Pollo asado tacos recipe 🌮

By following this recipe, you’ll be crafting chicken street tacos bursting with incredible flavors, perfect for your next taco night. There’s a good chance this roasted chicken recipe will earn a spot among your all-time favorites.

During my time working in Mexico, our job site had a humble cafeteria for our daily meals. However, on Sundays, when the cafeteria was closed, someone from the crew would dash out to grab a bite. One of my top picks was a spot serving Sinaloa-style pollo asado. The chicken came with warm corn tortillas, zesty lime wedges, beans, and an extra-spicy pico de Gallo. The chicken was so mouthwatering that it became addictive. The secret behind its irresistible taste remained a mystery, just as it should with any Sinaloa-style delight.

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The magic behind the incredible flavor of this dish lies in the blend of Mexican spices in the marinade. It’s a winning combination of spices and zesty citrus that’s simply unbeatable. For the best results, let the chicken marinate for several hours, or even overnight, to unlock the full depth of flavor.

Ingredient list:

When it comes to the choice of chicken, I personally lean towards boneless, skinless chicken thighs. They’re a tad more forgiving when grilling. However, if boneless, skinless chicken breasts are your preference, they work just as well. The choice is all yours!

Dried guajillo chilies have a rich, deep flavor with a mild to moderate heat. They add a complex, smoky, and slightly sweet taste to the dish, enhancing its overall flavor profile. In a pinch, you can substitute enchilada sauce.

Onions have a high water content, and when included in the marinade, they help retain moisture in the chicken, preventing it from becoming dry during the grilling process.

Oregano’s mild spiciness complements other ingredients like chili peppers in the marinade, helping achieve a balanced level of heat in the dish. Mexican oregano is best.

Thyme has a distinct earthy and slightly minty flavor. Adding it to the marinade can introduce a different flavor dimension to the dish, creating a unique and personalized twist on traditional pollo asado.

Garlic is an incredibly versatile ingredient in cooking, and it blends well with various other flavors and spices. In the context of pollo asado, it harmonizes with the other ingredients to create a cohesive and balanced taste.

The natural acidity in orange juice not only contributes to the flavor but also helps to tenderize the chicken. It can break down some of the meat’s fibers, resulting in a more tender and juicy texture after grilling.

Apple cider vinegar contributes a tangy, slightly sweet, and mildly acidic flavor to the marinade. This tanginess complements the overall taste profile of the dish, enhancing its complexity.

Salt enhances the overall flavor of the dish by bringing out and intensifying the natural tastes of the ingredients in the marinade. It makes the chicken taste more savory and delicious.

Black pepper helps balance the sweetness of ingredients like orange juice and the savory notes of spices. It provides a subtle contrast to these flavors, creating a harmonious taste profile.

Optional Ingredients:

Achiote, also known as annatto, is a popular ingredient in many Mexican and Latin American dishes, including pollo asado marinade. Achiote imparts a vibrant reddish-orange color to the chicken when used in the marinade. This color is not only visually appealing but also signifies the presence of achiote in the dish.

The natural acidity in lime juice helps tenderize the chicken. It can break down some of the meat’s fibers, resulting in a more tender and juicy texture after grilling.

Bay leaves have a mild, earthy, and slightly floral flavor. When included in the marinade, they slowly release their aroma and flavor, infusing the chicken with a subtle, aromatic essence.

Sour cream might not be your typical Mexican sidekick, but hey, if you decide to sneak a dollop in there, no need to dial 911 and report it to the food police! It’s your pollo asado adventure, after all, so go ahead and embrace the creamy rebellion.

Flour or corn tortillas?

The choice between flour and corn tortillas for your pollo asado tacos is a matter of personal preference, and both options have their own unique characteristics:

Corn Tortillas:

  1. Traditional Choice: Corn tortillas are the traditional choice for many Mexican dishes, including pollo asado tacos. They have been a staple in Mexican cuisine for centuries.
  2. Flavor: Corn tortillas have a distinct, slightly sweet, and earthy flavor that complements the grilled flavors of the pollo asado.
  3. Texture: Corn tortillas are typically denser and have a more rustic texture. They tend to be firmer and are less likely to tear when filled with juicy ingredients.
  4. Gluten-Free: Corn tortillas are naturally gluten-free, making them a suitable option for individuals with gluten sensitivities or dietary restrictions.

Flour Tortillas:

  1. Softer Texture: Flour tortillas are softer and more pliable compared to corn tortillas. They provide a smoother, chewy texture when biting into the taco.
  2. Neutral Flavor: Flour tortillas have a milder, neutral flavor that doesn’t overpower the other ingredients in the taco, making them versatile for various fillings.
  3. Variety: Flour tortillas come in different sizes and can be flavored or filled with various ingredients, offering a wide range of options for customization.

