Pollo Asado (Mexican Grilled Chicken)
What is Pollo Asado?
This is a simple grilled chicken dish that is all about the marinade.
Our classic Pollo Asado recipe uses a traditional combination of cilantro, garlic, onion, and habanero pepper for some kick. These aromatics are pureed with achiote paste, classic Mexican spices, and both orange and lime juice. Together they create a marinade that is vibrant and sharp, and perfect for infusing tender chicken with mouthwatering flavor.
This amazing Mexican (and Cuban) grilled chicken recipe makes the perfect centerpiece for any festive meal!
For this recipe, you can use any bone-in pieces of chicken you like. We like a combination of breasts, thighs, and drumsticks.
For the Pollo Asado marinade you need:
- Habanero pepper
- Achiote (annatto) paste
- Ground cumin
- Mexican oregano
- Orange juice
- Lime juice
- Olive oil
How to Make Mexican Grilled Chicken
Set out a large food processor. Add all the pollo asado marinade ingredients to the bowl.
Cover and puree until very smooth.
Place the chicken pieces in a large baking dish. Pour (or scoop) the marinade over the chicken.
Get the Complete (Printable) Pollo Asado Recipe Below. Enjoy!
Then toss to coat the chicken pieces in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but up to 12 hours.
Preheat the grill to medium heat, 350-400 degrees F. Grill the chicken for 15-20 minutes per side. Watch that the fire doesn’t flare up and burn the chicken.
Pro Tip: If your grill is prone to flare-ups, try grilling with indirect medium heat for 5-8 minutes longer per side.
Recipe Tips and Variations
- Omit the habanero pepper for a less spicy pollo asado marinade. If you still want a bit of heat try swapping the habanero with an ancho or serrano pepper.
- This recipe uses bone-in chicken pieces. For boneless chicken breasts, grill just 5 minutes per side, until they reach an interior temperature of 165 degrees F.
- Make the marinade ahead up to a full day before actually marinading the chicken pieces. Blend according to the recipe steps, and transfer to a container with a lid. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.
What to Serve with Pollo Asado
Spicy grilled chicken is delicious to pair with savory Mexican-inspired side dishes. We love to serve alongside crispy patatas bravas (Mexican potatoes), fluffy yellow rice, and classic refried beans!
Frequently Asked Questions
How spicy is pollo asado?
The dish has some seriously robust heat thanks to the habanero pepper. Habaneros are one of the spicier peppers; so those with sensitive tastebuds might consider omitting or subbing the habanero with a serrano or other more mild pepper.
How do I bake pollo asado?
Oven bake the chicken as you would with other bone-in chicken recipes (like our Perfect Baked Chicken Thighs). Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, and place marinaded chicken in a cast-iron skillet or rimmed and lined baking sheet. Roast the chicken for 20+ minutes, flipping halfway through cook time. Check that the internal temperature is 165 degrees F before slicing and serving.
Can you make Pollo Asado in a cast iron on the stovetop?
You can – but note that this method works best for boneless pieces of chicken. Pan-sear the marinaded pieces of chicken in a cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Cook for 5-6 minutes on each side, flipping back and forth as needed until the chicken is evenly seared. It’s done cooking when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
How long do leftovers last?
Mexican grilled chicken will keep well for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. Let the pieces cool completely, then transfer to a sealed container and place in the fridge.
Looking for More Easy Grilling Recipes?
- Habanero Peach Grilled Chicken Wings
- Chipotle BBQ Chicken Skewers
- 4-Ingredient Magic Grilled Chicken
- How to BBQ Chicken
- Grilled Maple Mustard Chicken
Pollo Asado (Mexican Grilled Chicken)
- 4.5 – 5 pounds bone-in chicken pieces breasts, drumsticks, thighs
- Set out a large food processor. Add all the Pollo Asado Marinade ingredients to the bowl. Cover and puree until very smooth.
- Place the chicken pieces in a large baking dish. Pour (or scoop) the marinade over the chicken. Then toss to coat the chicken pieces in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but up to 12 hours.
- Preheat the grill to medium heat, 350-400 degrees F. Grill the chicken for 15-20 minutes per side. Watch that the fire doesn’t flare up and burn the chicken. If your grill is prone to flare-ups, try grilling with indirect medium heat for 5-8 minutes longer per side.