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.
For the Chicken
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ 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
- ½ cup mayonnaise, best quality such as Hellmann's
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, from one lime
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
For the Chicken
- 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 ⅔ of the marinade evenly underneath the skin, and spread the remaining ⅓ evenly over the skin. Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.
- 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
- 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.
- Note: Be sure to wash your hands well after handling hot peppers, and do not touch your eyes while working with them.
- Note: The nutritional information does not include the green sauce.
- Per serving (4 servings)
- Calories: 614
- Fat: 43 g
- Saturated fat: 10 g
- Carbohydrates: 7 g
- Sugar: 3 g
- Fiber: 1 g
- Protein: 49 g
- Sodium: 694 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.
Very yummy! Thanks so much for your fabulous recipes! You are by far my favorite chef – you make me look like I can cook 💕
This is the best marinade!!! I use it for grilled chicken, both skinless and with skin, and it has the best flavor. The green sauce is a must in my book, and works well with just additional olive oil in place of the mayo as well.
This is delicious and the sauce is fantastic. The recipe makes a lot of sauce but I used the leftover as salad dressing for leftover chicken, roast potatoes and lettuce. I used bone in chicken breasts. So good!
This recipe looks delicious. So many of my colleagues rave about Peruvian food (the green sauce especially), and I can never eat it when they order because it’s not from a kosher place. I look forward to making this myself. For the green sauce, can I omit the sour cream and adjust the amount of the rest of the ingredients accordingly? I realize that the sour cream has the very important capsaicin neutralizing agent, plus it adds a specific flavor and tang. Is there another ingredient you would recommend in it’s place if omitting is not an option?
Hi Amy, do you want to omit the sour cream because it’s dairy? If so, I’d replace it with a non-dairy sour cream or non-dairy yogurt. Hope that helps and that you enjoy!
Just wanted to drops in and give this recipe the 5 stars it deserves!
My whole family loves it and your recipes in general. My kids refer to recipes by asking if they’re a “Chef Jen?”
Thank you for all the time you take for the “tested and perfected” recipes. We love them and this is a new addition to our rotation!
This recipe is on my weekly meal rotation. All of my friends absolutely love the flavor. While I follow all af the recipe I do not roast in my oven but I spatch the chicken and cook it on a charcoal grill. The flavor is absolutely amazing. It gets rave reviews all the time. And the green sauce I could put in everything but it’s great with tortillas chips.
Love your recipes. Could I grill this? And if so, would I want to spatchcock it or cook it like a beer can chicken?
Hi Andrew, So glad you enjoy the recipes! I think you could cook the chicken either way for a delicious result.
Perfection! And the green sauce is like gold in our family with everyone vying for the remains the next day!
Yeah I’ll definitely make this again! I used bone in thighs and removed the skin, marinated overnight and then grilled till almost done. Then I put them in the slow cooker on low for 2-3 hours. Next time I hope to be able to eat it right off the grill so I get the crispy edges! The chicken was all cleaned out but luckily I have some sauce left 👏🏼
First, I want to tell you how much I love your recipes and this blog!
My husband is having difficulty tolerating cumin in dishes. Can you recommend an
substitute for the cumin in your Peruvian roast chicken recipe?
Thanks so much!
Hi Karen, So glad you like the recipes/blog! You can use chili powder in place of the cumin.
Coriander would be a good substitute as well.
Love your recipes. This recipe sounds so appealing. Since it’s just the two of us, I was thinking of 2 lbs. of chicken thighs and halve the ingredients for the marinade. Would I still follow the same oven temperatures? I’m unsure about roasting time for the thighs instead of the whole chicken. Should I halve the amount of green sauce also or make the full amount since everyone loves it. Thanks so much. You are always so kind in answering our questions.
