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Pollo a la Brasa is not just “chicken” in Peru. It is Peru’s favorite fast food.
This Peruvian chicken is so beloved that there are dedicated “Pollerias” or Peruvian fast food chains that specialize in this dish.
While in Peru exploring the local food specialties, we couldn’t miss this iconic grilled chicken dish.
Find out more about Pollo a Brasa Peruvian fast food, including where to have it and a simple recipe to make it at home.
What is Pollo A La Brasa?
Pollo a la Brasa is one of the most popular and consumed dishes in Peru. In its simplicity, it is a chicken dish marinated with herbs and spices and cooked on a rotisserie.
It is also known as “Peruvian-style chicken”, “charcoal chicken” or “rotisserie chicken.”
The Peru National Institute of Culture declared in 2004 Pollo a Brasa a “National Culinary Speciality.”
This Peruvian fast food, Pollo a la Brasa even has its own National Holiday on the third Sunday of July.
Origins Of Pollo A La Brasa
Pollo a la Brasa originated in Lima in the 1950s. This Peruvian fast food was developed by Roger Schuler, a Swiss resident living in Peru.
As the story goes, his chicken farm near Lima went bankrupt and to make ends meet he started selling whole roasted chicken.
His slogan, “eat as much chicken over coals as you can for only five soles,” attracted crowds due to the inexpensive pricing.
Needing to cook the chickens faster, he contacted his Swiss friend Franz who owned a mechanics shop. The goal was to create a device that cooks several chickens at once.
The Invention of Roasted Peruvian Chicken
This led to the invention of the “rotombo” or “speido” oven with six metal rods and a capacity to hold eight chickens.
The metal rods spin clockwise and independently at very high temperatures (300-370 degrees F).
And, this method of cooking can hold 40 to 50 chickens at once cooking them uniformly while keeping the juices and flavors intact.
Roger and Franz opened the original Pollo a la Brasa restaurant, La Granja Azul in Lima, which became a success and spread all over the city.
Today, Pollo a la Brasa is consumed in most South American countries, and can also be found in the United States.
Discovering Pollo a la Brasa in Peru
Pollo a la Brasa is one of the most popular meals enjoyed by all in Peru.
Going to a Polleria is a popular activity with families gathering together on weekends to connect over Peruvian roast chicken.
Part of the appeal is that the restaurants are not fancy and eating the chicken with your hands is encouraged.
With our local limeña friends, we went to Las Canastas, which they said “had bigger chickens” than Pardos.
The menu was surprisingly short and consisted of different cuts of chicken, potatoes, and salads.
What We Thought of Peruvian Roast Chicken in Lima
We would have to say that this is one of the most delicious chicken dishes we have ever eaten.
The herbs and spices coated the skin and it made it beautifully crisp as well. The chicken was rich in flavor and as juicy as you can imagine.
You could order the whole chicken, the chicken breast, known as pecho, or the chicken leg or pierna. Both breast and leg were very fragrant, well-seasoned and and practically falling off the bone.
Pollo A La Brasa Recipe – How To Make Peruvian Spicy Chicken
You can easily make the most delicious chicken dish from Peru in your home kitchen.
With our Pollo a la Brasa recipe, we make this chicken dish in the oven to make it easier to savor this iconic dish.
This Peruvian style roasted chicken is made with Huacatay herb, which is native to the Andes Mountains of Peru.
Ingredients for Aji Huacatay Sauce or Cilantro of the Andes
- Aji amarillo peppers
- Vegetable oil
- Vinegar (red or white wine vinegar)
- Fresh Huacatay leaves, substitute with Basil or Tarragon
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST RECIPE: Accompany your Peruvian rotisserie chicken at home, why not enjoy it with a Pisco Sour? See our simple How To Make An Authentic Peruvian Pisco Sour recipe
Pollo A La Brasa Recipe Tips
How To Make The Chicken Marinade
To make a marinade for this Pollo a la Brasa recipe, mix all the ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl.
