Pollo al Ajillo (Garlic Chicken)

It’s starting to get a little chilly here in the Florida panhandle, which is a welcome change from our typical summer heat. At the same time, this weather has me scrambling to do some last-minute grilling before the grilling season ends. This week’s recipe is perfect for that dwindling window of opportunity to spend time outdoors; it takes a few minutes to prep the marinade (which tastes best when left overnight), then you just throw the chicken on a grill and swing by later to pick it up when it’s done.

Pollo al Ajillo (Garlic Chicken) is a popular Spanish simmered chicken dish, characterized by its generous use of garlic. It is believed that the inclusion of garlic was because this dish was originally prepared with rabbit, and the garlic masked the rabbit’s gamey taste. Pollo al Ajillo also exists in some Caribbean and Latin American regions, and is especially popular in Cuba, where they tend to roast the chicken instead of simmering it. This recipe is modeled after the Cuban version, which also uses citrus fruit (in this case, orange juice) to help tenderize the meat.

Pollo al Ajillo (Garlic Chicken)

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

2 heads garlic (about 25 cloves), peeled
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tbsp black pepper
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp paprika
6 bay leaves
5 lbs bone-in chicken thighs, drumsticks, or leg quarters

1. Combine all of the marinade ingredients (minus the bay leaves) then blend in a blender or food processor. Combine with the bay leaves and chicken in a plastic resealable bag and marinate for at least four hours, overnight preferred.

2. Prepare your grill for indirect, high-heat grilling (about 400F on the cool side of the grill); for a charcoal grill, bank the charcoal to one side of the grill. For a gas grill, turn on the burners on only one side, to their highest setting. Place the chicken on the cool side of the grill, skin-side up, and roast until golden and its liquid runs clear when pierced (165F for those with a quick-read thermometer), about 35 minutes.

3. Let rest for five minutes, then serve.

24 thoughts on “Pollo al Ajillo (Garlic Chicken)

  1. Is this recipe paleo-friendly? It looks amazing, but with the o.j. I would think it’s not ok for low-carb high-fat diets.


    1. Hi Tracy, there are many interpretations of what constitutes Paleo, and LCHF is one of them. So I would say that this recipe is indeed Paleo-friendly but not necessarily zero-carb friendly.


    1. Hi Erinn, you can roast the chicken in an oven. I would place it on a baking sheet lined with a wired rack and roast it at 400F until its juices run clear, about 40-50 minutes. The wire rack is important to let air circulate around the chicken and cook it evenly.


  2. Made this this evening… It was gorgeous as are all your recipes! Made a beautiful gravy from the marinade too – thank you!


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