This Mexican grilled chicken breast (pachuga asada) is a mouthwatering dish that features juicy, tender chicken breasts marinated in a blend of savory spices and grilled to perfection.
What is Pechuga Asada
Pechuga Asada is exactly the same as Pollo Asado, with the exception that the former uses chicken breasts exclusively while the latter can be any part of the chicken.
It translates to grilled chicken breast, while pollo asado translates to grilled chicken.
Both use the same typical marinade and are grilled.
Why You Will Love This Recipe
Mexican grilled chicken breast is a perfect way to mix up the flavors of the often grilled chicken.
We eat a ton of chicken, and it’s grilled 99% of the time. We have our go-to marinade that we like, and we usually grill extra for meal prep.
But as you know, sometimes the same old thing can get boring, which is why we decided to mix it up.
Right up the road from us is a good Mexican restaurant with a pretty decent selection on their menu. I decided to try their pechuga asada instead of going with a favorite of mine (carnitas).
I was rather bowled over. I knew I was getting grilled chicken. I knew I was going to get the rice and beans, tortillas, pico de Gallo, warm tortillas, etc.
What I didn’t know I was going to get was a very juicy and spiced-up chicken breast that looked as good as it tasted.
The charred and caramelized exterior and succulent and flavorful meat were a feast for the eyes and taste buds. It had a wonderful, vibrant, golden-brown color that had me diving in immediately.
I was hooked. I knew we had to do this. The recipe itself doesn’t call for anything too crazy, which was surprising.
The best thing about this recipe is that it’s not hard AND it gives you such an amazingly delicious grilled chicken breast that is wildly different than the standard grilled chicken.
Plus, you can eat it as-is, with your favorite sides. Or you can cut it up and toss it on a tortilla with all the accouterments your heart desires.
It’s visually appealing, tastes amazing, and it’s not difficult at all to pull off. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
Need some tasty sides to go along with this. We got you. Our Mexican pinto beans, Mexican Street Corn Salad, Mexican Rice, or Cilantro Lime Rice would all be great additions to this fabulous Mexican grilled chicken breast.
The only thing that you might not have (or might) is Annatto. This is what gives the chicken that fabulous reddish-orange color.
It is a very mild spice that is used more for color than anything else. It is easily found in your local grocery store or Walmart.
Everything else is standard, which makes this dish easy to toss together. If you’re looking for a good Mexican chicken marinade recipe, you got it!
Chicken Breasts – We butterfly ours and pound them out evenly. This is not a requirement, but it does allow for a nice fast grill time.
Annatto – also known as achiote, is a natural orange-red food coloring and flavoring derived from the seeds of the achiote tree. This will add a vibrant color and subtle flavor to the chicken marinade.
Orange and Lime Juice – adds a tangy flavor and acidity, which helps to tenderize and flavor the meat. These citrus notes also complement other spices and flavors, resulting in a more tender, juicy, and delicious finished product.
Mexican oregano, cumin, and coriander – essential ingredients in Latin American cuisine, adding distinct, robust, warm, smoky, and citrusy flavors to dishes. Together, they create a harmonious balance of flavors that is the hallmark of Latin American cuisine.
Olive oil, garlic, onion powder, salt, and pepper – Garlic adds pungent sweetness, onion powder adds a savory taste, salt enhances flavors, and pepper adds mild spiciness. Used together in moderation, they bring out the best in any dish.
How To Prepare Mexican Grilled Chicken Breast (Pechuga Asada)
Butterfly the chicken breasts by slicing them in half-width ways so you end up with four thin chicken breast cutlets.
Place a sheet of plastic wrap down on a cutting board and lay a cutlet down upon it. Cover it with an additional sheet of plastic wrap.
Pound the chicken breast to an even thickness using a meat tenderizer or some other kitchen implement.
Repeat the process until all the chicken breasts have been pounded into an even thickness. Set aside.
Add the orange juice and lime juice to a measuring cup or bowl. Next, add all the spices. Mix to combine well. It will be thick.
Next, add the olive oil and mix with a whisk to combine well. You will end up with a thick paste.
Add the chicken breasts to a zip lock plastic bag and add half the marinade. Mix it around to coat the chicken. You could also do this in a large bowl.
Add the remaining marinade and continue to coat the chicken until each piece is well coated.
Remove the chicken and place it into a receptacle. Smear marinade around each piece making sure they’re all well covered.
Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours. The longer you let it marinade, the more flavor you are going to have. We marinate ours for six hours.
When you’re ready to eat, get the grill going. When it’s ready, place it over direct heat (a good medium high heat) and grill for two to three minutes on each side.
If you don’t flatten out your chicken breasts, the cook time will be different. Plan on 6-8 minutes on one side and 5-7 minutes on the other.
