This grilled Peruvian chicken with green sauce is a juicy marinated chicken thigh topped with a creamy green sauce that packs a bit of a kick. The official recipe title is Pollo a la Brasa with Aji Verde Sauce and is a super flavorful recipe that will soon become a favorite.
Starting with a wonderful marinade for boneless chicken thighs, the recipe infuses a fusion of garlic, herbs, and aji amarillo paste into the chicken. The marinade amps up the juiciness as well as a hint of spice to the meat. Grilling adds even more flavor to the chicken. But the piece de resistance is the Peruvian Green Sauce that is so delicious, you may want to lick the plate to get it all.
Aji Amarillo Paste is the Key Ingredient in Peruvian Chicken with Green Sauce
Aji Amarillo chilies are a bright yellow-orange pepper that grows in Peru. The taste has a pronounced fruity flavor, (think a hint of mango and passion fruit) that ends with some heat similar to a jalapeño. The paste is composed of pureed aji amarillo chilies, garlic, and red onion. These three ingredients are the holy trinity of Peruvian cuisine just as green pepper, garlic, and onion form the holy trinity of Cajun cuisine. Check out this post to learn how important aromatics are to dishes.
You can find jars of aji amarillo paste in the ethnic aisle of the grocery store. (It might require a careful search, but Goya company makes this sauce as well as other manufacturers.)
Two Recipes in One
Peruvian Chicken with Green Sauce is actually a combo recipe. The chicken is marinated in a delicious marinade that pumps up the moistness and flavor of the chicken thighs. For a more detailed explanation of what a marinade does for chicken, check out this post.
I like to use skin-on but boned thighs for this dish as that combination makes it easy to cut the chicken into bites, while the skin protects the meat during grilling. You can always substitute with regular bone-in chicken thighs. Use caution if you want to substitute boneless chicken breasts as it is very easy to overcook them. I would suggest staying with thigh meat for this recipe.
The green sauce is what transforms this dish from great to fabulous. Now that you have the recipe, try it on any meat that you want to add some pizzaz to. I served some leftover sauce with grilled and smoked shrimp was amazed at how well they worked together. A definite meal to make again.
Tip for Creamy Smooth Green Sauce
Just make sure to use a blender to make the sauce in order to blend the cilantro with the other ingredients. A food processor produces a sauce that is not as refined, more like pesto, where the same ingredients processed in a blender will result in a creamy smooth sauce.Print
This grilled Peruvian chicken with green sauce is a juicy marinated chicken thigh topped with a creamy green cilantro sauce that packs a bit of a kick.
- 8 skin on, boneless chicken thighs (about 3 pounds) Make friends with the meat department and ask them or remove the bones or you can easily do it yourself.
- 1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari sauce
- 3 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 tablespoons aji amarillo paste (Peruvian yellow chili paste)
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1/2 lime, zested and juiced (1 tablespoon lime juice, 1 teaspoon lime zest)
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Peruvian Green Sauce (Aji Verde)
- 1–1/2 tablespoons aji amarillo paste
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon lime juice (other half of lime used in the marinade and zest of half a lime about 1 teaspoon)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and coarsely chopped
- 1 bunch cilantro, wash, trim end of stems, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup of leaves and stems)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/3 cup green onions, both white and green parts, roughly chopped into 1” pieces (about 3)
- 1 teaspoon honey, or more to taste
- Trim chicken thighs.
- In a zip-close bag, combine the marinade ingredients and stir to combine.
- Add the chicken thighs and make sure the meat is well coated with the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
- In a blender or food processor, make the Green Sauce. Combine the aji amarillo paste, mustard, lime juice and zest, cumin and mayonnaise in the container first. Then layer the chopped jalapeño, cilantro and green onion on top. Finish with 1 teaspoon of honey and process until smooth.
- Taste and add a touch more honey if desired as well as salt and pepper to taste.
- Set aside until ready to serve. (I usually make the Green sauce at the same time as I make the marinade and store it in the refrigerator.
- Preheat the grill or grill pan to medium high heat.
- Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade and pat the meat well on all sides to remove the surface moisture.
- Lightly oil the grates and preheat the grill or grill pan to medium-high heat (375°F)
- Arrange the chicken thighs on grill and cook for 5-7 minutes (rotate each thigh 90° after 4 minutes to get the cross hatch grill mark.
- Flip the chicken thighs over and continue cooking for another 10 minutes on the other side.
- Reduce the grill temperature to medium low and continue to cook until the internal temperature of each chop reaches 165°F,. Depending on the thickness of the meat and the grill conditions this could take anywhere between 5-10 more minutes). If using a grill pan, once you achieve grill marks, move the grill pan into a preheated 325°F oven and cook until the chicken thighs reach an internal temperature of 165°F.
- Remove the chicken from the grill or grill pan and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Check the consistency of the Green Sauce and add 1-2 tablespoon of water to the sauce if needed to thin it to the proper consistency.
- Garnish the chicken thighs with cilantro and lime wedges and sprinkle with crumbled cojita cheese.
- Pass the green sauce so everyone can drizzle plenty of creamy goodness on their chicken.