Growing up in New York City, you learn a few very useful things. One, never get into the empty carriage of an otherwise packed train. Two, don’t even try to find a yellow cab between 4:30 and 5:30pm. And three, the very best food is usually the cheapest. For example, back in the day, you could get a roast pork bun from Hop Shing for less than $1. A big bowl of curried vegetables with roti from Punjabi Grocery & Deli went for a whopping $4. And at Pio Pio, a quarter of a golden-skinned Pollo a la Brasa, with aji verde sauce and a few maduro (sweet fried plantains), was about $7 (I’m sure it’s more now, but probably not much).
But the one bad thing about living in a cute Hudson Valley town is there are no funky little Peruvian chicken joints nearby (although we hope soon to get over to Machu Picchu, a Peruvian restaurant over the river in Newburgh). So when we get a craving for these flavors, the only thing left to do is make our own version.
Pollo a la Brasa: The Tradition
Traditional pollo a la brasa is a whole marinated chicken cooked on a rotisserie, which we don’t have. So we kept the flavor and turned it into an easy weeknight dinner by marinating and roasting chicken thighs. You could use breasts of course, or a whole cut up chicken, but thighs are our favorite because they bake juicy and full of flavor, and are a lot less susceptible to overcooking.
The marinade is really simple and uses ingredients that you likely have in your pantry right now: garlic, soy sauce, lime juice, and a few spices like cumin and paprika. If you have the time, let the chicken marinate for a full 24 hours, though as few as 4 hours will still deliver great flavor. Once they’ve soaked up all that deliciousness, lay them on a wire rack set on top of a sheet pan and roast them in a hot oven until the chicken cooks through and the skin crisps and turns deep golden brown. It can take 30 to 40 minutes for thighs, but start checking breasts at about 20 minutes.
As always, the best way to tell if chicken is done is to use a good thermometer (we like Thermapen). You want the thickest part of the meat (close to the bone but not touching it) to read about 165ºF (a few degrees under is fine because the temperature will continue to increase a little as the chicken rests).
The Herb Sauce
While the chicken is cooking, go ahead and make the sauce. Actually, while anything is cooking, make this sauce. It’s so freaking good, you’ll want to dip potato chips and cucumber spears in it. You’ll want to mix it into scrambled eggs. You’ll want to drizzle it on avocado toast. It’s that tasty – as long as you like cilantro. If you don’t like cilantro, this sauce is pretty much your version of saucy hell, but don’t fret, you can use basil instead. It’s not a million miles away from the Green Goddess sauce that we’ve used on our Fried Chicken Sandwich.
In a blender or food processor, add lots of herbs, a full packed cup of roughly chopped cilantro (or basil) leaves and tender stems. Then in goes a little garlic, some lime juice, a jalapeño or two, a bit more cumin and a few other seasonings. The only ingredient that may be difficult to find is Aji Amarillo paste which is a moderately spicy chili paste from Peru. We had to order it from Amazon but, honestly, you could leave it out without a big impact in flavor. If you want the sauce spicier, add another chili or a pinch of cayenne.
The cilantro, chilis, spices and lime juice get processed in a blender or food processor until smooth (if your blender has trouble with the herbs, add just a tablespoon or so of water, to get it going). Once the paste is smooth, add the mayonnaise and blend just until combined. Don’t blend the mayo for too long or the heat of the blades could make it separate. Taste the sauce and adjust it with salt and lime juice until it tastes right to you.
You can serve Pollo a la Brasa with fried yuca or rice, but we pan-fried a couple of sweet plantains (maduros), which were delicious dipped in the tart green sauce. Cooking the plantains is so easy, I won’t insult you with a recipe: just look for very ripe plantains (the skin should be completely black). Peel them, cut them into rounds and pan fry them over medium-high heat in a little vegetable oil until they’re soft and deep golden brown on both sides. Sprinkle them with a little kosher salt and bring them to my house so I can eat them.
