Peruvian-Style Roast Chicken with Green Sauce

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Tender and juicy Peruvian-style roast chicken with a spicy, luscious green sauce.

This is my take on Pollo a la Brasa, the delicious roast 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 its color from cilantro and jalapeño peppers, is spicy, creamy and downright delectable. You can put it on virtually everything, and it even makes a fabulous dip or salad dressing.

What you’ll need to make Peruvian-Style Roast Chicken

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.

How to make Peruvian-Style Roast Chicken

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 holds 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.

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

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Peruvian-Style Roast Chicken with Green Sauce

Tender and juicy Peruvian-style roast chicken with a spicy, luscious green sauce.

Servings: 4
Cook Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
Total Time: 2 Hours, plus at least 6 hours marinating time

Ingredients

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 (see note)
  • 1 cup packed 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

Instructions

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.
  2. Note: Be sure to wash your hands well after handling hot peppers, and do not touch your eyes while working with them.
  3. Note: The nutritional information does not include the green sauce.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (4 servings)
  • Calories: 1,095
  • Fat: 79 g
  • Saturated fat: 21 g
  • Carbohydrates: 7 g
  • Sugar: 3 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 85 g
  • Sodium: 1,138 mg
  • Cholesterol: 340 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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Reviews & Comments

  • DELICIOUS! I just did it with chicken thighs but I will most certainly make this again with a whole chicken and smoke it on the grill! This recipe seasons perfectly!

    • — Tee on September 26, 2021
    • Reply
  • My husband fell in love with Peruvian food on his mission for our church. I put this on our meal plan as a surprise and it did not disappoint. We will be making this again soon.

    • — Autumn on September 22, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is so tasty, and the green sauce so versatile!! A favorite to make for company, or a nice dinner in for my family (with yummy leftovers)!

    • — Caly Konschewitz on September 19, 2021
    • Reply
  • We absolutely LOVE this chicken! We typically marinate cut chicken thighs over night and then grill them on skewers. We then serve the green sauce on the side. Many people have asked us for the recipe! It truly is out of the this world for a home cooked meal!

    • — Rachael on September 13, 2021
    • Reply
  • This recipe is a go to for me. In fact, I make the green sauce and freeze it in 4 smaller containers. Then I pull it out to use on all sorts of proteins, salads and veggies. It freezes great.

    • — Sharon Sullivan on August 26, 2021
    • Reply
  • You can’t go wrong with this recipe. I’ve made this at least a dozen times (served with the Mexican rice) and I too use thighs and breasts instead of a whole chicken (so much easier!) We’ve used the leftover sauce on salmon the next day. Thanks for another great recipe Jen!

    • — Debbie on August 11, 2021
    • Reply
  • I LOVE this recipe!! We have made this a number of times, for ourselves and for friends and it’s always a hit. One thing I changed was instead of using a whole chicken, I often use chicken thighs (both with and without bone) and drumsticks, and my husband grills it, which gives it a smoky flavor on top of the delicious marinade. We’re making it again this weekend for our friends – and love it with the Mexican Rice recipe you have, which we will also be making again. Thank you for this recipe – it’s definitely a keeper for us!!

    • — Stephanie on July 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • An absolutely delicious recipe. The leftover cilantro/sour cream sauce makes a great marinade for skin-on chicken thighs, which I bake on thinly sliced onions or shallots tossed in a bit of olive oil.

    • — Debbie Nicol on July 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • This recipe is awesome! It’s not as good as a restaurant (probably because I altered it), but it’s a really good substitute and the flavors are on point. I halved the chicken before putting it in the oven so had to adjust the time. I did the 20 minutes on 425, but then reduced to 375 for only 45 minutes. The dark meat could have used a few more minutes and the white meat was a tad overcooked, so I’m still experimenting. The best part is the sauce which really tastes exactly like what I’m used to in restaurants even though I used poblano instead of jalapenos to cut down on spice. I mixed it in with some cumin rice.

    In the future, I might try separating the white and dark meat and putting it in the air fryer.

    • — Jon on July 23, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi! I seriously love this recipe. The green sauce is just the right amount of spicy. My husband is from Egypt, so he loves the spices used to make this chicken. I have tried about 12 of your recipes, and all of them have turned out EXCELLENT. And I am just an okay chef, so you make me look good. I especially love all your Mediterranean dishes. It makes my husband feel at home when I use your recipes to make him food, and that makes me so happy. Thanks for everything you do- you are AMAZING!! I would love to see a koshary recipe in the future!

    • — Kristi K. on July 19, 2021
    • Reply
  • My family does a “multicultural” night every week to teach my daughter (6) about places/cultures other than our own. This week we also had company over and figured this recipe would be great. We were right. This chicken and the sauce was a HUGE hit. My daughter passed on the sauce because spicy, but my guests ended up taking some home with them. I thought it was a touch runny, but still absolutely delicious. Served with sauteed green beans and roasted purple potatoes, it was perfect.

