Chicken With Green Sauce

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Chicken with Green Sauce is one of those meals that’s so good, you can’t wait to make it again the next week. Then the next month. Then the next year. It’s on that rotating list of must-eat meals because everyone loves chicken thighs and this recipe will have your taste buds asking for more.

Peruvian-Style Roast Chicken with Green Sauce

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.

Peruvian-Style Roast Chicken with Green Sauce

By Jennifer Segal (Green Sauce adapted from The Serious Eats Food Lab by J. Kenji López-Alt)

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
  • 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

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 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.
  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.

Peruvian Chicken with Creamy Green Sauce

This Peruvian Chicken with Creamy Green Sauce packs in big flavors thanks to the easy marinade and vibrant green sauce. It’s the perfect way to add some international flair to your next barbecue!

Plate of chicken drizzled with creamy green sauce.

Disclosure: This post was originally published in July 2016. It was updated in July 2021 to add new photographs and information. The recipe remains the same. 

There’s no arguing that grilled chicken is a great summer meal. But if you’re craving some big, bold, and zesty flavors, you need to try this Peruvian Chicken with Creamy Green Sauce instead.

This chicken has all of the flavors going on thanks to an easy marinade. Marinating boneless chicken thighs in a mix of garlic, soy sauce, and cumin and serving it next to this amazing creamy green sauce gives this dish layers of intricate and authentic Peruvian flavors. 

Similar to my favorite Mojo Sauce and Peruvian Aji Verde, the vibrant green sauce in this recipe tastes like it came straight from Peru. Made with jalapeno, cilantro, and fresh lime juice, the flavor and texture are creamy but made tangier with the addition of Greek yogurt. It’s the perfect dipping sauce for this chicken but can also be used on salads, tacos, and roasted veggies!

I love this meal because it’s quick, casual, and unexpected. It’s the perfect choice when entertaining because the majority of the work can be done ahead of time! Finally, you can forget about babysitting the meat and spending hours cleaning the kitchen.

What is Peruvian chicken?

Peruvian grilled chicken, or Pollo a la Brasa, is similar to rotisserie or roasted chicken but marinated first in a mixture of lime juice, oil, garlic, and spices. My take on Pollo a la Brasa is made using boneless chicken thighs but you can easily swap these for a whole chicken, breasts, wings, or legs. This dish is best served next to a creamy and spicy green sauce made from jalapenos, mayonnaise, and cilantro, so be sure not to skip it!

How to make creamy green sauce

It’s easy! Just add all of the sauce ingredients (except the olive oil) to a blender and blend until smooth. Slowly drizzle in the oil with the motor running until it’s fully combined, then transfer the finished sauce to a bowl and refrigerate.

How to make marinated Peruvian chicken

Place the chicken thighs in a ziploc bag with the garlic, soy sauce, lime juice, oil, cumin, paprika, oregano, and black pepper. Let it marinate for 8 to 24 hours.

Grill the Peruvian chicken on an oiled grill grate over medium-high heat. Flip it once and continue cooking until the chicken is done.

Can I roast the chicken?

If you prefer to cook indoors, you can roast the chicken in a 500ºF oven for about 30 minutes. Afterward, tent the pan in foil and cook for an additional 15 minutes or until the chicken is browned and fully cooked.

Overhead shot of grilled chicken on plate with green sauce.

Tips and substitutions

  • You can leave the mayo out of the green sauce. Just use more Greek yogurt in its place or swap in some sour cream or Mexican crema.
  • If you aren’t sure if the chicken thighs are cooked, use a meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature. Boneless chicken thighs are fully cooked when their internal temperature reads 165ºF.
  • If you really like spice, substitute the jalapenos in the green sauce for serrano peppers.
  • If the green sauce is too spicy, use only 1 or 2 jalapenos and make sure to remove the seeds and veins from inside the pepper first.
  • You can make this recipe with a whole chicken, breasts, legs, wings, or any cut of chicken you prefer.
  • Make the green sauce with ajî Amarillo (Peruvian yellow pepper) paste instead of jalapenos for a more authentic flavor.

Wine pairing for Peruvian grilled chicken:

  • Vinho Verde is high in acidity, which makes it ideal for pairing with the rich and creamy green sauce served with this chicken.

Peruvian-Style Grilled Chicken With Green Sauce Recipe

Tender and slow-cooked with a vinegar and spice rub.

Peruvian-style grilled chicken with green sauce.

WHY IT WORKS

  • Butterflying the chicken ensures that it cooks evenly on the grill, even without a rotisserie.
  • A vinegary, spice-filled marinade evokes the best restaurant versions of the dish.
  • Using mayonnaise as a base for the spicy, tangy green sauce makes it creamy and rich. A mix of jalapeños and ají amarillo peppers bring fruity heat.

This Peruvian-style grilled chicken is a recipe I back-hacked from the awesome chicken and green sauce they serve at Pio Pio in NYC. The basics are simple: Butterflied chicken with a vinegar and spice rub gets slow-cooked on the grill, then quickly cooked directly over the coals to crisp the skin. It comes out tender and juicy, and goes perfectly with a simple spicy and creamy sauce made with jalapeños and ají amarillo peppers.

Making Green Sauce

When it comes to that kind of Peruvian roast chicken, it’s all about the green sauce, right? I mean, sure, the tender chicken, kissed with the smoke of a live fire and a hint of spices and garlic, is pretty damn good on its own, but it’s that green sauce—spicy, tangy, and cooling—that keeps us coming back for more, right?

