Peruvian Roast Chicken

This Peruvian roast chicken borrows its accent from a marinade of paprika, cumin, and garlic, which results in the dish’s amazing orange hue.

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

The amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat on this chicken is sorta spectacular. That’s to say nothing of its taste. But what’s just as spectacular about this roast chicken? That fact that you don’t require a special roasting pan to make it. You can essentially roast it in anything—we’ve used baking dishes, cast-iron skillets, just about anything. The only trick is that size does, indeed, matter. If the sides of the dish are too high, the chicken skin along the sides and bottom of your hen will turn steam and turn soggy rather than shatteringly crisp. Too large a dish and the lovely jus (that’s French for unspeakably flavorful juices that the chicken exudes into the roasting pan) will evaporate in a hot oven. And trust us, you don’t want to miss a drop of these lovely juices. What you need is something that’s not too big, not too small, but just the right size. We find that something along the lines of a 12- to 14-inch cast-iron or ovenproof skillet works quite nicely. Originally published January 24, 2011.Renee Schettler Rossi

Peruvian Roast Chicken

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 1 H, 45 M
  • Serves 4
5/5 - 4 reviews
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  • For the Peruvian roast chicken
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Fine sea salt
  • One (4-pound) whole chicken
  • 1 lemon, cut into quarters
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons 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
  • 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


  • Make the Peruvian roast chicken
  • 1. Finely chop the garlic cloves. Using the flat side of the knife’s blade, scrape and chop and mash the garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of salt into a paste.
  • 2. Pull off any excess fat surrounding the cavity of the chicken and discard it. Rinse and pat the chicken dry, inside and out, and place the chicken on a plate. Rub the chicken all over with 2 of the lemon quarters, then discard the lemon quarters.
  • 3. Slip a finger under the chicken skin at the edge of the cavity and run it along the breasts and thighs to gently loosen the skin. Gently work a little of the garlic paste between the chicken skin and meat, being careful not to tear the skin and rubbing your hand along the surface of the skin to smooth the paste and push it past where you can reach with your hand.
  • 4. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, 2 tablespoons of the wine, the oil, paprika, cumin, black pepper, and oregano. Place the chicken in a 2-gallon resealable bag or a baking dish and pour the marinade on top. Turn the bird several times to coat. Seal the bag or cover the chicken and refrigerate for 5 to 8 hours, turning the chicken once or twice if you think of it.
  • 5. Preheat the oven to 425ºF (220°C). Adjust the oven rack to the middle position.
  • 6. Transfer the chicken to a baking dish or heavy frying pan (see LC Note preceding the recipe), pouring the marinade into a small bowl and scraping any thick bits of spices that cling to the container into the bowl. Squeeze the 2 remaining lemon quarters into the cavity of the bird and toss the lemon quarters into the cavity. If desired, tie the legs together with kitchen string. Season the chicken all over with 1 teaspoon of salt. Set the reserved marinade aside.
  • 7. Roast the bird in the oven for 15 minutes, then baste with some of the marinade. Reduce the heat to 375ºF (190°C) and continue to roast, basting every 20 minutes with the marinade and the pan juices, for an hour. Discard the marinade. Then roast for 15 minutes more, for a total of 1 1/2 hours, until the juices of the chicken run clear when the thigh is pierced with a fork and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165ºF (74°C). Allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes after you remove it from the oven.
  • Make the salad
  • 8. A little while before you take the chicken from the oven, peel and halve each avocado. Remove the pits and cube the avocados. Place the avocados, onion, cilantro, lime juice, oil and a generous pinch of salt in a bowl and toss to coat the avocado with lime juice. Set aside to allow the flavors to meld.
  • Get the food on the table
  • 9. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board. If you have a fat separator, now’s the time to use it. If you don’t have one, tip the baking dish so you can see the oil separating from the pan juices. Using a soup spoon, skim off and discard most of the oil. Place the baking dish over medium-high heat and bring the juices to a simmer. Add the remaining wine and simmer, scraping any bits from the bottom and sides of the dish, simmer for 3 minutes. (If your baking dish isn’t flameproof, pour the juices into a saucepan and proceed with the simmering.)
  • 10. Carve the bird, toss the avocado salad once again, and pour the pan sauce into a serving bowl to pass on the side.

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.

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.

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 is a simple and very delicious roast chicken recipe 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.

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.

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.

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

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

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

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



    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.

  8. 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!

  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.

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

  10. 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!

  11. 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).

  12. 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.

  13. 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!

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