Pollo a la Plancha

Cuban Grilled Chicken
Pollo a la plancha, white rice, black beans, maduros and avocado on a blue plate. pinit

How to Make the Perfect Grilled Chicken

Pollo a la Plancha is grilled or griddled tender chicken, bathed in zesty citrus marinade (mojo), seared to a succulent golden hue, and crowned with delightful sautéed onions. The chicken breast has been pounded thin and marinated in a flavorful, bright citrus and garlic marinade (mojo). Unlock culinary magic with a “plancha,” the Spanish term for “cooking plate.” Crafted from robust cast iron, whether it’s your trusty skillet, a flat top griddle, or the BBQ, embark on a flavorful journey as I walk you through cooking the ideal Cuban-style grilled chicken – destined to be your newfound chicken obsession.

Searing chicken breast to a golden brown on a griddle.

Ingredients for the Perfect Pollo a la Plancha

To create the perfect grilled chicken, it is essential to start with the right ingredients. Cuban cuisine is known for its use of fresh, vibrant flavors, and the same applies to grilled chicken. Here are the key components that will elevate your dish to new heights:

1. Chicken: Opt for boneless skinless chicken breast. Boneless skinless thighs work well too. Pounded to 1/4″ thickness.

2. Citrus: Citrus fruits such as lime and naranja agria (bitter orange) are essential for creating the signature tangy flavor of Cuban grilled chicken. Freshly squeezed juice adds brightness to the marinade.

3. Garlic: No Cuban dish is complete without garlic. It adds depth and complexity to the marinade, infusing the chicken with robust flavor.

4. Cumin: This spice is a staple in Cuban cuisine, adding a warm, earthy note to the marinade. Be generous with the cumin for an authentic taste.

5. Oregano: A common herb in Cuban cooking, oregano brings a hint of Mediterranean influence to the dish. It complements the other flavors and adds a touch of freshness.

Marinating the Chicken

Marinating is a crucial step in creating flavorful grilled chicken. It not only tenderizes the meat but also infuses it with the vibrant flavors of the marinade. Follow these guidelines for a delicious Cuban-style marinade:

1. Combine the ingredients: In a bowl, mix together the naranja agria, lime juice, garlic, cumin, and oregano. Whisk until well combined.

2. Marinate the chicken: Place the chicken pieces in a resealable plastic bag or a shallow dish. Pour the marinade over the chicken, making sure each piece is well coated. Seal the bag or cover the dish and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Chicken marinating in a glass bowl.

3. Rotate the chicken: If marinating in a dish, flip the chicken pieces halfway through the marinating time to ensure even distribution of flavors.

Serving Suggestions and Side Dishes

Cuban grilled chicken is delicious on its own and could be served with white rice, but it can be elevated even further with the right accompaniments. Here are some traditional Cuban flavors and side dishes that pair perfectly with grilled chicken:

1. Black Beans and Rice

2. Maduros (Fried Sweet Plantains)

3. Congri – Black beans and rice cooked together.

4. Cilantro Lime Rice

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Pollo a la Plancha

Difficulty: Beginner Prep Time 1 hr Cook Time 15 mins Rest Time 5 mins Total Time 1 hr 20 mins
Servings: 4
Best Season: Available


Savor the essence of Cuba with Pollo a la Plancha: tender chicken, bathed in zesty citrus marinade, seared to a succulent golden hue, and crowned with delightful sautéed onions.

Pollo a la Plancha

Mojo for Chicken

Pollo a la Plancha Marinade Instructions

Mojo Marinade

  1. In a bowl combine the naranja agria, lime juice, garlic, oregano, cumin and salt. Set aside and let the flavors combine while preparing the chicken. 

  2. Prepare Chicken

    Put each piece of chicken between plastic wrap or in a plastic bag and pound until 1/4 inch thin. Salt both sides of chicken and add to the marinade (mojo). Let marinate for at least an hour. 

  3. Slice the onion into rings or half rings. 

  4. Cooking the Chicken

    Remove the chicken from the marinade and let the juices run off as much as possible. 

  5. Preheat a flat top griddle or a cast iron pan on medium high heat. When hot add the olive oil. 

  6. Cook chicken for about 3-4 minutes per side until the chicken is seared to a golden brown. Add sliced onions and cook with the chicken. Remove the chicken and top with the cooked onions. 

Keywords: chicken dinner, weeknight dinner, pollo, pollo a la plancha
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