These pollo asado tacos are the perfect, flavourful addition to your Taco Tuesday table. Tender chicken thighs, marinated in bright citrus, smokey chipotles in adobo, and smokey spices, make the perfect filling for soft, cheesy tortillas. Served with fresh pico de gallo salsa and a side of spicy Mexican rice and chipotle brussels sprouts, dinner is served!
What Is Pollo Asado
Pollo asado is a Mexican chicken recipe. This chicken gets its signature flavour from a blend of citrus, chipotles, and smokey cumin and spices. Traditionally, pollo asado is made with achiote paste or powder.
This version of pollo asado does not use achiote paste/powder because it is extremely hard to find where I live - don't worry, you won't miss it!
👩🏽🍳Why This Recipe Works
Easy to find ingredients! This recipe mimics traditional flavours, with easy to find ingredients.
Lots of cooking options! There are so many ways to cook this chicken. You can pan sear, air fry, or barbecue this chicken. It will come out deliciously no matter which way you make it!
The chicken is versatile! If you aren't feeling tacos, that's fine! Use this chicken as a topping for burrito bowls, quesadillas, or on salads too!
- Boneless, skinless chicken thighs: I recommend using boneless chicken thighs for these tacos, as they stay juicier and add lots of flavour to the chicken.
- Oranges and limes: I recommend using fresh navel oranges and limes. The citrus notes are key in this marinade, so I recommend using fresh citrus as opposed to pre-made orange juice, and bottled lime juice. Navel juices will give you the most juice for the marinade.
- Chipotles in adobo: Chipotle peppers are smoked jalapeño peppers. They are not overly spicy, but add a delicious smokey flavour to the marinade. The adobo sauce that they are canned in adds an additional savoury flavour and colour to the marinade.
- Spices and seasonings: You will need smoked paprika, onion powder, ground cumin, dried oregano and powdered adobo.
- Fresh garlic
- Olive oil
- Flour tortillas
- Queso quesadilla
A full list of ingredients with measurements is located on the recipe card, below.
- Chicken thighs: You can use chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs.
- Fresh orange juice & lime juice: If you are in a pinch, you can use prepared orange juice and bottled lime juice. If using orange juice concentrate, I recommend only using a tablespoon or so, as the flavour is strong.
- Garlic: You can use garlic powder in place of fresh garlic.
- Queso quesadilla: Any kind of melting cheese will work for these tacos.
- Tostadas: Swap the tortillas for tostadas! Load them up with your favourite fixings the same way.
- Traditional: If you are able to find achiote paste or powder, I highly recommend using it in the marinade!
- Tinga tacos: Substitute pollo asado for homemade chicken tinga for a shredded chicken twist!
⏲️ Step-by-Step Instructions
Prep Work Before Cooking
Collecting all your ingredients - This will make cooking so much easier. Gather all the spices you will need, and keep them nearby.
Add the marinade ingredients to a blender container. Blend the marinade together until all the ingredients are smooth. [photo 1]
Pour the marinade into a large mixing bowl, with the chicken thighs. Let the chicken marinade for a minimum of 30 minutes. Cover the chicken with plastic wrap, and refrigerate while it is marinating. You can marinate the chicken for up to 24 hours. [photo 2]
Cook the chicken for 7-8 minutes on each side, or until it has reached an internal temperature of 165°F. If you are air frying the chicken, air fry for 15 minutes at 375°F, and flip halfway through. Once cooked, let the chicken rest for 5 minutes on a cutting board, and cut the chicken into strips. [photo 3]
Heat a skillet or a griddle over medium heat. Place your tortillas on the skillet/griddle, and top with cheese all over. Let the cheese melt, and add some chicken to half of the tortilla. Fold the tortilla over, and serve. [photo 4]
Use small, street taco tortillas! Smaller tortillas are the best size for these tacos. You can use flour, or corn tortillas.
Scrape off some of the marinade before searing! This will ensure a nice crust on the chicken, and will prevent the chicken from steaming with the excess liquid.
🍽Make Ahead & Storage
Make Ahead Instructions
This chicken can be marinated 24-48 hours in advance. You can also cook the chicken up to 2 days before serving, and assemble the tacos in advance.
If you wish, you can freeze the marinated chicken in a freezer-safe container or bag, for up to 3 months. Defrost before cooking.
Store leftover chicken for up to 2 days in an airtight container in the fridge. Reheat in a skillet, or in the air fryer.
Pollo asado is not extremely spicy. The spice level in the marinade is completely customizable to your taste. If you do not like spicy food, you can use less of the chipotles in adobo. If you prefer spicier food, add more!
Pollo asado translates to grilled chicken. For that reason, this chicken is so incredibly delicious on the barbecue!
📝More Mexican-Inspired Recipes
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Pollo Asado Tacos
- 1 ½ lbs Chicken thighs boneless, skinless
- 1 Navel orange juiced
- 3 Limes juiced
- 3 cloves Garlic
- 1 teaspoon Onion powder
- 2 teaspoon Smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon Ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon Dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon Adobo seasoning
- 2 Chipotle peppers in adobo
- ¼ cup Olive oil
- Sea salt to taste
For the Tacos
- Street taco tortillas to serve
- 2 cups Queso quesadilla
- Blend the marinade: Add the marinade ingredients to a blender container. Blend the marinade together until all the ingredients are smooth.1 Navel orange, 3 Limes, 3 cloves Garlic, 1 teaspoon Onion powder, 2 teaspoon Smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon Ground cumin, 1 teaspoon Dried oregano, 1 tablespoon Adobo seasoning, 2 Chipotle peppers in adobo, ¼ cup Olive oil
- Marinate the chicken: Pour the marinade into a large mixing bowl, with the chicken thighs. Let the chicken marinade for a minimum of 30 minutes. Cover the chicken with plastic wrap, and refrigerate while it is marinating. You can marinate the chicken for up to 24 hours.1 ½ lbs Chicken thighs
- Cook the chicken: Cook the chicken for 7-8 minutes on each side, or until it has reached an internal temperature of 165°F - this can be done on the barbecue or in a skillet. Once cooked, let the chicken rest for 5 minutes on a cutting board, and cut the chicken into strips.
- Make the tacos: Heat a skillet or a griddle over medium heat. Place your tortillas on the skillet/griddle, and top with cheese all over. Let the cheese melt, and add some chicken to half of the tortilla. Fold the tortilla over, and serve.Street taco tortillas, 2 cups Queso quesadilla
- Air fryer instructions: If you are air frying the chicken, air fry for 15 minutes at 375°F, and flip halfway through.
- Taste for salt: Adobo seasoning blends tend to already have a generous amount of salt mixed into them. I recommend tasting the marinade for salt, and adjust if you find that it is missing some.
- Scrape off some of the marinade before searing! This will ensure a nice crust on the chicken, and will prevent the chicken from steaming with the excess liquid.
The recipe does not have any salt in it. Is that a mistake?
Hi Justin! I left it out of the ingredients, as adobo seasoning blends do tend to have a good amount of salt in them. I have added a note in the recipe, though, that you can always add some if you are using a low-sodium adobo seasoning, or you find that it is lacking 🙂