When thoroughly mixed, add the chicken to the marinade and it over to coat all sides.
Marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes, but preferably overnight for the fullest flavors.
How To Make Aji Huacatay Sauce
The Aji Huacatay sauce is a traditional green sauce made with Peruvian yellow chili peppers and Huacatay leaves.
In this Pollo a la Brasa recipe, we start by lightly roasting the yellow chili peppers in a skillet.
Once the peppers are slightly charred, remove them from the skillet and let them cool down to room temperature.
Combine all the ingredients together in a blender and mix until you have a smooth sauce.
Transfer the green sauce into a container and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
Huacatay Sauce Substitutes
You can substitute Huacatay Andean herbs with Basil or Tarragon for this Pollo a a Brasa recipe. However, if you want the real taste of Huacatay, you can buy Huacatay Paste on Amazon and use it for this recipe.
How to Cook The Chicken
- Oven Roasting: Making this Peruvian chicken in the oven, is an effortless way to taste the authentic flavors of this roasted chicken to your table. This is the easy recipe we use for this Pollo a Brasa Peruvian chicken recipe.
- Grilling: The grilling or rotisserie method of making Pollo a la Brasa is the classic and traditional approach. In this case, after preheating the grill, you want to cook the chicken, on the side over indirect heat. Grill the chicken for about 20 minutes per pound and let it rest for about 10 minutes before carving it.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: if you love South American cuisine, see some of our other popular and easy-to-make recipes.
The Secret Behind Pollo a la Brasa’s Success
The secret of the success of Peruvian Pollo a la Brasa resides in its cooking methods and marinades.
In Peru, each Polleria has its own secret marinade recipe. In addition to the Peruvian chicken marinade sauce, the key to great Pollo a la Brasa is the actual cooking method.
This involves a rotisserie over wood coals that gives the chicken a sublime smoky flavor.
The original recipe from La Granja Azul calls for the chicken seasoned with salt and cooked over carob tree firewood for the best flavors.
How To Serve Pollo a la Brasa
Eating pollo a la brasa is not like eating any good ol’ chicken in Peru. There is a protocol that is followed and “must-haves” around this Peruvian fast food.
At Peruvian restaurants in Lima, Peruvian-style roasted chicken is most often accompanied by the country’s famous cocktail, Pisco Sour.
While eating the meal, the other popular beverage options are Chica Morada, a traditional purple corn drink. Or, the country’s most popular soft drink, Inca Kola.
Like in Peru, you make a simple fresh salad to accompany your famous Peruvian chicken dish. A typical Peruvian starter salad consists of lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers in a creamy dressing.
To accompany Pollo a la Brasa, three different traditional sauces are typically offered.
In Lima, we savored our delicious Peruvian-style roasted chicken, with Aji Amarillo, a spicy yellow-orange colored sauce. P
A second green sauce known as Huacatay sauce, or Peruvian black mint paste was included.
And, the final sauce of the trio was homemade mayonnaise.
Potatoes originated in Peru more than 7,000 years ago. In the Andes mountain region, you can find more than 4,000 varieties of native potatoes.
Unsurprisingly, potatoes are a common ingredient in Peruvian cuisine. As such, potatoes are typically served alongside Pollo a la Brasa chicken dishes.
As you make this Pollo a la Brasa recipe at home, consider accompanying your chicken dish with roasted potatoes.
Pollo A La Brasa Step by Step Instructions
Prepare the chicken marinade seasoning and rub all over the chicken pieces until it is well coated.
After you have let the chicken rest for at least 2 hours or ideally overnight, place the chicken on a roasting pan as you pre-heat the oven.
Prepare Huacatay Sauce
Saute chopped aji amarillo peppers with garlic and let the peppers cook until slightly charred and the garlic is fragrant.
Combine all the marinade ingredients for the Huacatay green sauce together in a food processor or blender.
