Peruvian Chicken

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Peruvian chicken is a flavor-packed dish that works equally well in leftover meals. Skimming through old copies of Cook’s Illustrated a few years ago, I came across this recipe for Peruvian Garlic-Lime Chicken. I was intrigued since it was roasted on a beer can! Since most of my favorite cooking magazines are now defunct, (Cooking Light, Gourmet) this is the only I still get by snail-mail.

Peruvian Garlic-Lime Chicken Recipe | What a Girl Eats

I’ve since dispensed with roasting it on a beer can as it isn’t really worth the bother. You can totally skip the beer can, and bake it on a vertical roaster like this one, or just brush the marinade on the chicken and bake. (This post was originally published on January 14th, 2013. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn commission on qualifying purchases.)

Peruvian chicken horizontal shot.

The Peruvian chicken looked delicious, and sounded perfectly manly and hearty. There’s always a little trepidation when trying a new recipe. As good as it reads, there’s no guarantee that it will knock anyone’s socks off. These days, I really do strive to knock socks off.

Vertical peruvian chicken on green plate.

All around sounds of pleasure accompanied this Peruvian chicken recipe, and the family deemed this a “do-over”! The homemade mayonnaise is a must! My 22 year old kept going back for spoonfuls of the aioli-like, spicy mayonnaise. (Which actually wasn’t really very spicy at all!)

The original recipe called for a fiery hot habanero chili, but I substituted a flavorful, but milder serrano chili to tone it down for my family, but if you love spicy, stick with the habanero. I’ve also eliminated the 1 tablespoons of sugar from the original recipe.

Closeup of chicken on a fork.

Why is it called “Peruvian chicken”?

Originally brought to Peru by Swiss immigrants, it’s traditionally cooked on a spit (or that vertical roaster!) No matter how it’s prepared, Peruvian chicken or “pollo a la brasa” is traditionally served with a mayonnaise based sauce.

Peruvian chicken on cutting board.

Marinade for Peruvian chicken

While the actual cooking doesn’t take very long, for the best flavor, you’ll want to prepare the marinade the day before you plan to roast. Marinate the bird overnight in a zip lock bag, and the following day cook it in the oven in just around an hour. While the bird is roasting, you can make the spicy mayonnaise.


  • Olive oil
  • mint leaves
  • garlic (6 cloves!)
  • cumin
  • smoked paprika
  • dried oregano
  • zest and juice from 2 limes
  • habanero or serrano chili (depending on how spicy you like it!)
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • Whole chicken or chicken pieces.

The original recipe called for a roasting chicken. I find it easier and quicker to just buy pieces, especially since our family prefers thighs and legs over breast meat. If you’re buying a whole chicken, aim for around 3 1/2 to 4 pounds. If using pieces, 2 1/2 to 3 pounds should easily feed a family of 4 with leftovers.

Peruvian Garlic Lime Chicken

How to make the spicy mayonnaise

The spicy mayonnaise can be made the day before, or while the chicken is cooking.

Ingredients for spicy mayo:

  • 1 large egg (or egg substitute if you don’t feel comfortable about using a raw egg)
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 Tablespoons mince shallot (or onion)
  • 1  Tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon minced jalapeño
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup olive or avocado oil


  • Process all ingredients except oil in food processor until finely chopped. About 10 seconds.
  • With machine running, slowly drizzle oil in a steady stream until mayonnaise like consistency is reached. Scraping down bowl as necessary.

Store leftover mayonnaise in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Spicy mayo in a bowl.

What to serve with Peruvian chicken

Peruvian chicken is traditionally served with thick French fries. These super crispy roasted potatoes would be a great accompaniment.
Or how about this tasty Cilantro rice?

Leftover Peruvian chicken? Any leftover chicken would be delicious in this Mexican chicken soup.

Peruvian chicken on green plate.

Peruvian Garlic-Lime Chicken

Adapted from Cook's Illustrated. Original recipe called for roasting a whole chicken on a vertical roaster or beer can. This adaptation is for chicken pieces.
4.82 from 11 votes
Prep Time 6 hours
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 6 hours 50 minutes
Course Entree
Cuisine Peruvian
Servings 5 servings
Calories 494 kcal



  • 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves lightly packed
  • 2 Tablespoons kosher salt
  • 6 garlic cloves peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 limes, finely grated zest and juice, about 1/4 cup
  • 1 teaspoon habanero chile minced. (or 2-3 teaspoons serrano, minced).


  • 3 pounds chicken pieces



  • Process all ingredients except for the chicken in a blender or food processor until a smooth paste forms, 10 to 20 seconds. Using fingers loosen skin over chicken pieces. Rub half of the paste beneath skin of chicken. Spread entire exterior surface of chicken with remaining paste. Place chicken in a gallon-size zipper bag and refrigerate at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours.

Baking the Peruvian Chicken

  • Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 325 degrees F. Place chicken pieces on a rack on a baking pan or sheet. Roast until skin just begins to turn golden and instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of the breast registers 140 degrees F. About 35 to 45 minutes. Remove chicken and pan from oven and increase oven temperature to 500 degrees F.
  • When oven is heated to 500 degrees F. Roast chicken pieces until entire skin is browned and crisp and thermometer registers 160 degrees F. inserted into the breast and 175 degrees F. in the thickest part of the thigh, about 15 minutes
  • Serve with spicy mayonnaise.


  • If using a whole chicken you can roast on a spit or vertical roaster.


Serving: 1servingCalories: 494kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 35gFat: 37gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 7gMonounsaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 139mgSodium: 2925mgPotassium: 461mgFiber: 1gSugar: 0.4gVitamin A: 800IUVitamin C: 10mgCalcium: 67mgIron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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  1. Just a thought. I love beer can chicken too…it’s the best, most moist chicken ever. But the outside of a can is not made to be food and oven safe for baking. I use a bundt pan set in a baking sheet. 😉

  2. This recipe is absurd. Perfect every time and unbelievably flavorful. I highly, highly recommend serving this with creamy polenta. Nom mom nominated non. So worth the prep time and a real show stopper for when you have guests.

  3. 5 stars
    I used to have a kitchen tool thingy to roast a chicken upright and it always turned out so good! I wonder what happened to it? Now I know I can just use a beer can, how convenient!

    Your chicken sounds wonderful, Cynthia, no wonder the family wanted it again!

  4. 5 stars
    This has been my go to recipe when I have the time to let the bird rest the 6 hours. It is so worth the wait. TRY this RECIPE YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED. Thanks for posting because I lost page 2 and 3 of this recipe!!


  5. 5 stars
    I do 99%9 all of the cooking at home and like everyone else am always looking for the next best chicken recipe . This with out a doubt is the best one in hundred of recent ones. All the flavors were awesome and this was so tender it tops all. the meal was restaurant quality all the way. I will defiantly serve this when i am trying to impress

  6. 5 stars
    I do 99%9 all of the cooking at home and like everyone else am always looking for the next best chicken recipe . This with out a doubt is the best one in hundred of recent ones. All the flavors were awesome and this was so tender it tops all. the meal was restaurant quality all the way. I will defiantly serve this when i am trying to impress

  7. 5 stars
    This is one of my favorite Cooks Illustrated recipes ever. The chicken it makes is wonderful. And the mayo is great, too. It does take time to prep the marinade (especially if you make double recipe like I do) but because it’s done the day before cooking the chicken (and can make mayo in advance, too) it makes it manageable for guests.

  8. You6 recipe was simple and straightforward plus I found it to be very tasty and your honesty how to go about it a breath of fresh air thank you.

4.82 from 11 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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