Peruvian Roasted Chicken With Spicy Cilantro Sauce Recipe (2024)

By Melissa Clark

Updated Jan. 5, 2024

Peruvian Roasted Chicken With Spicy Cilantro Sauce Recipe (1)

Total Time
50 minutes plus marinating time
Read community notes

Burnished-skinned, deeply flavored and more than just a little spicy, it’s no wonder that Peruvian chicken has become something of an obsession here in the United States. There are dozens of way to make this dish, but most recipes call for two different kinds of Peruvian chile pastes — aji amarillo and aji panca — to add the necessary complexity and heat. You can find them at South American markets and online. But in a pinch, you can substitute a red chile paste (like sriracha or sambal) for the aji amarillo, and ground pasilla chile powder for the aji panca. The flavors won’t be traditional, but the chicken will still be tasty — especially when slathered with the irresistibly creamy, spicy cilantro sauce that goes alongside.

Featured in: Peruvian Grilled Chicken: A Spicy, Succulent Delight

Learn: How to Roast Chicken

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Yield:4 servings

    For the Chicken

    • 6garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
    • 3tablespoons soy sauce
    • 1tablespoon aji amarillo paste or another chile paste such as sriracha or sambal
    • 1tablespoon lime juice
    • 1teaspoon aji panca paste or 1 teaspoon pasilla chile powder
    • 1teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • 1teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • ½teaspoon fine sea salt
    • 1(3½- to 4½-pound) chicken, halved (see Note) or 4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken parts
    • Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed

    For the Sauce

    • 1cup cilantro leaves and tender stems
    • 3 to 4jalapeños, seeded and diced
    • ¼cup/1 ounce crumbled feta cheese
    • 1garlic clove, chopped
    • tablespoons lime juice, more to taste
    • 2teaspoons chopped fresh oregano or basil
    • ¾teaspoon fine sea salt, more to taste
    • ½teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • ½tablespoon aji amarillo or other chile paste (see headnote)
    • ½teaspoon honey
    • ½teaspoon ground cumin
    • ½cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • Lime wedges, for garnish

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (4 servings)

1359 calories; 112 grams fat; 26 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 57 grams monounsaturated fat; 20 grams polyunsaturated fat; 8 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams dietary fiber; 2 grams sugars; 78 grams protein; 1282 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Peruvian Roasted Chicken With Spicy Cilantro Sauce Recipe (2)


  1. Step


    For the marinade: In a large bowl, whisk together garlic, soy sauce, aji amarillo paste, lime juice, aji panca paste, mustard, cumin, pepper and salt.

  2. Step


    Add chicken halves, turning to coat them all over with marinade. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 12 hours.

  3. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Remove chicken from marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Arrange skin-side up on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with oil.

  4. Step


    Roast until skin is golden and chicken is cooked through, 35 to 45 minutes (if using chicken parts, remove the breasts after 25 to 35 minutes). Remove from oven and let sit, loosely covered with foil, for 10 minutes before serving.

  5. Step


    While chicken is roasting, make the sauce. In a blender, blend cilantro, jalapeños, feta, garlic, lime juice, oregano, salt, mustard, aji amarillo paste, honey, and cumin until smooth. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in oil until mixture is emulsified. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt or lime juice or both.

  6. Step


    Carve the chicken and serve with the sauce and lime wedges on the side.


  • To cut a chicken in half, use a sturdy pair of poultry shears to cut lengthwise through the breastbone. Turn over and cut again, along the backbone. If desired, cut along the other side of the backbone and remove it.



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Cooking Notes

Myrna Feigenbaum

If you measure oil in the half teaspoon first, then the honey, the honey will slide right out of the teaspoon.


I made this for four chickens for a pot luck tonight. I separated each into breast/thigh/drum/wing before marinating cooking. Wasn't too fastidious either about patting off the marinade and also had a few less jalapenos than called for and subbed dry basil for fresh. Results were spectacular. Absolutely spectacular. And did I mention spectacular?


