Peruvian Roast Chicken

This Peruvian roast chicken borrows its Latin American accent from a marinade of paprika, cumin, lemon, and garlic, creating an amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat color and a really quite spectacular taste.

Chicken roasted red with paprika in a casserole dish and plate of lime wedges on a wooden table

Peruvian Roast Chicken

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 1 H, 45 M
  • Serves 4
5/5 - 7 reviews
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Ingredients

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  • For the Peruvian roast chicken
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Fine sea salt
  • One (4-pound) chicken
  • 1/2 lemon, cut into 2 wedges
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • For the salad (optional)
  • 2 avocados
  • 1/2 to 3/4 of a small red onion, very thinly sliced and soaked in ice water for 10 minutes to lessen its bite
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro leaves, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 1 large lime)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse sea salt

Directions

  • Make the Peruvian roast chicken
  • 1. Using the flat side of a knife blade, mash the garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of salt together into a paste.
  • 2. Rinse and pat the chicken dry, inside and out, and put the chicken on a plate. Rub the chicken all over with the lemon quarters.
  • 3. Slip your fingers underneath the skin to loosen it. Slide the garlic paste between the skin and chicken, being careful not to tear the skin. Then smooth the skin to evenly distribute the paste.
  • 4. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, 2 tablespoons wine, the oil, paprika, cumin, black pepper, and oregano.
  • 5. Place the chicken in a baking dish and slather it with the marinade. Turn the bird several times to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 5 to 8 hours, turning the chicken once or twice.
  • 6. Preheat the oven to 425ºF (220°C). Adjust the oven rack to the middle position.
  • 7. Transfer the chicken to a small roasting pan or 12- to 14-inch cast iron skillet. Don’t toss out the marinade.
  • 8. Squeeze the lemon quarters into the cavity of the hen and then toss them in. If desired, tie the legs together with kitchen string. Season the chicken all over with 1 teaspoon salt.
  • 9. Roast the bird for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375ºF (190°C). Dump the marinade over the bird and roast, basting occasionally with the pan juices, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thigh reads 165ºF (74°C), about 75 minutes more.
  • Make the salad
  • 10. Halve each avocado and dice. Toss the avocados with everything else in a bowl.
  • Get the food on the table
  • 11. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it rest a few minutes.
  • 12. Skim the fat floating on the juices in the roasting pan. Place the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Add the remaining 1/4 cup wine and simmer, stirring and scraping the pan, for 3 minutes.
  • 13. Carve the bird, toss the avocado salad again, and pass the pan sauce on the side. Graciously accept all applause, kudos, and marriage proposals. Originally published January 24, 2011.

Recipe Testers Reviews

We loved this chicken dish and served it with roasted green beans. It was easy to prepare, and the flavor was wonderful. The chicken had a beautiful color. It did take my chicken about 20 minutes longer to cook than stated in the recipe. Next time, I’ll either cut up the chicken or cook it breast side down so the thighs can get more heat. The avocado salad was a nice combination of flavors to serve with this chicken, and very easy to prepare. I just felt it called for too much olive oil, so I’ll reduce the amount next time. As for my concerns, I personally would never baste a chicken using the same marinade without boiling it first. I brought mine to a boil before I started basting the chicken.

I was a little worried when I started to make this dish because I wondered if the chicken would have a strong garlic taste. I followed the recipe exactly, and cooked the bird in a cast-iron skillet. The chicken was as moist and juicy as any I have ever had, and the flavor combination was unusual but wonderful. Making the sauce in the same pan also worked great to get all the little bits. We didn’t love the avocado salad quite as much as the chicken, however. I did soak the onions as suggested, and I only added a tablespoon of the cilantro leaves, but the flavor combination was just OK. I’ll make the chicken again, just not the salad.

The flavors of this dish came together beautifully, and with frequent basting, the chicken turned out very moist. The cool flavors of the avocado salad were the perfect accompaniment to the slightly spicy, smoky flavors of the chicken. I used an oval Le Creuset pan, which worked very well for roasting the chicken. Though I ran out of marinade halfway through the cooking process, I continued basting with the hot pan juices. Soaking the onions in water worked very well to take the bite out of the onions. TIP: Make the avocado salad while the chicken is roasting rather than waiting until the chicken is out of the oven. The components of the salad need some time to meld, which is better achieved by making it earlier, covering it, and holding it in the refrigerator. The pan sauce can quickly and easily be made at the end. It is absolutely delicious with the flavors from the roasting juices of the chicken.

