Pinchos are just your simple meat-on-a-stick meal, but these tender bites are super delicious. Get ready to grill one of the most popular street foods out of Puerto Rico… Pinchos De Pollo!!
The snuggly threaded chicken cubes are marinated in amazing island flavors and grilled to perfection, then slathered with BBQ sauce. Yes, very unique chicken kebabs!
Nothing beats the aroma and the sight when it comes off the grill, sizzling with barbecue glaze. Grill bunches of pinchos, and feed your whole crew with these flavorful, simple Puerto Rican Chicken Skewers.
One thing that every single tourist who visits Puerto Rico would agree on is that they have some of the best food you can eat. In fact, food was a big reason that we planned our trip to Puerto Rico last year.
Now it’s time to present you with Pinchos, which we absolutely adored. The aromas draw you towards those street carts selling these simple hand held meats. That first bite you take, and the pleased, satisfies smile when you finish it off the stick… we remember it all.
You Will Love these Pinchos as Much as We do, Why?
- For the BIG huge flavors. And you only need a few simple Latin ingredients to make it happen.
- They’re a crowd pleaser. Every one loves “meat on the stick” meals.
- They are economical and budget friendly, making them perfect for your next get together. Great BBQ meal option.
- Quick 10 minute grill time, giving you more time to entertain.
- Feed pinchos on a stick topped with some toasted baguette, and you skip the dinner plates and clean up. Very cool.
What are Pinchos?
Pinchos are a very popular Puerto Rican street food, and are also cooked in homes for special gatherings and get togethers.
You will find street side carts and small vendors with their makeshift stands grilling the meat on skewers. “Pinchos” is derived from the Basque word “pintxos,” meaning “skewers” or “spikes.”
Pinchos are marinated meat chunks on a stick. Chicken and pork pinchos are most popular, but you can come across beef pinchos every now and then.
The skewers are mostly grilled over charcoal, and slathered with some kind of sauce, mostly BBQ sauce. This caramelizes the meat, giving it beautiful flavor and smoky perfection. Pinchos are commonly paired with bread spiked on top of the skewer.
It is believed that the origins of pinchos come from the Basque country of northern Spain. In Spain, Pinchos are very popular tapas served in taverns and bars. Small bites of proteins are usually ‘spiked’ with a skewer or toothpick, often to a piece of bread.
In Puerto Rico, on the other hand, Pinchos are marinated and barbecued meat skewers. Pork and chicken pinchos are all over the island, making it their beloved No. 1 fast food dish to go.
What Kind of Meat to Use for Pinchos?
Today we are making Pinchos de Pollo, which is Pinchos with Chicken. For the best, juicy and tender pinchos, we highly recommend using boneless chicken thighs. It’s a fattier cut and always yields juicer bites than any white meat.
Saying, that if you prefer chicken breast, they can be made with white meat. Note that they won’t be as tender and juicy as they’re supposed to be. It’s more traditional to use chicken thigh for pinchos.
If you’re making Pork Pinchos, or Pinchos de Cerdo, go for tender pork tenderloin, and marinate it longer for juicy, tender pinchos.
Pinchos De Pollo Ingredients:
The biggest secret for great tasting pinchos is in the marinade. It’s has simple Latin ingredients, adobo and sazon, but they are big flavor enhancers. You definitely need to buy these special ingredients from the Latin section of your grocery store to make this happen.
- Boneless, skinless chicken thighs – Cut them into bite sized cubes.
- For marinade – Olive oil, adobo, oregano, garlic powder, cumin, sazón con culantro y achiote, vinegar.
- BBQ sauce – We used Sweet Baby Ray’s, but you can use any of your favorite BBQ sauce. On the island, tangy sweet guava BBQ sauce is very popular.
Puerto Rican Pinchos Recipe
1. Marinate the meat: Marinate chicken cubes with olive oil, adobo, sazón, oregano, garlic powder, cumin and vinegar in a large bowl. Mix well until the marinade is well coated all over the chicken pieces. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours. (For best results, marinate in the morning to cook for dinner, or even overnight marination for full on flavors.)
