Pollo al Carbon
Pollo al Carbon Recipe Video (scroll down for marinade recipe)
Carlos is back to show how to make pollo al carbon! This is a Mexican grilled chicken recipe, akin to those found at Pollo Regio or El Pollo Loco. Whole chickens, spatchcocked, or chicken quarters are soaked and basted in a citrus-achiote marinade then slow-roasted over charcoal for an hour and some change. Best served with Mexican rice and charro beans.
You might also like this recipe for carne asada tacos!
Pollo al Carbon RecipePrint
Pollo al Carbon
- Yield: 4-6 1x
- 2– 3 pound chickens or 6 pounds chicken quarters
- Oil for brushing on the grill
- 1 cup fresh orange juice (about 4–5 oranges)
- 1/4 cup lime juice (about 3 limes)
- 3 tablespoons Maggi seasoning
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 ounces achiote paste
- 2 tablespoons of chicken bullion powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- For whole chickens, remove the back bone and flatten (see post on spatchcock chicken for demo)
- Combine marinade ingredients in blender and whizz to liquefy the achiote paste.
- RESERVE 1/2 cup marinade. Pour the rest over the chicken and cover. Marinade 2-4 hours.
- Prepare a grill with a hot side and a cool side (meaning, pile all the coals onto one half of the grill)
- Lightly oil the grill
- First, lay chicken bone-side down on the hot side of the grill. Replace the cover and let sear 2-3 minutes.
- Move chicken to cool side of the grill and cover. Cook 20 minutes.
- Turn chicken, baste heavily with marinade, Cover and cook on the cool side another 20 minutes.
- Turn chicken, baste heavily with marinade, Cover and cook on the hot side another 20 minutes.
- Turn chicken, baste heavily with marinade, Cover and cook on the hot side another 20 minutes.
- After 80 minutes, your chickens will be cooked!
- Serve with lime wedges, salsa, rice and charro beans
Quite often I come across recipes that call for an ingredient that I don’t have and aren’t available in mainstream grocery stores (or so I think…I just don’t know where to look for it). Then months later I find the ingredient and buy it only to realize I have no recollection of what recipe called for it. That’s how I happened to have achiote paste in my pantry. I can’t recall how old it is. Do you happen to know what the shelf life of achiote paste is?
My package has the expiration date printed on the outside of the box, and on the plastic wrapper inside.
Aha! I have had this exact thing happen to me. I had a pack of achiote paste in my pantry for probably a year at least, until it had turned into a small brick. Blender to the rescue. I broke it up as much as I could and then put it in the blender with some liquid things and it worked just fine. So I think you could relatively safely not worry about expiration.
Hi, I was wondering about the aount of time I need to marinate the chicken before cooking it? Plus, I don’t have a grill at home. So can I actually bake it in the oven? If so, how many degrees do I need to preheate my oven, and how long do I need to bake the chicken per side?
Marinate 2-4 hours and then follow the instructions for roasting a chicken here https://hilahcooking.com/spatchcock-chicken/
Its mostly used for coloring food. Just add it to rice or beans whenever you’re making it so you wont waste it. Or you can make this lovely chicken again! I would add a bit of cayenne though…Belle likes her chicken spicy!
Why not print the recipe, and write the missing ingredient on it. Then file under missing ingredients alphabetically.
That’s a good idea!
Fantastic Hilah.. I have grilled chicken for years.. Your show is great. As an older cook that enjoys the cooking and the beveraging, it is nice to see you younger folks participating that good activity.. Oh my main comment was the new achiote marinade activity. It looks quite nice.. Thanks
Thanks! I agree cooking and beveraging together is a marvelous pastime 🙂
Sometimes you also have to smoke yourself when smoking chicken and beveraging…
Okay, I don’t eat meat, but damn that is a thing of beauty! Also, if I bring tequila, can I come over for drinks?
Kudos to you and Carlos,
I went to a friend’s wedding in Mexico DF about 15 years ago, and have been cooking – or trying to cook – the best version of traditional Mexican that you can in Tasmania. I’ve been using achiote for a while now, and love the way you’re using this. I’ll be firing up the grill tomorrow night. Can’t wait for you guys to help me get my masa on!
You will love this chicken, Andrew!
I just picked up a couple of bottle of Mojo marinade by Badia. The ingredients seem close to the recipe. Any experience with it?
Nope, never have seen that one.
What? No money shot? You do not actually eat the chicken on the video? WTF?
Another 5 star recipe from Hilah and her friends!! You are amazing!
So I live in the Northeast US where the closest thing we have to Mexican food is Chipotle and, yes, I am aware that is not even remotely close.
That being said we went to our local Mexican market. We found achiote paste pretty quickly, but not Maggi seasoning. They had some other Maggi-brand products, but not the seasoning sauce. What can I substitute? Soy sauce?
Soy sauce is a great substitute, Adam. Braggs liquid amino acids are similar, too.
Where in the NE? We have an outstanding Mexican restaurant in Wilkes-Barre, PA. El Rey Azteca! Spent a month in TX & NM last Oct. didn’t find one that could begin to compare (but I have developed a passion for Hatch Chilis)!
The chicken looks really good! I think I’m starting to love Pollo Al Carbon. I mean what’s there not to love about it, right? I love this recipe, Hilah. Thanks for sharing it! 🙂
Delicious! My chickens were a little bigger, but were ready in 4 twenty minute flips. Served with charro beans and rice. I don’t want to talk about the rice but the beans and chicken SuperGOOD!
Now that you’ve moved to California, will this be the end of cooking with Carlos??
