Mexican Grilled Chicken Hearts With Citrus Marinade

A simple and delicious way to serve meaty, iron-rich hearts… Mexican Grilled Chicken Hearts With Citrus Marinade soaks in Mexican spices and orange, lime, and lemon juices, and spends only a few minutes on the grill! 

Mexican Grilled Chicken Hearts / www.beyondmeresustenance.com

👩🏻‍🍳 Tamara Talks – About Cooking with Offal!

I am guessing this recipe is a “hard sell.” Am I right? When I googled “grilled chicken hearts,” I was a little surprised at the low number of hits. I felt conflicted. On the one hand, what is the point of a food blogger churning out recipes that everyone else is doing? On the other hand, maybe my readers won’t make it past the title of the recipe… What is your reaction?

I grew up thinking organ meats (offal) are perfectly delicious and cheap proteins. My Dad was a graduate student until I was 7, and we were poor. Both of my parents cooked, we didn’t waste food, and we didn’t turn up our noses at less-common or desirable animal parts.

So, I have been eating food like this all of my 57 years. Last year, I posted recipes for beef tongue (lengua) – Provençal Beef Tongue Sandwiches and Lengua Tacos With Salsa Verde and Caramelized Onions. I have to admit, they never really took off! Here I am with another risky recipe… My son suggested I call it “Eat Your Heart Out,” and I had planned to post it on Valentine’s Day. I chickened out. Pardon my pun.😂

🐓About Chicken Hearts

First, let me tell you a little bit about chicken hearts. Given that the heart is a hard working muscle, they have a firm texture, and a flavor that is a bit like chicken thigh. They do NOT taste like liver.  😆

Are Chicken Hearts Healthy?

They are nutrient dense, and loaded with protein, B vitamins (especially B 12), zinc, iron, folate… A 4 ounce serving provides 20 grams of proteins and 126 calories. And, they are cheap! Keep in mind, they do contain a relatively high amount of saturated fat.

I prefer the all natural chicken hearts that eat a natural diet to their factory/farm raised counterparts that have probably been fed antibiotics. The choice is yours to make.

For more on chicken hearts, see Chicken Heart Nutrition!

Mexican Grilled Chicken Hearts

📋 Ingredients You’ll Need

  • citrus – I use a combination of orange, lime, and lemon juice to mimic the flavor of sour or “ugly” oranges found in Latin America.
  • garlic
  • olive oil
  • vinegar – I love Trader Joe’s Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar, but you can use your preferred vinegar (wine vinegar, sherry vinegar, and apple cider vinegar are good options).
  • chipotle – I specify ground chipotle powder, but you can substitute ancho, guajillo, or New Mexico red chile powder. Do not substitute generic “chili powder” as it contains other ingredients. Alternatively, you can use a canned chipotle with a little adobo, but you’ll want to put it in the blender to combine.
  • chicken hearts – This recipe is written for chicken hearts, but it’s really good on any chicken parts or pork too.
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  1. Marinate the chicken hearts – Combine marinade ingredients in a zip bag. Trim any membrane or fat from the chicken hearts. Add them to the marinade. Seal the bag, and marinate in the refrigerator 1 hour to overnight.
  2. Prepare the skewers – Drain the chicken hearts, and make sure to reserve the marinade for sauce. Place on skewers. Heat the grill to medium high.
  3. Make the sauce – Add the reserved marinade to a small sauce pan with chicken broth, agave nectar, and mild vinegar. Boil vigorously to reduce by about half.  Taste for seasoning, and keep warm until serving chicken hearts. 
  4. Grill the skewers – Grill 3-4 minutes per side. Overcooked hearts will be chewy. Garnish with fresh cilantro and additional citrus. Serve with dipping sauce. Enjoy!

What kind of citrus should I use?

Here in the Rio Grande Valley, we enjoy an abundance of citrus this time of year. I enjoy playing with Mexican flavors, and combining them in new ways. Any combination of citrus will work well in this recipe. I’ve been using blood orange, lime, and lemon. We also have tangerines, pummelo, grapefruit, meyer lemon, etc.

How much juice should I use?

You want about 1 cup of juice +/-. The zest intensifies the flavor, so I use that as well.

What can I substitute for ground chipotle powder?

