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How to Make Pollo Asado

Flavorful pollo asado is chicken marinated with citrus, oregano, and a host of other spices then grilled or roasted to make some of the best chicken you've ever tasted
Prep Time4 hrs
Cook Time45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Chicken, grilled chicken, citrus chicken, roast chicken, pollo asado
Servings: 8
Author: Melissa Reome


  • 4 lb chicken pieces or 1 whole chicken fresh
  • 3.5 oz annatto or achiote paste (100gm)
  • 1 cup olive oil extra virgin
  • 1/4 cup onion chopped (or 1 medium onion)
  • 6 cloves garlic fresh, minced
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp Mexican oregano
  • 1 tbsp ancho chili powder optional
  • 1 cup orange juice preferably fresh or not from concentrate
  • 1 cup lime juice preferably fresh squeezed
  • 1 tbsp salt kosher or sea salt
  • 1 tbsp black pepper fresh ground
  • 3 limes cut into wedges for finished chicken
  • 1 bunch cilantro fresh, chopped for serving
  • 1 large onion sliced, for serving


Pollo Asado Marinade

  • Add annatto/achiote paste to small saucepan and break into small pieces. Add oil and turn heat to low. Stir paste into oil so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the saucepan.
    Stir annatto or achiote paste into oil
  • Add onion, garlic, oregano, cumin, ancho chili powder, salt, pepper and warm over low heat for 5 minutes. Stir frequently. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
  • Add orange and lime juice to marinade. For a smooth marinade, put in blender until achiote/annatto paste is completely broken up. Reserve 1 cup of marinade for basting (refrigerate marinade until ready to cook chicken).
    pollo asado marinade

Marinate Chicken

  • In freezer bag or bowl, add chicken pieces (or whole chicken) and cover with 1 cup of marinade. Marinate the chicken for 4-8 hours.
    Marinate chicken in refrigerator

Cook Chicken

  • If grilling: Wipe surface with olive oil prior to placing chicken on grate. Heat grill to medium heat (approximately 375˚and set it up for indirect cooking. Because of the oil in the marinade indirect is preferred to prevent flare-ups. Close lid of grill. Baste chicken at least once though the cook. If you have the ability to set up two zones, move the chicken to the direct side for a minute or so prior to finishing if you like a bit of char on your chicken.
    Baste chicken with marinade
  • If cooking in the oven, preheat oven to 375˚F. Line a sheet pan with foil, spray foil with cooking spray or alternatively coat thinly with olive oil or vegetable oil to help prevent sticking. Bake chicken and baste at least once throughout the cook.
  • Cook chicken until 165˚F internal temperature if white meat or up to 175˚F for dark meat pieces. If cooking a whole chicken, remove from grill or oven when breast measures 165˚F.
  • Serve finished chicken with lime wedges to squeeze over chicken, cilantro, onion slices and tortillas if desired.
    Pollo Asado


*The time to cook the chicken will depend on the size of the pieces and the type of chicken you are cooking. When grilling, periodically check chicken and rotate on grill if necessary for even cooking. Cook to temperature, not time.
*Marinate chicken for 4-8 hours under refrigeration. The longer you marinate, the more flavorful it will be. I don't recommend much longer marinating as the citrus in the marinade can make the chicken tough.