|September 26, 2022

Easy Pollo al Pastor with Charred Tomato Salsa

This healthy recipe is perfect for a picnic, or party! And you can never go wrong with chicken salsa.

In this flavor-packed chicken, Juan Pablo Loza, director of culinary operations at Rosewood Mayakoba in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, shares his obsession with the al pastor style of cooking.

    Let's Make Easy Pollo al Pastor with Charred Tomato Salsa.

    Note: All ingredients in blue is available at alcoeats.com

    Easy Pollo al Pastor with Charred Tomato Salsa

    A citrus marinade keeps this chicken tender and moist, giving the crispy skin a deep golden-brown hue. Prepare the pickled onions in advance to get a head start on the salsa while the chicken is grilling.
    Print Recipe

    Total Time: 45 minutes

    Prep Time: 15 minutes

    Cook Time: 30 minutes

    Course: Main Dish



    • 1 tsp- ALCO Cumin Powder
    • 1 tsp- ALCO Turmeric Powder
    • 1 tbsp- Mexican oregano (dried )
    • 1 1/2 tsp- Kosher salt (divided)
    • 1 tbsp- Black Pepper
    • 4- Garlic clovess
    • 3 1/2- to 4-pound- Whole chicken
    • As needed- Cooking spray
    • 1 tbsp lemon juice

    Pickled Onions-

    • 2 cups-Red onion (thinly sliced)
    • 1 cup- Hot water
    • 1/2 cup- Apple cider vinegar
    • 1/2 cup- Cold water
    • 1 tsp- Granulated sugar
    • 1 tsp- Kosher salt

    Charred Tomato Salsa-

    • 3 medium- Plum tomatoes (cored)
    • 1 small- White onion 
    • 2 cloves- Garlic (unpeeled)
    • 1 medium- Jalapeño (stem removed)
    • 1 tbsp-Cilantro (finely chopped)
    • 1/2 tsp- Kosher salt
    • As needed- Corn tortillas (warmed)


    Make the chicken

    • Combine orange juice, lime juice, 1 1/2 tablespoons salt, oregano, black pepper, Cumin Powder, Turmeric Powder, and garlic in a blender, and process at high speed until smooth, about 30 seconds.
    • Place chicken in a gallon-size zip-lock plastic bag, and pour marinade over chicken. Seal and refrigerate, turning occasionally, 8 to 12 hours.

    Make the pickled onions

    • Combine red onion slices and 1 cup hot water in a medium bowl; stir for 30 seconds. Drain and rinse onions in a strainer with cold running water. Return onions to bowl, and stir in vinegar, 1/2 cup cold water, sugar, and salt until well combined. Set aside.
    • Heat one chimney of charcoal until flames subside and coals are lightly covered in ash. Arrange coals for two-zone cooking: Bank coals along half of the bottom grate of a charcoal grill. Add oak or mesquite log along the edge of coals.
    • Place oiled cooking grate over coals, open bottom, and top vents of the grill. Place 2 stacks of 3 bricks on grill grate straddling the coals. (Stack bricks so that top brick is 8 to 10 inches above grill grate.)
    • Spray grill basket with cooking spray. Remove chicken from marinade, and discard marinade. Place chicken, cavity side up, in a grill basket. Lock basket, and place edges of the basket on top of bricks, chicken cavity side down.
    • Grill, flipping basket every 5 minutes, for 30 minutes. Coals will begin to shrink, and chicken will begin to brown.
    • After 30 minutes, remove 1 brick from each stack, and place the basket back on bricks. Grill, flipping basket every 5 minutes to expose both the skin side and cavity side to the coals until chicken is deep brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of thigh registers 165°F, 50 to 55 minutes.
    • Transfer chicken, skin side up, to a rimmed baking sheet, and let rest 10 minutes.

    Make the Charred Tomato Salsa

    • Place tomatoes, onion, garlic, and chili on the oiled grill grate directly over coals. Grill, turning occasionally, until charred and just tender, about 10 minutes. Remove and discard charred peels from garlic cloves and the outer layer from the onion.
    • Transfer charred onion, garlic, and chile to a blender; pulse until finely chopped, about 10 pulses. Add tomatoes, cilantro, and salt, and pulse until the mixture is chunky in texture, 3 to 5 pulses.
    • Carve chicken, or pull the meat off the bone, and coarsely chop meat and skin on a cutting board, reserving any juices on a rimmed baking sheet. Transfer chicken to a serving bowl; pour reserved juices over the chicken.
    • Drizzle with additional orange juice, and season with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Serve with warm tortillas, pickled onions, and charred tomato salsa.


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