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I’m a big fan of Chipotle for quick lunches (there’s so much to love… Barbacoa! Guacamole! Salsa!), and this pollo asado recipe with easy marinade was inspired by this new flavor of chicken that they launched last year. As always, though, I made it my own, and also incorporated research I did on what traditional pollo asado is like. I’ve had the real deal several times in Mexico, and that was my target. So even though this isn’t exactly like Chipotle’s, I think you’re going to love it!
Why You’ll Love This Pollo Asado Recipe
- Juicy grilled chicken
- Tangy, aromatic, slightly sweet marinade
- Easy to make
- Cook on the grill or in the oven – options for any time of year!
- Easy, healthy dinner
What Is Pollo Asado?
Pollo asado, also known as pollo asada or chicken asado, is a Mexican grilled chicken dish made with a marinade of citrus juices, garlic, herbs, and spices. It’s tender, juicy, tangy, and full of flavor. The name translates to “roasted chicken” or “barbecued chicken” in Spanish.
Ingredients & Substitutions
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for pollo asado chicken, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
You can make pollo asado chicken using almost any cut, but I used bone-in chicken thighs for maximum flavor. (For more tips and tricks for grilling them, check out my grilled chicken thighs post.)
Boneless skinless chicken thighs would make a better option if you want to use the chicken for bowls or burritos like Chipotle does. See instructions below for cooking other cuts of chicken.
Pollo Asado Marinade:
- Olive Oil – This makes up the base of the marinade, locks in moisture, and adds flavor. Avocado oil or another neutral cooking oil would also work here.
- Citrus Juice – Classic pollo asado uses a combination of orange juice and lime juice (either fresh or bottled) for a balance of tangy and sweet. I usually avoid sugary juices, but it makes a big difference for this pollo asado marinade — and there’s still less than 1 gram of sugar per serving of the chicken. If you want to avoid sugar completely, you can omit the orange juice, and add a teaspoon of orange extract for flavor and a couple tablespoons of sugar-free honey for sweetness. It won’t be as traditional this way, but still delicious!
- Garlic – For the best flavor, use 6 cloves of fresh garlic. Alternatively, you can substitute 3 teaspoons jarred garlic or 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder.
- Achiote Powder – This classic ingredient in pollo asado marinade is a spice made from ground annatto seeds. It has an earthy, slightly sweet flavor and red color. You can buy achiote powder here, or use achiote paste instead. If neither is available, the closest substitute would be a combination of paprika, plus a pinch of cayenne pepper and turmeric.
- Dried Oregano – I used regular dried oregano because it’s easier to find, but you can also use Mexican oregano for a stronger flavor.
- Other Mexican Spices – A blend of ground cumin, coriander, smoked paprika (or sweet paprika works too), sea salt, and black pepper.
Fresh cilantro and lime wedges complete the dish, but they are optional.
How To Make Pollo Asado
This section shows how to cook pollo asado, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Make the pollo asado marinade. Whisk together olive oil, orange juice, lime juice, minced garlic, achiote powder, cumin, oregano, coriander, smoked paprika, sea salt, and black pepper in a small bowl.
- Marinate the chicken. Place chicken thighs in a large plastic bag, add the pollo asado marinade, seal and turn to coat well. Refrigerate.
- Cook the chicken. Place pollo asado on the grill and cook over indirect heat. (Indirect cooking means the side of the grill without the burners on. This allows the skin to get more crispy.) Alternatively, you can bake on a baking sheet in the oven.
- Rest. Transfer the cooked chicken to a plate, tent with foil, and rest for at least 5 minutes before serving, to let the juices settle.
TIP: Use a meat thermometer for best results.
For the juiciest chicken, use an instant read meat thermometer or probe thermometer to check for doneness. Dark meat (like chicken thighs) is more juicy cooked to an internal temperature of 170 degrees F, while white meat (like chicken breast) is more juicy at 165 degrees F.