Hi Ruth, So glad you like the recipes! For thighs, I’d keep the oven temp the same and start checking them for doneness at about 50 – 55 minutes. (Also, place the chicken pieces on a rack so the skin crisps up.) And regarding the sauce, I think that’s a judgment call. It is delish and keeps well for 4 to 5 days in the fridge. If you think you’ll get through it in that period of time, you could certainly make the whole recipe. Hope you enjoy both the chicken and the sauce!
Hi. Is it ok to use chicken pieces…bone-in, legs, breasts and thighs? Would like to make this for 8 people. Thank you.
Sure – hope everyone enjoys!
This is now my go to marinade for chicken. My husband and I love the flavors of the chicken along with the green sauce. I’ve used the green sauce on vegetables, rice and assorted Mexican dishes. I highly recommend this recipe. Many thanks Jenn for developing this very tasty recipe.
I am absolutely swooning over this recipe and because it’s such a knock your socks off dish, I find myself wanting to share it with everyone I know. I used chicken thighs, because it’s what i prefer, and served it with roasted cauliflower and a simple jasmine rice, both of which paired sublimely with the spicy, citrusy, tangy, aromatic green sauce. It reminded me a bit of the cilantro pesto I made, but was creamier and more versatile. I think it would also pair phenomenally well with fish, shrimp, pork or beef. This is my new fave!
Made this chicken like 5 times already, love it, sauce is my favorite, i skip the mayo.
I am making this for a small dinner party and serving it with some Smokey Lime mashed Sweet Potatoes. Do you think your Thai Cucumber Salad would be too much/appropriate as my 3rd side as it has a sweetish flavor like the Potatoes?
Thanks and you’re recipes are my go to for ALL Tissa
Hi Tissa, I think it would taste okay, but it’s definitely outside the flavor profiles of the chicken and potatoes. If you want to serve a salad, this black bean and corn salad would be a good choice (and you can use frozen corn as fresh is definitely out of season). This broccoli would be another great choice. Hope you enjoy whatever you make!
Thanks Jenn! Or as my auto correct calls you when texting about you: “Gin Seagull’s” :- )
Fabulous! Another Once Upon a Chef winner I’ve shared with neighbors and Facebook friends. Thank you! Oh, I made your Mexican rice for the meals too. So good!
I bought jalapeños from a neighborhood market which only sold them in packages of eight. I thought the remaining four would go to waste. That certainly won’t happen now. Your green sauce is phenomenal! I’m mixing up a second batch today. No idea how we’ll use it. How long do you think it will keep in the refrigerator?
So glad you like this and that the sauce is a hit — it will keep nicely for 4 to 5 days. 🙂
Fabulous recipe!!!! And so delicious!!
Spatchcocked the chicken and cooked it on the Traegar grill. The little bit of smoke was perfect!! Would also be awesome in the oven.
Thanks for another great recipe.
Do you think the green sauce would be ok with a parsley substitute? All the members of my family detest the taste of cilantro and we will pick out the smallest leaf in our food if we have to ! Thank you for all the delicious recipes !
Yes, parsley will work here. Enjoy! 🙂
I made this, and it’s amazing. The green sauce is just like the one I had in Peru. I’ve been looking to replicate it since then. Thank you!
Hi, Jen! Love, love, love your recipes! We needed to come up with a Peruvian appetizer for our wine club which is serving South American wine. I’d like to use this recipe in some way. Can I make these into wings with the dipping sauce or what would you suggest?
Sounds like a great pairing with the wine! Wings would work here – I’d put them on a rack over a cookie sheet at 400° for approximately 50 minutes, flipping halfway through. I’d love to hear how they turn out!
Once again Jenn, you’ve outdone yourself. This was fantastic! So moist and that green sauce was to die for. The only change I made out of necessity was I had to use a mix of jalapeños and green Thai chilis. I swore I had more jalapeños in my freezer but alas…it still turned out fantastic!
I have been using this recipe for years. ABSOLUTELY delicious!!!.
