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Pollo Tropical Chicken Recipe

Pollo Tropical Copycat Recipe with Tropic Pollo Marinade - The Kreative Life

Pollo Tropical Chicken Recipe

Pollo Tropical has the best fire-grilled, tropical-seasoned chicken I’ve ever tasted. I’m not sure if it’s a national food chain or if it’s just in Florida, but if you so happen to drive by one, I suggest you pull over and check out the menu.

You won’t regret it!

I had my first experience at Pollo Tropical in the late 90’s when I moved to Miami to go to school.

I was already in love with all of the food that Miami had to offer, but finding a fast food restaurant that offered food that truly tasted homemade was amazing!

No more burgers, fries, or pizza for this college gal.

Nope! It had to be Pollo Tropical!

Moving back to Miami almost two decades later and I still prefer Pollo Tropical over any other fast food restaurant.

Tropic Pollo Marinade

I wanted to try a Pollo Tropical recipe at home and all I can say is that the restaurant now has some competition with my tropic pollo marinade!

Like I admitted before, Pollo Tropical truly has some of the best fast food I’ve ever eaten.

It honestly took me at least four tries before I was able to get this Pollo Tropical copycat recipe just right.

Let me tell you that it definitely wasn’t easy. Even though there aren’t a lot of ingredients and it does include Goya Coriander and Annatto mix, having even the slightest mismeasurement caused this recipe to not taste up to par.

That’s definitely not good in my book.

After all of that trial-and-error, I can finally say that I will not change a thing about this recipe.

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It usually is a big hit with the crowd, especially when we have other island-themed recipes like my pineapple cream cheese dip as an appetizer and a Grand Marnier summer breeze cocktail for drinks.

I hope you and your family enjoy this Pollo Tropical chicken copycat recipe!

Pollo Tropical Copycat Recipe
4.9 from 28 votes
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Pollo Tropical Chicken Recipe | Tropic Pollo Marinade

Ingredients

  • 3 Cornish Hens De-skinned and Cut into Halves
  • ¼ Cup Sour Orange Juice
  • 1 Tbsp. Pineapple Juice
  • 2 Packets Goya Coriander and Annatto Seasoning
  • 1 Tsp. Salt
  • ½ Tsp. Black Pepper
  • ½ Tsp. Garlic Powder
  • ½ Tsp. Cumin
  • ¼ Tsp. Oregano

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients, except the chicken, into a large bowl. Place the chicken in the bowl and coat with the seasoning mixture. In a single layer, place the chicken in a shallow dish and cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Place dish in the refrigerator and allow the chicken to marinate for at least 4 hours.
  2. On a pre-lit grill, place the chicken in a single layer. Allow the chicken to cook for 45 minutes, occasionally turning, or to an internal temperature of 185°.

If you like this chicken recipe, then you may want to cook my Chicken Taco & Rice Casserole for your friends and family to enjoy!

 

This Pollo Tropical Chicken Recipe is one of my favorite copycat recipes. The tropic pollo marinade is bursting with citrus and tropical flavors to satisfy hungry taste buds.

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115 Comments

  1. We don’t have Pollo Tropical around here (I have actually never heard of it until now), but if I can make this at home, I don’t need one 🙂 Totally trying this.

    1. I live in Miami and eat Pollo Tropical constantly. It is priced right and very healthy. And most important the chicken is delicious!

    2. I live in Florida now. Clearwater to be exact, but im a native Massshole too. Lolol pollo tropical is awesome im excited to try this recipe. Im actually making it tonight ill post later.

      1. Welcome to Florida! I’m glad that you’re trying the recipe! Please let me know how you like it.

  2. We haven’t been able to use our grill as much as we would have liked this summer.

  3. Yum this sounds so delicious! I have never heard of Pollo Tropical, but will definitely keep my eyes open for one!

  4. I am the queen griller in out neighborhood, ha. I love to grill out especially chicken. Thanks for the recipe, I see you have pineapple juice in it so I’m sure I’ll love it. I add pineapple to just about anything I cook, on or off the grill.

