This Chipotle Copycat Pollo Asado Marinade tastes almost identical to the original and ready in under thirty minutes. With a homemade achiote paste and additional spices, this marinade oozes with irresistible flavor!
If you love the flavors of pollo asado, you must try these Carne Asada Mushroom Tacos!
Tried Chipotle's new pollo asado? This new flavor has been on the market for a while and available to foodies throughout the US and Canada for a limited time! With that said, you will want to save this recipe in the event this flavorful chicken is not always available.
WHAT IS POLLO ASADO?
Pollo asado is seasoned and marinated chicken that is grilled on an open fire. Traditionally, this popular item is made with spices such as achiote that is popular throughout Central America, Mexican and Caribbean foods. Pollo asado typically presents with a red hue (from achiote) and holds an earthy, sweet and spicy flavor.
In this recipe, boneless skinless chicken thighs are used and highly recommended. Marinated in under thirty minutes with citrus and herbs, this recipe is the perfect addition to burritos, burrito bowl, tacos and more!
WHAT IS ACHIOTE?
As mentioned, achiote is a spice that can be ground and is used mostly in Mexican and Caribbean recipes. It is mostly used as a coloring agent in foods and has a bitter, earthy and peppery flavor.
Once transformed into a powder, it can be used as a paste for a marinade. Achiote paste can be used on various meats such as fish, poultry and pork. In this post, you will learn how to make a homemade achiote paste, added with spices for a quick marinade for chicken thighs.
HOMEMADE ACHIOTE SEASONING
In this post, a homemade achiote seasoning will be created. I was unable to locate store bought achiote paste and wanted this recipe to remain as close to the Chipotle recipe and traditional pollo asado as possible.
With just a few household spices, herbs and citrus fruit, you will have delicious, tender and juicy chicken ready to be served in many ways.
IS POLLO ASADO SPICY?
Depending on your spice level, this recipe can be tweaked to alter the spice level. With that said, traditionally pollo asado can hold a bit of spice. The citrus notes that are added will cut the spice level tremendously and for most, the level of heat is minimal.
If you would like to omit the spice all together, simply add more citrus than what is listed in this recipe.
INGREDIENTS FOR POLLO ASADO MARINADE
To prepare the marinade, you will need simple household ingredients. Of course, if you can locate achiote powder, you will be able to omit some of the listed spices. First, here is what you will need if you cannot locate achiote powder.
HOMEMADE ACHIOTE PASTE INGREDIENTS
- White Vinegar
- Dried Oregano
- Ground Coriander
- Onion Powder
- Harissa (optional)
- Lemon Salt (optional)
- Garlic Powder
- Chili Powder
It is important to note if you have access to achiote powder/seasoning, simply add the additional ingredients for more flavor (and notes closer to Chipotle's Pollo Asado Chicken).
HOW TO PREPARE POLLO ASADO MARINADE
First, prepare the achiote paste using the listed ingredients above. In a small bowl, combine the paprika, white vinegar, dried oregano garlic and ground cumin. Stir until combined.
Next, add the additional seasonings to the achiote paste. Stir until well combined. A dark red paste should form.
Now, add in your protein of choice in this instance, we are using boneless skinless chicken thighs. Once the chicken thighs have been added, add the juices from the lemon and limes and sprinkle in freshly chopped cilantro.
Lastly, stir all the ingredients to make sure the chicken thighs are thoroughly coated. Cover and marinate thirty minutes up to twenty-four hours for best results!
HOW TO COOK POLLO ASADO
After the chicken thighs have marinated, now it is time to grill your pollo asado! If you have a BBQ grill that is the best way to prepare traditional pollo asado.
I do not have a grill so used a cast iron skillet griddle. Use what you have on hand!
Now, the key to preparing pollo asado is ensuring the heat is fairly high. If using a grill or cast iron, make sure the griddle is smoking hot before adding the chicken.
Once the griddle is hot, sear chicken on both sides for 5-7 minutes depending on thickness. It is important to note, not disturbing the chicken will result in maximum flavor and a delicious crust will form from the high heat!
WHEN IS THE CHICKEN DONE?
Cook chicken by minimally disturbing it for best results. The chicken thighs I used were not thick. With that said, it took about 5-6 minutes per side. If your chicken thighs are thicker, increase cooking time.
While the chicken thighs cook through, it is helpful to add extra lemon or lime juice to provide a rich citrus and smoky flavor. Since the heat is high, smoke will release providing additional flavor.
Laslty, the chicken will be cooked through when it reaches in internal temperature (in the thickest part of the chicken) of 165 degrees.
TIPS FOR BEST RESULTS!
- Marinate chicken breasts for at least thirty minutes to twenty-four hours.
- Massage marinade into chicken.
- Use additional lemon and lime juice as chicken thighs cook on open fire.
- Allow chicken to reach room temperature before cooking.
- Only flip chicken thighs once during cooking process.
HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT
Store pollo asado in an airtight container for up to five days. When ready to serve again, simply reheat in the microwave or oven. A few tips when reheating is:
- If reheating in the microwave, add an ice cube or about one tablespoon of water to the chicken in a microwave safe plate or bowl. This will help to keep the chicken moist while it heats. (Something my Grandad did, this trick works wonders for reheating rice too)
- Reheat in the oven by baking in a covered dish (also adding an ice cube or two or water) at 350 for 10-15 minutes!
- Pollo asado marinade can last as is for 5-7 days in the fridge. If you want to prepare the marinade ahead of time and freeze, you can certainly do that too.
- If freezing the marinade, store in a freezer safe Ziploc bag. With chicken the marinated pollo asado will last up to three months.