Luckily, the sauce is not too difficult to make: a tangy mayonnaise base, pepped up with a squeeze of lime juice and lemon, along with the heat of fresh jalapeños and a big handful of cilantro. The key is to season it pretty heavily. When made right, it will have a powerful but balanced combination of salty, acidic, spicy, and creamy elements. It’s great on grilled chicken, awesome as a salad dressing, perfect for dipping fries into, a nice accompaniment to grilled corn, and excellent drizzled over grilled chicken hash the morning after.

Peruvian grilled chicken marinade in a small metal bowl on a wooden cutting board.

Prepping the Chicken and Marinade

The best Peruvian roast chicken restaurants cook their chickens on rotisseries, slowly rotating in front of a live flame, fat rendering out from the skin and dripping around and through the meat, distributing flavor and ensuring that the chickens cook evenly. Fortunately, we already know that you don’t need a rotisserie to get moist, crispy results from your home grill. All you’ve got to do is butterfly the bird.

Once you’ve perfected the basic grilled chicken recipe, the jump to a perfect Peruvian-style grilled chicken is pretty simple. The key is the right marinade. Cumin, paprika, and garlic (freshly minced, please!) are all typical ingredients, as is vinegar. I like to add plenty of salt and black pepper and a couple of tablespoons of oil to make a paste that I can rub all over the chicken.

A spatchcocked chicken held in place with a skewer and rubbed with spice mixture for Peruvian grilled chicken.

How to Grill Peruvian Chicken

From there, I simply follow my typical grilled chicken procedure—a low, slow start on the cooler side of the grill, with the skin side up, until the skin has dried out and started rendering some of its fat, then a finish over the hot side of the grill, skin side down, to crisp and char it.

Grilled Peruvian-style chickens on a cutting board next to green sauce.

Make sure to make extra sauce, because you’re gonna want it on everything.

How to Grill a Whole Chicken

0 seconds of 2 minutes, 16 secondsVolume 90%

2:16

How to Grill a Whole Chicken

5

(20)

Prep:35 mins

Cook:60 mins

Active:30 mins

Total:95 mins

Serves:4 servings

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Ingredients

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For the Sauce:

  • 3 whole jalapeño chiles, roughly chopped (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) ají amarillo pepper paste (see note)
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves (1 ounce; 28g)
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) fresh juice from 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Chicken:

  • 1 whole chicken, 3 1/2 to 4 pounds (1.6 to 1.8kg)
  • 4 teaspoons (12g) kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons (18g) ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons (18g) paprika
  • 1 teaspoon (3g) freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) vegetable or canola oil

Directions

  1. For the Sauce: Combine jalapeños, ají amarillo (if using), cilantro, garlic, mayonnaise, sour cream, lime juice, and vinegar in the jar of a blender. Blend on high speed, scraping down sides as necessary, until smooth. With blender running, slowly drizzle in olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sauce will be quite loose at this point, but will thicken as it sits. Transfer to a sealed container and refrigerate until ready to use.Photo collage: blending ingredients for Peruvian chicken green sauce in a Vitamix blender.
  2. For the Chicken: Pat chicken dry with paper towels and place on a large cutting board, breast side down. Using sharp kitchen shears, remove backbone by cutting along either side of it. Turn chicken over and lay out flat. Press firmly on breast to flatten chicken. For added stability, run a metal or wooden skewer horizontally through chicken, entering through one thigh, going through both breast halves, and exiting through other thigh. Tuck wing tips behind back.Photo collage: Cutting out backbone and crushing breastbone to butterfly a whole chicken and using skewer to support.
  3. Combine salt, cumin, paprika, pepper, garlic, vinegar, and oil in a small bowl and massage with fingertips until homogeneous. Spread mixture evenly over all surfaces of chicken.Photo collage: Mixing ingredients for Peruvian chicken marinade and rubbing all over butterflied chicken before grilling.
  4. Light a chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread coals evenly over half of coal grate. Alternatively, set half the burners of a gas grill to high heat. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil grilling grate.Charcoal being poured into grill from a starter for Peruvian grilled chicken.
  5. Place chicken, skin side up, on cooler side of grill, with legs facing toward hotter side. Cover grill, with vents on lid open and aligned over chicken. Open bottom vents of grill. Cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast registers 110°F (43°C). Carefully flip chicken and place, skin side down, on hotter side of grill, with breasts pointed toward cooler side. Press down firmly with a wide, stiff spatula to ensure good contact between bird and grill grates. Cover and cook until skin is crisp and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast registers 145 to 150°F (63 to 66°C), about 10 minutes longer. If chicken threatens to burn before temperature is achieved, carefully slide to cooler side of grill, cover, and continue to cook until done. Do not leave the lid off for longer than it takes to check temperature, or chicken will burn.Photo collage: Grilling a whole Peruvian-style chicken on the grill, first on cooler side with legs facing coals; then flipped and pressed down on hotter side of grill.
  6. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Carve and serve with sauce.Whole grilled Peruvian-style chicken resting on cutting board before carving.

Notes

For a less spicy sauce, remove the ribs and seeds of the jalapeños before puréeing. Ají amarillo is a Peruvian yellow pepper paste that can be found in most Latin markets. It can be omitted.

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