My substitute for cilantro is parsley AND some other flavorful herb (my choices are mint, basil, or lemon thyme, depending on the dish) chopped together. Parsley alone is not enough (dull flavor), but chopping parsley in equal portions with a bright herb does the trick for me.For those who insist (with a superior air) that if I just kept eating cilantro i will learn to love it, I gladly will do so when you commit to eating a bar of soap until you "learn to love" it.


Didn't marinate for 12 hours because my boyfriend and I don't live together. I was cooking this at his place and wasn't going to show up in the morning to set up. We've been dating for almost three years, so we have talked about moving in together, but he wants to live in Brooklyn Heights and that's too far from work for me. Say what you want, but I also enjoy having my own space. Subbed honey with agave nectar because I'm a Millennial. Will be making again!

William Fite

CFXK is correct. By some genetic mischance, a few people experience the taste of cilantro as soapy. Sometimes intensely soapy. Don't goad cilantro haters to "learn to love it" unless you are prepared to reprogram their DNA. As to Theabroma's (did you mean Theobroma as in Theobroma cacao?) condescending observation that parsley is no substitute for cilantro, know that there is no herb with substantial similarity to the flavor of cilantro. Just pick one that you like.

Patience Finley

Used sriracha and chilli powder to replace the aji Amarion paste and aji panca paste. Other than that, followed the recipe as it is. The chicken tasted fantastic, Very moist and well seasoned. Made the sauce Saturday night and thought it tasted mediocre. Sunday night took the sauce out, a miracle must have occurred overnight, it tasted brilliant- super creamy and full of flavor. But will cut the ingredients in half to make the sauce. The recipe yields about 4 cups sauce, too much for a 3.5 bird


For those of us who can't eat cilantro, what would you suggest as a substitute ingredient or sauce?


I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! I'm such a late bloomer. I'm 72 and just discovered cilantro 2 years ago when a clerk in the Asian Market told me it was Chinese Parsley. Trust me, it ain't parsley. It is unique. It is one of a kind. I now put it in everything. Even salads, any beans I do, and my son told me to try it on ice cream, I might like it.


I live in Argentina and once met a Peruvian lady that told me that for the marinade she used Coca Cola as part of the ingredients.


When I make Peruvian chicken, I make Ají de Huacatay for dipping.Ají de Huacatay (Peruvian green spicy sauce)1 hot chile pepper (Peruvian aji amarillo)1 rocoto pepper1/4 cup plain peanuts1 cup of Huacatay leaves (fresh or frozen. If you use paste, adjust salt and vinegar to taste) neutral oil (canola, corn, sunflower, etc.)1/2 cup evaporated milk1/2 cup mexican cheese or mild feta 2 or 3 crackers (saltines or oyster crackers)splash vinegarsalt and pepper to taste


I had this dish at many restaurants while living in Peru. Never once had “heat” in the sauce. If aji was used, it must have been very subtle. Cheese used was called “fresh cheese,” something akin to farmers cheese or Mexican queso fresco. We often saw the sauce atop gorgeous filets of sea bass as well. Heavenly!


Absolutely do NOT wipe the marinade off before putting the chicken in the oven. If fact, I drizzle any marinade still in the bowl over the chicken so as not to lose any of that wonderful flavor. And I marinade the chicken for at least 24 hours. Why go to the trouble of making this delicious dish and do something to REDUCE the flavor? We make this at least twice a month - our favorite.


Big hit at my house. I did heed some suggestions from previous notes. I didn’t have access to the more exotic powders but did use shiracha and ancho chili powder as substitutes. Also, I heeded suggestion to make sauce without the feta, oregano, honey, but did add a bit of yogurt. I baked with 3 lbs thighs and added sweet potato rounds while cooking (I allowed them a dunk In the marinade after placing chicken in pan). This is a do-again, and again

Roni Jordan

How on earth do you get 4 cups of sauce from that list of ingredients?


Nope, same botanical family, but parsely is emphatically not a substitute for cilantro. Period.


Fabulous. Make it in a cast iron skillet if you can. Heat it in the oven while preheating. If you don’t like cilantro use something else. Parsley is not enough but add mint, oregano, whatever is green.