Mix the charred aji amarillo peppers, garlic, fresh, Huacatay leaves, vinegar, and water until you have a smooth and homogeneous sauce
Grill Chicken and Serve with Huacatay Sauce
Grill the marinated chicken at 320°F (160°C) turning occasionally, until beautifully crisp and golden brown, about 45-50 minutes.
Serve your Peruvian style roasted chicken with freshly prepared Huacatay sauce
Where To Eat Pollo a la Brasa?
Peruvian Fast Food Chains in Peru
You generally don’t have to walk far in any Peruvian city to find a pollería. There are smaller family-run restaurants as well as major chains.
Pardos chicken and Las Canastas are slightly more high-end. And, in Lima, there is La Granja Azul the original, which remains an attractive and popular place.
Chicken Peruvian Restaurant Chain in the US
In the US, you can find Peruvian restaurants in many cities and states across the country. However, there are not many Peruvian fast food chains that specialize in Pollo a la Brasa.
In South Florida, you’ll find La Granja Restaurant with locations in Miami, Orlando, West Palm Beach, Tampa, and others.
In the eastern part of the United States, you’ll find Sardis’s Peruvian Chicken, a fast food chain with locations in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
Pollo A La Brasa Recipe
Ingredients for Peruvian Chicken and Marinade:
Ingredients Huacatay Sauce Recipe:
- 50 g aji amarillo peppers
- 3 tbsp Vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp Vinegar
- 1 garlic clove
- ½ cup Huacatay leaves fresh
- ¼ cup water
For Chicken Marinade
- Place the chicken pieces in a bowl. Sprinkle salt, pepper, ground cumin, smoked paprika, vinegar, aji amarillo, dried oregano, and minced garlic directly onto the chicken.
- Rub the seasonings all over the chicken pieces until well-coated.
- Place the seasoned chicken in a bowl and cover the bowl with cling film or saran wrap.
- Put the bowl in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or ideally overnight, to allow the flavors to penetrate the chicken meat.
For Huacatay Sauce
- In a skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the aji amarillo peppers and the garlic clove. Sauté until the peppers are charred, and the garlic is fragrant. Remove from heat and let it cool slightly.
- In a food processor or blender, combine the charred aji amarillo peppers, garlic, fresh Huacatay leaves, vinegar, and water. Blend until you have a smooth and homogeneous sauce.
- Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, as needed.
- Transfer the green sauce into a container and refrigerate until ready to serve.
For Oven Roasted Chicken
- Preheat the oven to medium-high heat, 320°F (160°C)
- Place the chicken pieces, slightly drained, on a roasting pan.
- Let the marinated chicken thighs roast, turning occasionally, until they are golden brown and cooked through about 45-50 minutes.
- Serve the Peruvian grilled chicken hot, accompanied by the flavorful Huacatay sauce.
- Enjoy this delicious and authentic Peruvian roast chicken dish.
- Depending on your taste preferences, you can add more chili peppers to your aji amarillo to make a spicy sauce.
- If you want another Peruvian sauces that is milder and not as spicy, you can use Aji Panca instead.The Aji Panca is another common Peruvian pepper that is mildly spicy with fruity notes. It also pairs well with Pollo a la Brasa.
More Local Food Experiences and Recipes
Claire is co-founder of Authentic Food Quest and a lover of simple and exquisite cuisine. Since 2015, with her partner, Rosemary, she has been traveling the world as a digital nomad, creating content about local food experiences.
Her advice from visiting 45 countries and more than 240 food cities has been featured in Lonely Planet, Business Insider, Honest Cooking, Food Insider, and Huffington Post. She has also co-authored three books, including one in collaboration with Costa Brava Tourism.
An ex-mechanical engineer, Claire is responsible for SEO, keeping the website running, and the fun food & travel videos on YouTube.
When Claire is not eating, she can be found running or cycling. Find out more about Authentic Food Quest