Delicious Pollo Encebollado Recipe- A Must Try!

Greetings, food lovers! Today, I am excited to share with you a delightful dish that holds a special place in the hearts of many people. This dish is the beloved Pollo Encebollado, a popular homestyle chicken and onion dish that can be found throughout Central America, particularly in Puerto Rico and Salvadorian cuisine.

Pollo Encebollado, which translates to “chicken smothered in onions,” is an incredibly easy dish to make, full of flavor and soul-warming goodness. With this recipe, you will be able to savor the taste of tender boneless, skinless chicken thighs or your preferred chicken pieces cooked with savory onions and seasoned with bay leaves, white wine, and orange juice.

This Pollo Encebollado recipe carries a rich tradition of flavors that will leave you feeling like you are savouring a gourmet meal. So let’s dive in and discover how to prepare this delectable dish with our simple step-by-step instructions. So why not go ahead and try this sensational dish for yourself? Trust me, one bite of this deliciousness will have you feeling like you are transported to the streets of Puerto Rico or El Salvador.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Pollo Encebollado
Pollo Encebollado

Picture this: succulent pieces of chicken smothered in sweet, caramelized onions and cooked to perfection. That’s exactly what you’ll get with this delectable Pollo Encebollado recipe. Trust me, once you try this dish, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

This classic Puerto Rican chicken dish is a popular homestyle dish throughout Central America, and for good reason. It’s incredibly easy to make and full of flavor that will tantalize your taste buds. The key to this dish is in the onions – they are simmered with bay leaf, white wine, and water until they become tender and sweet.

The savory chicken pairs perfectly with the sweetness of the onions, and together they make a mouthwatering duo that is sure to impress even the pickiest of eaters. With its juicy boneless skinless chicken thighs, dry white wine, and infused bay leaf flavors, this dish truly has it all.

But don’t just take my word for it – try it out for yourself! I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed. So why not add a little bit of Puerto Rican flavor to your dinner table with this amazing Pollo Encebollado recipe? Your taste buds will thank you.

Ingredient List

 Juicy chicken thighs simmering in a savory onion sauce.
Juicy chicken thighs simmering in a savory onion sauce.

Here is a list of all the ingredients you’ll need to make Pollo Encebollado at home. Don’t be overwhelmed by the list, as most of these are pantry staples and easily available in any grocery store. These ingredients will make 4-6 servings for your family or small gathering.

Main Ingredients

  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into small pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced

Recipe Ingredients

  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 4 cups water

Encebollado Recipe ingredients

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • Juice of 2 oranges
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Additional ingredients for Puerto Rican Pollo Encebollado recipe

  • 1 pollo en escabeche (pickled chicken)
  • 1/2 tz de vino blanco (dry white wine)

Additional ingredients for Salvadorian Pollo Encebollado recipe

  • Chicken broth instead of water
  • Encebollado Salvadoreño includes vinegar, cumin and oregano

Nutritional information per serving (Calories: 360; Fat: 20g; Carbohydrates: 7g; Protein: 36g)

The Recipe How-To

 Served with steaming hot white rice.
Served with steaming hot white rice.

Now that we’ve covered why you’ll love this recipe and the ingredients needed, it’s time to dive into the pollo encebollado recipe itself.

Step 1: Preparing the Chicken

First things first, let’s get our chicken pieces ready. I prefer to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs for this recipe. They are juicy, flavorful, and cook up quickly. However, feel free to use any bone-in or boneless cut of chicken you prefer.

Season the chicken well with salt and pepper on both sides. Then, heat up some vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the chicken pieces to the skillet and let them cook until they are golden brown and cooked through, typically around 5-6 minutes per side.

Step 2: Cooking the Onions

While the chicken is cooking, let’s prepare the smothered onions which are what truly make this dish shine. Thinly slice three large onions and set them aside.

Once the chicken is fully cooked and removed from the skillet, lower the heat and add two more tablespoons of vegetable oil to the same skillet. Next, toss in your onions and two bay leaves. Give everything a good stir and let them cook until your onions become soft (but not quite caramelized), stirring occasionally.

