Pollo Guisado – Puerto Rican Braised Stewed Chicken

Pollo Guisado – Puerto Rican Braised Stewed Chicken

Featured on NBC Latino

Featured on NBC Latino

One of my favorite dishes since childhood was my mothers pollo guisado. If I told you that my sisters and I use to fight like animals for the wings would you believe me? You better, because the claws came out as soon as the stewed chicken hit the tables. Wow, thinking about it now brings back crazy memories! And yes, even now as adults we still fight for the wings!

I remember every Saturday morning was a like this religious ritual my mom and step dad had… We all had our chores. With 5 girls in the house my mom had all the time in the world to herself while we did all her dirty work! (Thanks mom! Can you train Vicky for me PLEASE!)

One sister had the bathroom, another did the dusting, the other did the laundry, so on and so on. (Wow mommy now that I think of it you ran the house like a drill sergeant!)  My chore was accompanying my stepfather to the viveros (live poultry) and to all the food markets. Sounds simple eh? WRONG!!!! Has anyone ever been to a live slaughter house? The smell is something that stays with you FOREVER! YUK!  My stepfather would put me in charge of picking the chickens (one 5lb chicken and an 8 lb hen. Still remember that!) and have them ‘cleaned‘ <~ This process would instantly turn anyone into a vegetarian, so I’ll say no more on that!

Fast forward… When I got home with my stepfather (yeah, my mom made sure I didn’t let him escape to the numbers spot!) my job was to put away all the food we bought, clean the chickens with lemon and salt, turn that 1 pc chicken into 8 cuts. Then prep the carrots and potatoes for my mom. Since I was the oldest, I held rank! I cooked with MOMMA!!! I might not have loved it then but I thank her and I love cooking now!

Go get all your ingredients together!



Pollo Guisado – Puerto Rican Braised Stewed Chicken – serves 6


  • 5 to 6 lb chicken – cut into 8 pcs
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp achiote 
  • 1 med onion – chopped
  • 1 cubenelle pepper – chopped
  • 1 med tomato – chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro – roughly chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh recao – chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tbsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp saffron flower
  • 1 tbsp Fleur De Sel (sea salt)
  • 1/2 cup Recaito
  • 1/4 cup Sofrito
  • 2 cloves aged black garlic
  • 8oz can spanish style tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped pitted alcaparrado (spanish green olives, capers and roasted red pepper)
  • 4 cups of your finest organic chicken broth (mami don’t kill me, I didn’t have time to make my own :( )
  • 1/2 oz white vinegar
  • 3 large potatoes – cubed
  • 2 large carrots – sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 btl Corona beer

Step 1 – Clean the chicken with lemon & 1 tbsp salt. Rub the chicken like you’re making love to it ;) Let the chicken sit in the mix for about 30 min. This will almost bleach the chicken making it super white and will assist in tenderizing it as well.

Step 2 – Rinse the chicken well with cold water then cut the chicken into 8 pcs.  Pat dry with paper towel.

Step 3 – heat a 4 quart cast iron pot (or a pot of your choice) and add 1 tbsp olive oil. Brown chicken lightly. Set chicken aside. Empty out remaining oil from pot. bring pot back to stove…

Step 4 – Add 1 tbsp achiote oil into pot…

Step 5 – Add refrito (onions, green peppers, tomato, cilantro, recao leaves)

Step 6 – Sauté refrito until limp. Stirring occasionally

Look how all the brown bits disappear leaving a clean slate! That is your chicken base!

Step 7 – Add recao & sofrito, black aged garlic and sazon mix (organo, garlic powder, black pepper, turmeric, saffron, salt) Stir well. Let cook for 5 minutes.

Step 8 – Add tomato sauce and alcaparrado mix – Stir well. Let cook for 2 min

Step 9 – Stir in Chicken broth and vinegar.

Step 10 – Return chicken to pot. Add the potatoes, carrots and bay leaves – Stir Cover and let cook for about 30 min

Step 11 – Add beer. Stir, cover and cook for 1 hour or until potatoes and carrots are fork tender.


Finished product…

Serve over white rice and enjoy! :D




  1. What brand of cast iron pots do you use? They are beautiful!

  2. Thank you so much! I envy the ability to look over someone’s shoulder and mimic the cooking- I’ve always needed a recipe, lol! And when I ask how much of an ingredient to add the response is, “well, you know… just enough”. And that’s the one measuring spoon/cup my kitchen has always missed until now! Thank you so much for defining “just enough”! You have transformed my kitchen into a birthplace of tradition!