- Serve. If desired, serve pollo asado garnished with fresh cilantro and lime wedges.
Make It With Other Cuts Of Chicken
If you don’t have bone-in chicken thighs and want to make this pollo asado recipe using other cuts of chicken, you absolutely can! Marinate the chicken the same way you did above and follow the cooking instructions below:
- Boneless Chicken Thighs – Grill over direct heat for 4-5 minutes per side, or bake at 425 degrees F for about 20 minutes.
- Chicken Breast – To grill chicken breasts, cook over direct heat for 6-8 minutes per side. To bake chicken breasts, roast at 450 degrees F for 18-22 minutes.
- Drumsticks – Grill skin side down over direct heat for 25 minutes, flipping every 5-7 minutes. For crispier skin, cook over indirect heat, following the method in my grilled chicken legs post. If you prefer the oven, bake chicken drumsticks at 425 degrees F for 35-45 minutes.
- Wings – Grill over direct heat for 10-12 minutes per side, or bake chicken wings for 35-40 minutes at 425 degrees F.
- Store: Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
- Meal prep: You can marinate the chicken up to 24 hours in advance, or cook the chicken and store in meal prep containers for easy lunches.
- Reheat: Warm up pollo asado on the grill over indirect heat or in the oven at 350 degrees F. You can use the microwave, but the skin won’t be crispy.
- Freeze: Cool completely, then transfer to a zip lock bag or airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.
What To Serve With Pollo Asado
There are so many ways to use pollo asado! Serve it as a main dish with sides, or make a boneless cut and use it in other recipes:
- Rice – Try classic cilantro lime rice or a lightened-up cilantro lime cauliflower rice for Mexican flavor.
- Salad – Shred the chicken and throw it into a taco salad, or simply enjoy it with taco slaw on the side.
- Veggies – Make Mexican street corn for the ultimate grilled meal, or pair with lighter options like grilled zucchini or mixed air fryer vegetables.
- Bowls & Wraps – Make pollo asado using a boneless cut (or just cut the meat away from the bone-in thighs) and use it for tacos, burritos, enchiladas, or Chipotle-style bowls.
- Chips & Dip – Start your meal with an appetizer, like 5-minute shishito peppers, or your favorite chips with homemade salsa and creamy guacamole.
- Margaritas – Cool and refreshing! Try my skinny margarita.
More Mexican Chicken Recipes
Add quick and easy spice to your life with these Mexican-inspired chicken recipes!
Pollo Asado (Grill Or Oven!)
You'll love this easy pollo asado recipe with flavorful citrus marinade. Make it on the grill in the summer or in the oven year round!
Tap underlined ingredients to see where to get them. Please turn Safari reader mode OFF to view ingredients.
Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil, orange juice, lime juice, minced garlic, achiote powder, cumin, oregano, coriander, smoked paprika, sea salt, and black pepper.
Place the chicken thighs in a large plastic bag, add the pollo asado marinade, seal and turn to coat well. Make sure each piece of chicken is fully coated in marinade. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or up to 24 hours).
Grilling instructions: Towards the end of the marinating time, clean the grates of your grill with an oiled paper towel before cooking/preheating. Preheat half of the burners on the grill to medium-high for at least 10 minutes, leaving the other half off for indirect heat. Place chicken thighs skin side down on the grill over indirect heat (do not place above a burner that’s on). Close the grill and cook for 15-20 minutes. The indirect heat will allow the chicken to cook evenly without burning the skin. Once the skin is crispy, flip and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees F (77 degrees C).
Oven instructions: Towards the end of the marinating time, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (204 degrees C). Place the chicken thighs on a baking sheet, with space between the pieces. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees F (77 degrees C).
Transfer the chicken to a plate, tent with foil, and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
If desired, serve pollo asado garnished with fresh cilantro and lime wedges.
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Serving size: 1 chicken thigh
Nutrition info uses half of the marinade, as at least half is discarded. Optional garnishes are not included.
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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