Step 3: Combining Everything

Once your onions have cooked down, remove the bay leaves from your skillet. Add 1/4 cup of dry white wine to deglaze the pan (use a wooden spoon to scrape off any bits stuck to the bottom). Now add 4 cups of water and let it come to a boil.

After your skillet reaches boiling point, reduce heat to low-medium heat then put back chicken cutlets with onion mixture before letting it simmer until all flavors have melded together. And voila! You have made a comforting, hearty dish that will have you coming back for seconds.

Remember to remove bay leaves before serving.

Now that you know how to make this delicious pollo encebollado recipe, don’t hesitate to give it a try.

Substitutions and Variations

 Perfect for a cozy and comforting meal.
Perfect for a cozy and comforting meal.

Looking for ways to switch things up with the classic Pollo Encebollado dish? Here are some ideas for substitutions and variations that will add some variety to your menu!

1. Beef: Swap out chicken for beef, and you’ll have a delicious take on Carne Encebollada. Be sure to use a cut of beef that can handle long cooking times, such as flank or skirt steak.

2. Fish: Instead of chicken, try using white fish fillets such as tilapia or snapper. This will give you a nice light and fresh version of the dish.

3. Vegetarian: Looking for a vegetarian option? Use tofu instead of chicken and vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. If you’re not a fan of tofu, vegetables like mushrooms, cauliflower, or eggplant can also be used as the main ingredient.

4. Spicier: For an extra kick of flavor, add some chopped jalapeños or red pepper flakes to the onion mixture. You can also use spicy sausage or chorizo instead of chicken.

5. Puerto Rican Style: To make it more Puerto Rican-style, add 1/4 cup of orange juice to the broth and follow their recipe ingredients.

6. Salvadorian Style: If you want to try Salvadorian Pollo Encebollado variation, use Peppers and tomato paste for added flavors.

7. Guatemalan Style: To make it Guatemalan style, fry your chicken pieces before simmering with the onions, which makes for a crisp outer layer.

These substitutions and variations allow you to experiment with different flavors while still maintaining the heartiness and comfort of a good Pollo Encebollado recipe.

Serving and Pairing

 A delicious and easy-to-make dinner recipe.
A delicious and easy-to-make dinner recipe.

When it comes to serving and pairing pollo encebollado, there are a variety of options that will complement the dish’s rich and savory flavors.

Traditionally served with rice and beans, pollo encebollado provides a filling main course for lunch or dinner. You can also pair it with a salad or vegetable side dish to add some freshness to your meal.

If you’re looking for something more unconventional, try serving pollo encebollado in a sandwich or wrap format. Top toasted bread or tortillas with chicken and onions for a unique twist on traditional sandwich fillings. You can even add some avocado, cheese or sour cream for extra flavor.

To elevate the dining experience even further, serve pollo encebollado with a glass of dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay. The acidity of the wine will complement the dish’s subtle tanginess, while its crisp notes will help enhance the flavors of the chicken and onions.

Whether you choose to stick with traditional pairings or experiment with new ones, pollo encebollado is a versatile dish that’s sure to satisfy your hunger and taste buds alike.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 My take on a classic Latin American dish.
My take on a classic Latin American dish.

One of the great things about Pollo Encebollado is that it can be made ahead of time and stored for later consumption. This dish actually tastes better after it sits for a day or two, allowing the flavors to really marry together.

To make ahead, prepare the recipe as directed and allow it to cool completely before storing in an airtight container in the fridge. It will last for up to three days.

When reheating, place the dish in a large pot over medium heat on the stove. Add a splash or two of water to loosen up the sauce and stir occasionally until heated through. Alternatively, you can reheat in the microwave using a microwave-safe dish.

If you find that your reheated chicken is drying out, try pouring some extra sauce on top before reheating or adding a splash more of chicken broth or white wine to help re-moisten it.

One important thing to note is that Pollo Encebollado does not freeze well due to the onions, which tends to get mushy when frozen and then thawed. Therefore, if you plan on making this as part of your meal prep routine, I recommend only making enough for what you plan to eat over the next few days.

