Mango Habanero Grilled Chicken Recipe

This dish brings together the sweet, tropical flavor of ripe mangoes with the fiery heat of habanero peppers in a barbecue sauce that is just begging to be slathered over marinated, grilled chicken breasts. The chicken takes on a touch of char on the grill, which serves as a bitter counterpoint to the sweet, spicy sauce, making each bite a revelation.

While the marinated grilled chicken is juicy and delightful in its own right, the mango-habanero barbecue sauce is the real star of the dish. Onion, garlic, and ginger form the base of the sauce which takes on a Caribbean flair from diced mango, minced habanero, and a touch of allspice. Brown sugar adds a hint of molasses sweetness, and apple cider vinegar finishes the sauce with a nice tang. Serve this chicken alongside a scoop of rice and a nice cabbage slaw, which both help to tame the heat of those habaneros, and you have a whole new take on the classic barbecue chicken plate.

Gather the mango habanero chicken ingredients

This recipe begins with marinated, grilled chicken breasts, which are accompanied by a sweet and spicy mango habanero barbecue sauce. For the grilled chicken you will need boneless, skinless chicken breasts, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt. Those ingredients combine to imbue the chicken with a delicious flavor that is perfectly complemented by the barbecue sauce. 

For the sauce, you will need olive oil, onion, garlic, ginger, ripe mangoes, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, allspice, pepper, salt, a bit of water, and habanero peppers. Habaneros are very spicy chiles, so we suggest that you remove the seeds and pith before cooking to tame some of that heat. Be careful when chopping the chiles (you may wish to wear a glove), and be sure to thoroughly wash your hands afterward to ensure you don't accidentally spread those capsaicin-rich juices to places like your eyes, where you definitely don't want them to be. Once you've gathered all of these ingredients, you are ready to start marinating, grilling, and whipping up your very own barbecue sauce. 

Step 1: Make the marinade

Begin by making the chicken marinade. Combine the olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt in a small bowl. Stir until the sugar dissolves.

Step 2: Place in sealable container

Place the chicken breasts in a zip-top bag or other airtight container and pour the marinade over. Mix to ensure even coverage.

Step 3: Marinate the chicken

Close the container with the chicken and allow it to marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes. If marinating for longer than 30 minutes, store in the refrigerator.

Step 4: Heat the skillet

While the chicken is marinating, make the barbecue sauce. Begin by bringing a large skillet to medium-high heat and adding the olive oil.

Step 5: Start the sauce

Next add the onion, garlic, and ginger, and cook, stirring occasionally, for around 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft.

Step 6: Add the mango and habanero

Stir in the mangoes, habaneros, cider vinegar, brown sugar, allspice, and pepper, and bring to a boil.

Step 7: Simmer the sauce

Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Step 8: Puree the sauce

Transfer the sauce to a mixing bowl or blender and puree until smooth. Set aside for now.

Step 9: Heat the grill

Bring a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.

Step 10: Grill the chicken

Grill the chicken breasts for 8-10 minutes on each side, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 165 F.

Step 11: Rest the chicken

Once cooked through, remove the chicken breasts to a plate and allow them to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

Step 12: Time to eat

The chicken breasts can be plated whole or sliced, with barbecue sauce drizzled or brushed on. Serve with extra sauce on the side.

What can I substitute for habanero peppers?

While this recipe is designed to be spicy, if you aren't one of those folks who enjoys a good dose of heat with your meal, it's natural that you might want to find a substitute for the habaneros. Those little orange chili peppers are certainly not for the faint of heart. Habanero peppers range from 100,000-350,000 Scoville heat units (SHU), which puts them among the hotter peppers out there. For reference, jalapeño peppers measure in at 2,500-10,000 SHU, meaning the mildest habanero is still 10 times hotter than the spiciest jalapeño.

Since jalapeños are so much milder, that's our first suggestion for replacing the habaneros without entirely foregoing that spicy tingle in the barbecue sauce. Jalapeños add their own delicious flavor to the dish while providing a much milder kick. If you want a little more heat than a jalapeño, but still less than a habanero, serrano peppers are another good alternative. Serranos range from 10,000-25,000 SHU, so they start at the high end of jalapeño spiciness, but cap out at a quarter of the heat of the mildest habanero.

Because of how intensely spicy habanero peppers are, this recipe uses only two of the small orange fruits, which is not enough to add a ton of their citrusy flavor. If you wish to really take down the heat, you can simply leave out the chiles without greatly affecting the overall flavor of the sauce.

How do I pick a ripe mango?

From late spring to late summer, mangoes fill grocery store shelves and beckon to be eaten. Whether sliced thin and served with sweet coconut rice (as in this mango sticky rice recipe), or cooked into a delicious barbecue sauce (as in this recipe), they are versatile fruits that impart a lovely tropical essence into any dish. But selecting the best mango can be a challenge.

It is tempting ,when picking a mango, to choose based on color. And this is not entirely wrong. Mangoes do turn red (or yellow, depending on the variety) when they ripen, but choosing mangoes by color is far from the best method. Exposure to sunlight can cause this color change, so it is no guarantee that the fruit inside will be sweet and ripe.

Rather than using your eyes to assess how ripe a mango may be, you're better off relying on your senses of touch and smell. Picking up a mango and giving it a gentle squeeze is an excellent way to judge whether it is ready to be eaten. A ripe mango should give slightly when squeezed, indicating soft, ripe fruit beneath the skin. Your nose is also an excellent tool for this job. Simply pick up a mango and give the stem area a sniff. With an unripe mango, you won't smell much at all. But, if that mango is ready to eat, you will get a heady whiff of mango aroma.

Mango Habanero Grilled Chicken Recipe
5 from 12 ratings
The sweet, tropical flavor of mangoes combines with the fiery heat of habanero peppers in a barbecue sauce that is perfect with marinated, grilled chicken.
Prep Time
40
minutes
Cook Time
40
minutes
Servings
6
Servings
plate of mango habanero grilled chicken
Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Ingredients
  • For the chicken
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 4 boneless and skinless chicken breasts
  • For the mango habanero barbecue sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 mangoes, diced large
  • 2 habaneros, seeded and diced
  • ¾ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup water
Directions
  1. Begin by making the chicken marinade. Combine the olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt in a small bowl. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Place the chicken breasts in a zip-top bag or other airtight container and pour the marinade over. Mix to ensure even coverage.
  3. Close the container with the chicken and allow it to marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes. If marinating for longer than 30 minutes, store in the refrigerator.
  4. While the chicken is marinating, make the barbecue sauce. Begin by bringing a large skillet to medium-high heat and adding the olive oil.
  5. Next add the onion, garlic, and ginger, and cook, stirring occasionally, for around 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft.
  6. Stir in the mangoes, habaneros, cider vinegar, brown sugar, allspice, and pepper, and bring to a boil.
  7. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  8. Transfer the sauce to a mixing bowl or blender and puree until smooth. Set aside for now.
  9. Bring a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.
  10. Grill the chicken breasts for 8-10 minutes on each side, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 165 F.
  11. Once cooked through, remove the chicken breasts to a plate and allow them to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
  12. The chicken breasts can be plated whole or sliced, with barbecue sauce drizzled or brushed on. Serve with extra sauce on the side.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 476
Total Fat 16.6 g
Saturated Fat 2.7 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 132.4 mg
Total Carbohydrates 38.4 g
Dietary Fiber 2.9 g
Total Sugars 32.8 g
Sodium 940.6 mg
Protein 42.5 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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