This traditional Peruvian recipe for marinated, crispy-skinned roasted chicken, Pollo a la Brasa, is a true flavor explosion! This juicy rotisserie-style chicken recipe is so good you’ll want to make it over and over.
You can roast the chicken in the oven or grill it on the barbecue. Either way, it’s finger-licking delicious. Serve it with Ají Verde Sauce for an extra boost in flavor. Follow the step-by-step instructions or watch the video and have your friends and family ask what fancy restaurant you got that chicken from ;)
Ingredients & Substitutions
Whole Chicken – It’s best to use a whole chicken and spatchcock it (butterfly it). However, chicken legs work just as well. The important part is that you use bone-in skin-on dark meat so you can drizzle the marinate in between the skin and meat as well as outside.
Ají – ají is simply the word for chili in Peru and there are several different ones that have different flavors. The two we need for this recipe are Ají Panca and Ají Amarillo and both in paste form. You can find them in any major Hispanic grocery store or online. There is nothing quite like it and the flavors of these specific chilis are what make this roast chicken “Peruvian”. I know it’s annoying to get ingredients that aren’t usually available in any regular grocery store but trust me, it’s worth the effort. They last forever in the fridge and once you made this Pollo a la Brasa once you’ll make it over and over again anyway and use up all your ají pastes :)
Beer – cooking with beer is very very common in Peruvian cuisine. Seco de Carne is one of the most popular beer-based recipes in Peru. Don’t worry, after the long cooking time most, if not all, alcohol has evaporated from the chicken. All that is left is the malt or wheat taste. The darker the beer the more delicious but simply use whatever beer you have on hand. If you really rather not use beer you can also simply use chicken broth.
Soy Sauce – Peruvians love using soy sauce (sillao) in many of their dishes because of its delicious salty flavor and because it darkens sauces so nicely. You could also up the salt instead if you don’t have soy sauce on hand.
Apple Cider Vinegar – any vinegar will work here, to be honest. I’m just obsessed with acv lately so I use it in and on everything.
Lime Juice – limes are an integral part of Peruvian cuisine but in a pinch, you could use a little extra vinegar.
Garlic – fresh garlic is an absolute must. It gives so so so much flavor. Don’t use dried. It just doesn’t cut it in this recipe. Either crush it or grate it with a fine grater so it’s nice and squishy and stays stuck to the chicken.
Oil – the marinade needs very little oil but always add at least that little bit. It helps make the marinade creamier and thus sticks better to the chicken and helps to crisp up the skin.
Spices – use cumin, oregano, rosemary, salt and pepper. You could also use ground coriander instead of cumin, and Italian seasoning instead of oregano and rosemary.
How To Make Pollo A La Brasa
It’s a very easy process really. All you need is “time”. That’s the most important ingredient. The longer you marinate the chicken, the more intense it will taste.
First, spatchcock your chicken. That means, cutting off the column so you can lay it flat. This helps reduce the roasting/grilling time and it cooks the chicken more evenly. When you leave it uncut the breasts can dry out a little while the legs don’t become fall off the bone tender. If you are using legs, this step is obviously irrelevant.
Prepare the marinade by mixing all ingredients in a bowl with a whisk.
Use your fingers to lift the skin off the meat but be very careful to not remove it. You essentially just want to create pockets for the marinade so it stays in-between the meat and the skin.
Pour 1/4-1/3 of the marinade into the little pockets you created between skin and meat. Squick around from the outside to distribute well. Then place the chicken in a large ziplock bag and pour the rest of the marinade into the bag. Close the bag airtight squeezing excess air out. Squish the marinade around the whole chicken to cover it evenly.
Place the chicken in the fridge for at the very very least 2 hours but better longer and up to 12 hours. Take it out of the fridge about 30 minutes before it hits the grill or the oven. This way you get it back up to room temperature.
Either preheat the oven or preheat the barbecue to 400F.
Place the chicken open side down, breast side up directly on the grill, not on direct heat but a little further away and immediately close it to keep the temperature consistent. Or place it the same way on a rimmed baking sheet and place it in the oven. On the barbecue, it will be more authentic Pollo A La Brasa though. “Pollo” means chicken and “brasa” means coal. So a coal grill would obviously be best but any gill works perfectly. I personally us a pellet grill.
In the oven, roast the chicken for approx 35-40 minutes or until the breasts reach an internal temperature of 155F. Measuring without getting too close to the bone at the thickest part of the breast. Then remove it from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before cutting into it.
On the barbecue, grill the chicken in the closed barbecue for about 30-35 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of about 145-150F. At that point flip the chicken onto the breast side and move it to direct heat and grill for another 2 minutes. Then remove it from the grill and let it rest for 10 minutes before cutting into it.
The internal temperature will still rise to 165F during the resting time.
How To Store Leftover Pollo A La Brasa
I recommend storing leftovers in an air-tight container. Cut the chicken into individual pieces so you can take out one at a time and reheat only what you will eat. Cooked chicken lasts in the fridge safely for up to 4 days. Alternatively, you can freeze leftovers for up to 3 months. To defrost you just place it in the fridge for 12 hours and then reheat.
How To Reheat Leftover Pollo A La Brasa
To avoid the rubbery consistency of microwaved chicken I recommend reheating this pollo in the pan instead. Simply preheat a pan over medium heat and once hot add a tiny drizzle of oil and then quickly panfry your piece of chicken until warm.
What To Serve Pollo A La Brasa With
My favorite side dishes for the Peruvian rotisserie chicken are Peruvian Green Rice, simply white rice, or Garlic Rosemary Roasted Potatoes. To add extra veggies I like serving it also with the not-so-Peruvian but still super delicious Simple Kale Salad.
Pollo A La Brasa (Peruvian Style)
- 3 lbs whole chicken
- 3-5 cloves garlic, crushed or grated
- 1/4 cup dark beer
- 2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp lime juice
- 1 Tbsp oil - any oil you like
- 1 Tbsp ají panca paste
- 1 Tbsp ají amarillo paste
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- sea salt
- Spatchcook chicken and lift the skin off slightly from the meat to create pockets for the marinade (see video for instructions).
- Add all marinade ingredients to a bowl and whisk until creamy in consistency.
- Add part of the marinade into the pockets created between meat and skin, then place the chicken into a ziplock bag and pour the rest of the marinade into the bag. Close the bag airtight removing excess air and then squish the marinade around to distribute it evenly. Place in the fridge for at least 2 and up to 12 hours.
- Remove the chicken from the fridge and preheat the grill to 400F. (See blog post for oven roasting instructions).
- Once hot, add the chicken cut side down and breast side up close to but not on direct heat. Pour the remaining marinade in the bag over the chicken and close the grill to maintain the heat. Grill for 30-35 minutes or until the center of the thickest part of the breast registers 145-150F internal temperature on a meat thermometer.
- Flip the chicken onto the breast side and put it on direct heat for 2 minutes or until golden.
- Remove the chicken from the heat and let it rest for 10 minutes before cutting into it.