Pollo Pibil

The chicken for my paleo chilaquiles was inspired by my trip to Tulum, where you can find pollo pibil at pretty much all the local taco shops and chicken stands. I think I am most inspired by the food of the Yucatan Peninsula. As a matter of fact I flip, through David Sterling’s gigantic cookbook on the topic and dream of Mexico all the time.

What are Recados?

The food in this part of the Mexico revolves around seasoning pastes called recados. One of the most common is Recado Rojo. If you visit a market during your trip to Mexico you are sure to discover a stall selling recados in all colors of the rainbow, red, black, green. Many of these recados are hard to find here in the US, but recado rojo can be found pretty easily.

Recado Rojo is an achiote paste mixed with spices can be purchased at any local specialty grocer, local latin grocer or online. If you buy your achiote paste at a latin grocery store go ahead and buy some banana leaves. You will end up with WAAAAY more banana leaves than you need, but don’t worry the whole darn bag is less than $2.00

Banana Leaves and Sour Orange

You don’t HAVE to use banana leaves but I think cooking the chicken in in the banana leaves gives a lovely flavor that can’t be replicated. Very much like the Honduran Skirt Steak, this marinade traditionally calls for naranja agria (sour orange). However, this particular ingredient is EXTREMELY difficult to find here in the US. So, we are using a combination of orange, lime and grapefruit juice to bring that lovely sour, sweet citrus flavor to the party. Naranja Agria might seem exotic and hard but, it is actually very simple to make. Don’t let the unfamiliar ingredients scare you away from make it!

Once you have made the pollo pibil you can use it all kinds of ways! Crisp it up in a pan and use it on tacos, in the morning with eggs, in a fitatta, buritto, a mexican inspired soup. There is no limit to what you can do… if it sounds good; try it!

My Recommendations

My Mexico


Achiote Paste

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Pollo Pibil

Pollo Pibil

This bright red chicken, is simple to make! Enjoy in your tacos. salads or on your chilaquiles!


  • 8 Chicken Thighs, Bone in, skin on
  • 1 cup Orange juice
  • 1/2 cup Lime juice
  • 1/4 cup Grapefruit juice
  • 8 tbs Achiote Paste
  • salt, Kosher
  • 2-3 Banana Leaves


  1. Two days before you are ready to cook salt your chicken liberally and refridgerate overnight
  2. One day before you are ready to cook. Combine your juices, achiote paste and salt and puree untill all the achiote paste is completly integrated into the liquid. Taste and add more salt if needed.
  3. In a large container with a lid or a zip top bag, add your chicken and pour in the marinde. Refrigerate 4-24 hours.
  4. Day you are ready to eat! In a dutch oven, place a layer of banana leaves in the bottom of the pan, with the leaves coming up the sides of the pot. Pour in your chicken and the marinade and top with banana leaves. 
  5. Put on the lid and bring the liquid to a boil. Once it begins to boil reduce heat to med-low and simmer the chicken 30-45 minutes until chicken is cooked through and shredable.
  6. Allow to cool, and shred chicken


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