Sinaloa chicken is a popular Mexican street food chicken marinated in citrus and chilis, then grilled over a live flame. Traditionally, the chicken is spatchcocked, grilled, then cut in half lengthwise, and sold. This recipe calls for a whole cut-up chicken, but you can certainly use the traditional spatchcock method.
While we recommend cooking this Sinaloa chicken over charcoal, you can certainly use a gas or pellet unit. In fact, you can cook this chicken right in your oven at 350 degrees F. Keep an eye on it and check the temperature a little earlier in the cooking process. Each method works a little differently, so always consult the manufacturer’s recommendations before cooking on a specific unit. If you are using a pellet grill, we recommend oak or pecan wood pellets for this recipe.
Choose the Right Cuts for Sinaloa Chicken:
You have many choices with how to prep the chicken including what parts you use. As mentioned above, you can spatchcock or butterfly the chicken (which means to remove the backbone with kitchen shears and lay the chicken out flat) or use a whole chicken cut up into individual pieces. If you are a fan of chicken thighs or drumsticks and want to use those, then go for it.
This recipe uses dried guajillo peppers, but you can also use chile de Arbol or various smoky/spicy chili powders of your choice. They are usually available at your local grocery store.
-Use hot but not boiling water to rehydrate the chilis.
-Wear food-safe gloves when handling hot peppers, fresh or dried.
This Sinaloa chicken recipe calls for white vinegar, but you can use rice wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar as well. Some cooks swear by citrus acid and amp up their use of lime juice. Avoid more robust and distinctive acids like balsamic.
What should I serve with Sinaloa chicken? Try these items!
- 1 whole chicken cut up (about 3-3 ½ pounds)
- For Marinade:
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1/3 cup white vinegar
- Juice of 2 small limes
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 small onion roughly chopped
- 3 dried guajillo chiles
- 2 cloves garlic peeled
- 2 teaspoons oregano Mexican oregano is even better, but not necessary
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- Place dried guajillo chiles into a glass dish. Pour hot water over top, cover, and let stand for 20 minutes. Doing this will rehydrate the chiles and make them easier to blend.
- Once the chiles have rehydrated, add them along with the remaining marinade ingredients to a blender. Blend until all contents are well combined.
- Place chicken pieces into a large glass baking dish. Pour marinade over the top, making sure all parts are well coated. Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap, and place into the refrigerator for 6-8 hours.
- Ready the charcoal grill for an indirect cook.
- While the grill is heating up, remove chicken from the fridge and let it stand at room temperature for 15-20 minutes.
- Remove chicken from marinade and place the pieces onto the hottest part of the grill. Brush any excess marinade onto the chicken. Get a nice sear on the skins (about 3-5 minutes), turn , and do the same to the other side. Move chicken to the cooler part of the grill and finish cooking indirectly.
- Once the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. for breast meat, and 175 for thighs and legs, it’s good to go.
- Remove chicken from the grill, place onto a serving platter, and serve with your favorite side dishes.