This was the most delicious dish! I followed the recipe because exactly. I almost omitted the jalapeño because our older tummies do not handle heat well anymore but I decided to follow your instructions and instead removedALL seeds and membrane and included them in the green sauce. I’m so glad I did. I’ve never tasted jalapeño without the “heat” before now and it’s quite delicious. All together the chicken is wonderful with and without the green sauce but for us, the two of them were memorable. Thanks!
I’ve already posted about how fantastic this chicken is, and I’ve been putting the green sauce on all sorts of stuff this week. I still have a lot left, and so my question is, can the green sauce be frozen? I’m thinking maybe no, due to the mayo…
Hi Jody, I agree that it may not freeze well. Sorry!
Flavors were good but the salt is WAY TO MUCH, even though it calls or Kosher. Will make it again and reduce salt to 1 TEASPOON, not tablespoon.
Thank you. Parsley it is.
I didn’t fund this to be true.
I’ve used more and more of your recipes, bought your books and can honestly say each has been 5-stars! This was absolutely fantastic and didn’t change a thing – other than deleting the jalapeño (no one else likes spicy!). Your recipes continue to impress and they are definitely perfect for the entire family!
My Peruvian husband and stepdaughters said this tastes exactly like the chicken at home — even the teenage picky eater had two servings. Thanks for making me look like the cool stepmom!
I almost omitted the jalapeño for the same reason but I decided to try it and followed her instructions to remove all seeds and membrane to remove the heat (“spicy”). The green sauce was fabulous – absolutely no heat in it but the flavor of the jalapeño. This is the first time I’ve tasted the jalapeño in a dish without the unwanted (to me) burning heat. Consider trying it – im so glad I did!
This is one of your best recipes ever! My husband is from Peru and he loves it just like the rest of my family. Thank you so much
Hi Jenn, first of all, your recipes are absolutely amazing! For the green sauce, I would like to substitute parsley and cumin for the cilantro as I am one of those folk who really dislike cilantro. Do you have any recommendations?
Hi Mary, what you want to do is perfectly fine with no other modifications. Enjoy!
Is there a different accompanying sauce you could recommend? None of us can abide cilantro.
You can stick with the sauce – I’d just replace the cilantro with flat-leaf parsley. Hope you enjoy!
One of the best chicken dishes I’ve made, and the sauce is good on EVERYTHING. Definitely a keeper.
I may have already reviewed this recipe as I first made it probably 10 years ago. I work with a large number of Hispanic coworkers and one day we got Peruvian chicken. It was years before it was so widely available. I was hooked and wanted to see if I could make it myself. I found this recipe. It was the very first Once Upon a Chef recipe I ever made. It is fabulous, and even cooked in an oven its pretty darned close to authentic. I haven’t tried the rotisserie on my grill but that is what I plan to do. A few years later I ran across Once Upon a Chef again and am now totally and completely devoted to Jenn and her recipes. I always look to her first if I am in need of a recipe.
I love this recipe. It is just delicious and the sauce can have many uses.
I can’t wait to make this!! One question: since you wait 20 minutes to carve the chicken, and the green sauce is in the refrigerator prior to serving, is the chicken served room temperature in the green sauce served cold? Or do you warm up the green sauce before serving?
Hi Susan, No, the chicken will still be hot when you cut it and the green sauce can be cold or you can take it out of the fridge while the chicken is cooking to get it close to room temperature. Hope that clarifies and that you enjoy!
Great recipe with tasty results. I marinated it overnight and put it on a rotisserie the next day. It turned out moist and delicious. Adding the marinade under the skin really infuses the flavor into the bird. I also love the green sauce and used only half a jalapeno pepper to give it a kick without it being overly spicy.
Made this last evening – totally luscious – possibly the BEST roast chicken we’ve ever done/had and we’ve had many. Because I didn’t follow the #1 rule of cooking to read the WHOLE recipe first, I missed the marinade for 6 to 24 hours part … and only had 4 hours to marinade. It was still divine! And the sauce? Other worldly!! What a delicious way to kick off 2023! Another amazing recipe, Jenn. Big thanks!