4.5 from 33 votes

Pollo loco grilled chicken

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This pollo loco grilled chicken recipe is one of a kind. It uses a blend of spices, citrus, and garlic. After marination, it gets cooked over open fire. Without doubt, It is crazy delicious chicken! Grilling the chicken gives it that additional flavor that can’t be matched any other way. In addition, accompany it with some delicious frijoles de la olla, Mexican rice, and pico de gallo.

Pollo loco served with; Mexican rice, beans, salsa, Pico de Gallo, and corn tortillas.

Pollo loco grilled chicken simply means “crazy chicken.” In fact, I was inspired by the famous chain of restaurants named “El pollo loco.” It was a personal great experience to eat at their restaurants while visiting California. I dined in with my dad. Those have become wonderful memories worth remembering. Of course, It is probably fair to say we will never know the exact recipe. But, we know it marinates in citrus, and most likely garlic, and spices. Then, It cooks over open fire.

Copy cat version

Our recipe is not the original, but it is delicious still. It remains a well balanced recipe you can make at home on repeat. Want to impress? make this pollo loco grilled chicken recipe for your loved ones. Not only are the flavors CRAZY GOOD, but you can also expect a juicy portion. I know we enjoy our cookouts. It turns into a celebration and a wonderful family time. Every bite in this chicken will ignite your taste buds. Whether you are a long-time loco loyalist, or just a curious enthusiast looking for a great meal to grill, this recipe will check the boxes for you.

FULL YouTube VIDEO tutorial on how to make pollo loco.

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Pollo loco grilled chicken

Recipe by Villa Cocina
4.5 from 33 votes
Course: MainCuisine: MexicanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time


Marinating time


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Pollo loco grilled chicken simply means “crazy chicken.” I was inspired by the famous chain of restaurants named “El pollo loco.” Although, we will never know the exact recipe; what we do know is, that it’s marinated in citrus, garlic, and spices. Want to impress? make this recipe for your loved ones.



  • Spatchcock chicken: Lay the chicken, breast side down. Using a pair of kitchen scissors cut along both sides of the backbone, through the ribs. And, remove the backbone. Identify the sternum (cartilage) where the breastbone starts and cut though it. Flip the chicken and press firmly over the breast until it lays flat. Remove any excess skin and fat. Transfer inside a large zip lock bag. Set aside until needed. 
  • Marinade: Combine the juices, garlic, and peppercorn in a blender and process until smooth. In a medium bowl, combine all of the spices, 2 tsp salt, and oil. Pour in the blended citrus mix and whisk to combine. Pour the marinade over the chicken. Remove as much air as you can from inside the bag, and seal. Move the marinade around until the entire chicken is exposed to it. Place in the fridge and marinade overnight or 24 hrs. 
  • Before grilling: Let the chicken sit at room temperature for about 15-20 minutes before grilling. That way, it cooks more evenly. 
  • Grill: Set up a two temperature grilling method. Half of the grill with charcoal (high heat zone) and half without it (indirect heat zone.) Lay the chicken on the indirect heat zone as soon as the grill reaches about 400°F, breast side up. Brush some of the marinade and sprinkle additional salt. Oil spray a few pieces of aluminum foil and cover the wings. Also, partially cover the side directly facing our high heat zone. Cover the grill. Half way through cooking brush oil over the skin and cover again. Remove the foils at any time you feel necessary. 
  • For more color: Flip over to the hot zone, breast side down until it browns. Then, lay  it back, on its original position over the indirect heat zone. Finish cooking. 
  • The chicken is done when the thickest part of the breast reaches a safe internal temperature of 165°F. Remove from the grill and let it rest for 10 minutes before carving into it. 
  • Enjoy as an entree or family style with accompaniments listed above. ENJOY!

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  1. Your El Pollo Loco recipe rocks! It has been over 40 years since I lived in SoCal and ate this yummy chicken. I had to order the Ancho Chile and Mexican oregano because our rural Oregon town market doesn’t carry them. The wait was worth it. I used skin-on chicken thighs that I had boned out and cooked them in our air frier for 12 minutes at 400 degrees. They turned out excellent, thank you! The Mexican oregano is certainly a flavor not to be ignored. I will probably cut it back a little bit the next time I make this, probably next week!

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