The choice between flour and corn tortillas depends on your personal taste and the flavor and texture you prefer. If you want a more traditional and slightly earthy taste with a firmer texture, go for corn tortillas. If you prefer a milder, softer, and more versatile option, flour tortillas are a good choice. You can also consider offering both types of tortillas to cater to different preferences when serving your pollo asado tacos.

Dried peppers soaking in water

Before you dive into making your flavorful marinade, take a moment to give those dried guajillo chilies a little TLC. Give them a good rinse to wash off any dust that might have settled. Then, make sure to remove both the stems and seeds from these little flavor powerhouses. Those seeds, if left in, could sneak in a hint of bitterness to your marinade.

Once your chilies are all prepped, pop them into a roomy bowl and let them soak in water for about an hour to get them plump and ready to infuse your marinade with all that rich, smoky goodness. Your patience will be rewarded!

Chicken marinating in a spicy sauce

Let’s get cooking! Add all your fantastic marinade ingredients, including those flavorful guajillo chilies, to your trusty blender. Give it a whirl until you’ve got a smooth, mouthwatering mixture. Now, it’s time for your chicken to take a dip. Pop it into a big bowl or a trusty ziplock bag, and pour in that delicious marinade. Make sure each piece of chicken gets a cozy coat.

Next, into the fridge, it goes for a nice, flavor-packed soak. When you’re about an hour away from grilling time, take it out and let it warm up a bit, just keep it in the house and out of direct sunlight for safety.

Now, a quick word on food safety before we fire up the grill. Chicken’s safe to eat when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F / 74°C, so invest in an instant-read thermometer if you don’t want Gordon Ramsay showing up at your BBQ yelling, ‘It’s RAW!’ And remember, don’t leave your chicken out for hours before grilling. I usually take it out of the fridge and let it hang in the kitchen while I prep everything. As soon as the grill’s hot, my chicken’s ready to sizzle.

Oh, and don’t forget about your cutting board and tongs. If they’ve touched raw meat, give ’em a good wash before they come into contact with the cooked stuff.

Now, the moment we’ve been waiting for—cooking! While Mexican street tacos usually get their char on a charcoal grill, we get it, not everyone has one. So, you can still cook your chicken in the oven. Set it to 425°F / 215°C and let them dance in there for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until they’re cooked all the way through. And don’t forget the finishing touch – a quick broil to give them those delectable charred spots. Just be sure not to let them burn. Enjoy your delicious pollo asado, however, you grill it up!

Chicken cooking on a grill using indirect heat
Start off with indirect cooking.

Now, let’s get ready to fire up the grill and cook our mouthwatering pollo asada!

In Mexico, mesquite charcoal is the traditional choice, but depending on where you live, finding it might be a bit of a treasure hunt. If you can’t track it down locally, you’ll be glad to know that Amazon has got your back. Now, for today’s cookout, I’m going with the trusty charcoal briquets – they’re easy to find and they do the job just right. If you’re rocking a gas grill, that’s absolutely cool too!

When it comes to starting the charcoal, I’m a charcoal chimney starter kind of person. No funky-tasting lighter fluids for me!

How to start a charcoal grill using a chimney

  • Start by taking off the cooking grate from your grill. We need some room to work our magic.
  • Now, grab your trusty chimney starter and fill it up at least halfway with charcoal. Get it ready for its fiery debut.
  • Place a lighter cube or some newspaper on the charcoal grate and give it a little spark.
  • Carefully position the chimney starter right on top of that little fiery spot. As those cubes do their thing, the charcoal will catch fire, and the flames will start reaching for the sky.
  • Your coals should be good to go in about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the weather. Keep an eye on them, and once the top coals turn a lovely shade of gray with ash, you’ll know they’re all set.
  • Now, here’s the fun part! Carefully pour those burning coals onto one side of your grill. If you need more heat, feel free to add some more charcoal. To make sure the fire moves from one briquette to the next, make sure they’re touching.
  • Once you’ve got the coals just how you like ’em, put that cooking grate back in its place and give it a thorough clean.
  • After your grill has had a chance to warm up, which should take about 10-15 minutes, you’re all set to start cooking up your pollo asada.
  • Just one friendly reminder: that chimney starter is scorching hot, so make sure to put it somewhere safe once you’re done with it. Now, let’s get grilling!
Chicken on a grill cooking directly over hot coals
Finish with direct cooking
  1. Grab some olive oil or vegetable oil and pour it onto a paper towel. With your trusty tongs, give your grill grates a good coating of that oil. We want to make sure our chicken won’t stick.
  2. Next up, the chicken! To kick things off, I like to arrange my chicken for indirect cooking. We want that gorgeous marinade to sizzle but not burn. As things sizzle away, keep moving those chicken pieces around, so they cook up nice and even.
  3. Once your chicken is getting close to that safe internal temperature (confirm with an instant-read thermometer), it’s time to add a little extra flair. Move them over to the direct heat side of the grill, right over those sizzling coals. This is where we can add a few of those mouthwatering charred bits. But remember, we want char, not burnt chicken! So keep an eye on things.
  4. When your chicken is cooked to perfection, take it off the grill and set it aside to rest for a bit.

