Peruvian-Style Roast Chicken with Green Sauce


This is my take on Pollo a la Brasa, that delicious spit-roasted chicken made popular by so many Peruvian restaurants. The chicken is first marinated in olive oil, lime juice, garlic and spices, and then oven-roasted until tender, juicy and crisp-skinned. The accompanying green sauce, which gets it’s color from cilantro and jalapeño peppers, is spicy, creamy and downright addictive. You can put it on virtually everything, and it even makes a fabulous dip or salad dressing.

Before we get to the recipe, a few words on buying a whole chicken. In the poultry department, you’re likely to find birds labeled “broilers,” “roasters” and “fryers.” These labels are based on the weight of the bird, and are meant to suggest a method of cooking. This recipe calls for a four pound chicken, which is typically considered a “fryer.” This might seem strange since we’re roasting but don’t worry about it — all of these chickens can be used in recipes interchangeably.

Begin by making the marinade. Combine the lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, sugar, paprika, cumin, and oregano in a blender or mini food processor.

Blend until smooth.

Using your fingers or a wooden spoon, loosen the skin over the breasts and legs of the chicken.

Spoon 2/3 of the marinade under the skin.

And rub the rest over top. Place the chicken in a bowl and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and set the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan. I like to tuck the wings underneath the bird and tie the legs together so the bird hold its shape.

Roast the chicken for 20 minutes, until the skin is golden, and then turn the heat down to 375 degrees and roast for about an hour and ten minutes more. Let the chicken rest, covered with foil, for about 20 minutes before carving.

While the chicken marinates, make the green sauce (recipe adapted from the Serious Eats Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt).

Simply combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, cilantro, jalapeños, garlic, lime juice salt and pepper in a blender or food processor.

And process until smooth. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil. It will seem thin at first but, don’t worry, it will thicken up as it sits.

Keep in mind that the heat in the sauce comes from the ribs and seeds in the jalapeño peppers. I use about half of the seeds and ribs for a medium-hot sauce. If you’re worried about the heat, you can always leave them out at first and then blend them in to taste. (Also, be sure to wash your hands well after handling hot peppers, and do not touch your eyes while working with them.)

Transfer the sauce to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish the sauce with a sprig cilantro, if desired, and serve with the roasted chicken.

The green sauce in this recipe is adapted from one of my favorite columns, the Serious Eats Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. 

Peruvian-Style Roast Chicken with Green Sauce

Print Recipe
Servings: 4
Cook Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
Total Time: 2 Hours


For the Chicken

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lime juice, from 2 limes
  • 4 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 pound whole chicken

For the Green Sauce

  • 3 jalapeño chili peppers, seeded if desired (I use about half the seeds for a medium-hot sauce), and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise, best quality such as Hellmann's
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, from one lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


For the Chicken

  1. Combine all of the ingredients except the chicken in a blender or mini food processor, and blend until smooth. Remove the giblets from the inside of the chicken and pat the outside of the chicken dry with paper towels; place in a bowl, breast side up with the legs facing you. Using the handle of a wooden spoon or your fingers, loosen the skin from the flesh over the breasts and legs, being careful not to tear the skin or push all the way through (you want the marinade to stay inside the bird). Spoon about 2/3 of the marinade evenly underneath the skin, and spread the remaining 1/3 evenly over the skin. Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.
  2. Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position, and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil for easy clean-up. Spray a rack (preferably a v-shape) with non-stick cooking spray and place the chicken on top. Tie the legs together with kitchen string. Roast for 20 minutes, until the skin is golden. Turn the heat down to 375 degrees, and continue to roast for about an hour and ten minutes more, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and thigh. (Keep an eye on it -- if it's browning too quickly, cover it loosely with foil.) Tent the chicken with foil and let rest for about 20 minutes. Tilt the chicken over the roasting pan to release the juices, then transfer to a cutting board. Carve the chicken and serve with green sauce.

For the Green Sauce

  1. Combine all of the ingredients except the olive oil in a blender or food processor and blend into a smooth sauce. With the motor running, open lid and slowly drizzle in olive oil. It will seem very runny at this point but, don't worry, it will thicken up as it sits. Transfer the sauce to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
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  • John

    Such an great dish, I used drumsticks and boy o boy did my family love it! The green sauce was just fantastic and I will definitely be using it on its own as a dip. I did up the garlic and used about 6 for the sauce and another bunch for the chicken.