WHAT TO SERVE POLLO ASADO WITH
This recipe is simple to create but can be paired with many items. To begin:
- Loaded Burrito Bowl. Simply build your bowl with rice, veggies, corn salsa and additional toppings pairing with the pollo asado.
- Tacos. Add the cooked chicken with flour or corn tortillas and favorite pairings.
- Quesadillas. Adding the cooked chicken thighs with cheese and a tortilla makes for a quick lunch or dinner idea.
- Dinner style. Serve pollo asado as the main dish. In addition to rice, beans and corn salsa have dinner on the table in under 30 minutes!
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Chipotle Copycat Pollo Asado Marinade
Homemade Achiote Paste
- 1 teaspoon White Vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
- 1 teaspoon Garlic garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Ground Corrainder
- 1 teaspoon Onion Powder
- 1 teaspoon Harissa Seasoning optional
- 1 teaspoon Lemon Salt or regular salt
- 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1 teaspoon Chili Powder
- 1.5-2 lbs Chicken Thighs boneless skinless
- 2 small Lemons about ¼ cup
- 2 Limes about ¼ cup
- ½ cup Cilantro
- 1 teaspoon Cooking Oil
- Prepare the achiote paste in a small bowl. Combine the paprika, white vinegar, dried oregano garlic and ground cumin. Stir until combined.
- Add the additional seasonings to the achiote paste. Stir until well combined. A dark red paste should form.
- Add in chicken thighs. Once the chicken thighs have been added, add the juices from the lemon and limes, oil and sprinkle in freshly chopped cilantro.
- Lastly, stir all the ingredients to make sure the chicken thighs are thoroughly coated.
- Cover and marinate thirty minutes up to twenty-four hours for best results!
- After the chicken thighs have marinated, now it is time to grill your pollo asado!
- Now, the key to preparing pollo asado is ensuring the heat is fairly high. If using a grill or cast iron, make sure the griddle is smoking hot before adding the chicken.
- Once the griddle is hot, sear chicken on both sides for 5-7 minutes depending on thickness.
- It is important to note, not disturbing the chicken will result in maximum flavor and a delicious crust will form from the high heat!
- The chicken will cook best if it is minimally disturbed. The chicken thighs I used were not thick. It took about 5-6 minutes per side. If your chicken thighs are thicker, increase cooking time.
- While the chicken thighs cook through, it is helpful to add extra lemon or lime juice to provide a rich citrus and smoky flavor.
- Since the heat is high, smoke will release providing additional flavor.
- Laslty, the chicken will be cooked through when it reaches in internal temperature (in the thickest part of the chicken) of 165 degrees.
If you love this dish, you must try these Carne Asada Mushroom Tacos!
I loved this! I used about 5 tsp of achiote paste, added onion and garlic powder, salt, chili powder, lemon and lime juice, and cilantro. I put it in a gallon bag with the chicken thighs to marinate (about 24 hours), then grilled. I covered with foil while it rested, then chopped into pieces. This is in our rotation now!
Awesome to hear! I'm making another batch today. So happy you enjoyed. 🙂
What amount of chicken is this used for?? You never mention chicken in the ingredients.....
Thanks for noticing my error. I've updated the recipe to reflect the amount of chicken. I used about 1.5-2lbs of chicken thighs!
Keith Bosland says
What is the cooking oil used for? I've looked a few times and can't find when it's used. Thanks
Hi there and thanks so much for your inquiry! Good catch, I use the oil in the marinade, but you can use it when searing the chicken too. It's whatever your preference is. In this recipe, I added the oil to the marinade and did not coat my grill pan but again, your preference. I hope this helps. 🙂
O. Atkinson says
EVEN BETTER THAN CHIPOTLE! And that's saying a lot since I loved Chipotle's polly asada so much I started searching for the recipe! This is a bold flavored chicken so I served it with jasmine rice and a cabbage lime slaw and avocado, which gave a fresh and balance to the flavors. Can't wait to make it for my son when he comes home from college!
OMG! So happy you enjoyed. I appreciate you giving the recipe a try and adding your own toppings. I sure hope your son loves it when he's home from college. 🙂
Ramon G says
So dang good bravo
Have you ever made this in a crock pot? I wonder if slow cooker would enhance the flavors even more?
I haven't but it could possibly work! I'd add maybe 1/4 cup of water just so the chicken doesn't dry out!
This is delicious!!!! So easy to make and the flavors are incredible. Thank you so much for this recipe I will be making it again- I could only marinate the chicken for about 2 hours since it was last minute but next time I’m definitely doing the full 24 hours!!
So glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe as much as I do! 🙂
I made this tonight. It was SO GOOD!! My family of 4 all loved it. It will be going in the rotation!
Yay! So happy to hear you and the fam loved it. Thank you for the feedback. 🙂
Achiote recipe is horribly wrong, fix the quantities because this does not mix and is still powder.
Thanks for the feedback. I'm not sure what could've gone wrong when you tried the recipe. It should've been a paste-like material and adding the olive oil helps to create the paste!
Can you cook this in a skillet with a lil oil?
Yes, you absolutely can! The marinade has oil, but you can absolutely add more to coat your pan if needed!
Veronica Daniels says
Thank you so much, this recipe tasted amazing! It tasted just like Chipotle's yummy Pollo asado recipe! No need to go out there, its fun to make it at home and add the ingredients I want to make a bowl, burrito or even chicken quesadillas. Fun to make it advance for a full week of meals!
I am so happy to hear this! Making a batch myself this week for meal prep. 🙂