  3. Haydee Rodriguez says:

    Hi! I live in Ecuador. No recao or aji dulces here.
    Have no idea whether or not I could grow any of them,
    due to climate in Cuenca, where I live. What can I
    use as a substitute? At what point does one add the
    Corona Beer to your recipe? Thanks for answering
    promptly. Haydee

  4. ¡Muy bueno :)! My husband served himself three times. I was out of beer and alcaparrado, but it was still yummy. Muchas gracias.

  5. Hi, could you please tell me what is “aged black garlic”? Thank you :-)

  6. Hi, could you please tell me what is “aged black garlic”?

  7. Elena, OMG, this is it! I am African American and have always loved the way PR food smells when cooking, and I had the smell in my house! Thank you for posting actual ingredients and not the packaged seasoning. I love to cook and your recipe got rave reviews. I followed everything exc, I forgot the beer. Next time it will be a double batch. I’ll be making it again at the end of the week. LOL

  8. Andreina says:

    I can not thank you enough for this excellent recipe, I made it today and it was delicious, my husband is Puerto Rican and I am Venezuelan and we loved it. I threw in a couple of thyme and parsley leaves and added cellery to the base… Thank you so much!!!!! Best!

  9. Jasmine Johnson says:

    Do you taste the beer? I’m making this for my daughter. She loves Spanish food. She’s one, I don’t want her getting drunk lol

    • Honey. That’s funny and cute but no, you don’t taste the beer and when beer is cooked, the alcohol evaporates. Enjoy!

      This post made my day! LoL too cute!

  10. I made this today and it was absolutely amazing!!! Restaurant style cuisine! Thank you for sharing!

  11. I’m so glad I found your blog. I’ve been looking for a Puerto Rican stewed chicken recipe that reminds me of being a child at my friends house with salsa music playing all day. As soon as I have all these ingredients I will be trying to make it myself. Thanks for sharing!

  12. ugh! nobody seems to know the authentic recipe..I don’t mean to critice your recipe but I’m sure is tasty but I’m true Puerto Rican from the island and when I so turmeric ay Dios Mio! We are not Indians nor Puerto Ricans are near that. ..of I go to another quest for the traditional PR Pollo Guisado…

    • Hello and thank you for your comment.

      This IS a traditional recipe. I too am a true Puerto Rican, my mother father, grandparents, aunts, and uncles are all from the island. If you say you’re from the island then I’m sure you are familiar with Taino Indians, if not maybe you should try researching. Also, If you look at the recipe it clearly states I don’t use chemically modified ingredients such as commercially packaged ‘Adobo’ & Saźon’ Turmeric is a MAIN ingredient in Adobo seasoning, which I make organically and sell in my online store. That is why you see turmeric in my recipe list. Those four ingredients are adobo ingredients, turmeric, salt, pepper, oregano, etc.

      Have fun searching for an ‘authentic’ recipe. Just remember, you are what you eat, if you chose to use ingredients in your foods that are genetically modified, the results can be life threatening. Ingredients in many commercially store bought products contain fillers and modified ingredients that can and will lead to, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer and many other health risks.

      The Posh Latin Cook

  13. Amazing..I am hungry!

  14. Nice one! I like how it came out! Mine’s usually bathing in a soup.

    Here’s one of mine that I’ve been playing with for a few years, adding things and taking away… recently I have been going 1:1 rice/quinoa and throwing in olives, guandules, garbanzo beans, capers, and 3 packets of sauzon per cup into my rice to take over the topic without any olive oil or extra salt and adding habanero and scotch bonnet peppers to liven up the mango salsa. Check it out!

  15. Elena, thank you for sharing this recipe-especially for those of us who come from families with little food tradition. I would definitely pass this on.

  16. Elena. This is an amazing recipe. Thank you so much for sharing-Especially for people like me who come from families that don’t really have much food tradition. I would definitely pass it on!

  17. I’m attempting to make this for the first time and wanted to know if I can make this ahead of time and reheat? If so, what’s the best way to reheat (temp/time)?