Pollo a la Brasa (Peruvian-style Roasted Chicken)
For the chicken:
- 6 medium garlic cloves peeled
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice about 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest about 1 lime
- 2 teaspoons smooth Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (or mixed parts), about 3 lbs
For the sauce:
- 1 packed cup cilantro leaves and tender stems
- 1-2 jalapeño or Serrano peppers ribs and seeds removed, diced
- 1 garlic clove chopped
- 3 scallions chopped
- 2 tablespoons lime juice more to taste (plus lime wedges for garnish)
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt more to taste
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ tablespoon aji amarillo or other chili paste
- 1 teaspoon honey
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- Blend the garlic, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, lime juice, lime zest, mustard, honey, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, and oil in a blender. Place the chicken in a large sealable bag and pour in the marinade, then move the chicken around to ensure all the pieces are coated. Seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 4 and up to 24 hours. Turn the bag occasionally to ensure even marinating.
- Heat the oven to 450ºF and set a rack in the middle. Line a baking sheet with foil and set a wire rack on top (you can also lay chicken directly on the foil if you want). Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade set them on the tray with a little room between each piece. Drizzle about a teaspoon of the marinade over each piece.
- Roast the chicken until the skin is golden and the temperature at the thickest part reaches 165ºF on an instant read thermometer, 30 to 40 minutes (if using breasts, check them after 20 to 25 minutes). Remove from the oven and let them rest, covered loosely with foil, for at least 5 minutes before serving.
- While the chicken is cooking, make the sauce. In a blender or food processor, add the cilantro, jalapeños, garlic, lime juice, scallions, salt, mustard, aji amarillo paste, honey, and cumin. Blend until smooth. Add the mayonnaise and blend until just mixed. Taste and adjust with salt or lime juice, as needed.
- Serve the chicken with the sauce and lime wedges on the side.
46 thoughts on “Pollo a la Brasa (Peruvian-style Roasted Chicken)”
Oh this chicken looks so good! Anytime I’ve had Peruvian food it’s always been filled with flavor so I’m definitely excited to make this recipe, thank you!
Your chicken, garlic and cilantro recipe has become one of my absolute favourite recipes so I am so excited to try this one too! 🙂
Emily, we love your take on this dish! Stop by Machu Picchu sometime soon to try our take on traditional Pollo a la Brasa. There’s nothing like Peruvian food!
Also, check out the Peruvian foods section of your local Market Fresh Grocery stores, they’ll have that ají amarillo paste youre looking for.
Hi Tatianna, thanks so much! We’re definitely looking forward to coming in to Machu Picchu soon!
This was DELICIOUS and fairly easy to make. We adored the Nerds with Knives chicken with lime and cilantro recipe, and thought about making that but we were looking for something different with a little less prep. This dish dlivered and wowed our guests and will definitely go in the “keeper” file.
So good. This will be going into rotation. Easy to make with ingredients always on hand and tastes out of this world.
So glad you liked it!
Oh snap! This was like shoot the chef to restore the balance in the world good! (Reference to Once Upon A Time In Mexico)… and the sauce was fire! So incredibly good!!
I accidentally bought boneless thighs. Would that change the cooking time?
Hi Jenna, boneless thighs will cook a little faster so just check them about 10 minutes earlier. Enjoy!
So good, my kids love it. We do it at least once a week, sometimes twice. Thank you
Hi Edgar, so glad it was a hit!
I made it !! Wow !! It was delicious. My family liked it .
So glad to hear it, Teena!
Hi, This looks delicious! Would you lessen the marinade and cooking time for skinless, boneless thighs?
Hi Tammy, I would keep the marinade the same but the cooking time for boneless thighs will be shorter, depending on the size of the pieces. I would begin checking them after about 20 minutes or so 🙂
I made this recipe for my picky family and they LOVED it!!! It’s a keeper and I’m def adding it to our dinner rotation.
This was SO GOOD! I only had skinless thighs, so I wrapped them in prosciutto, wonderful.
And the green sauce is my new favorite. I served the chicken with roasted potatoes and it was perfect.
So glad you liked them! Wrapping them in prosciutto is GENIUS. 🙂
This is one of my family’s favorite recipes ever. My husband has even mentioned it outside of dinner multiple times which is saying something!!!
