Pollo Asado - Isabel Eats (2024)


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This pollo asado features marinated chicken in a mixture of lime and orange juice, Mexican herbs and spices and achiote paste to achieve it’s signature red-orange color. Grill it, roast it in the oven or even make it in the slow cooker!

Pollo Asado - Isabel Eats (1)

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There’s nothing better than tender and juicy pollo asado right off the grill!

This Mexican grilled chicken is flavorful, easy to make, and perfect for weeknight meals. Serve the chicken with your favorite Mexican side dishes, or slice it into strips to serve in tacos!

What Is Pollo Asado?

Pollo asado is Mexican grilled chicken that’s been marinated in a mixture of citrus juices, spices like cumin, oregano, paprika, and, most notably, achiote paste, which gives the chicken its signature orange and red color.

Pollo asado is typically grilled, but you can also roast it in the oven or even make it in a slow cooker. (Instructions for all three methods can be found in the recipe card below.)

What Is Achiote?

Achiote is a spice made from ground annatto seeds that has a slightly peppery and earthy flavor. It’s used in various Latin cuisines and is well known for the bright orange and red color that it gives anything it’s cooked with (similar to how turmeric can stain things yellow).

Achiote is found in various forms – whole seeds, ground into a powder, or formed into a paste. For this recipe, we’re using achiote paste.

Achiote is typically found in Mexican or Asian specialty markets or in the international foods aisle of your local grocery store. If you can’t find it near you, you can get it online.

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Pollo Asado - Isabel Eats (2)

Ingredients Needed

  • Chicken: I like to use chicken thighs since they are juicer and hold more flavor, but you can also use chicken breasts.
  • Achiote paste: This gives the marinade its signature bright red-orange color. Achiote paste is made of annatto seeds, vinegar, garlic, and peppery spices. You can find achiote in most Mexican grocery stores, but if that’s not an option, you can easily find it online.
  • Orange and lime: You’ll need orange and lime juice to create a delicious citrus flavor for the marinade.
  • Seasonings: I used a mix of kosher salt, oregano, smoked paprika, ground coriander, black pepper, ground clove, and ground cumin.
  • Vinegar: This helps tenderize the chicken so it’s soft and juicy. I used white wine vinegar, but you could also use distilled white vinegar.
Pollo Asado - Isabel Eats (3)

How to Make Pollo Asado

  • Combine: Whisk together orange juice, olive oil, lime juice, white wine vinegar, achiote paste, ground coriander, smoked paprika, dried oregano, ground cumin, a pinch of ground cloves, minced garlic, salt and black pepper.
  • Marinate: Place the marinade in a large storage bag, add the chicken thighs, seal, and mix everything together. Refrigerate for 2-6 hours, but no longer than 8 hours.
  • Grill: Preheat the grill to 350°F-375°F and grill chicken over medium heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade and shake off any excess liquid. Place the chicken skin side down, close the lid, and grill for 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Cook: Flip the chicken over, move it to the indirect heat side of the grill, close the lid and cook for another 15-20 minutes.
  • Serve: That’s it! Serve the chicken with a nice squeeze of fresh lime juice and enjoy!


  • Don’t have achiote paste? You can leave it out completely or substitute regular paprika in its place, but the flavor will be slightly different.
  • Make sure not to use any plastic to marinate the chicken since the achiote powder can stain your container.
  • If using charcoal, simply place the lit charcoal on one side of the grill. Never lit a charcoal grill before? Learn how to start a charcoal grill.
  • If you can’t use a grill, no worries, this can be cooked on a stovetop, baked in the oven, or in a slow cooker! Instructions are included in the recipe card below.
Pollo Asado - Isabel Eats (4)

Recommended Tools

  • Grill pan. If you can’t use a traditional grill for this recipe, you can use a grill pan instead. This one is my favorite.
  • Instant read thermometer. One of my favorite kitchen tools! Helps me make sure that meat is cooked to the proper temperature.

Serving Suggestions

If you’re looking for some delicious Mexican sides to pair with your pollo asado, here are a few of my favorites:

  • Grilled Corn Salsa
  • Mexican Rice
  • Corn Tortillas
  • Mexican Quinoa Salad

Storing and Freezing

Pollo asado can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

To freeze, place the marinade and chicken in a freezer storage bag ahead of time and store it in the freezer until it’s time to eat. Take the bag from the freezer the night before and let it thaw completely in the fridge. Grill it the next day for lunch or dinner, and enjoy!

