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. Many readers have said this is the best chicken they’ve ever had!
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, and for my entire family, it is one of our favorite recipes. As I discuss in the post, Cilantro Jalapeño Sauce is not quite the same as a true aji verde sauce or Peruvian green sauce, but we enjoy it as a pairing for this dish. It’s very easy to make in a food processor or blender in just 10 minutes. It has a vibrant flavor that’s really delicious!
Tips for Best Results
Spatchcock the Chicken – While not required, I highly recommend spatchcocking the bird, which means we cut the backbone out so we can flatten it. This meat 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 – Poultry in particular tends to float in excess liquid when you buy it from the store. This will water down the flavors in the marinade, so remove it first with paper towels.
Marinate at room temperature, not in the fridge – One of the practices that has completely revolutionized the juiciness and tenderness of all meat I cook, is leaving the meat at room temperature for an hour or so before cooking. The meat requires less cooking this way, inherently retaining more moisture. It’s safe to leave out for up to 2 hours.
Step by Step Overview:
There’s nothing complex about this recipe, and basically all we do is marinate a whole chicken and then roast it.
Pat the Meat Dry with Paper Towel
Before I do anything else with the meat, I always remove excess moisture using paper towels. Particularly with poultry that comes out of a plastic shrink bag, there can be quite a lot of excess liquid.
Want to use other cuts?
You don’t have to do a whole chicken here. You can get your favorite cut, like a pack of drumsticks, bone-in or boneless skinless chicken thighs, bone-in or boneless breasts, or wings, and make this recipe with specifically that cut. Since this recipe does not yield particularly crispy skin, it’s fine to use skinless cuts. Cook time may vary. Follow the roasting temperature for the cut you select, and make sure to check the internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer.
Aji Amarillo: A Key Ingredient
One ingredient that’s important for the Peruvian chicken marinade 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 has a wonderful flavor that 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 this recipe.
Make the Marinade
For the marinade ingredients, combine avocado oil (or olive oil), the aji amarillo paste, fresh lime juice, garlic, salt, ground cumin, dried oregano, and black pepper in a bowl:
While I have seen some recipes adding soy sauce, I assume for umami, this is not a traditional ingredient and I also don’t think it’s necessary for flavor. Stir the ingredients together, and it will look like this:
Add the Marinade
Once the exterior skin is patted dry and ready to cook on the roasting pan, pour the marinade on top:
Rub it all over, and know that the marinade will pool around the bird a little bit. This is fine.
Marinade for 1 Hour at Room Temperature
1 hour is plenty of time for the meat to absorb the flavors of the marinade. I let the bird sit at room temperature for an hour, which takes the chill off and helps it cook more evenly. This is the key to extra juicy meat.
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.
All that’s needed now is a 40-45 minute roast in the oven, with a little basting toward the end. The back of my oven is slightly hotter than the front, so I put the pan in the oven with the breast side in the back, which usually takes longer to cook than the thighs.
Do not worry about the burned bits on the pan. I assure you that even though the skin 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.
How to Serve It
Once completely cooked through, let your Peruvian-style roast chicken rest for a few minutes, then you can carve it up. We enjoy it with a side of Cilantro Jalapeño Sauce, served in a small bowl right on the platter of cut chicken pieces.
Cilantro Lime Rice is a compatible side dish for this recipe, and you can make it lower carb with Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice. A green salad is also nice. I recommend this Steak Salad but without the steak.
Recipe FAQ and Tips
You don’t have to do a whole bird here. You can get your favorite cut, like a pack of drumsticks, breasts, or thighs, and make this recipe with specifically that cut.
Keep in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
You can freeze leftovers for up to 2 months. Do not freeze the green sauce.
I have had success marinating the meat in a plastic bag in the fridge, then cooking it the next day. Make sure to let the meat warm up on the baking sheet for an hour before roasting.
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, so that it 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 exterior dry with a paper towel. Then rub the marinade all over the meat. 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 it 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 bird 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.