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    Pinchos (Puerto Rican Chicken Skewers)

    I have a confession to make! After visiting Puerto Rico a few years back, I’m completely hooked on Pinchos De Pollo – Puerto Rican Chicken Skewers!! They’re just your simple meat-on-a-stick meal, yet one of the most popular street foods out of Puerto Rico

    Picture this: juicy chicken chunks, marinated in authentic island spices, then grilled to perfection and slathered in tangy BBQ sauce. Yes, very unique chicken kebabs!

    When I’m hosting a big crowd or planning a BBQ gathering with chicken on the menu, Pinchos are my go-to choice every time. As soon as Jason fires up the grill and those chicken skewers hit the heat, their irresistible aroma fills the air, drawing in a hungry crowd from every corner.

    Pinchos de Pollo are perfectly marinated grilled chicken skewers that are a hugely popular Puerto Rican street food.

    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.

    From their amazing seafood to mofongos and local street foods, we had an absolute blast. Check out our posts “What to Eat in Puerto Rico” and “Things to do in Puerto Rico“.

    I have already created lot of Puerto Rican specials for you. My Carne Guisada, Sancocho and Bistec Enceballado are top notch, and very popular online.

    Now it’s time to present you with Pinchos, which I absolutely adored. I’ve picked up some tips and tricks from watching those street vendors in Rincon that I’d love to share with you!

    Pinchos de Pollo are perfectly marinated grilled chicken skewers that are a hugely popular Puerto Rican street food.

    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 de Pollo are perfectly marinated grilled chicken skewers that are a hugely popular Puerto Rican street food.

    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.

    Pinchos de Pollo are perfectly marinated grilled chicken skewers that are a hugely popular Puerto Rican street food.

    What Kind of Meat to Use

    Today, I’m making Pinchos de Pollo, which are chicken skewers. For the juiciest and most tender pinchos, I always use boneless chicken thighs. They’re super flavorful and stay moist when grilled. But if you prefer chicken breast, you can use that too, just know it might be a bit drier. It’s all about what you like, but for that authentic taste, chicken thighs are the way to go.

    If I’m making Pork Pinchos, or Pinchos de Cerdo, I go for tender pork tenderloin. I marinate it longer for juicier, more tender pinchos.

    Ingredients Needed:

    For my pinchos, the marinade is key. It’s got simple Latin ingredients like adobo and sazon, but they pack a punch in taste. You’ll need to grab these special ingredients from the Latin section of your grocery store to get that authentic flavor.

    • 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 – I 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.

    Pinchos de Pollo Recipe

    1. Marinate the meat: I first mix olive oil, adobo, sazón, oregano, garlic powder, cumin, and vinegar in a bowl, then toss in the chicken cubes. After giving them a good coating, I let them chill in the fridge for a few hours. Sometimes, I even let them marinate overnight for maximum flavor infusion!

    marinating chicken

    2. Prepare the chicken skewers: If I’m using bamboo skewers, I soak them in water for at least an hour before grilling. This helps prevent them from burning on the grill.

    Then, I thread the marinated chicken onto the skewers, making sure not to overcrowd them. Leaving a bit of space on each end makes them easier to handle while grilling.

    chicken on skewers before cooking

    3. Grill the Pinchos: I heat up the grill to medium heat and place the chicken skewers on it in a single layer. After 5 minutes, I brush barbecue sauce onto one side, then flip them and brush sauce on the other side.

    After another 5 minutes, I check for doneness. I brush on more sauce and cook a bit longer until the chicken reaches 170-175°F internally. Finally, I serve them up with additional BBQ sauce brushed on top. yummo!!

    grilled pinchos on a sheet pan

    How to Serve?

    I always serve Pinchos with a slice of bread, just the way they do in Puerto Rico. I grill or toast some baguette slices with a drizzle of olive oil, then skewer them on the top of the Pincho skewers. So you can eat your complete meal on the stick.

    Some like to add a side of fried plantains, Tostones.

    Tips and Tricks

    Pinchos de Pollo are perfectly marinated grilled chicken skewers that are a hugely popular Puerto Rican street food.
    1. I always go for boneless, skinless chicken thighs or tender pork for my pinchos. They make the juiciest, most tender skewers.
    2. I like to marinate the meat for a good while, to let all those delicious flavors soak in.
    3. Before grilling, I make sure to soak my bamboo skewers in water to prevent them from burning.
    4. Once the meat is marinated, I take it out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter for about 15 minutes.
    5. When threading the meat onto the skewers, I make sure they’re snug but not too tightly packed. There should be a bit of space between each piece.
    6. I often prepare the skewers ahead of time, so when it’s time to grill, it’s quick and easy.
    7. Leftover pinchos are great for meal prep. They’re versatile and can be served with rice, salads, or even with some kind of Latin rice, like Arroz con Gandules.
    Pinchos de Pollo are perfectly marinated grilled chicken skewers that are a hugely popular Puerto Rican street food.

    The next time you’re heating up that grill, go the island way and make this Latin flavor bomb happen. Try my version of Puerto Rican Chicken skewers, and have a jolly good old time.

    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!

    four pinchos on the Gypsy Plate

    Try these other great great Latin Recipes!
    Pernil (Roast Pork)
    Habichuelas Guisadas
    Birria Tacos
    Pollo Guisado
    Asopao de Camarones
    Vaca Frita
    Ropa Vieja

    featured image for pinchos de pollo recipe post

    Pinchos (Puerto Rican Chicken Skewers)

    Yield: 8-10 skewers
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 10 minutes
    Total Time: 25 minutes

    Pinchos de Pollo are perfectly marinated grilled chicken skewers that are a hugely popular Puerto Rican street food.


    • 3½ -4 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
    • ¼ cup olive oil
    • 2 tsp adobo
    • 1 Tbsp oregano
    • ½ tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 1 Tbsp vinegar
    • 2 packets sazón con culantro y achiote (from a box of multiple packets)
    • ½ cup barbecue sauce


    1. 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.
    2. 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)
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. Serve them immediately with additional BBQ sauce brushed on top, if desired along with some toasted baguette slices.


    1. Leftovers and Storing: 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.

    Nutrition Information
    Yield 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.

    Did you make this recipe?

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    Picture of Alpana, blogger and recipe developer at GypsyPlate

    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.

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