This Pollo Asado Recipe includes all of the spices, seasoning, and marinade you will need to make tender, juicy chicken with tons of flavor. Love the new Chipotle chicken? You’re going to love this copycat version.
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What is Pollo Asado?
In Spanish, pollo means chicken and asado can mean grilled or barbecued. The dish can be found in Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Cuban cuisine. It’s also sometimes called red chicken because of its beautiful bright color from the spices and marinade. For the purpose of this recipe, the dish is more Mexican inspired and closely aligned with the taste of the dish from Chipotle restaurant.
The chicken is known for being tender and juicy and doesn’t lack any flavor, thanks to the marinade. Until recently, Chipotle hadn’t changed its menu in 30 years as it pertains to their chicken. In their version, you can taste a blend of chilies, cumin, and garlic for sure.
The star of this recipe comes from the marinade which is a combination of fresh citrus juices and a small handful of spices. Below you will see I like to use chicken thighs for this recipe. Because of that, you don’t have to marinate the meat in advance or overnight, unless you want to.
Marinating meat in liquid tenderizes the meat which always results in tender and juicy meat. You can’t go wrong when you do it, but if you use chicken thighs and you are in a time crunch, trust me you don’t have to.
For the marinade you will need:
- Fresh lime
- Fresh orange
- Fresh garlic
- Fresh cilantro
- Chipotles in adobo sauce
- Smoked Paprika
Another spice I love to use sometimes is chili powder. It isn’t a must for this dish, because the chipotles in adobo sauce provide immense flavor. But feel free to sprinkle it in if you wish!
What Type of Chicken to Use
I’m using boneless skinless chicken thighs. Chicken thighs are really juicy, especially in comparison to something like chicken breast. Bone-in thighs are juicier than boneless and usually have a longer cook time. I like to add this chicken to a rice bowl, so boneless works better for me. Feel free to use any chicken you wish including breasts or drumsticks.
Is it Spicy?
Chipotle pepper comes from the Nahuatl word chilpoctli meaning “smoked chili”. These peppers are smoke-dried jalapenos preserved in adobo sauce. They have a distinct, smoky, spicy, slightly sweet flavor. If you are someone who is opposed to spicy, you will find the dish spicy.
As someone who loves spicy, it’s on the mild side for me. Feel free to add red cayenne pepper to take it up a notch.
How to Make Pollo Asado
- Add the ingredients for the marinade to a blender, food processor, or a large bowl to use with a handheld immersion blender.
- Blend the ingredients until it creates a thick sauce.
- Coat the chicken thighs in the marinade.
- Grill, sear, bake, or air fry.
How to Cook the Chicken
The dish is typically grilled. If you don’t have a grill you can also use a cast iron skillet or cast iron grill pan and cook it on the stove. You can also bake or air fry the chicken.
To sear the chicken on the stove, cook for 10-12 minutes on medium-high heat.
Grill on 350-400 degrees for 15-30 minutes.
To bake pollo asado, bake on 425 degrees for 25-30 minutes for boneless chicken. Bone-in chicken thighs will need 10-20 minutes additional time.
Air fry the chicken on 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes. Bone-in chicken thighs will need 5-10 minutes additional time.
How to Tell When the Chicken Has Finished Cooking
Chicken must be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees. Be sure to test if the chicken is done by inserting a meat thermometer into the thickest parts of one of the pieces of chicken.
How to Store Leftovers
Leftovers can be stored tightly covered and sealed for 3-4 days.
How to Reheat
The best way to reheat the chicken is in a pan on the stove or in the air fryer (350 degrees until warm). You can use the microwave if you wish.
You can freeze leftovers tightly sealed and covered for 3 months.
What to Serve with the Dish
More Copycat Recipes
Bang Bang Shrimp Pasta
Taco Bell Creamy Jalapeno Sauce
Taco Bell Breakfast Crunchwrap
Chick-Fil-A Chicken Sandwich
Red Lobster CopyCat Shrimp Scampi
Instant Pot Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana Soup
Keto Low Carb Zuppa Toscana Soup
Panera Autumn Squash Soup
Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Big Mac Casserole
Pollo Asado Recipe
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs See notes.
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2-3 tablespoons water Optional
- Add all of the ingredients for the marinade to a blender, food processor, or a large bowl to use with a handheld immersion blender.7 oz Chipotles in Adobo Sauce, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice, 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, 3 garlic cloves, 1/4 cup chopped onions, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, salt and pepper to taste
- Blend the ingredients until it creates a thick sauce.
- Coat the chicken thighs in the marinade. (Marinating overnight is optional and not required).1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- Heat a skillet or grill pan (I use a cast iron) on medium-high heat with olive oil.1 teaspoon olive oil
- When hot, add the chicken along with all of the sauce/marinade. Searing the chicken in all of the sauce will keep it from drying out.For boneless chicken thighs, cook for 5 minutes and then flip and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.For bone-in thighs use an oven-safe skillet (like a cast iron), Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Sear the chicken on each side for 4 minutes each to get the skin crispy. Once crisp, bake the chicken for 18-20 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
- Remove and cool before serving.
- Once the chicken has cooked, I like to drizzle the leftover additional sauce from the pan over the cooked chicken. This enhances flavor and keeps the chicken juicy. While the chicken is searing, if you notice the sauce is starting to dry out in the skillet add the optional water. Drizzle the sauce over the cooked chicken.2-3 tablespoons water
Air Fryer Chicken
- Coat the air fryer basket with olive oil.
- Add the chicken to the air fryer basket.
- Bone-in Thighs: Air fry the chicken on 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Open the air fryer and flip the chicken. Cook for an additional 10-12 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.Boneless Thighs: Air fry the chicken on 400 degrees for 8 minutes. Open the air fryer and flip the chicken. Cook for an additional 6-7 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
- Coat the grill grates with olive oil
- Preheat grill to 350-400 degrees.
- Grill the chicken for 15-30 minutes, flipping, and until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
- Chicken thighs are really juicy, especially in comparison to something like chicken breast. Bone-in thighs are juicier than boneless and usually have a longer cook time. I like to add this chicken to a rice bowl, so boneless works better for me.
- Feel free to use any chicken you wish including breasts or drumsticks.
- This recipe makes enough of the sauce marinade to drizzle over the chicken after it has been cooked. My favorite way to make this dish is on the stovetop for that reason. If you opt to make it in the air fryer or on the grill, if you wish, you can reserve half of the sauce marinade to drizzle over the chicken after it has cooked.
- Adjust the spices and ingredients in the marinade to suit your taste and needs. If you like spicy chicken, add red cayenne pepper.
- If pan searing I recommend a cast iron skillet or stainless steel pan. A non-stick pan likely won’t give you the crust on the chicken you want for a dish like this.