This Peruvian chicken gets a “The One We Love” designation in my recipe file. The spice blend, along with the garlic paste, made a very flavorful baked chicken, while the baking procedure of starting the chicken in a hot oven and reducing the temperature produced a moist and tender bird. Since my family is small, leftovers are a fact of life. I re-warmed the chicken two days later and, although the skin was no longer crisp, the chicken tasted exactly like it did initially. One caveat regarding the amount of garlic: five cloves is a lot of garlic. My family likes garlic, but I’d be cautious about serving it to guests just based on that amount alone. I also have an issue with calling the spice blend a marinade—to me, it was more of a wet rub, as there wasn’t enough liquid to be a true marinade. I added additional tablespoons of wine to the bag in order to cover the chicken evenly. The combination of the creamy and somewhat tart avocado salad with the spicy chicken produced a blast of flavor on the tongue and a fabulous color combination on the plate. This recipe has become a member of my go-to baked chicken recipes.

The bird came out quite juicy and flavorful, with a crisp skin, while the avocado salad provides a little richness and acidity. There wasn’t, however, much juice in the pan to make any sort of pan sauce— it was mostly oil and fond. Overall, this chicken is easy to make if you have the time to let it marinate.

This was a delicious way to roast chicken. The marinade yielded a wonderful, rich flavor from the spices, oil, wine and white wine vinegar. I also liked the garlicky flavor from rubbing the paste under the skin. The final touches of lemon juice before marinating, and then adding additional juice to the cavity before roasting, seemed to make it all come together with a bright flavor. The juicy, tender chicken was complemented by the crunchy bites of the avocado and onion salad. I’d make this salad again, with or without the chicken. Everything went together wonderfully.

The ingredients in this Peruvian chicken recipe give it a superb garlicky, spicy flavour with a hint of citrus. Using lime juice to make the dressing for the avocado salad compliments the chicken, and rounds out a really nice flavour experience with a tangy coolness. The method of loosening the skin to put various wonderful flavours underneath—and then seasoning the outside and inside—is the best way to prepare a whole chicken. I invariably end up with crisp skin, and a wonderful, well-flavoured, juicy meat. My five garlic cloves were a bit on the large side, so I had about 1/4 cup of purée to spread under the skin—but I’m a garlic lover, so this was OK with me.

I thought the chicken was great, but the avocado salad can be a bit unpredictable. Use very fresh onions, otherwise you may be overwhelmed with onion flavor. I made the chicken on one day, reheated it after I carved the bird and then made the salad before serving, and I think this helped the chicken’s flavors mature, when compared to the flavors straight from the oven. This is a great weekend dish, and makes equally great leftovers for weekday lunches.

All said and done, this chicken was moist and flavorful, and the avocado salad added a bright tone to the meal. I liked that the ingredients were easy to find—for the most part, I had everything on-hand. It was really easy to get the mashed garlic under the skin of the chicken, and in the end, the garlic didn’t overwhelm the dish. Before roasting, I not only tied the legs together, but I also tucked the wing tips under the bird. I placed the chicken on a rack in my catch-all roasting pan, and that worked just fine. Next time, I’ll flip the bird about halfway through the cooking time. The accompanying avocado salad was really simple and light, pairing perfectly with the chicken. I wouldn’t change a thing.

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Comments

  1. This is a flavorful alternative to the usual roast chicken that we’re fond of in our home. We prepared the marinade the night before, so the chicken was marinating in the roasting pot (I didn’t use a bag) for about 24 hours. Even though I cooked the chicken about 10 degrees higher than the recipe called for (by accident), it still was very tender. We served this with roasted acorn squash in a chile-lime vinaigrette, and it paired so well with the avocado salad and chicken—all the flavors and textures were fantastically balanced. Overall, this was a simple and straightforward recipe with clear instructions throughout.

  2. This is a simple and very delicious roast chicken that appeals to everyone. Most of the ingredients you already have in your pantry. I recommend, as the recipe says, using a large sealable plastic bag for the marinating. The marinade really permeated the chicken, rendering it moist and flavorful. I served the avocado salad in a ramekin next to the chicken, and a friend brought those wonderful Peruvian potatoes (Papas a la Huancaina). Two caveats: don’t expect a crisp skin out of this recipe if that’s what you love about roasting a chicken. Also, I used a slightly larger chicken, and it was done in much less time than the recipe suggests. I left off the last 20 minutes of cooking and basting time.

  3. I thought this recipe had an interesting amalgamation of seasonings, with the added salad providing an extra kick of flavor. This is a very nice weekday meal that can also be served for weekend guests, as it’s a new take on a dish anyone can prepare with very little trouble. The ingredients are readily available, and the skill level to prepare this is suited for any level of expertise. If I were to change the dish, I might add some peppers to the avocado salad to add a little heat, or maybe add some diced mango.

    1. Thanks Cleo. Those are excellent suggestions on ways to elevate the salad. Let us know how it turns out the next time!

  4. Among ingredients I see “1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons white wine”. I see 2 tablespoons white wine used in step 4. The 1/4 cup? Nowhere to see.

