This quick and easy Pollo Asado Recipe is marinated in the most incredible zesty, smoky, citrusy combination of fresh orange juice, lime juice, Mexican spices, and achiote powder, then grilled or roasted to juicy, tender perfection. Enjoy this amazing chicken as a stand-alone weeknight dinner or added to tacos, salads, and burrito bowls.
The Best Pollo Asado Recipe (Chicken Asado)
Juicy chicken pieces marinated in the most delicious combination of earthy, zesty, and savory ingredients, then grilled (or baked!) to perfection – this pollo asado recipe is one of my all-time favorite chicken marinades and chicken recipes.
A versatile and delicious dish that’s big on flavor and low on effort, it’s the perfect weeknight dinner option that can be enjoyed on its own or as a filling for tacos, fajitas, and burritos.
But one of the best parts about this amazing pollo asado recipe, aside from its stand-out flavor, of course, is the simple and affordable ingredient list.
What is Pollo Asado?
In Spanish, pollo asado translates to “roasted” or “grilled” chicken. Popular throughout Latin America, especially in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, it is made with chicken pieces that are marinated in a flavorful mixture of spices, herbs, and citrus before being grilled, roasted, or barbecued.
The marinade for pollo asado typically includes ingredients such as garlic, onion, cumin, oregano, achiote powder or paste, lime or orange juice, and sometimes chilies or chili powder. The result is a beautiful savory, tangy, and slightly spicy flavor profile. The marinated chicken is then cooked on a grill or roasted in the oven until it is juicy and tender with a slightly charred exterior.
Pollo Asado Marinade Ingredients
This particular marinade requires the following ingredients:
- Orange juice and fresh lime juice
- Olive oil
- Fresh minced garlic
- Mexican oregano
- Ground cumin
- Onion powder
- Achiote powder (annatto powder)
- Salt and Black pepper
Is Achiote Powder the Same as Achiote Paste?
Achiote powder and achiote paste are not the same, but they are related as they are both made from achiote seeds (also known as annatto seeds).
- Achiote powder is made by grinding the dried achiote seeds into a fine powder. The powder can be used directly in recipes as a spice or natural colorant. It has a mild, earthy, and slightly peppery flavor.
- Achiote paste, on the other hand, is a mixture of ground achiote seeds combined with other spices, herbs, and liquids such as vinegar or citrus juice. Common ingredients in achiote paste include garlic, cumin, oregano, cloves, and sometimes black pepper or chilies. Also known as recado rojo, it has a more complex flavor profile due to the additional ingredients, and its texture is thicker and more concentrated than the powder.
You can substitute one for the other in recipes if necessary, but you’ll need to adjust for the differences in flavor and consistency.
How to Make Pollo Asado
1. Prepare the marinade in a large bowl by combining the orange juice, lime juice, olive oil, garlic, oregano, cumin, onion powder, achiote powder, salt, and black pepper.
2. Transfer the chicken thighs and the marinade to a large resealable ziplock bag. Seal the bag and ensure the chicken is evenly coated with the marinade.
3. Transfer to the refrigerator allowing the chicken to marinate for at least 2 or (up to) 6 hours.
4. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling, allowing it to come to room temperature, then prepare the grill. Clean the grill grates and lightly oil them with vegetable oil or cooking spray. Set grill to medium-high heat.
5. Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard any leftover marinade. Grill the chicken for 8-10 minutes on each side or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C) as measured with an instant read thermometer.
6. Remove the grilled chicken from the grill and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Can You Bake Pollo Asado in the Oven?
Yes. Baking or roasting pollo asado in the oven is a convenient alternative to using the grill.
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Remove the marinating chicken from the refrigerator and allow them to come to room temperature while the oven preheats.
2. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack on the baking sheet, if available. This will allow the chicken to cook evenly and prevent it from sitting in its juices.
3. Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade, allowing any excess to drip off. Arrange the chicken pieces (skin-side-up if using skin-on chicken). Discard the remaining marinade.
4. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C), as measured with a digital meat thermometer. Note: Cooking time will vary depending on the size and thickness of the chicken pieces.
5. For crispy skin (optional) – switch the oven to broil and cook for an additional 2 minutes, watching closely to avoid burning.
6. Remove the cooked chicken from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Is Pollo Asado Spicy?
Pollo asado can be mildly spicy or not spicy at all, depending on the marinade ingredients and your preference. This pollo asado marinade has a savory, tangy flavor profile but is not spicy. Some versions may incorporate chilies or chili powder to add a spicy kick.
Leftovers and Freezing
- Leftover roasted chicken: Keep leftovers stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Freezing cooked chicken: Transfer chicken to an airtight storage bag or airtight container for up to 3-4 months.
- Freezing raw chicken in the marinade: Place the raw chicken pieces and marinade in freezer-safe ziplock bags. Remove as much air as possible. Transfer to the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before grilling or roasting in the oven.
Recipes to Serve with Pollo Asado
Pollo asado bursts with bold, delicious flavor. When picking side dishes, I try to pair this chicken with complementing flavors that don’t overpower the dish.
- Rice: Mexican rice, Spanish rice, cilantro lime rice, or even simple white rice.
- Beans: Refried beans, black beans, or pinto beans.
- Grilled or roasted vegetables: So many yummy options like zucchini, bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes.
- Salsa, guacamole, or pico de gallo.
- Salad: A fresh green salad with avocado, tomato, and cucumbers.
- Tortillas: corn or flour.
If you try making this Pollo Asado Recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
Pollo Asado Recipe (Chicken Asado)
- ½ cup orange juice
- ¼ cup lime juice
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic - minced
- 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
- 2 teaspoon achiote powder (annatto powder)
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 pounds bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
- Prepare the marinade – In a large bowl, combine the orange juice, lime juice, olive oil, garlic, oregano, cumin, onion powder, achiote powder, salt, and black pepper.
- Marinate the chicken – Transfer the chicken thighs to a large resealable ziplock bag and cover with the prepared marinade. Seal the bag and ensure the chicken is evenly coated with the marinade. Transfer to the refrigerator and allow the chicken to marinate for at least two hours.
- Remove the chicken from the refrigerator – Approximately 30 minutes before cooking, remove the chicken from the refrigerator allowing it to come to room temperature.
- Prepare the grill – Clean the grill grates and lightly oil them with vegetable oil or cooking spray. Set the grill to medium-high heat.
- Grill the chicken – Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and discard any leftover marinade. Grill the chicken for 8-10 minutes on each side or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C) as measured with a digital meat thermometer. Note: Bone-in chicken will take longer to cook compared to boneless chicken.
- Allow the chicken to rest – Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the grill and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)
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