El Pollo Loco Chicken marinated in citrus and pineapple juice overnight for the PERFECT El Pollo Loco copycat recipe!
El Pollo Loco Chicken is hard to describe if you’re not local to the restaurant. There is a definite citrus flavor, but there is also a definite brick chicken quality to it. I used to watch them cook the chicken on my lunch hour while waiting for my food, I’d see them put a metal press on top of it. While you don’t HAVE to do this, it is the best way to get a delicious crispy skin on the chicken.
And if you’re an old school El Pollo Loco Chicken lover like I am, pair this with El Pollo Loco BBQ Black Beans (Copycat) for the perfect meal!
Looking for more copycat Mexican recipes?
- Chipotle Corn Salsa (Copycat)
- Chipotle Lime Chips and Guacamole (Copycat)
- Chipotle Barbacoa Beef (Copycat)
- Guapo’s Famous Fresh Pico de Gallo
Or perhaps you want more chicken copycat recipes!
- KFC Original Recipe Chicken (Copycat)
- Pioneer Take-Out Fried Chicken
- Tony Roma’s BBQ Chicken
- Panda Express Orange Chicken (Copycat)
- Chick-fil-A Nuggets (Copycat)
Some important notes about this El Pollo Loco Chicken:
- Yes, El Pollo Loco uses food coloring. They do it to make the chicken look better. This adds nothing to the flavor so I left it out but notated it into the recipe for you.
- They marinade the chicken for an extended period of time. That is why there is so much flavor in the chicken without any sauce! The flavors are similar to this Slow Cooker Cuban Mojo Pork.
- Yes, you can and should make this in the slow cooker too! I do it all the time. When done I just crisp under the broiler for a minute then shred into tacos. Tastes like chicken carnitas.
- You can cook it through on your stovetop too if you don’t want to bake, but careful you don’t burn the skin too much. The flavor of the pressed crispy skin is vital to el pollo loco.
Tools Used in making this El Pollo Loco Chicken recipe:
Grill Pan: Love this for cooking and pressing foods, the grill marks are great without having to go outside and be in nature. 🙂
Grill Press: I use this for bacon, chicken, stuffed foods, rolled foods, etc. A great kitchen tool.
Pig Tail Flipper: I use this to flip the chicken without damaging the skin and its super easy. I use this tool EVERY time I cook something that requires flipping, it is amazing.
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1/4 jalapeno seeded and minced very finely
- 1 cup pineapple juice
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 8 chicken thighs bone in and skin on
- Mix up all the ingredients except for the chicken into a large bowl.
- Whisk well then reserve ¼ cup of the marinade in a small tupperware.
- Add the chicken to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
- Marinade overnight.
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
- In a cast iron grill pan add the chicken skin side up.
- Cook in the oven for 25 minutes.
- Using potholders, add the pan to the stovetop on medium high heat.
- Spray some foil with canola oil spray and put sprayed side down over the top of the chicken.
- Press onto the meat with either a bacon press, a foil wrapped brick or a second heavy pan (I used my normal cast iron skillet on top of the chicken.
- Spoon half the reserved marinade over the chicken while it cooks.
- Cook for another 3 minutes then remove the bacon press/brick, flip chicken (add some more marinade) and cook a final three minutes before serving.