One of the most popular seasonings for meat here in Mexico is adobado, which is a catch-all term but generally means a chili pepper based sauce. If you pick your meat up from the butcher, you can get it plain or with the adobado sauce right on it. I prefer to make my own because then I can control how spicy it is (with seeds is super hot, without for more mild).

Once you know how, it’s super simple to make and is a great alternative to BBQ sauce for grilling. (By the way, Pollo Adobado just translates to “Marinated Chicken”). Nod to Rick Bayless for documenting this traditional recipe.


Adobo (marinade):

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

6 dried ancho chiles, seeded and torn (unless you like it spicy, leave a little of the seeds)

2 cups hot water

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1 3/4 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

3 garlic cloves

The full meal:

2 chicken breasts butterflied

1 cup rice prepared

Avocado sliced

12 tortillas

2 cups beans (black, bayos or pinto)

6 spring onions for grilling

Pico de Gallo (if desired)

Serves 4


You prepare the adobo first, but if you’re doing it all in one evening, you might want to start your charcoal grill at the same time, as it usually takes 30 or so minutes to heat up and by then your chicken should be ready. First, you cut and deseed the chile peppers (you can use other varieties as long as they are dried), then cook them with the oil quickly to release some of the flavor.

Put the chilies in with the hot water, cover for about 10 minutes. Pour the entire mixture into your blender with the cider vinegar, salt, sugar, oregano, black pepper, cumin, cloves, and garlic then pulse until smooth. Strain through a medium-mesh (although you can skip this, you will be fine but most Mexican homes seem to have a straining mesh because it comes up so much in their cooking, so I went out and got one).

I usually buy whole chickens, so there’s a de-boning step in here for me, but if you can just get chicken breast, that’s fine too. Throw the chicken into the marinade, then start heating up your rice, beans and slicing those avocados.

In about 15 minutes you’re going to throw the chicken and spring onions onto the grill and after about 7 minutes (depending on the heat of your grill) you’ll flip it, and 7 minutes later you’re done (give or take, keep an eye on your meat).

Serve the chicken with sliced avocado, pico de gallo, tortillas, rice and beans.