Now, here’s the tasty tip: Wait until just before you’re ready to make those mouthwatering tacos to chop up that delicious meat. It’s all about keeping things fresh and flavorful! Let’s get ready to enjoy our savory pollo asada.

Tortillas cooking on the grill

For that authentic pollo asado street tacos experience, toasting your tortillas on the grill is the way to go. Sure, you can warm them up in the microwave, but there’s something special about the texture when you toast them over those flames. Here’s how I like to do it:

  1. Lay down a sheet of aluminum foil on the indirect side of the grill.
  2. Place the tortillas, one at a time, directly over the fire. Let them toast until you see those delightful black spots on each side. If they puff up while cooking, that’s your cue to flip ’em. Once they’re perfectly toasted, stack ’em up on that foil.
  3. After you’ve worked your magic on all the tortillas, wrap ’em up snugly with the foil to keep ’em warm and cozy.

Now, it’s time to assemble your mouthwatering pollo asada street tacos. Here’s the secret: as long as you’ve got that delicious meat tucked inside a tortilla with a bit of salsa, you’re on the right track. Here’s my little taco-building ritual:

  1. Start with a dollop of guacamole right on the tortilla.
  2. Add your chopped-up, flavorful meat on top of that.
  3. Drizzle with salsa—I’m a fan of avocado and roasted tomatillo salsa, but pick your favorite.
  4. Now, it’s time to get creative! You can toss in some diced red onion, sprinkle on some cilantro, crumble a bit of queso fresco, or kick up the heat with hot sauce.

And there you have it, a plate full of tasty tacos to share with family and friends. Dig in and savor the moment!

Perhaps you would also like my carne asada recipe.

Usually, I’m all about whipping up speedy guacamole, but when I’m in the mood for something extra special, I turn to my all-time favorite guacamole recipe in the video above. It’s the one that never fails to impress!

Bottom, chicken cooking on a grill. Top hand holding a chicken taco

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Hand holding a chicken taco with guacamole.

Pollo asado taco recipe

Recipe for grill chciken tacos
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Chicken, Tacos
Servings: 4 People
Calories: 57kcal
Author: James Strange


  • 2.5 pounds chicken
  • 4 each guajillo chili peppers dried
  • 1/2 each onion medium
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup Apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoons Oregano dried
  • 1 Tablespoons Thyme Dried
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Black pepper
  • 12 each flour tortillas



  • Wash the guajillo chili peppers, and remove the stems and seeds.
    4 each guajillo chili peppers
  • Place the guajillo chiles into a large bowl and cover with water. Allow them to soak for one hour. Remove from the water.
  • Add all of the marinade ingredients to a blender (including the guajillo peppers). Blend until smooth.
    4 each guajillo chili peppers, 1/2 each onion, 1 cup orange juice, 1/2 cup Apple cider vinegar, 1 Tablespoons Oregano, 1 Tablespoons Thyme, 1 teaspoon Salt, 1/2 teaspoon Black pepper
  • Cover the chicken with the marinade and marinate in the fridge overnight.


  • One hour before cooking remove the chicken from the refrigerator.
  • Start a fire on your grill, spread out the charcoal, and let them ash over.
  • Clean the grill grate and coat with oil.
  • Place the chicken on the grill for indirect cooking, and cook to an internal temperature of 165F.
  • Place the chicken directly over the fire to slightly char it. Remove and chop it up.
  • Toast the tortillas over the fire, then wrap in foil.
  • Assemble the tacos.


Calories: 57kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 607mg | Potassium: 225mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 599IU | Vitamin C: 37mg | Calcium: 69mg | Iron: 2mg
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5 stars
This was such a simple but delicious meal that my husband absolutely loved! He said he especially appreciated the char! Thank you for such a great recipe.

5 stars
This is a wonderful recipe – thank you! Super flavorful. I’ll definitely be making it again.

5 stars
Oh man, this marinade is SO good! The flavors you get from rehydrating chilis is so much richer than anything else.

5 stars
Love this recipe. I’m always looking for new taco Tuesday recipes and my family LOVED this one.

5 stars
This marinade is incredible and so easy to make. I just did the oven method and was very happy with the results. This is a keeper recipe.

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