This pollo asado recipe is the ultimate Mexican roast chicken, marinated in zesty citrus and spices, quickly grilled then roasted for big flavor. So tender and juicy!
Pollo Asado is My New Favorite Roast Chicken
If you're looking for a super flavorful roast chicken recipe that is easy to make and truly satisfies, Pollo Asado will absolutely deliver.
Roasted chicken can be pretty boring sometimes. A lot of roasted chicken recipes wind up delivering bland chicken that leaves us wanting more.
Not so with pollo asado. This is a Latin American dish with lots of seasonings.
With pollo asado, flavor is built first by marinating the chicken in lot of citrus juice and a collection of seasonings, including achiote, which is vibrant and unique, as well as sazon, a popular Caribbean seasoning blend, along with other commonly used Mexican spices.
What is Pollo Asado?
The name, "pollo asado", means roasted or barbecued chicken, and cooking methods will vary from cook to cook. You'll find variations in Mexican, Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Caribbean.
This is more of a Mexican version.
My favorite Mexican cookbook refers to it as grilled chicken, though their recipe pan sears the chicken first before roasting in the oven to finish.
I've adapted that recipe to use my grill, for more of a Mexican grilled chicken that is then finished in the oven.
I marinate with my favorite citrus and use my favorite seasonings for a roast chicken dish that is sure to satisfy the spicy food lover.
Let's talk about how to make pollo asado, shall we?
Pollo Asado Ingredients
- Chicken. Use a whole cut up chicken or your favorite parts, like leg thigh quarters, chicken breasts, or a combination. You can make this with boneless chicken, though will need to reduce the cooking time.
- Olive oil. For cooking. Any vegetable oil will do.
- Liquids. Orange juice, lime juice, vinegar.
- Seasonings. Garlic, sazon, achiote powder, paprika (smoked paprika is great here), Mexican oregano, cumin, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper.
- Garnish. Fresh chopped cilantro, lime wedges, chili flakes.
About the Achiote
Achiote is the Mexican name for annato seeds, which are seeds that come from a tree that is commonly grown in the tropics of Central and South America as well as the Caribbean. For centuries, they have been used for coloring purposes. These seeds impart a bright red color or yellow color to items such as body paint, cloth, as well as food.
Buy Achiote (annato seeds) at Amazon (affiliate link, my friends!)
How to Make Pollo Asado - the Recipe Method
Marinate the Chicken. Mix together 1/2 cup olive oil, citrus juices (orange and lime juice), vinegar, garlic, sazon, achiote, paprika, oregano, cumin, red pepper flakes and a bit of salt and pepper in a large bowl.
Add the chicken to a large platter or dish and pour in the marinade. Alternatively, you can use a large sealable bag.
Refrigerate and marinate the chicken for at least 1 hour. 3 hours is best.
Just look at the gorgeous color of the chicken from all those wonderful seasonings, particularly vibrant achiote.
Grill the Chicken. Remove the chicken from the marinade and reserve the marinade. Preheat the grill to medium heat and lightly oil the grates. Sprinkle the chicken with extra sazon and achiote powder.
Grill the chicken pieces 5 minutes per side.
Roast the Chicken. Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Set the grilled chicken into a baking dish or cast iron pan and roast the chicken for 20 minutes, or until the chicken cooks through, turning half way through and basting often for the first 10 minutes with the reserved marinade.
Cook the chicken 20 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165 degrees F. internally when checked with a meat thermometer.
Garnish and serve! I love mine with corn tortillas and toppings, like my favorite spicy guacamole, onions, cilantro, freshly squeezed lime juice, and chiles toreados (Mexican blistered jalapenos), so I can tear off the tender, juicy chicken and make tacos.
Serve it with Arroz Verde (Green Rice)!
Boom! Done! Pollo asado is ready to serve! This is the best roast chicken on the planet, my friends. We really love this recipe.
So delicious, huge on flavor. Making this again very soon!
Recipe Tips & Notes
There are different ways to cook pollo asado. See below.
Simple Roasting Method. If you prefer, you can skip the grill and simply roast the chicken for 30 minutes, or until it cooks through.
You can turn on the broiler and broil the chicken the last few minutes to get a nice char on the skin.
Simple Grill Method. You can also skip the oven and finish roasting the chicken on the grill.
To do so, after grilling the chicken over direct heat, move the chicken to the other side of the grill with the burners off for indirect cooking, or just lower the heat to medium low heat, and roast until it cooks through to 165 degrees F. internally with an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken.
I love this on my charcoal grill. Extra flavor!
Variations. As mentioned, this is a Mexican version of pollo asado. My Puerto Rican cookbook uses a very simple marinade of only oil, vinegar, oregano, garlic and salt and pepper.
I love the Mexican version with many more seasonings. You can use lard in place of oil.
Lemon juice is commonly used in the marinade.
Best Chicken for Pollo Asado
I enjoy using bone-in chicken for this recipe, as you'll get more flavor from the bones.
Use a whole chicken, cut up, or grab select pieces from the grocery store. Chicken leg and thigh quarters are great here, as is chicken breast.
You can very easily make this with boneless chicken, but reduce the cooking time, as it will cook through to temperature much more quickly.
If using boneless chicken, use either chicken breast or chicken thighs.
Store any leftovers in the refrigerator in a sealed container. It will keep up to 5 days this way. I often like to tear the meat from the bones and use it for other meals, like adding to soups, stews, or for making tacos.
You can also freeze it for 3 months or longer. It freezes quite well.
That's it, my friends. I hope you enjoy this pollo asado recipe. Let me know if you make it. I'd love to hear how it turned out for you. Keep it spicy!
If you love traditional Mexican cooking, I love this cookbook with recipes from all over Mexico. Definitely recommended.
- Mexico: The Cookbook (affiliate link, my friends!)
Try Some of My Other Popular Recipes
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Pollo Asado Recipe (Mexican Roast Chicken)
- 2.5 pounds chicken parts bone-in, skin on - use a whole cut up chicken or your favorite parts, like leg thigh quarters, breasts, etc
- 1/2 cup olive oil + more as needed
- Juice from 1 large orange
- Juice from 1 large lime
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon sazon + more for sprinkling
- 1 tablespoon achiote powder + more for sprinkling
- 1 tablespoon paprika or use cayenne for more heat
- 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- FOR GARNISH: Fresh chopped cilantro, lime wedges, chili flakes
- Marinate the Chicken. Mix together 1/2 cup olive oil, orange juice, lime juice, vinegar, garlic, sazon, achiote, paprika, oregano, cumin, red pepper flakes and a bit of salt and pepper. Add the chicken to a large platter or dish and pour in the marinade. Alternatively, you can use a large sealable bag. Refrigerate and marinate the chicken for at least 1 hour. 3 hours is best.
- Grill the Chicken. Remove the chicken from the marinade and reserve the marinade. Heat your grill to medium heat and lightly oil the grates. Sprinkle the chicken with extra sazon and achiote powder. Grill the chicken pieces 5 minutes per side.
- Roast the Chicken. Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Set the grilled chicken into a baking dish or cast iron pan and roast the chicken for 20 minutes, or until the chicken cooks through, turning half way through and basting often for the first 10 minutes with the reserved marinade. The chicken should measure 165 degrees F. internally when checked with a meat thermometer.
- Garnish and serve! Discard any remaining marinade.
NOTE: This recipe was updated on 1/9/23 to include new information and video. It was originally published on 3/10/21.