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Authentic El Pollo Loco Chicken Marinade

This deliciously spicy El Pollo Loco chicken marinade is flavored with lime juice, oregano, garlic, and chilies. The recipe calls for yellow food coloring so the finished chicken resembles the chicken you get at El Pollo Loco but you can leave this out if you want. It will taste identical with or without, and some people do not like to add artificial color to their food anyway.

To prepare the chili pepper, you need to remove the stem and seeds and then mince it finely. It is a good idea to wear gloves while you do this or to wash your hands immediately afterwards with hot soapy water; chilies can be an irritant to the skin. Perhaps you do not like spicy food but are attracted to the rest of the recipe. When making homemade marinades you can simply omit anything you do not want.

You will need to reserve a little of the marinade for basting. Keep this separate from the raw chicken, since the raw chicken would contaminate it else. Basting adds even more flavor to the chicken while it is cooking, and also helps to add moisture. Marinated chicken is already juicy but basting it makes it even more so.

El Pollo Loco Chicken Marinade with Chilies
Summary: Create your own Pollo Loco chicken with this flavorful chicken marinade. Featuring garlic, chili, lime juice and more, your chicken is going to taste amazing.
Cuisine: Mexican
Recipe type: Marinade
Serves: 6
Prep time: 
Total time: 
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 6 oz pineapple juice
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon finely minced chili pepper (Anaheim or similar)
  • 2 whole minced garlic cloves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 9 drops yellow food coloring
  • 4 lbs chopped fryer chicken
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  1. Combine everything except the chicken in a small bowl.
  2. Measure out ¼ cup of the marinade and reserve it for basting.
  3. Put the chicken in a shallow glass dish and cover it with marinade.
  4. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, turning once or twice.
  5. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 45 minutes before cooking it.
  6. Drain the chicken and grill it for about 30 minutes over medium coals or until no pinkness remains inside.
  7. Turn it every 10 minutes as it cooks and baste it often with the reserved ¼ cup of marinade.

Photo Description:

The chicken is served with asparagus and rice, and decorated with strips of red bell pepper (or chilies) and fresh herbs, for an attractive presentation. This spicy chicken goes well with relatively plain side dishes because it is very flavorful already and offers some spice of its own because of the chilies in the marinade, so make the chicken the star of the meal and do not serve anything which might clash with its flavor. You can see how appealing its golden brown exterior is, and imagine how tasty and juicy the chicken will be.


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Christine Szalay-Kudra

Hello, I'm Christine. Thanks for dropping by and welcome to Amazing Sauces. Food is a very important part of our family's lives, and I find a homemade sauce often finishes a dish perfectly. Whether you are making something with chicken, beef, pork, vegetables, an appetizer, or even a dessert recipe, a sauce is often the ideal finishing touch.

You will find many sauce recipes here, all conveniently in one place, from the classics like tomato sauce, béchamel sauce and cheese sauce, to gravies, marinades, and unusual ideas for sauces too like ginger-plum sauce or gorgonzola sauce.

Some sauces can be drizzled over the meal, while others are best served on the side. Some will work as a dip or sauce, while others are great for basting, marinating or adding a splash of color to a recipe. Try our creamy gravies with your breakfast, one of our international steak marinades for a sophisticated spin on dinner, or learn how to make a classic béarnaise or rich red wine sauce to complement your dish.

Thanks for visiting,


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