We use our charcoal grill for this recipe. Any outdoor grill will work.
If you choose not to butterfly the chicken breast, grill the chicken until you have a good char and caramelization, then move the chicken to the side of the grill to indirect heat until it reaches 165 degrees F internal temperature.
If you want to ensure the chicken is done before removing it, use a meat thermometer or an instant-read thermometer. When the chicken hits 165 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s done.
Remove and let it rest for a couple of minutes before serving. We want juicy chicken breasts, so it’s important to let them rest a bit. Dry chicken can be a real bummer.
That charred and caramelized exterior is amazing, but when you bite into this chicken, you’re going to be hit with bold and savory flavors that’ll knock your socks off.
All those spices come through, giving you a delicious piece of chicken breast with tons of Latin flavor.
Serve this up with your favorite sides and watch them come running. Personally, I like slicing it up and putting it into a warm tortilla with some pico and cilantro. Simple and delicious!
This easy recipe will surprise you. Give it a whirl next time you’re thinking about grilling up some chicken. You won’t be sorry. This Mexican grilled chicken recipe is a keeper.
Tips and Variations
- This recipe works great for a whole chicken as well. Just double the marinade ingredients.
- You can marinade this overnight to really bump up the flavor. Before grilling the next day, pull it out of the refrigerator about an hour before to take the chill off.
- Achiote paste can be substituted for the marinade ingredients. It has many of the spices already in it. Nothing beats fresh, though.
- The recipe calls for fresh orange juice and fresh lime juice. You can use bitter orange as a substitute for both of these. You can really play around with the citrus juice. Pineapple juice would be a fun thing to try.
- You can substitute diced garlic for 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder to make it all the easier.
- The secret is to get a nice char on the chicken. We cut ours thinly so it cooks all the faster. If you have a good char on your meat, but it still needs more time, use indirect cooking to finish it up.
- To ensure juicy grilled chicken, pull it off at 165 degrees F and let it rest before slicing. Flavorful, juicy chicken is easy to make if you follow this rule.
- When you serve, finish it off by squeezing some fresh lime juice over the chicken. That vibrant hit of citrus makes the chicken sing!
- Yes, you can use boneless skinless chicken thighs if you like.
- This is a great way to do up a lot of chicken. This Mexican grilled chicken, with all those wonderful Mexican spices, is great in so many dishes. We always make more than we need. The leftover chicken can be used in wraps, salads, burrito bowls, etc.
The only difference between Pechuga Asada and Pollo Asado is that the former specifically uses chicken breasts, whereas the latter can utilize any part of the chicken.
Other Tasty Mexican Dishes
Grilled Mexican Chicken Breast (Pechuga Asada)
- 2 Chicken breasts Butterflied, for 4 thin breasts, about 2 lbs.
- 2 tbsp Annatto
- 2 tbsp Olive oil
- 2 tbsp Orange juice fresh
- 1 tbsp Lime juice fresh
- 2 tsp Coriander
- 1 tsp Onion powder
- 1 tsp Mexican oregano
- 2 cloves Garlic diced
- 1/2 tsp Cumin
- 1 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp Black pepper
- Butterfly the chicken breasts by slicing them in half-width ways so you end up with four thin chicken breast cutlets.2 Chicken breasts
- Pound the chicken breast to an even thickness using a meat tenderizer or some other kitchen implement.
- Repeat the process until all the chicken breasts have been pounded into an even thickness. Set aside.
- Add the orange juice and lime juice to a measuring cup or bowl. Next, add all the spices. Mix to combine well. It will be thick.2 tbsp Annatto, 2 tbsp Orange juice, 1 tbsp Lime juice, 2 tsp Coriander, 1 tsp Onion powder, 1 tsp Mexican oregano, 2 cloves Garlic, 1/2 tsp Cumin, 1 1/4 tsp Kosher salt, 1/4 tsp Black pepper
- Next, add the olive oil and mix with a whisk to combine well. You will end up with a thick paste.2 tbsp Olive oil
- Add the chicken breasts to a zip lock plastic bag and add half the marinade. Mix it around to coat the chicken. You could also do this in a large bowl.
- Add the remaining marinade and continue to coat the chicken until each piece is well coated.
- Remove the chicken and place it into a receptacle. Smear marinade around each piece making sure they’re all well covered.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours. The longer you let it marinade, the more flavor you are going to have.
- When you’re ready to eat, get the grill going. When it’s ready, place it over direct heat and grill for two to three minutes on each side.
- If you want to ensure the chicken is done before removing it, use a meat thermometer or an instant-read thermometer. When the chicken hits 165 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s done.
- Remove and let it rest for a couple of minutes before serving.
- Serve this up with your favorite sides.