Peruvian Chicken

Peruvian Chicken Recipe

Every Peruvian restaurant that serves Peruvian roast chicken has its own secret recipe for the mysterious condiment known as aji verde. This Peruvian chicken recipe and the accompanying green sauce is the closest I could get. If you can’t find aji amarillo paste, which is sold in Latin grocery stores and some regular supermarkets in the international aisle, just increase the amount of jalapeños to three. This recipe was inspired by Pio Pio in Queens.–Andrea Lynn

LC How to Serve it Note

This roast chicken is as close as we’ve come to that terrific pollo a la brasa at your local Peruvian joint—you know, the place that has those enormous spits crammed full of chickens that they serve with the crazy addictive green sauce in those teensy plastic thimbles. Except this recipe comes minus the long wait in line. [Editor’s Note: One place where we’ll gladly wait in line is Edy’s on Leesburg Pike in northern Virginia.] But back to that green sauce. Each of our testers who tried this recipe raved about it, including Melissa Maedgen, who had this to say: “The sauce is so versatile, I’d recommend going ahead and making a double batch, as you’ll want to try it on everything.” We concur. We’re talking fries, rice, tacos, eggs, steak, potatoes—name it and you can pretty much rest assured that the green sauce will be spectacular with it. Our compliments to the brilliant and talented Andrea Lynn who devised this recipe.

Peruvian Chicken Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 1 H
  • Serves 4


  • For the chicken marinade
  • 1/2 cup beer (preferably a pilsner or an ale)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 3 1/2-pound whole chicken, cut into pieces
  • For the sauce
  • 2 fresh jalapenos, including seeds and ribs, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon aji amarillo paste (or substitute 1 jalapeño)
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cotija cheese or Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1/3 cup store bought or homemade mayonnaise
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Make the chicken
  • 1. In a large resealable plastic bag or container, add all the marinade ingredients and combine. Add the chicken. Seal and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.
  • 2. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  • 3. Remove the chicken from the marinade, pat it dry with paper towels, and place it in a roasting pan. Discard the marinade. Roast the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, which will hover somewhere around 45 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of your hen.
  • Make the sauce
  • 4. While the chicken is in the oven, combine the jalapeños, aji amarillo paste (or extra jalapeño), cilantro, cheese, garlic, oil, vinegar, and lime juice in a blender or food processor. Blend on high speed until a smooth paste forms. Add the mayonnaise, salt, and pepper and blend until combined.
  • 5. Serve the chicken with the green sauce on the side. Unused green sauce can be stored in a covered container for up to 1 week (as if it will last that long).
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Recipe Testers Reviews

Recipe Testers Reviews
Testers Choice
Jo Ann Brown

Aug 23, 2015

This a fabulous all-season recipe. While the Peruvian chicken is good, the aji verde condiment is so, so, so great! I opted to marinate the chicken for 24 hours. The next day, the meat had a gorgeous garnet tint to it that will remind you somewhat of tandoori. My bird was 3 pounds, so the total roasting time was about 45 minutes. I suggest using a sheet pan rather then a roasting pan. This will produce a crisper skin, which is my personal preference. While the chicken was roasting, I threw all the condiment ingredients into the VitaMix and gave them a medium whirl. I tasted the sauce and made no adjustments. However, I was so smitten by how righteous this sauce was that I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to capture every last drop out of the blender jar. Why? Because this aji verde is so good that I knew my husband was going to devour whatever I had just made. All I wanted was a little left over for Monday's office lunch. I served the chicken on a bed of butter lettuce with a side of crisp french fries.

Testers Choice
Melissa Maedgen

Aug 23, 2015

I just loved this roast Peruvian chicken recipe and the aji verde that went with it. The chicken came out juicy and nicely seasoned. As I have to eat gluten-free, I used a gluten-free beer in the marinade. I chose New Planet Tread Lightly Ale, and I thought it worked nicely in this recipe. I marinated the chicken slightly less than 24 hours. The roasting time was about 50 minutes. The green sauce was served at the table to spoon over the chicken after the bird was carved. The green sauce has a nice kick to it and was fantastic on the chicken. It also made a nice dip for the French fries we had to go with the meal and was very good as a sauce with my morning breakfast taco the next day. The sauce is so versatile that I’d recommend going ahead and making a double batch, as you’ll want to try it on everything. I do think the cheese could be omitted.

I find aji amarillo paste at a local supermarket that caters to a Hispanic and Caribbean population and has a Peruvian section. If you can’t find it locally, you can order it on Amazon. Or you could devise a substitution by roasting and skinning a yellow bell pepper and a couple habañeros, and puréeing them together until perfectly smooth. But I do think the aji amarillo paste is worth seeking out, as it's an essential ingredient in many Peruvian dishes, such as causa, and it has a unique flavor that you just won’t get with a substitute.

