achiote and cayenne. Add chicken wings and toss well to coat thoroughly. Add in lime juice, then cover or seal and place in fridge for 1-2 hours.
  2. Set up a grill for two zone cooking (see above for instructions), so you have an active hot and cool zone.
  3. Discard marinade, and place wings onto the hot side of the grill to color, about 2-3 minutes per side. Once they have achieved a nice brown shade, move them to the cool side to continue cooking until they reach 165f at the thickest part, about 10-15 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, combine finishing powder ingredients of guajillo powder, brown sugar and paprika. Place hot wings in bowl and toss to coat.
  5. Sprinkle with lime zest and serve immediately.


Jess Pryles is a full fledged Hardcore Carnivore. She’s a cook, author, and TV personality specializing in the field of meat, with a particular expertise in beef. She’s also a respected authority on live fire cooking and BBQ. Born in Australia, she now resides in Austin, Texas.

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