    How much confidence can I still have in the recipe or the testers’ comments?

    1. Zalman, you can have a complete and utter confidence. If you check in step 9, you’ll see that it says to use the rest of the wine. So all of it is accounted for. I hope you enjoy the recipe.

      1. Step 9. Step 9? I was already elsewhere by step 7. There’s no end to this. I was disappointed that I couldn’t understand and try the recipe.
        I must leave now, have to go to step 11. Thank your for your help.

        1. Zalman, I always remember what Julie Child said repeated, “Read the recipe first!” Thanks for bringing this to our attention, and we’ll work to make it clearer, if you chose to come back.

  5. Not authentic Peruvian roast chicken with absence of Aji Amarillo paste,which is a yellow hot pepper paste. DONA ISABEL is a good brand available on Amazon for around $8.00 for 7 OZ. jar and is made in Peru. Pollo a la Brasa accompanied by Aji Verde can be found on the interwebs.

    1. Thanks, low and slow. We’re very familiar with the charms of aji amarillo, although we just don’t find the jarred versions to be quite as nice as the paste you can make with the frozen aji amarillo found in the freezer case of many South American grocery stores. But we’ll try the one you recommend! Appreciate the reminder!

  6. I have one of those fancy Perdue Oven Roaster birds, weighs about 7 1/2 pounds … any major changes ? By the way… Your Carnitas Recipe was off the hook, absolutely wonderful !

    1. Just the timing, Paul. You’re going to need to roast it probably at least 25 minutes longer is my guess, but keep an eye on the temperature. And you may need to loosely tent it so it doesn’t overbrown. If you have a Thermapen or an instant read thermometer, this is the perfect time to use it.

  7. Kim, I can’t understand the insistence on boiling the marinade. 15 min @ 375 should be more than enough to kill off any ‘bugs’ it might be harboring, no?

    1. Judi, I think it would, but Kim is being extra careful–a good thing, especially as a caution for novice cooks. A little extra prudence never hurt anyone (or any chicken).

  8. I made this last night for dinner and it was great! Absolutely loved the garlic paste under the skin and the avocado salad was a hit. Will make this one again for sure. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Nancy, so glad you liked it. What did you add to your salad to go with the leftover chicken?

  9. I can’t wait to try this! But–what is the baking vessel in the picture? I think I’m in love with it.

  10. Our family enjoyed this on a randomly drizzly Sunday evening, and I do mean enjoyed. Our 15-year old son even awarded high marks to the avocado salad. There’s a kudos! Nice piquancy to the lime dressing. I heartily recommend following through with the sauce. Aside from the glorious bird and rich but sparky salad, I served garlicky mashed potatoes into which I folded some diced up peppadew peppers. Hurray!

  11. What a lovely bird! I adore a roasted chicken on Sunday and this looks is sooooooo easy! Pan sauce, my new favorite condiment…

    Fabulous!

    Lisa
    xox

    1. Lisa,
      This is definitely an easy bird to prepare. It also tastes as good as it looks! If you are interested in a similar type of preparation, but for the grill, try Grilled Roast Chicken.

  12. Sounds like a delicious recipe, but my understanding is that there is no point in washing chickens; that contaminates the work area while serving no purpose . I always put the chicken on a piece of wax paper on the counter for hygienic reasons and easy clean-up. If it is wet, just blot it with a paper towel. And it is better to advance prep the vinegar mixture before the garlic mixture in order to not have to keep washing one’s hands unnecessarily (especially in the winter).

    1. Katie, yes, you’re correct. The FDA states that it’s better to pat the bird dry with paper towels. The water from rinsing can contaminate the work area. When posting recipes from authors, we try, as often as we can, to present the work as they did, which is what we did here. But thanks for the call out–it’s much appreciated. I like your solution of wax paper.

  13. Yes, you must make the jus! We are a gravy family and my husband actually told me the jus was better than my gravy! And my teenager tried to steal everyone’s crispy skin to eat herself! This recipe has been put into our regular monthly dish rotation.

  14. MMMmmmm – can imagine what this tastes like on a lazy Sunday afternoon w/friends and family around the table. Add a potato dish and wine and I’m in heaven!

  15. Love roasted chicken, and this avocado salad sounds so refreshing. I’ve never used vinegar in roasted chicken, just citrus fruits. Will have to give this try!

    1. Jeanette, did you end up trying it out? I’m totally in your boat with using citrus but never vinegar, though with white wine vinegar and chicken what could be bad? Curious to know how yours turned out!

  16. Nothing like ending a weekend by cooking a whole bird, whether it be chicken, pheasant, or turkey…it’s always a crowd pleaser and the leftovers are wonderful.

  17. Roast Chicken is always a good idea, in any culture :)

    It’s so easy to make and there is usually left overs.

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