Testers Choice
Pat Francis

Aug 23, 2015

I love the flavors of Peruvian food, especially the tartness of abundant lime juice, and this Peruvian chicken recipe delivers. The marinade infuses the chicken with a subtle flavor and ensures the chicken is moist, despite the high oven temperature. This recipe takes a little advance planning, but everything pulls together pretty quickly after the marinating is done. Once the chicken is in the oven, it takes only a few minutes to whip up the green sauce. The chicken was crisp and juicy and the green sauce had an acidic bite to it and plenty of heat. The heat could be moderated by not including all (or some) of the jalapeno seeds. The dark meat hit temperature after roasting for 50 minutes. The breast meat took an additional 10 minutes. The chicken then rested for about 10 minutes before serving. Since I had the aji amarillo paste on hand, I prepared causa, a favorite Peruvian mashed potato dish that also uses the pepper condiment, to accompany the chicken. I had grated some excess cojita cheese, and that was good sprinkled on a green salad. The beer I used for the marinade was Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. The chicken marinated for 24 hours. The green sauce was served on the side, and we spooned it over the chicken. A couple of days after making the Peruvian chicken, I added some of the excess green sauce to mashed avocados for a spicy guacamole. Normally, I prefer guacamole very simple, but that was good. I think I'm going to add some extra mayo to the green sauce that's left and try it as a dipping sauce for fried oysters.

Testers Choice
Robert Castagna

Aug 23, 2015

I found that the beer, lime, and cumin gave the chicken a nice flavor. In the aji verde, I used Parmesan cheese and substituted a jalapeño for the paste. I marinated the chicken for 12 hours. The chicken cooked for 45 minutes. I served each plate with a bed of yellow rice, a dollop of sauce, and a portion of the chicken on top. I made the recipe using just 2 skinless chicken breasts and a light stout in the marinade. After the chicken was cooked, I cut it into 1-inch pieces for easy eating. I finished the plates off with sprigs of fresh cilantro.

Testers Choice
Sita Krishnaswamy

Aug 23, 2015

I love this Peruvian chicken recipe because you can assemble all the ingredients the night before, bake it the next day, and voilà! You have an amazing dinner. I marinated the chicken for about 18 hours, which made it most amazingly moist. I roasted the chicken for about 35 minutes, and it rendered a juicy chicken with crisp skin. I didn't find aji amarillo, so I added an extra jalapeño to the sauce. I didn't find any cotija cheese, either, so I added 2 tablespoons Parmesan. I felt that the sauce lacked a certain bite that I desired, so I added 1/2 habañero pepper, and it definitely gave the sauce a lovely flavor. I served the chicken with roast potatoes flavored with toasted coriander and cumin powder and poured the sauce over the potatoes. They were just perfect.

Testers Choice
Karen Lynch

Aug 23, 2015

As the temps outside drop, the heat of this Peruvian chicken recipe provided reminders of tropical flavors. I marinated the chicken for about 15 hours and then roasted it for about 45 minutes. I couldn't find the aji amarillo paste, so I did as suggested and upped the jalapeños. I served the sauce on the side and let my diners decide how much heat they wanted to experience. All the flavors came together to create a tropical dish that was nice to experience with rice. A mango salsa would also be nice with this. I might try adding some sauce to the marinade in the future.

  1. Karen says:

    Everyone loves-loves-loves cilantro, but I’m one of those pitiable creatures who can’t appreciate it (according to a story on NPR, I’m lacking one of the olfactory sensors necessary to distinguish its flavor from soap). So … the chicken sounds and looks luscious, but what about the sauce? Would substituting parsley for the cilantro be a good move? Or can anyone suggest an entirely different sauce that would go with the flavors in the chicken?

    • David Leite says:

      Karen, you’re not pitiable–maybe, not enviable. I adore cilantro, The One not so much. I think parsley would be a perfectly fine substitute. You can even use parsley for the bulk of the herbs, and round it out with others. Won’t make or break it.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Actually, Karen, I’m going to trump David here and caution against substituting parsley. I’ve had Peruvian green sauce more times than I can recall (my husband’s mother is from Peru and he loves to try Peruvian restros wherever we go) and I honestly can’t see the flavor of parsley playing terribly nicely with the other ingredients in this sauce. I really think you’d be disappointed, not because it’s not authentic but because the flavors may just sorta collide with one another forcefully. If you try it, please let me know how it goes! Otherwise, you could perhaps swap a chimichurri or your other fave green sauce for this. I’ve often swapped parsley for cilantro in salads, frittatas, marinades, and the like, but with the particular combination of ingredients, I just don’t think it’s a go.