More Chicken Recipes

  • The Best Chicken Marinade (only 2 ingredients!)
  • Cilantro Lime Chicken
  • Flautas
  • Pozole Verde
  • Mole
  • Chicken Tortilla Soup

Pollo Asado - Isabel Eats (5)

4.72 from 57 votes

Pollo Asado

servings: 6 servings

Print Pin Review Save

Prep: 10 minutes minutes

MARINATING TIME: 2 hours hours

Cook: 30 minutes minutes

Total: 2 hours hours 40 minutes minutes

Pollo asado features chicken marinated in lime and orange juice, Mexican seasonings, and achiote paste to achieve its signature red-orange color.



  • Add all the ingredients except the chicken in a small bowl. Whisk to combine.

  • Place the chicken in a large glass bowl or gallon-size storage bag and pour in the marinade. Toss everything together to coat, cover, and refrigerate for 2 to 6 hours. (Do not marinate longer than 8 hours.)

  • To grill: Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and lightly oil the grates with vegetable oil. Grill the chicken for 5 to 10 minutes per side depending on the thickness of the meat until cooked through and the internal temperature reaches 160-165°F on an instant read thermometer.

  • To cook on the stovetop: Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 5 to 10 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the meat until cooked through and the internal temperature reaches 160-165°F on an instant read thermometer.

  • To bake: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Arrange the chicken in a single layer on a large foil-lined baking dish. Bake the chicken until the internal temperature reaches 160-165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Chicken thighs and tenders need about 15 minutes. Medium to large breasts need 20 to 25 minutes.

  • To make in the slow cooker: Add all ingredients into a large slow cooker plus ½ cup chicken broth or water. Mix together to coat the chicken, cover, and slow cook on low for 6-7 hours or on high for about 4-5 hours.

  • Transfer the chicken to a plate, loosely tent it in foil, and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.


  • Don’t have achiote paste? You can leave it out completely or substitute regular paprika in its place. It won’t quite have the same flavor, but it will still be delicious!

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 306kcal (15%), Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 35g (70%), Fat: 17g (26%), Saturated Fat: 4g (20%), Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 8g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 198mg (66%), Sodium: 930mg (39%), Potassium: 465mg (13%), Fiber: 1g (4%), Sugar: 0g, Vitamin A: 0IU, Vitamin C: 0mg, Calcium: 3mg, Iron: 6mg (33%)

Author: Isabel Orozco-Moore

Category: Mexican

Leave a Reply

  1. Rachel Stept

    Pollo Asado - Isabel Eats (6)
    I have made this recipe DOZENS of times!! It’s absolutely delicious, a crowd pleaser! Isabel, I am so grateful for your site. It is so hard to find delicious authentic Mexican recipes if you don’t read Spanish! I can always count on your recipes to be delicious!

  2. Michael

    Pollo Asado - Isabel Eats (7)
    I did this last night, and it was a hit! Assembling all the marinade ingredients is more challenging than some recipes, but in the end it was totally worth it! Even the picky teenager loved it.
    Thanks so much for a keeper!


  3. Laurie

    Pollo Asado - Isabel Eats (8)
    Wow! This was really terrific! Definitely will go on repeat at our house! I brined, then marinated bone-in thighs, and my husband grilled them over lump charcoal. Delicious! Served with your doctored up canned black beans. A perfect meal!!


  4. Bob

    Pollo Asado - Isabel Eats (9)
    Made with slow cooker great flavor. It was a hit!


  5. Joe

    Pollo Asado - Isabel Eats (10)
    Great recipe, but I would suggest altering the grilling instructions. If you start with the 20 minutes of indirect grilling first (skin side down), much of the fat will be rendered off such that when you move the chicken thighs to direct grilling to crisp the skin there will be minimal flare-ups.


    1. Ana @ Isabel Eats

      Hi Joe! Thank you for sharing your tip!


  6. Jennifer

    Pollo Asado - Isabel Eats (11)
    This has GREAT flavor and is worth all the effort measuring all of the spices. I marinate it for about 2 hours and then divide the thighs into sets of three. I can then freeze them in ziploc bags and pull out a serving whenever I want for a quick meal.


  7. Gene

    Pollo Asado - Isabel Eats (12)
    Delicious and easy! I used a chopped up, bone in, skinless whole chicken and cooked it in a slow cooker on low for 5 hours with an added cup of chicken stock. Was great on its own and in tacos.


  8. Julie

    Hi Isabel, I am going to make the Chicken Asado in the crockpot, using boneless, skinless thighs. I intend to either shred the chicken or cut into small chunks and serve as tacos. what would you suggest to top the tacos with? I always use chopped onions and cilantro on my carne asada tacos. Was wondering if you think that would work also?
    thanks so much for all your awesome recipes.


    1. Ana @ Isabel Eats

      Hi Julie! I think that would be great! You can also top it with pico de Gallo or your favorite salsa.


  9. ELLIE

    Pollo Asado - Isabel Eats (13)
    I LOVE this recipe. We always make it on the grill, and it comes out perfectly every time! It’s delicious.


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