That’s fantastic to hear! Thank so much for letting us know 🙂
I made this yesterday and it was sooo delicious! My kids, my husband and I loved it! The chicken itself tastes amazing. The sauce is very good too, but the chicken doesn’t really needs it. I’ll be making this again soon. Definitely a keeper.
This is the BOMB! Sooo many flavors and actually pretty easy too! I will add this to my “impress my company” list! WOW!
I’m adding my positive review to everyone else’s… When we do this chicken (monthly, say), I usually make sure to have steak (on the barbecue) in the following days: the sauce is a great condiment for them!
Thank you and enjoy!
Hi Natalie, so glad you like it!
This is AMAZING. At the end I shredded the chicken and served it in tortillas with the sauce on top. So good. I am saving this recipe to serve at family events when I have someone to impress.
So glad you liked it!
I’m a Peruvian living in the San Francisco Bay Area and what I miss the most is the food. I gotta say, next time I crave pollo a la brasa I will be making this recipe. I made some fries in the air fryer, a fresh salad, and had my own plate of pollo a la brasa deliciousness right at home. And that sauce was mind-blowingly delicious, just like the ones in the pollerias of Lima. My husband couldn’t stop eating it. Thank you so much for this recipe!!
I’m so glad you liked it Grace! What a nice compliment 🙂 If it’s not too much trouble, would you mind rating the recipe? It helps other people find it when they search. Thanks so much!
I am Peruvian american. I remember my grandma making this but alas we never got the recipe to this and other great Peruvian dishes. HBM you for this recipe. We will be trying it tonight. I don’t remember Worcester sauce in the recipe but then again we may have a different name for it in Peru.
This. Was. Amazing. I used coconut aminos instead of honey in the marinade (we are keto/carnivore) and I used red pepper flakes in the sauce instead of the peppers and chili paste, and omitted honey. All three of us including 10 year old loved it. Best thing I made this week! I will be using the marinade on other meats. Thank you!
OMG!! I have made this before, but somehow tonights was just amazing. My husband loved it, I made some minor changes to the recipe, we don’t like spice. It was great. The green sauce will go with so many other things, thank you so much. Love it!
Such a delicious recipe! Followed it to a T and got such amazing flavor. Def recommend marinating the chicken for 24 hours.
Wow!! Fantastic recipe. So flavorful! I substituted gluten free tamari for the soy sauce and marinated for just shy of 24 hours. Purchased the aji Amarillo on Amazon. Served with rice and plantains. A keeper for sure!!!
This was absolutely amazing. Honestly, one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time. I’ve already decided that the next time I have guests over, this is going to be what I make when I want to impress them. Can’t wait to try more of your recipes!
This looks good. I think the family would love it for dinner.
Amazing. I made this with boneless skinless chicken thighs because it’s what I had on hand. Tried it a second time with skin on chicken and we actually preferred the boneless skinless because the marinade flavored the meat more fully without the skin. Shorten led the cooking time to 20 minutes. Also tried some chicken on the rack and some on the foil and preferred on the foil so that more marinade flavors can soak in. This is fabulous!!
This was by far one of my favorite recipes and so easy to make.
Since I’m currently looking for any and every excuse I can find to use my new smoker, we opted to smoke some boneless skinless chicken thighs after marinating for nearly 20 hours. Even my picky children are huge fans, and this will definitely be a standard in our house from now on.
For reference, we cooked it at 225 for about an hour, and then upped the heat to 275 to finish it off and crisp it a bit since there was no skin for the purpose.
We absolutely loved this recipe! My family want me to make it again. I cooked the chicken on our Blackstone Griddle.
Could you substitute the Mayo with another ingredient or forgo it all together?
Marinated overnight and cooked today. I will skip the rack next time and cook on parchment paper, turning halfway through. Will cook at lower temp for a little longer. Also will replace mayo with plain Greek yogurt or sour cream or creme fraiche. It’s also important to have thighs equal size. Loved the sauce. Thanks for a new dining experience. Will be looking to try more Peruvian recipes.
Lovely photos! This recipe sounds delicious
I started making this recipe 6 months ago and to this day my husband says it’s his favorite chicken! It’s amazing every time we like to serve with rice or yuca frita even fried plantains delish!!