  • This dish was easy to make and tasted phenomenal. The whole family enjoyed it. I will definitely make this again, especially on a whole chicken. I did thighs and legs for this go around; but I can only imagine a whole chicken like this could only be better!

    • Liv

      @ Dann s Washko

      I have made this at least three times since discovering this recipe in September. Each time I have done it with a whole chicken which I have butterflied and roasted in a hooded BBQ. My family love it! Any leftovers I have on toasted sandwiches with the sauce and it is super good!! This would have to be one of my favourite roast recipes!

  • Kimmy

    I just used this recipe to make chicken wings. I was only able to marinate a few hours . The wings were so delicious that my husband wants me to make them for our Super Bowl party! For the green sauce, I substituted greek yogurt for the sour cream and used 1.5 large jalapenos and it was the perfect heat level! I am psyched that I made a double batch of the wings and froze one batch so we can enjoy next weekend with very little prep. The green sauce will not last until then so I will experiment with more yogurt and less mayo to see how it compares! Thanks so much for posting this!!

  • Gene Dixon

    Sounds fantastic. Both the chicken and the green sauce.

  • Andrea

    I made this and the chicken came out great. However, I couldn’t get my green sauce to look like yours. My sauce was really thick, it had good flavor but it wasn’t solid green. It was more white with green specks.

  • Sandy Smith

    I made this for Valentine’s Day. It was awesome. I used the sauce on pasta and as a dip. Excellent.

  • Rick

    One of our favorites, excellent!

  • I love this recipe! My husband loves this recipe. The first time I made it we butterflied a whole chicken and then grilled it….it was delicious. I have tried baking the chicken and the flavor is great but it is even better off the grille. This is a five star recipe.

  • Rebecca

    Thank you for bringing this chicken recipe into my life. I am no-sugar, nothing-processed, low-carb so I omitted the sugar in the chicken rub and it was still phenomenal. For the green sauce, I used my own homemade mayonnaise and strained some homemade kefir to the consistency of sour cream for that substitution. I also didn’t have fresh jalapenos on-hand, but I used pickled and the sauce still was great, but I’m positive that fresh would be infinitely better. This was so great that my 5yo son asked to have it cold in his lunch for school! Maybe I need to plan a trip to Peru…. ;-)

  • Jill

    Another rave review on this one! Absolutely loved it. Should have listened to your statement about using half the jalapeno seeds for a medium hot sauce. I figured that I liked things hot and upped the seeds to at least three-quarters, OUCH! I will scale that back a tad next time, LOL! I agree with John that the sauce would make a great dip too.

  • pam

    I made this for the people I cook for, I got a special phone call saying this dish was “off the charts” !!
    I rarely duplicate recipes from week to week but this one is definitely a keeper. I served it with a solerito salad to start and made plain basmati rice and steamed broccoli.This was awesome!!

  • michela

    Great recipe. I’m peruvian and Pollo a la Brasa is something I grew up with. It made me so happy to find this recipe on your blog. I will definetly try it out! Thanks for sharing :)

  • This looks very good. I used to go to a Peruvian place that did a yellow creamy sauce with raw onions in it. It was really addictive and would love to find out how to make it. Any ideas?

    • Jenn

      Jesse, My guess is that it was a garlic mayonnaise. Try garlic, mayo, chopped onions and a little lemon juice.

  • This chicken and sauce are truly amazing! I live part of the year in NYC and have eaten at peruvian restaurants several times (pio pio is one of my favorites), and let me say that I now have no reason to go out to get chicken with green sauce, this recipe was restaurant style without having to leave the house! Definitely a keeper. Putting the sauce between the skin and the meat was key as well as letting it marinade over night. Also, I think packing the cup of cilantro leaves, as opposed to loosely filling it, was key to making the sauce taste great- its amazing how much cilantro can fit in a cup… anyway. Thanks for the recipe!

  • Ellen

    Do you think it would work to use FF plain greek yogurt instead of the mayo and sour cream?

    • Jenn

      Hi Ellen, I don’t think it’d be bad, but the mayo rounds out the flavor because it’s not tangy like the sour cream and yogurt.

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