2. Prepare the chicken skewers: If using bamboo skewers, place them in a dish of water to soak for at least 1 hour before grilling time. Make sure the skewers are completely submerged in the water.
Thread the chicken pieces onto the skewers, making sure that the chicken is packed snuggly, but not too tightly. Slide chicken onto the skewers, leaving space on each end so you can handle them with ease.
3. Grill the Pinchos: Heat a grill to medium heat, then place the chicken on to the grill in a single layer. Grill the chicken for 5 minutes, then brush with barbecue sauce before flipping over and brushing barbecue sauce on the other side.
Cook for 5 more minutes, then check chicken for doneness. Brush more barbecue sauce onto the pinchos and cook for a few more minutes, or until chicken has reached an internal temperature of 170-175°F for tender moist bites. Serve them immediately with additional BBQ sauce brushed on top, if desired.
How to Serve the Pinchos?
Pinchos are commonly served with a piece of bread. Baguette is grilled or toasted with a little drizzle of olive oil, and is spiked on the head of the Pincho skewers. So you can eat your complete meal on the stick.
Some like it with a side of fried plantain, Tostones.
Pinchos Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Always use boneless, skinless chicken thighs or tender cuts of pork for juicy, tender pinchos.
- Marinate the meat for a longer time, as it needs time to penetrate the flavor into the meat for delicious pinchos.
- If using bamboo skewers, always soak them in water to avoid them catching fire.
- Take the marinated meat out of the refrigerator and leave on the counter for 15 minutes before grilling.
- Thread the meat cubes snuggly, but do not pack them up too tightly. They should slightly touch each other. Always leave a few inches on both ends to handle them during cooking, and for easy hand held eating.
- You can prepare the meat skewers ahead of time, then all is left is to grill them in a jiffy for a big gathering.
- They are great as leftovers, so you can make them in bulk and use pinchos as a meal prep option. The meat can be served in different ways. You can eat it in rice bowl meals, with salads, and even with some kind of Latin rice, like Arroz con Gandules.
Leftovers and Storage
These Puerto Rican chicken skewers refrigerate really well when stored in an airtight container in the fridge. They are great as leftovers for up to 5 days.
Reheat them in a 350°F oven, or in the microwave, until warmed through.
The next time you’re heating up that grill, go the island way and make this Latin flavor bomb happen. Try these easy Puerto Rican Chicken skewers, and marvel at good old simple flavors.
Introduce these new BBQ flavors to your friends and family at your next get together, and let the fun begin with this easy, fun hand held meat-on-a-stick!! Pinchos De Pollo, all the way from the Caribbean.
Pinchos de Pollo, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
- 3½ -4 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tsp adobo
- 1 Tbsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 Tbsp vinegar
- 2 packets sazón con culantro y achiote (from a box of multiple packets)
- 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
- If using bamboo skewers, place the bamboo skewers in a dish of water to soak at least 1 hour before grilling time. Make sure the skewers are completely submerged in the water.
- Marinate chicken cubes with olive oil, adobo, sazón, oregano, garlic powder, cumin and vinegar in a large bowl. Mix well until the chicken is well coated with marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours. (For best results, marinate in the morning to cook for dinner)
- Thread the chicken pieces onto the skewers, making sure that the chicken is packed snuggly, but not too tightly. Slide chicken onto the skewers, leaving space on each end so you can handle them with ease.
- Heat a grill to medium heat, then place the chicken on to the grill in a single layer. Grill the chicken for 5 minutes, then brush with barbecue sauce before flipping the chicken over and brushing barbecue sauce on the other side.
- Cook for 5 more minutes, then check chicken for doneness. Brush more barbecue sauce onto the pinchos and cook for a few more minutes, or until chicken has reached an internal temperature of 170-175°F for tender moist bites.
- Serve them immediately with additional BBQ sauce brushed on top, if desired along with some toasted baguette slices.
Nutrition InformationYield 9 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 415Total Fat 22gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 16gCholesterol 246mgSodium 524mgCarbohydrates 7gFiber 0gSugar 5gProtein 49g
Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.
Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.
Never miss a recipe!
Join the GypsyPlate mailing list and get easy dinner recipes right in your mailbox. From homestyle comfort food to exotic dishes from around the world.