Cuban Pollo al la Plancha is citrus marinated thin chicken breast grilled or seared to golden tender perfection, then topped with sautéed onions.
Todays pollo a la plancha, or grilled chicken, is another fine example.
Why this Recipe Works
- The Marinade: The blend of citrus juices and spices tenderizes the chicken, infusing it with a zesty, savory flavor that’s hard to resist.
- Texture: Pounding the chicken ensures an even thickness, promoting a uniform cook and a pleasingly tender and moist texture with each bite.
- High-Heat: Cooking the chicken on medium-high heat achieves a delectably browned exterior while retaining a juicy interior.
- Onion: The sautéed onions add a sweet, slightly caramelized flavor contrast that complements the robustness of the marinated chicken exceptionally well.
- Nutrition: With a balanced profile of protein, healthy fats, and low carbohydrates, it’s a nutritious choice that doesn’t compromise on flavor.
- Simple Steps: The recipe is straightforward with easy-to-follow steps, making it a practical choice for both Weeknight Dinners and special occasions.
- Cuban Charm: This recipe is a delightful representation of Cuban culinary tradition, allowing the eater to embark on a flavorful journey to the heart of the Caribbean.
What is Pollo a la Plancha?
Pollo a la Plancha, which translates to “chicken on the grill” in English, is a staple both in Cuban households and Cuban restaurants.
At its core, Pollo a la Plancha involves marinating chicken cutlets in a blend of spices and citrus juices, essentially Mojo Marinade, then searing them on a griddle or skillet.
Also sometimes called Pechugas a la Plancha, where pechuga means chicken breast, this seared chicken is typically topped with sautéed onions.
Its popularity is rooted in its straightforward preparation, flavorful outcome, and the comforting familiarity it holds for many who grew up enjoying it.
- Chicken – Boneless, skinless breast is what’s traditionally used. They will be sliced lengthwise, then pounded flat, resulting in tender chicken which cooks in a flash.
- Orange Juice and Lime Juice – The combination of orange and lime juice provides a delightful citrus base for the marinade. Feel free to change the ratios, or sub in other citrus juices like grapefruit and lemon.
- Garlic – Garlic is a cornerstone flavor in many Cuban dishes. Always use fresh garlic.
- Sazon Completa – This is a versatile, all-purpose seasoning used in Cuban cuisine. It often contains garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, salt, pepper, and sometimes additional spices. You should easily be able to find it in the spice aisle, or by the Latin food at most major supermarkets.
- Oregano – We are using dried today, but if you happen to have fresh feel free to use that. Replace the 1 teaspoon of dried with 1 tablespoon of fresh.
- Cumin – Just a little bit, for undertones rather than to overpower.
- Oil – We use regular olive oil, but you could also use any light, neutral flavored cooking oil such as canola.
- Onion – Sautéed onion provides a sweet, slightly caramelized flavor which contrasts and complements the savory, spiced chicken.
- Cilantro – For garnish.
How to Make Pollo a la Plancha
1. Prep the chicken: One at a time, place chicken cutlets into a zip top bag, then pound with a meat mallet or similar object to ¼ thick. Place in a shallow dish, then pour in the marinade. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes (longer for more flavor).
2. Sear: Working in batches if necessary, cook chicken about 3-4 minutes per side, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. Remove to a platter. In the same skillet, sauté onion until it has softened and begun to brown up.
3. Serve: Top the chicken with fried onions, garnish with cilantro, and serve with your favorite accompaniments.
As mentioned above, the traditional way to serve pollo a la plancha is alongside white rice, black beans and plantains.
That being said, it’s simple nature allows this dish to shine with a variety of sides. Try it with different rice dishes, like Arroz con Gandules. Or change up the sweet contrast by swapping plantains for Mango Salsa.
We also love a side of sliced avocado.
Recipe Tips and Notes
- Pounding the Chicken: Pounding the chicken to an even thickness ensures that it cooks evenly. It’s a crucial step to avoid over or under-cooked chicken. If you don’t have a meat mallet, you can easily use a rolling pin, heavy skillet, or even an empty wine bottle!
- Marinade Time: The longer the chicken marinates, the more flavorful it will be. If possible, marinate the chicken for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
- Cooking Surface: A griddle or cast-iron skillet is ideal for cooking Pollo a la Plancha, as they retain heat well and provide a nice sear on the chicken. If you have a Blackstone, this is a great use for it.
- Oil Temperature: Ensure the oil is hot before adding the chicken. However, be cautious to not have the heat too high as it can cause the chicken to burn.
- Internal Temperature: Safety first. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken to ensure it reaches 165°F.
- Rest the Chicken: Allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes before serving. This helps the juices redistribute throughout the chicken, keeping it moist.
Storing and Reheating Leftovers
Leftovers refrigerate well for 3-4 days in an airtight container. They can also be frozen for about 2 months in a freezer-safe zip top bag. Just thaw in the fridge overnight before eating.
When ready to enjoy, reheat in the microwave, or on stovetop in a covered, lightly greased skillet with a splash of water. If reheating on stovetop, we recommend removing the chicken from the fridge for about half hour beforehand to come up to room temperature.
So simple, so good. Cook our Pollo a la Plancha in your own kitchen, and find out why it’s one of the most popular Cuban dishes out there!
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Pollo a la Plancha, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced lengthwise into cutlets
- ¼ cup orange juice
- ¼ cup lime juice
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1.5 Tbsp Sazon completa
- 1 tsp oregano
- ½ tsp cumin
- 4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 onion, sliced
- cilantro, for garnish
- One at a time, place chicken cutlets into a zip top bag, then pound with a meat mallet or similar object to ¼ thick. Place in a shallow dish.
- In a bowl, whisk together orange juice, lime juice, garlic, Sazon completa, oregano, cumin and 2 Tbsp oil.
- Pour prepared marinade over chicken, and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes (longer for more flavor).
- Heat remaining oil in a skillet or on a griddle over medium-high heat. Working in batches if necessary, cook chicken about 3-4 minutes per side, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. Remove to a platter.
- In the same skillet, sauté onion until it has softened and begun to brown up.
- Serve chicken topped with onion and garnished with cilantro, along with white rice, black beans, tostones or maduros, and lime wedges.
- If you do not have a meat mallet, you can use a rolling pin, heavy skillet, or empty wine bottle.
- For best results, allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes before serving. This helps the juices redistribute throughout the chicken, keeping it moist.
- If you have fresh oregano on hand, use 1 tablespoon fresh in place of 1 teaspoon dried.
- Feel free to change the juice ratios, of sub in other citrus juices like grapefruit and lemon.
- Refrigerate leftovers for 3-4 days in an airtight container. Reheat in the microwave, or on stovetop in a covered, lightly greased skillet with a splash of water.
Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 242Total Fat 16gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 13gCholesterol 51mgSodium 47mgCarbohydrates 5gFiber 1gSugar 3gProtein 19g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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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