This pollo asado is simple yet rich with a refreshing Mexican flavor. It features chicken thighs cooked in a balance of spices and fresh citrus to make a truly irresistible dish.
Chicken thighs might be my favorite cut of chicken.
In addition to being incredibly versatile and easy to cook, they taste great no matter how they’re prepared. We usually keep it simple, and either air fry or sous vide them. But when we want a dish with a bit more flavor, we always gravitate to this chicken adobo or this pollo asado recipe.
If you want to switch up your chicken game, this is the recipe for you!
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What is pollo asado?
Pollo asado essentially means “roasted chicken” or “barbequed chicken.” It’s a Mexican twist on grilled chicken marinated in citrus juice, spices, achiote paste, and garlic.
Like Peruvian chicken, once marinaded, the chicken is roasted in the oven until cooked but still tender and juicy.
Better than Chipotle Pollo Asado
This pollo asado recipe was inspired by Chipotle’s latest offerings. After recreating both their carnitas and sofritas, I had to do their asado, and trust me; this one is a winner!
- It’s versatile. Like classic baked chicken thighs, this chicken is flavorful but relatively mild, so there’s no worry it’ll overpower your dinner.
- It features juicy and tender chicken. Dark meat chicken is less finicky than white meat, so it’s harder to overcook and stays juicier longer.
- There is little hands-on cooking. Make a quick marinade, refrigerate the chicken, then pop it in the oven. You should only need to be active in the kitchen for about 10 minutes.
The ingredient list for this pollo asado is pretty simple. With a quick trip to the store, you’ll be well on your way to having this tasty dish ready and on the table!
- Citrus. Juice of both a lime and an orange is needed, preferably fresh.
- Oil. Olive oil is best, though any cooking oil will work.
- Vinegar. For a subtle added zesty flavor, use white vinegar or red wine vinegar.
- Achiote paste. A slightly sweet, smoky, and peppery paste made up of vinegar and seeds. It is what gives this dish it’s unique color.
- Garlic. Crushed.
- Spices. Oregano, cumin, black pepper, onion powder, and salt.
- Chicken. Preferably boneless thighs, either skin-on or skinless.
How to make pollo asado
As I mentioned before, most of the time spent making this chicken recipe is fairly inactive. You’ll need to marinade the chicken for at least 4 hours before roasting, so keep that in mind when planning your day. Ready to cook some chicken?
Step 1- Marinade the chicken
Combine the marinade ingredients (orange juice, lime juice, olive oil, vinegar, achiote paste, garlic, oregano, cumin, onion powder, salt, and pepper).
Whisk this with a fork to fully combine, then add the chicken to a large bowl and pour the marinade over it. Make sure to fully coat the chicken on all sides, then cover and let the chicken marinade for 4 hours in the refrigerator.
Step 2- Prepare the chicken
When the chicken is almost done marinating, preheat the oven to 200C/400F and let the chicken sit at room temperature before cooking.
Step 3- Bake the chicken and serve
Arrange the chicken on a baking pan lined with parchment paper and bake the chicken for 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reads 74C/165F. When the chicken is done, serve it warm as desired.
Pollo asado cooking time
How long to grill or roast the chicken depends on which method you use.
The chicken should be cooked for about 6-8 minutes per side on a hot grill, or roasted in the oven at 200C/400F for 30 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).
We’ve made this chicken recipe countless times, and each time find something else to tweak to make it that much better. Follow these tricks, and you’ll be adding this to your weekly dinner menu.
- You can use any cut of chicken you want for this recipe, like chicken breasts, chicken wings, or even a whole spatchcocked chicken.
- Keep an eye on the chicken, as bone one-in chicken thighs usually require more cooking time since the bone absorbs a lot of heat. To know if you’re chicken is fully cooked, test the thickest piece for an internal temperature of 74C/165F.
- Reserve some of the marinade to drizzle over the cooked chicken for added flavor.
- Grill the chicken instead of baking it. Clean the grill grates and lightly grease them, then add the chicken. Grill the chicken for 5-7 minutes on one side, then flip and grill for another 4-5 minutes. Continue grilling the chicken, flipping it every few minutes until it is fully cooked.
- Baste the chicken with the leftover marinade or a mixture of butter and spices will help add more flavor and moisture to the meat.
- You can substitute the achiote paste for Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce.
Pollo asado pairs well with all sorts of sides. Chipotle recommends slicing it into tacos or a burrito bowl, but having it as a stand-alone protein is so much better.
To store: Store leftovers in an airtight container or wrapped in aluminum foil in the fridge. Stored this way, it will last up to 4 days in the fridge.
To freeze: Store cooled leftover chicken in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
To reheat: Transfer leftovers to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 177C/350F for 10-12 minutes or until fully reheated. If the chicken is wrapped in foil, do not unwrap it and bake it in the foil.
The best cut of chicken to use for pollo asado is bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. They are flavorful and juicy, and the skin crisps up nicely on the grill or in the oven. However, you can also use chicken quarters or even a whole chicken.
Yes, you can use either a gas or charcoal grill to cook pollo asado. Charcoal grilling will impart a smoky flavor to the chicken, while gas grilling will be quicker and more convenient.
Yes, you can use a store-bought marinade for this recipe, but it is recommended to add fresh citrus juice and herbs to the marinade to enhance the flavor.
Citrus juice is an essential ingredient for this dish, as it helps to tenderize the meat and infuse it with flavor. However, if you are allergic or don’t have any on hand, you can try substituting vinegar or white wine.
More chicken recipes to try
- Whisk together all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, except for the chicken, until combined.
- Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to four hours.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F and let the chicken sit at room temperature.
- Lightly grease a large baking tray and arrange the marinated chicken thighs on it.
- Bake the chicken for 28-30 minutes, or until crispy on the outside.
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Thanks for this recipe. I have two questions before I try this recipe:
1. Will it cause the meat to get dry if I use boneless, skinless thighs? If I use thighs with the skin on and remove it after cooking, I think I’d be losing a lot of the delicious flavor, right?
2. I’ve not heard of achiote paste but I did Google it. I’m a little hesitant to buy something that I may not use regularly and only need 2 Tbsp. Is there a good substitute? If you think it’s a game changer, then I’ll go ahead and get some! Thank you!
Hi Jeanne! Boneless and skinless thighs will work well 🙂 As for the paste, you can use some white vinegar whisked with some garlic and smoked paprika.