Chipotle powder is part of my well-stocked pantry, and its smokiness adds complexity to the marinade. You can also use New Mexico red chile or ancho chile powder. I don’t recommend generic “chili powder” as it’s a spice blend that includes many ingredients.

Are the chicken hearts good leftover?

I don’t think so. The flavors get pretty strong, and reheating them may make them rubbery!

If you have a helper to watch the grill, make a dipping sauce with the remaining marinade while the skewers are on the grill. Reduce by about 2/3.

Try the marinade on pork chops and chicken thighs.

🍷 Pairing Suggestions

Serve the grilled chicken hearts with Mexican Cilantro Rice, Mexican Cauliflower Rice, or Red Rice, a side salad, and a cold beer. A citrus IPA like Ballast Point’s Grapefruit Sculpin IPA would be an outstanding choice.

I do hope you will take a risk and give this recipe a try… If you do, let me know by leaving a comment at the bottom of the post! If you love all things “offal,” this simple Beef heart recipe may be another one you’ll want to try. Chicken and beef hearts are both relatively lean and healthy protein sources.

Signature in red and green with chiles and limes.

Mexican Grilled Chicken Hearts

Mexican Grilled Chicken Hearts With Citrus Marinade

A simple and delicious way to serve meaty, iron-rich hearts… Mexican Grilled Chicken Hearts With Citrus Marinade soaks in Mexican spices and orange, lime, and lemon juices, and spends only a few minutes on the grill! 
4.50 from 2 votes

Click to rate!

Prep Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 16 minutes
Course Appetizer, Main Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 6
Calories 179 kcal

Ingredients
  

Chicken Hearts and Marinade

  • 1 orange, zest and juice
  • 1 lime, juice and zest
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon mild vinegar - I love Trader Joe’s Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar
  • 1-2 teaspoons chipotle powder
  • 2 pounds chicken hearts
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper

Sauce

  • strained marinade
  • cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar
  • 2 teaspoons mild vinegar - (see notes)

Garnishes

  • fresh cilantro, chopped
  • citrus wedges

Instructions

  • Combine marinade ingredients in a zip bag.
  • Trim any membrane or fat from the chicken hearts. Add them to the marinade. Seal the bag, and marinate in the refrigerator 1 hour to overnight.
  • Drain the chicken hearts. Place on skewers. Heat the grill to medium high.
  • Strain the marinade, and add to a small sauce pan with chicken broth, agave nectar, and mild vinegar. Boil vigorously to reduce by about half. 
  • Taste for seasoning, and keep warm until serving chicken hearts. 
  • Grill 3-4 minutes per side. Overcooked hearts will be chewy. Garnish with fresh cilantro and additional citrus. Serve with dipping sauce. Enjoy!

Notes

Mexican Grilled Chicken Hearts With Citrus Marinade makes a great appetizer – if your guests are adventuresome.  😀 Simply reduce the portion size.
The chicken hearts pair well with my Mexican Cilantro Rice. A fruit or green salad makes a complete meal.
Macronutrients (estimate from MyFitnessPal): 179 calories; 27 g protein; 6 g carbohydrates; 6 g fats
 

Nutrition

Calories: 179kcal

NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and/or star rating! Email us with any questions: tamara@beyondmeresustenance.com

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12 Comments

  1. Thank you for this recipe. I had the heart marinating overnight and the grill very hot, turned out great. I am going to try some pork products next time.
    Once again thank you.

  2. Just made these – great recipe! I put them in a hot cast iron pan on the stove with some chicken fat and was careful to not overcook them. What a great, simple dinner: Thank you for the recipe!

    1. Yay! I’m not sure there are a lot of offal lovers out there, but this is so tasty, lean, and easy, we love it. Thanks for taking time to let me know you enjoyed the recipe!

  3. Hey Tamara,

    Great recipe.

    I moved to Philippines a while back and when I bought chicken livers, the heart was still conected. Yeah, first thought, EEEEUW.

    Even here they are not widly sold in the street barbecue for some reason. Intestines, feet etc, but not hearts.

    I love the hearts but I think the biggest issue people have is that they do not marinade them for long enough.

    Thanks for you site, great recipes.

  4. I would totally eat these! I am not really into a lot of the organ meats but if they are cooked to be tender I will definitely try! I love how they fit on the skewers like perfect little bites!!

    1. There aren’t very many out there Jane! Hearts really are lovely – not at all strong like liver – and the citrus is perfect with them 🙂