This pollo asado recipe puts a savory Mexican spin on grilled chicken recipes!
Smoky, tangy, and lip-smackingly tasty, this mother of all Mexican chicken recipes hits every flavor note with a delectable marinade and charcoal-grilled crust.
Asado means “roast” in Spanish, and it’s often used to refer to a big roasting or grilling event. It can encompass a lot of chicken recipes, but the special touches to this recipe are zesty spices you’ll only find in Mexican cuisine.
Invite your neighbors to dinner — it’s BBQ time!
You know any recipe that has a marinade is going to result in some truly divine chicken! This recipe has you marinade the chicken for at least eight hours, which means each bite of your finished grilled chicken will be infused with a myriad of amazing Mexican flavors.
- Versatile — use the meat as a taco filling or eat it as is!
- Great for backyard BBQs
- Goes with any side dish!
- Everyone will love this recipe!
How To Make Pollo Asado Recipe
Most of the ingredients in this pollo asado recipe go into the marinade — which is the first step!
Start by bringing your marinade ingredients together (except for the citrus and oil). You actually cook this marinade before you use it to really wake up those flavors. Once the first few ingredients are cooked, add in your citrus and oil, dump it into a plastic bag, add your chicken, and let the marinade work its magic for at least 8 hours!
When you’re ready to party, fire up your grill and get to cooking! I like a little extra sear on my chicken, but cook it to your preferences.
The secret to this dish is a carefully crafted marinade, a flavor-packed blend of authentic spices and ingredients that add all the earthy flavors you’d expect from a hearty Mexican meal. But what exactly goes into the marinade? Let me break it down for you!
Heating Up The Spices: Although it’s not typical in marinade-making, you’ll want to heat up the spices and garlic first to release all their flavors before putting the ingredients together (this technique works for dry spices as well as aromatics).
The marinade – and the chicken – will thank you for the extra time. Make sure you cool it slightly before mingling with the chicken since you don’t want to start the cooking process prematurely.
Marinade Container: I recommend using a plastic zip-top bag (standing in a drip-catching container) to marinate in. Unlike a big bowl, the bag more evenly distributes the marinade around all the chicken pieces.
It’s still good to massage it every few hours to make sure all the chicken is getting some marinade love. You definitely want a few hours for marinating, even overnight, but I wouldn’t go too far past that. The citrus in the marinade does tenderize, but it will eventually start to toughen the meat and change the texture.
Bring on the tortillas
Just pull the chicken off the bone and layer it into warm corn or flour tortilla with all your favorite taco toppings (like the ones I use when I make Carne Picada): shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, fresh cilantro, queso fresco, or sliced avocado.
For a little “cool” heat, you can combine sour cream and canned chipotle peppers in a blender to serve as a creamy, zesty condiment. Tacos are also a great way to repurpose your leftovers.
As I’ve already mentioned, I prefer to cook this on the grill.
If I’m honest, though, in the dead of winter, when I get a craving for this yummy chicken, I’m not lighting up my Weber.
Here’s how to cook this in the oven if you just can’t stand the cold:
1. Put all the marinated chicken pieces into a roasting pan and bake in a 375 degree, preheated oven for about an hour, or until the juices run clear and an instant-read thermometer measures 165 degrees.
2. Measure the temp in the thickest part of the thigh, near, but not touching, the bone.
Here are some notes on the ingredients that make this recipe pop!
Chicken: Many recipes start with pre-sliced or boneless chicken, like the pollo asado that Trader Joe’s sells, but I like to use a whole, bone-in chicken cut up into finger-lickin’-sized pieces. Cooking with bone-in chicken brings extra flavor and moisture to your final dish.
Achiote Paste: The star of the marinade is achiote paste, a concentrated blend of heavy-hitting spices like cumin, coriander, oregano, cloves, peppercorns, salt, and even some cinnamon and orange zest. Be careful, though — this paste will stain your clothes very easily! Apron up, chef!
Oregano: I also like to use a little oregano in the marinade — a Mexican variety if you can find it. There’s a subtle difference between it and the Mediterranean variety that I prefer in Latin-inspired recipes, but either will work.
Citrus: Most marinades start with an acid, and this recipe uses lime and orange juices. The citrus breaks down some of the proteins in the chicken to help tenderize, and the resulting flavor is much fresher than using something like a wine vinegar.
This recipe couldn’t be easier to store! Let me break down the steps for you.
Can You Freeze This?
Yes! Cool your chicken, store it in airtight bags or containers, and you can freeze this for up to four months. Chicken freezes very well, so you won’t have to worry about any flavor breakdown.
You will, however, lose that initial grilled crust once you freeze it, but it’ll still be yummy!
Make Ahead Tips
There aren’t any shortcuts for this recipe! You really need the time for the marinade to infuse the chicken with flavor. Trust me, those 8 hours are utterly worthwhile! Your chicken will be tender, flavorful, and succulent.
How Long Can You Keep This In The Fridge?
You can store your recipe leftovers in the fridge for up to four days. I love using it for lunches — it’s so versatile! Use some for tacos, or on a salad, or mixed in with mayo for a Mexican chicken salad. Yum!
Pollo Asado Recipe
- 1 (3-4 pounds) whole chicken cut into 8 pieces
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon achiote paste mashed up with a fork
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- In a small frying pan, heat up the vegetable oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, oregano and achiote paste. Remove the pan from heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
- Add oil mixture, orange juice and lime juice to a 1-gallon resealable plastic bag. Add Chicken pieces to bag and seal bag. Set bag on a rimmed dish (to catch any leaks) and refrigerate 8 hours minimum up to overnight.
- Prepare grill. Remove chicken from marinade and discard marinade. Cook the chicken over the hotter part of the grill l until it’s lightly browned all both sides, 6 to 8 minutes for a charcoal grill or 10 to 14 minutes for a gas grill.
- Turn the chicken skin side down on the cooler part of the grill, cover and cook until chicken is cooked through and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat, but not touching the bone, reaches 165°F
Want to have a whole spread of grilled chicken at your next BBQ party? Here you go!
- Grilled Chicken Sandwich – Simple but irresistible!
- Huli Huli Chicken – A Hawaiian classic your guests will love
- Grilled Chicken Thighs – The most tender cut of chicken gets the grill treatment!
- KFC Grilled Chicken – Make the worldwide favorite right in your backyard!
- Jerk Chicken – Like spice? This recipe is for you!
- Cilantro Lime Chicken – -zesty chicken is tender, moist and juicy
- Greek Chicken – juicy & tender Greek chicken
Everyone loves a good grill party! Whether you used this pollo asado recipe to highlight your taco spread or gobbled it down straight off the coals, I hope it brought a bright twist to your backyard meal.
How’d your party go? Let me know in the comments!