This is now at the top of the list of my chicken recipes. Used guajuchang for the chile paste and maple syrup instead of honey and they worked just fine.


Fantastic recipe. I brined my chicken overnight then marinated the next day before cooking for dinner. Being Australian, the chili elements were not easily available so subbed in rose harissa and smoky gochuang. This is a recipe that can handle a few substitutions depending on what you have on hand.

Ted M

I've made this so many times, everyone loves it! I half the cumin in the marinade and the sauce. I also prefer the sauce without oregano. The sauce is the bomb!


The jalapenos were quite large so I just used two. The dish was delicious.


I used 3-4 large ones the last time. 4 was tastier than three, boosted all the flavors.

Holly S.

We made this for dinner this week and was so good! I got some of the jarred sauces on Amazon since we live rurally and our grocery stores don't stock them. I can see using them on tons of things in the future. I used all drumsticks for the chicken and they turned out perfect. The garlic had a hard time staying on so next time, will try paste maybe. Also, the sauce was epic, using it on some chops tonight - bright, herbal but the feta adds a new level of YUM.

Julie Anderson

This was a big winner. I used leg and thigh quarters. The chicken roasted up tender and packed with flavor. The sauce, which is incredible, went as well with the roasted fingerlings as it did with the chicken. Order the spices online if you can't find. I had Mexican queso on hand so used that instead of feta. BIG WINNER, one of my favorite recipes on NYTimes Food.


I made this recipient with chicken and it was very good. Then I made it with pork ribs on my pellet smoker and it was transcendent. I used a bit of honey to finish the ribs and served with the green sauce.

Amanda Lurie

Made exactly as the recipe called for. We LOVE Peruvian food, so we have a base line to compare this to. Kept my chicken in the marinade for 24 hours. I also listen to other reviewers and did not wipe the marinade off. Chicken came out perfect. It was a huge hit. As far as the green sauce, I agree with the other reviewers. This was good, but it was too muddied with some of the other ingredients. I think I will omit the Cumin, feta and oregano. Will try adding avocado to make it creamier.


A minor aside. Enjoyed this recipe. Had a lot of extra sauce, so added olive oil, walnuts and some more peppers in the Cuisinart and made the remainder into a pesto-like sauce for pasta. Very tasty.


I made this with tofu standing in for chicken and loved it! Used slices of extra firm tofu and marinated for about 30 minutes before roasting at 425 for 30-ish minutes, flipping a few times during cooking and basting with leftover marinade. Served with white rice and a red cabbage rice vinegar slaw.

Toni B.

Fantastic. My 17 year old said: Make more of this!


Amazing! I made this for my family (including kids ages 10 & 12) with differing tolerance for spicy. With that in mind, I omitted all the jalapeños from the sauce. It was rather mild - but still delicious. I think next time I could add one in and it would still work for my kiddos.


I followed the recipe to the 'T' and family was very pleased with the chicken and the sauce!!


Bake 450 for 35 minutes. Don’t use convection bake.

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Peruvian Roasted Chicken With Spicy Cilantro Sauce Recipe (2024)


Why is Peruvian chicken so good? ›

This classic Peruvian staple has a warm aroma, fall-off-the-bone meat and if cooked properly, crispy skin- which is arguably the best part. No wonder, this form of grilled chicken is one of the most consumed dishes in Peru.

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Today the poulet de Bresse has the reputation of being the best quality table chicken in the world.

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Peruvian dishes can be so diverse, with so many ingredients to choose from, but there's one common aspect: freshness. No matter how simple, every Peruvian dish values its components' freshness. Even drinks like chicha Morada use the best variety of purple corn.

What is special about Peruvian cuisine? ›

Peruvian cuisine is often made spicy with ají pepper, a basic ingredient. Peruvian chili peppers are not spicy but serve to give taste and color to dishes. Rice often accompanies dishes in Peruvian cuisine, and the regional sources of foods and traditions give rise to countless varieties of preparation and dishes.

Which country makes best chicken? ›

Chicken: Which country does it best?
  • Portugal: Peri-Peri Chicken.
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Why Peruvian cuisine is the best? ›

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