    • Hi! And thank you for finding my site! Yes, you can make this a head of time. Actually, all Latinos will agree when I say, this dish tastes better THE DAY AFTER, and after, and after! Reheating is simple. In a microwave safe dish, add the quantity you desire, cover it with plastic wrap, heat on high for about 2 minutes or until heated thoroughly.


  18. Elizabeth says:

    I followed this to a tee and cooking it right now, my house smells so delicious and cozy. Thank you for taking the time to share this. Can’t wait to eat! :)

  19. Perfecto! Me encanto su receta, muchas gracias por compartir! Acabo de hacer una similar, pero Ecuatoriano. Se llama Seco De Pollo Con Cerveza. Voy a hacer el suyo pero bien pronto!

  20. Alexandra says:

    Thank you very much for posting this recipe. I had a Puerto Rican Stew at a Latin place in NY and I just loved it. After we moved to Miami my kids kept asking for this (so did my own tummy) and this is the best chicken stew I have EVER had! I cook it weekly in our house and always have some in the freezer for a last minute meal. Delicioso!!!!!

  21. You go girl I’m Puerto Rican and Irish mix, and my parents have pass on years ago. My father had shown me how to make Sofrito and that is the only thing I remember how to make. So thank you, your Pollo Guisado is Delicious and now my daughter in law wants me to make it all the time.
    Thanks again.

  22. Wow! That looks amazing. I’ve only ever had guisada with pork, but I’d love to try yours with chicken. Looks amazing.
    The Posh Latin Cook recently posted on her blog…My Profile

  23. Awesome. Casi como el de mi abuela! Of course, every home recipe is different, but this really is the foundation of a traditional pollo guisado. I love that you use finer ingredients like the fleur de sel (I can spoon that stuff straight, it is so delicious) and the saffron. Very classy plus ups for sure, but I also love that you respect tradition by keeping the annato seed oil and fresh sofrito/recaito. Thank you for sharing!

  24. Ray Rodriguez says:

    You go girl, I alway look in the net to reasure me in my cooking. I learned a thing or two from you. Thank You much success

  25. How much chicken do I buy (chicken thighs) for 50 people?

  26. This looks awesome and my boyfriend is rican so I can’t wait to make this for him. Love how you took pics step by step to see if I’m doing this right haha. Hope it comes out good for me. Thanks for the recipe.

  27. GinnyTina says:

    The recipe looks great! The dish brings back memories and yes I remember the live, “chicken place.” Glad I was too young to have to clean the bird though.

    Thanks for the memories.

  28. Great looking recipe!

    although I’m sure you mean “sofritos” not “refritos” ;)

    • “Refrito” “Recaito” and “Sorito” are three different condiments. I’m sure you know that since they are the 3 main leading seasonings in Puerto Rican food .

  29. Growing up Puerto Rican mami taught me this recipe and it always been one of my favorites mami’s recipe called for some red wine or even grape juice and it always won raves! Today this is ow I prefer to make it.

  30. That looks phenomenal. I’m going to bookmark it to try this sometime! Thanks for sharing.

  31. Hi Elena – sorry it took me a few days to get over here! Awesome recipe, belated congrats on the Top 9. Well-deserved.

  32. gloria brunette says:

    This recipe look so delicious, mouth watering, tasty, I must try it soon. Thank you for your short story too! So nice, your mum must be so proud of you, isn't she?

  33. Congrats on the top 9! I can't even imagine how tender and falvorful this must be.

  34. bina holland says:

    This recipe sounds so delicioso but I am not familiar with Recaito paste, saffron flower or black garlic.
    What could these ingredients be replaced with? Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  35. Stella Bennetts says:

    wow … this looks delicious..i will have to try :)

  36. Wow, this looks amazing – so many gorgeous spices!

  37. Que rico! I wish I were having that for lunch today. How fun to find a fellow puertorriqueña's blog :-)

    • awesome! Now we can compare recipes! It's very important to keep our heratige and traditions alive! These kids now and days only care about friends, texting and computers. It's up to us to keep the originality of our grandmothers mothers alive!

  38. A Delicious latin recipe. This makes it very special for me, other than the way you cooked it. I love it.

  39. this looks so good! delicious with rice….thanks for sharing.

  40. This looks delicious…. never seen stew chicken prepared like this…. I wanna try it….

  41. This is a wonderful recipe! Love all the flavours you got going here, I'm a big fan of achiote!

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