Nope! Already planning for him to come out and shoot with us later in the year 🙂
I’ve always loved this style of chicken and always wondered if I could ever learn. Then I found your video! How awesome is that?!
My only question and concern is, can I do this on my outside gas grill? Charcoal grills aren’t allowed at my apartment 🙁
That should work, Tiffany! As long as your grill has the ability to have a hot side and a cooler side.
Wondering if I can make this in the oven like your Spatchcock chicken?
That would work like a charm! I’d marinate it and roast it like the spatchcock recipe, basting just once at the midway point. No need to flip it.
Loved the youtube video. Keep it up. Great Job. I’m an Austin TX resident and those pollo al carbon look as good on tv as most I’ve eaten !!! Good show.
Look good! What can replace achiote paste and Maggi seasoning? Can’t get them where I live…
Hi! Use soy sauce for the Maggi. For the achiote, try a couple tablespoons of paprika and a little more garlic.
Can I do this recipe on a smoker and just increase the cooking time?
I have never smoked a chicken but I assume you could.
Great recipe. Tastes very similar to the local carbon shops here in North texas. But, do you have a recipe for the green “avocado” sauce they typically serve with it? IMO, it’s like peanut butter and jelly.. one just isn’t the same without the other!
While there’s no avocado in it, this creamy green salsa is pretty close to the one you’re talking about! Make it with jalapeño or serrano chiles.
I have been wanting this recipe for a very long time. This is my favorite chicken and yours is just as good as restaurant. I thank you for this. Will be using this recipe for a very long time!!!
so i live in northern ca. i often buy roadside mexican bbq chicken that this recipe reminds me of. i can not wait to try this out. i am in charge of the upcoming Q duties for the family fourth of july festivities.This sounds like just the fare for the day. Beers , watchin the Q and some more beers. I thought i might add some beer or even some tequila to the marinade. Hilah whatya think of that. I am also gonna q some onions and peppers along side the birds. I will also wood fire the whole shlameel. i will let you now what the gang thinks of the recipe. Hilah i thanks for all the cool recipes and such.
I think a little beer would be great, Eric! Happy fourth!
Can’t wait to try the recipe, chicken looks great and I bet it taste just as well. One question, I want to use gas grill, what grill temperature would I be grilling at ?
I don’t really know, but I would start with turning one side of the grill onto medium-high and the other side on low
I’ve been craving pollo al carbon for years since moving back stateside from Mexico! Can’t wait to try this recipe, my mouth is watering just thinking of it! Quick question, do you think it could be cooked on a Big Green Egg? There’s no real way to get a hot/cold side with the BGE, but temp is easily controlled and I could back down to 250 for a slow cook after searing.
Hi Erin! I don’t know. Never used a BGE before. I think your plan sounds like it would work, but I bet you can find instructions online and just follow those with this marinade to get a close-enough pollo al carbon!
This chicken recipe is a God sent!
Made it for my fiance and kids they flipped for it fresh pico de gallo and queso fresco topped it off!!! Boy o boy this was one for the family recipe book ❤ ❤ ❤????????????????????????
Hooray! So nice to hear, Anadelia! 😀 <3
What specific kind of Maggi Seasoning is in the marinade? Maggi makes several “seasonings”. I found your site last week looking for cream gravy. The Daisy Duke outfit was hilarious. I didn’t believe that the Betty Crocker cook book my mother gave me was right, but it’s basically the same. I love the that these are recipes that are able to be done by real people and the result is tasty. I made the Mexican Rice last night. Amazing just like the restaurants. And in chili rellenos. Their always bland in the restaurants. I’m going to try it myself leaving in the seeds. Any way what’s the Maggi for the Pollo al Carbon ? I’m going to try it in my smoker. Thanks. JDB
It’s the Maggi seasoning sauce. If you’re getting it in a Mexican market, it might be labeled Maggi “Jugo”
So glad you are enjoying my recipes! 🙂
I forgotten to reserve some of the marinade, can I still use the marinade that’s been marinating in the chicken?
There is a risk of contamination between raw and cooked chicken. If it was me, I would not worry to much about it, since the chicken is cooked for the final 20 minutes on the hot side of the grill. But to be even safer, you could skip the last baste and just let it cook “naked” for the last 20 minutes
Tried this recipe last night. The only place I veered was that I used my pellet grill @ 375 with hickory pellets. The smell was intoxicating and the results were amazing. Thank you for sharing this fine recipe.
So happy to hear that, Isaias!
Excellent recipe,mine came out perfectly. Cooked on an Oklahoma Joe’s drum smoker.
This week was my third time making the chicken. It has come out phenomenal each time. Thanks for the great recipe! It’s relatively simple but the flavor is amazing.
The flavor was great, but the cook time and over hot coals was too much. The chicken looked great when I had it on the “cool” side. After one session over the coal side, it was burnt. When I turned them over for the last 20 minutes, I moved them to the middle, but still too hot. Charred skin. Next time, I’m going to reduce cooking time to 30″ on each side (one turn) and only on the cool side. But the flavor was delicious!
Hello, I’m Tom and I’m from the future. 7 years in the future…to answer your questions.
Lets get what everyone always asks sooner or later out of the way. Bengals.
Achiote as packaged sealed in plastic has a shelf life from manufacture of about 5 years. If it isn’t soft when you squeeze it, hard achiote is old achiote and you’ll have a hard time breaking it down to use it.
Once open, wrap up any unused portion in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze for up to six months.
I just made the above marinade. No problems at all putting everything into a blender bottle and shaking it up to break up the achiote and the boullion. Took about 5 minutes to make it up in total. Now the waiting begins…
Ha! Thanks for the achiote tips, Tom 🙂