Peruvian Roasted Chicken with Spicy Cilantro Sauce

This Peruvian Roasted Chicken with Spicy Cilantro Sauce (aka pollo a la brasa con ají verde) features an ají amarillo paste, cumin and oregano, and lime juice marinade… It is just as easy to do a Peruvian-style grilled chicken, so the choice is yours! Taking time to spatchcock the chicken makes for more even and quicker cooking, and results in a very moist bird. Served with Ají Verde (Peruvian green sauce), salsa huancaína (Peruvian yellow sauce), and/or salsa criolla, it’s a delicious way to change up your whole chicken game!

Roasted Peruvian Chicken with Spicy Cilantro Sauce in a baking dish with ají verde, Peruvian yellow sauce, sweet potatoes, and limes.

👩🏻‍🍳 Tamara Talks – About Butterflied or Spatchcocked Chicken

These 2 terms prompt a lot of debate in the culinary world. Haha. Until recently, I thought they were interchangeable. Alas, they are not! However, the difference is quite minor… whether you “butterfly” or “spatchcock” your chicken, you will get more even cooking, the breast is less likely to be dry, and you will save time!

Spatchcock is a specific kind of butterflying technique, for birds. It involves not only removing the backbone, but also the keel/breastbone, and often some mechanism to secure the bird in a flat position.

The food police do differentiate, but I don’t, and this is my blog. So, I will describe MY PROCESS:

  • Pat your chicken dry prior to getting started (slippery birds are dangerous!)
  • Remove the backbone with poultry shears by cutting along both sides first and then cutting off the end
  • Use the palm of your hand to press firmly down to flatten the chicken

This is the down-and-dirty method. You can certainly snip cartilage, remove the breast bone, and fasten the wings for a prettier result. As you can see from my photos, my chicken wasn’t “pretty.” I can, however, vouch for the fact that it was tender, juicy, and evenly cooked!

If you promise not to laugh, I do have a video that shows the process of butterflying a chicken. It was my first video and not well done!

📋 Ingredients for Grilled or Roasted Peruvian Chicken

  • chicken – This recipe is for a spatchcocked whole chicken. However, the marinade is great on any chicken pieces or on other meats as well.
  • fresh lime juice
  • ground cumin
  • garlic
  • ají amarillo paste – There really is no substitute for ají amarillo paste. You can substitute another pepper paste, but I cannot vouch for the results.
  • fresh oregano – Substitute dried oregano leaves if necessary.
  • Peruvian sauces – My favorite is ají verde sauce (spicy cilantro sauce). The photo above shows my huancaina sauce (Peruvian yellow sauce), and we love salsa criolla as well.
Ingredients assembled on a wood cutting board for the marinade for the Butterflied and Grilled Peruvian Style Chicken marinade.

📋 Ingredients for Spicy Cilantro Sauce

I’m including the ingredients for the spicy cilantro sauce/ají verde here. Please see the ají verde post for instructions.

  • cilantro
  • jalapeños
  • scallions
  • cotija – Feta is a good substitute.
  • ají amarillo paste – Available in the international foods section in many markets, and online.
  • huacatay paste – Available in the international foods section in many markets, and online.
  • lime juice – Please use fresh!
  • vinegar – White wine or other mild vinegar.
  • olive oil
  • mayonnaise
  • sea salt

🔪 Instructions for Grilled or Roasted Peruvian Chicken

Step 1 - The butterflied chicken on a copper baking sheet with poultry sheers.
  • Prepare the chicken – Using poultry shears (not kitchen shears) butterfly (or spatchcock) the chicken. Remove the backbone then press down firmly on the breast to flatten the bird.
Step 2 - The puréed marinade before it is smeared on the Butterflied and Grilled Peruvian Style Chicken.
  • Make the marinade – Add all marinade ingredients to a food processor. Pulse until smooth.
Step 3 - The butterflied chicken rubbed all over with marinade and resting in an orange bowl.
  • Marinate the chicken – Rub the prepared marinade all over the chicken. Gently lift the breast skin, and rub marinade beneath the skin as well. Reserve any remaining marinade for basting as it cooks. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight if you have the time.
Step 4 - Grill the butterflied Peruvian style chicken.
  • Cook the chicken – If grilling, preheat grill to medium heat. Place the prepared chicken on the grill with breast and skin side down. Grill slowly until the fat renders and the skin is golden brown, then turn the chicken over (15-20 minutes). Brush with marinade, and close the lid. While the chicken cooks, make the ají verde (spicy cilantro sauce), or other sauces.
  • Continue grilling until it is cooked through (another 20-30 minutes). Check it with an instant read thermometer to 160-165°. I usually do a small 3-4 pound chicken, and it is done in about 35-40 minutes. Tent with foil, and rest at least 10 minutes to allow juices to reabsorb.
  • If roasting the chicken, preheat your oven to 425°. Roast the chicken for 15 minutes at this temperature (breast up) before turning the temperature down to 375°. Baste with any additional marinade. Continue cooking until internal temperature reaches 160-165°. Tent with foil, and rest at least 10 minutes to allow juices to reabsorb.
  • NOTE: If you want to roast sweet potatoes alongside (it’s fantastic!), add them when you reduce the temperature. Cut them in fairly small pieces, and they should be tender when the chicken is done. See photos for reference.
A close up of a cast iron bowl with roasted Peruvian chicken, Peruvian yellow sauce, roasted sweet potatoes and asparagus.
Peruvian roasted chicken and sweet potatoes with grilled asparagus and a crock of Peruvian yellow sauce in the background…


What can I serve with this Peruvian-style chicken?