      • Chef Diane Perkins says:

        I just roasted 2 chickens following the Peruvian Chicken recipe recently posted. It’s a very good recipe. Frankly I am a BIG fan of the one you posted a few years back.,,,, but I digress.

        I am very sympathetic to the lady who thinks cilantro tastes like soap. Living in Santa Fe where this ingredient is fairly common, I run into people who don’t like it more often than chefs in other areas might.

        I have had success in substituting pickles for cilantro—-cornichons. I got the idea from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Cooking. I Love salsa verde and she has a version with pickles or cucumber. I happened to have both in the house this morning, so I made a batch of the sauce with the pickles and a batch with English seedless cucumbers. I would have difficulty choosing between the two and the cilantro non tasters among us will not be offended. Like Ms. Rossi, I object to the substitution of parsley for cilantro. I don’t think it’s a good swap…..especially in recipes with cumin.

        So, sorry David, but try the pickles or cucumbers.

        Chef Diane Perkins
        Santa Fe

        • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

          Chef Diane, this is perfect and lovely. Many, many kind thanks for tipping us off to this brilliant trick!

  2. Renee says:

    I’m going to agree with Renee S. on the cilantro-parsley issue. I can’t quite work my taste buds around parsley in this. Mint and basil are sometimes used in Peru, but I can’t quite make that work in my virtual taste buds, either.

    Allow me to float an idea: Would minced tomatillo as a substitute for the cilantro maybe provide the tart, herby notes without the “soap” notes that the cilantro-adverse object to?

    The Spice House sells aji amarillo chile powder now, which can be made into a paste by adding a bit of oil to it. It’s worth looking for as the flavor is so much more interesting then jalapeno, IMO. It’s wonderful on roasted potatoes and on eggs, too. (Haven’t tried it on popcorn yet, but only because I can’t stop putting their half-sharp paprika on my popcorn.)

    • David Leite says:

      It is a Renee Revolt!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Hey Renee, thanks for the tip about the aji amarillo chile powder! You can also, if you happen to ever be in a Peruvian grocery store, find frozen whole aji amarillo peppers by the bagful. My husband thaws ’em and blends ’em with a mild olive oil and some garlic for a truly spectacular paste, much like yours. And, like you, I adore it on eggs. (Kindred souls?!) It’s a very interesting proposal about the tomatillos. Ilove me a good tomatillo salsa and in fact have some little husked green guys in the fridge right now. If you were just using jalapeño in the green sauce, I would say absolutely toss in some jalapeños. But for some reason I just can’t see it with the aji amarillo…but that may just be me? Also, have you seen the new cookbook Peru by chef Gastón Acurio? Something tells me you’d really like it. Unlike most Peruvian cookbooks I’ve seen, he doesn’t go crazy in turning the traditional into something chimerical. He just sorta does things as they were meant to be.

  3. Susan Cohen says:

    I haven’t tried this recipe yet because there is not quite as long a line at the Crisp and Juicy on Lee Highway in Northern Virginia and their chicken is way better than Edy’s, they also serve the best yellow sauce ever to go with it.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      I recall both those places, Susan. And if I was within driving distance, I’d never bother to attempt homemade pollo a la brasa, either.

  4. Mike says:

    I followed the recipe exactly. I chose however, to roast it outdoors over a wood fire. It was terrific. I loved it so much that I’m going to celebrate the kick off of the Crimson Tide football season tonight by trying it with a batch of chicken wings for game time. With Mojito’s, of course.

    Thanks one again for turning me on to another ingredient. This market had a variety of different Peruvian chili pastes. Woo hoo!

    • David Leite says:

      Mike, you are more than welcome. So glad you liked the recipe.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Mike, so glad you’re a fiend for aji amarillo paste! Try it with eggs in the morning one of these times…

      • Mike says:

        This sauce, along with Brazilian Molho de alho, are standard stock in my fridge. My only suggestion is that since jalapenos can vary widely in their heat level, you should have a Serrano chili available for those instances where a more spicy sauce is desired (chicken wings for example).

        • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

          Terrific suggestion, Mike. Many thanks!

          • Mike says:

            In the last two months, I’ve added making this sauce each weekend to my honey-do’s. Sometime I double the amount of garlic if I’m going to have a meat-centric weekend or substitute serranos for jalapenos if fish tacos are in order. I’m going to make enchilada suizas today and see how it works with this sauce.

            Thank you from the bottom of my gut.

            • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

              Hah! You’re welcome from the bottom of mine, Mike! Am so glad you’ve found it to be so darn versatile. Love how you’ve tweaked it to be a staple. And now, thanks to you, I’ve a fierce craving fish tacos. Off to the store for some fish and tomatillos…

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