This Peruvian Chicken is succulent, juicy, flavorful, and very easy to make! It’s marinated, then roasted, and is good enough to eat on its own, or with a side of Cilantro Jalapeño Sauce.
This might be my favorite chicken of all time.
And yes, I did peruse through the chicken section of my recipe index just to make sure I can stand behind such a statement. Peruvian chicken is just so flavorful and tender and delicious!
My obsession with Peruvian Chicken started when I lived in New York City, where there were numerous restaurants serving this staple roast chicken with green sauce.
As I wrote in my Where to Eat in NYC post, I ate at over 500 places during my time living in Manhattan, and I rarely repeated restaurants because I always had a list of new places to try.
But I went to Peruvian restaurants like Pio Pio and Chicken Festival over and over again, because their chicken and sauce was just so. darn. good.
And though I have left the city, I still enjoy what I’ve been able to replicate at home. As I discuss in the post, Cilantro Jalapeño Sauce is not quite the same but we enjoy it as a pairing for this chicken.
How to Make Peruvian Chicken:
There’s nothing complex about this recipe, and basically all we do is marinate a whole chicken and then roast it.
Spatchcock the Chicken
While not required, I highly recommend spatchcocking the chicken, which means we cut the backbone out so we can flatten it.
This chicken cooks more evenly, more quickly, and is much easier to carve.
I have step-by-step pictures for how to Spatchcock Chicken and it only takes a couple minutes.
Pat the Meat Dry with Paper Towel
Before I do anything else with the meat, I always remove excess moisture. Particularly with chicken that comes out of a plastic shrink bag, there can be quite a lot of excess liquid.
Peruvian Chicken Marinade Needs Aji Amarillo
One ingredient that’s important to get is Aji Amarillo Paste. This is a hot pepper that’s grown in Peru, and it has a really unique, delicious flavor that’s important for the marinade.
To me, it tastes like a cross between habanero and hatch chile with a hint of fruitiness.
It’s blended up into a paste that has a bright orange color:
While you may be able to find it at the store, this is an item I order on Amazon (affiliate).
I know it’s a little annoying to get unusual ingredients, but it’s essential here, and the opened jar keeps well in the fridge for repeat batches of chicken.
Make the Marinade
Combine avocado oil (or olive oil), the aji amarillo paste, fresh lime juice, garlic, salt, cumin, dried oregano, and black pepper in a bowl:
Stir the ingredients together, and it will look like this:
Add the Marinade
Once the chicken is patted dry, pour the marinade on top:
Rub it all over, and know that the marinade will pool around the chicken a little bit. This is fine.
Marinade for 1 Hour at Room Temperature
1 hour is plenty of time for the chicken to absorb the flavors of the marinade. I let the chicken sit at room temperature for an hour, which takes the chill off the chicken and helps it cook more evenly as well.
If you want to marinade longer, you can do this up to 1 day in advance. Just make sure you marinate it in the fridge. Meat should never be left at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
Roast the Chicken
All that’s needed now is a 40-45 minute roast in the oven, with a little basting toward the end.
Do not worry about the burned bits on the pan. I assure you that even though the chicken can look dark in parts, it does not taste burned whatsoever. There are some natural sugars in the marinade from ingredients like the lime juice that are going to caramelize and darken no matter what.
When the chicken has cooked through, let it sit for a few minutes, then you can carve it up. We enjoy it with a side of Cilantro Jalapeño Sauce.
Peruvian Chicken FAQ and Tips:
Other Cuts of Chicken: You don’t have to do a whole chicken here. You can get your favorite cut, like a pack of drumsticks or chicken thighs, and make this recipe with specifically that cut.
How to Store Leftovers: Keep the chicken in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Freezing: You can freeze chicken leftovers for up to 2 months. Do not freeze the green sauce.
For the Peruvian Chicken:
- 3.5 lb* whole chicken spatchcock recommended**
- 2 tbsp avocado oil or olive oil
- 2 tbsp aji amarillo paste***
- 1.5 tbsp lime juice
- 3 large garlic cloves pressed or minced
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- While it's not required, I highly recommend you spatchcock the chicken. All this means is you cut the backbone out so it lays flat on the roasting pan. Spatchcock chicken cooks more evenly, more quickly, and is much easier to carve. My Spatchcock Chicken post shows you how do to this.
- In a small bowl, mix together the avocado oil, aji amarillo paste, lime juice, garlic, salt, cumin, oregano, and black pepper.
- Place the chicken on a sheet pan and pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. Then rub the marinade all over the chicken. Let sit at room temperature for one hour. Alternatively, you can marinate this up to 24 hours in advance in the fridge. Note: never leave meat out of the fridge for more than 2 hours.
- 15 minutes before cooking, preheat the oven to 425F.
- Roast the chicken for 40-45 minutes, basting the chicken in its own juices after 30 minutes, and again at 40 minutes. When the chicken is done, the breast should register at 160F when measured with a thermometer.
- Let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes after roasting, so the juices don't run out while carving. Enjoy!
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.