I have served this Peruvian roasted chicken with ají verde (green sauce), I’m about to publish a recipe for Peruvian yellow sauce, salsa criolla, cilantro rice, a simple Peruvian rice, roasted sweet or regular potatoes, and lima bean salad. They’re all really good!

Is the leftover chicken good?

Yes! You can cut it off the carcass, and use it for meal prep or add to this chicken cilantro soup or this Peruvian quinoa soup. Keep it up to 5 days in the refrigerator, or up to 3 months in the freezer.

💭 Tips

I like to lift the skin of the chicken, and rub the meat with the marinade (yes it’s messy!). Then rub the entire exterior and interior of the chicken as well.

If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you probably know I keep ají amarillo paste in my refrigerator, as part of my well-stocked pantry. You’ve seen it in my Ají Verde (a great accompaniment for this recipe), in my Healthier Ají de Gallina, and in my Peruvian Pumpkin Soup. This is a key ingredient in Peruvian cooking, and while you will have a decent marinade without it, the unique flavor is important to the dish.

P.S. Make sure you push the chicken that isn’t going on your plates back far enough… Our dog Madi gobbled up every molecule of the remaining delicious grilled chicken while we sat on the patio completely unaware! There was not a bone or drip of sauce in sight!

"Buen Provecho" in red and green text with chiles and limes.
A bronze plate with Grilled Peruvian-style chicken, salsa criolla, aji verde, and cilantro rice.

A whole Butterflied and Grilled Peruvian-Style Chicken on a bright floral platter with aji verde sauce, cilantro, and lime

Roasted Peruvian Chicken with Ají Verde

Whether you choose to grill or roast, this Peruvian-style chicken with Peruvian ají amarillo paste and spices marinade is a succulent and flavorful way to enjoy a whole chicken!
4.80 from 5 votes

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Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine Peruvian
Servings 4 servings
Calories 410 kcal


  • 1 whole chicken – 3 to 4 pounds preferably
  • cup fresh lime juice - about 4
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon ají amarillo paste
  • 5 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • several grinds fresh ground pepper
  • ají verde


  • Butterfly chicken after patting it dry.
  • Combine remaining ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until smooth.
  • Rub the marinade in the cavity, under and over the skin of the chicken. Reserve any remaining marinade to baste chicken.
  • Refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.
  • When you're ready to grill the chicken, preheat grill to medium heat. Place the prepared chicken on the grill with skin side down. (Breast side down).
  • Grill slowly until the fat renders and the skin is golden brown, then turn the chicken over (15-20 minutes). Brush with marinade, and close the lid. Continue grilling until it is cooked through (another 20-30 minutes). I usually do a small 3-4 pound chicken, and it is done in about 35-40 minutes.
  • To roast the chicken – Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roast 15 minutes, brush with remaining marinade. Reduce heat to 375 degrees, and continue roasting until internal temperature reaches 160-165 degrees.
  • When the chicken is done remove to a plate and tent with foil. Rest 10 minutes before carving.
  • Enjoy with salsas (see post for ideas), fresh cilantro, and lime wedges.


See post for more information!
Macronutrients are an approximation only from Yours will vary depending on light/dark meat and how much marinade is consumed.
Save the carcass for stock!


Serving: 6ounces | Calories: 410kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 40g | Fat: 8g

NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and/or star rating! Email us with any questions:

🍗 What to Serve with Peruvian-Style Chicken

I almost always serve this grilled Peruvian-style chicken with salsa criolla, ají verde sauce (green chile sauce), and cilantro rice. While the rice is titled “Mexican,” it works with Peruvian meals as well. Peruvians love cilantro!

A clear glass bowl of salsa criolla (Peruvian red onion tomato salad) on a brown background with limes and cilantro.

Peruvian Salsa Criolla

The Peruvian style rice feature image in an oval cast iron skillet with grey napkin.

Simple Peruvian Rice

A black stoneware bowl of roasted Peruvian potatoes, huancaina sauce, ají verde, and print napkin.

The Best Roasted Peruvian Potatoes

Mexican Cilantro Rice in a bronze colored ceramic bowl garnished with cilantro.

Mexican Cilantro Rice

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  1. First of all, let me say that I love your new look! Very nice! I’m going through a redesign myself so I know how much work you put into it. Well, it looks great. Spatchcocked chicken – this is is getting forwarded to my husband. It loves grilling spatchcocked chicks and I’m sure he, as well as I will love the seasoning, but then who wouldn’t. 🙂 Beautiful chicken!

    1. I hope hubby will give it a whirl! My husband is the grill master at our house too… Spatchcocked chickens cook so much more evenly. I’m really sold on the method!