Tips for Perfect Results

 Impress your loved ones with a restaurant-quality meal at home.
Impress your loved ones with a restaurant-quality meal at home.

If you want to nail the perfect Pollo Encebollado, there are a few tips that I have learned along the way that can help take your dish to the next level. These tips will help ensure that your chicken is juicy and flavorful, and that your onions are perfectly caramelized.

Firstly, one of the keys to a great Pollo Encebollado is to be patient when cooking the onions. You want them to be soft, sweet and caramelized, not burnt or bitter. Take your time with them and stir them regularly in the pan, adjusting the heat as needed. A low-and-slow cooking process will make all the difference.

Another important aspect of this dish is choosing the right cut of chicken. While bone-in pieces can be delicious and flavorful, boneless skinless chicken thighs are my preference for Pollo Encebollado. They are tender and cook evenly, without any bones or skin getting in the way. However, if you prefer bone-in cuts or have them on hand, feel free to use those instead.

When it comes to seasoning your chicken, don’t go overboard. The onions provide plenty of flavor, so just a sprinkling of salt and pepper is enough. If you want to add some extra depth of flavor, try adding a bay leaf to the pot while the chicken is cooking.

Lastly, don’t skimp on using quality ingredients. While this dish only requires a handful of ingredients, using fresh onions and a dry white wine will make a big difference in the end result. And speaking of wine, don’t forget to pour yourself a glass as well – it’s always best to cook with what you would drink!

By following these simple tips and putting your own spin on the recipe, you can create a satisfying Pollo Encebollado that will impress your friends and family alike.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, Pollo Encebollado is a popular homestyle dish enjoyed throughout Central America and Puerto Rico. This incredibly easy dish is full of flavor and perfect for any occasion. With boneless skinless chicken thighs smothered in deliciously caramelized onions and a dry white wine-based sauce with bay leaf, this recipe is simply irresistible.

I encourage you to give this Pollo Encebollado recipe a try! Make it your own by adding your favorite spices or vegetables, or by substituting different cuts of chicken. You won’t regret trying out this flavorful and hearty dish that has been perfected over generations.

With the easy-to-follow instructions in our recipe, you are sure to have a perfectly cooked meal that will impress your family and friends. Don’t forget to pair it with rice, plantains or salad for a full meal experience.

Let us know how your Pollo Encebollado turns out in the comments below. We hope that you enjoy this traditional dish and all that it has to offer as much as we do. Happy cooking!

Pollo Encebollado

Pollo Encebollado Recipe

Chicken smothered with onions, or pollo encebollado, is a popular homestyle dish throughout Central America. It's an incredibly easy dish to make and full of flavor. This is found on most Central American restaurant menus.
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Prep Time 18 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Fusion
Calories 756.8 kcal


  • 2 1/2-3 lbs chicken, cut into serving pieces
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 3 onions, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup water or 1 cup stock
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper, as needed


  • Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan or pot over medium-high flame.
  • Working in batches, brown the chicken pieces in the hot oil and remove to a plate.
  • Pour off all but 2-3 tablespoons of oil and add the onions to the same pan. Reduce heat to medium-low and sauté until cooked down and just beginning to brown, 10-15 minutes.
  • Increase heat to medium-high and return the chicken pieces to the pot. Add the water or stock, wine, bay leaf, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 25-35 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and tender.
  • Adjust seasoning and serve with rice.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 310gCalories: 756.8kcalCarbohydrates: 8.5gProtein: 53.7gFat: 53gSaturated Fat: 13.6gCholesterol: 212.6mgSodium: 205mgFiber: 1.4gSugar: 3.8g
Keyword < 60 Mins, Chicken, Meat, Onions, Poultry, Vegetable, Very Low Carbs, Weeknight
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Dora is a chef well-versed in Brazilian and American cuisine. After a hard day's work in the kitchen of her restaurant, she finds the time to jot down recipes for her food blog. Her recipes are sure to delight foodies everywhere, as she strives to make each one unique and enjoyable to read.