Pollo al ajillo (which literally translates to garlic chicken) is one of the most traditional recipes in Spanish gastronomy. It’s also an integral part of Latin American cuisine, as it was brought to Latin America by Spanish colonists back in the day. In Spain, this chicken al ajillo recipe is usually paired with a salad or baked potatoes, which makes the dish a really healthy Mediterranean main meal. I bet that captured your attention!
This pollo al ajillo recipe is also super easy to make and only takes 30 minutes. It’s the authentic way the dish has been prepared for many years, as the recipe was passed from generation to generation, from grandmother to mother, then from mother to daughter.
There are only three main ingredients: pollo (chicken), ajillo (garlic), and vino blanco (white wine). The tender chicken slowly cooks in the garlic and wine broth so each bite is just bursting with rich flavor. You can also give this classic Spanish garlic chicken recipe your own personal touch by choosing to add a little bit of fresh lemon juice, pimentón dulce (sweet paprika), or some tomato paste.
We recommend using bone-in chicken thighs for this Spanish chicken recipe. You can also have a butcher cut up a whole chicken and use those bone-in pieces (like the chicken legs, thighs, and chicken wings) for this dish. Bone-in chicken adds flavor and thickens the broth, compared to chicken breast.
Do you want to add some extra flavor to the chicken broth? I’d opt for a couple of teaspoons of fresh or dried herbs, like thyme or rosemary. They both work so well with garlic. Many pollo al ajillo recipes also add two bay leaves to the broth.
Instead of parsley, garnish your dish with fresh mint leaves and a little lemon zest as well if you like.
If you don’t have Spanish sweet paprika, regular paprika will also work.
If you like, use half a cup of white wine and half a cup of chicken broth to make the flavorful sauce instead.
What is pollo al ajillo made of?
Polla al ajillo is chicken cooked in a generous amount of garlic and white wine and served with garlic sauce and a garnish of chopped fresh parsley.
What can I use instead of white wine?
Sherry, red wine, or Madeira are all good substitutions for white wine. The alcohol does evaporate during cooking, but you can definitely substitute it for chicken broth or non-alcoholic white wine instead if you prefer.
How do you serve pollo al ajillo?
I recommend serving it with rice or bread to soak up that delicious garlic sauce. Then add a side of steamed vegetables, a green salad, or sauteed mushrooms. It’s also regularly served with boiled or roasted potatoes (try our patatas bravas recipe).
How do you store Spanish garlic chicken?
This garlic chicken will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. Simply reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave. You can also freeze leftovers for up to three months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating as instructed.
2 ¼poundsboneless chicken thighs, cut into 1 ½” chunks
Freshly ground black pepper
6clovesgarlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1handfulfresh parsley, finely chopped
1tspsweet paprika, optional
1tbspmaize, cornstarch, or rice flour
In a large saucepan or frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
Add the crushed garlic and when the oil starts to sizzle, add the chicken pieces.
Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper and fry the chicken for a few minutes, until the pieces are golden brown on both sides.
Add the sliced garlic and half of the parsley, then pour in the wine.
Cook the chicken for 12 to 15 minutes over medium-high heat, until the internal temperature of the chicken is 165 degrees F, as measured using a food thermometer. While the chicken is cooking, shake the pan from time to time and turn the chicken pieces to cook them on all sides.
Stir in the paprika (if using) and maize, and cook the dish for a minute, until the sauce thickens.
Remove the chicken from the heat and sprinkle it with the remaining parsley and lemon juice.