    • — Jaime DiNote on July 12, 2021
    • Reply
  • Question- in other chicken recipes you use the zest instead of the juice. Just curious why the juice works here ? In other recipes you mention the acids in the juice can cook the outside of the chicken and make it leathery. Thanks!

    • — Aileen on July 6, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Aileen, I stay away from citrus juice for boneless skinless chicken breasts but it’s okay for dark meat. Hope that clarifies!

      • — Jenn on July 6, 2021
      • Reply
  • I have had to make a double batch of the green sauce, such is its popularity. Can you please tell me how long it will keep in case I up my production to the quadruple-sphere?
    Thank you!
    Rebecca

    • — Rebecca Reynolds on July 2, 2021
    • Reply
    • Glad the sauce it a hit! It will keep in the fridge for 4 to 5 days.

      • — Jenn on July 5, 2021
      • Reply
  • Top shelf! Excellent! Had no lime (used orange) or sour cream, but this recipe is insanely delicious.

    Not difficult to prepare.

    Used tonic water cans as beer can chicken style over charcoal in a kamado.

    • — Phil borer on June 24, 2021
    • Reply
  • My question is why is the calorie count so high for this. The only thing I see that could really pack on calories with the chicken is sugar, but not much is used at all. I know with the sauce it has both mayo and sour cream, but 79g fat doesn’t seem right. There also isn’t a serving size. just says that there are four servings, assuming I guess a person will eat a quarter of a chicken with each serving, and there is nothing listed for the sauce serving size either. This is terribly confusing. Can you provide any clarity?

    • — Sonya Powell on June 21, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Sonya, Chicken skin is very high in calories and fat and the nutritional information includes that. Feel free to pull the skin off right before eating it if you’d like. Yes, the chicken is meant to be shared by 4 people, but depending on the size of your chicken, you may be able to get more servings out of it. And the nutritional info does not include the green sauce. The recipe makes quite a bit of sauce — about 2 cups, so you’re likely to have some leftover. If you’d like to calculate the nutritional info for the sauce, I use a program that is now accessible to anyone. You can find it here. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on June 22, 2021
      • Reply
  • I made this recipe last night, my wife said it’s the best chicken dish I have ever made! I served it on street tacos accompanied with a little pickled red onion. The only change I made was to substitute plain yogurt for the mayonnaise to be kind to my waistline. Hands down an amazing dish

    • — Bill Newell on June 21, 2021
    • Reply
  • I am going to cook this tonight (and marinate this in a few minutes!). I would like to roast it on my outdoor rotisserie gas grill. Do you have any advice? I have not tried it yet, but most Peruvian Chicken I have had in restaurants has been cooked using a rotisserie. Much thanks! Linda

    • — Linda on June 11, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Linda, I haven’t made this using a rotisserie, but I think you really wouldn’t need to make any modifications. (A number of other readers have commented that they’ve grilled this using a rotisserie and have been happy with the results.) Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on June 11, 2021
      • Reply
  • I love this recipe both AS IS, as well as with a few changes (depending on guests with dietary restrictions). I’ve used the marinade on tofu for a vegan guest — and she loved it! Vegan cream cheese/sour cream for the green sauce is excellent too!

    For stomachs sensitive to spiciness, one bell pepper works in place of the 3 jalapeños too.

    • — Andie on June 7, 2021
    • Reply
  • HI Jenn,
    Can I substitute the jalapeños with habanero peppers or would that change the flavor too much?

    • — Terri on June 6, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Terri, You could use habanero peppers but they are significantly hotter so you may want to cut back on them. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on June 7, 2021
      • Reply
  • Another keeper! Made this with chicken breasts (skinless). I scored the chicken breasts so the marinade would get right in. Marinated for 8 hours and turned out great. The green sauce was delicious. Thumbs up by whole family. Thanks for the recipe Jenn!

    • — Greta on May 24, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is one of our favorite recipes, but I’m now dairy-free. Can you use mayo instead of the sour cream? I’m sorry if this question has been asked already!

    • — Bethany on May 18, 2021
    • Reply
    • Glad you like it! Yes, you can replace the sour cream with more mayo, but I’d add a touch more lime juice to the mix. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on May 19, 2021
      • Reply
  • Could I substitute an avocado and a bit of oil for the mayo? I have a guest coming who doesn’t like mayo. Any other suggestions? Love this recipe and it’s so easy and great for company .
    Thanks.

    • — Bonnie on May 13, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Bonnie, I haven’t tried it, but I think you could get away with it. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on May 13, 2021
      • Reply
      • I have made this chicken two weeks in a row, it is that good and super easy to make !

        • — Glenda Dominguez on May 13, 2021
        • Reply
  • I love your Peruvian chicken recipe and the sauce. I have a large crop of cilantro growing in my garden these days. Would I be able to make a few batches of the sauce and refrigerate them for future uses?

    • — Samuel Goldenberg on May 12, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Samuel, Glad you like this! The sauce will keep in the fridge for 4 to 5 days so not sure it makes sense to make a big batch.

      • — Jenn on May 12, 2021
      • Reply

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