  5. Holy cow that looks good! I miss having a grill around. We’re don’t have one in our apartment.

  6. I’ve never heard of Pollo Tropical but this looks absolutely fantastic!! I’m going to have to try this, I love grilling in the summer!

  7. I love chicken, and although I’m not familiar with Pollo Tropical, I’d still give this a go. Thanks for the recipe!

  8. Really drooling over this recipe. Next family gathering, I will absolutely try and copy this!

  9. My kids would surely love this. I haven’t been to Pollo Tropical, but the recipe was really great I can’t wait to try this on our family dinner.

  10. This looks amazing! I would love to try making this at home. I have really struggled to make good BBQ chicken. Would love to give this one a shot before the summer ends.

  11. This is one of my favorite dish. I did it last month and my family loves and always wanted it. So I will try your recipe. I’m sure my family would love it.

  12. Thanks for the recipe. This would be a good weekend feast for me and my family. I love mixing pineapple in marinades and casseroles. The flavor is so unique!

  13. Ahhhhh I miss having a Apollo Tropical right around the corner!!!! I will have to give this recipe a try! Yummy!

  14. Looks absolutely delicious. It’s great that you included the instructions. I’ve got to try this on the next get-together with my friends.

  15. I haven’t heard of Pollo Tropical but the recipe reminds me of a chain restaurant in California called El Pollo Loco. Their citrus marinated chicken was amazing. I pinned this and hopeto try it very soon. It looks amazing and I know my family would love it

  16. My son enjoys pineapple on his baked ham. I never thought to use it on poultry. This will be served next week for sure!

  17. We have a pollo tropical we eat there a lot.. I’m one of those people who can eat something and tell you everything in it..this recipe sounds the closest to mine and mine is dead on..I fooled my husband and kids.im going to try this one..thank you…

  18. I was missing Pollo Tropical chicken and fried yucca, so I googled for a copy cat chicken recipe. This sounds so delicious. I will be trying this! Thanks for posting!

    1. You’re very welcome, Marilyn! I hope you like it!

  19. Goya Coriander and Annatto Seasoning is, in spanish, Culantro y Achiote, brand name Goya. It’s a great seasoning. Here I can’t publish a picture of seasoning. Cilantro and Culantro are 2 different herbs.

    1. Hi, Ester! I love the Goya line of seasonings!

      1. I live here in Miami and we have many Pollo Tropical restaurants. I love it. And Sazon Goya is delicious for many plates in the kitchen. I put it in almost all my plates.

        1. I live in Miami, too! It’s hard not to miss them around here!

          1. Yes !!!!, my dinner today, precisely, was in Pollo Tropical: 1/4 grilled chicken, black beans, rice and salad… DELICIOUS.

          2. Mine too, but I had the 1/2 with waffle fries for my babies! Lol

    1. Thank you for sharing the picture, Ester!

  20. coriander is the seeds of the cilantro plant

  21. We have Pollo tropical here in ft. lauderdale, awesome place to eat! Luv the chicken. God’s willing I’m differently trying this this weekend Memorial Day. Thank you

  22. Do Polo Tripical have a different recipe for the smaller wings and drumetts? Those are the best!

  23. Yes, Pollo has Popeyes beat! Will definitely try this chicken recipe

  24. Thanks for the recipe. My son and I are regulars at Pollo Tropical, and I’ve always wanted to try it at home. Our grill isn’t working that great, so I’m going to try to improvise another way!

    Thanks again!

  25. Hi, at what temperature do you cook the meat at? TIA!

  26. I can’t wait to try this! My son loves the wings at Pollo Tropical but I’m trying to cook more at home and save some money! I found all ingredients but am confused about the orange juice. I just used regular. I’ve tried ChickFilA copycat and it was good but not the same. Fingers crossed on this. Thanks for posting!

    1. Hi, Keila! I use the Goya Brand marinade. You can find it in Walmart in the Hispanic food section. The bottle will say Narnia Africa Bitter Orange.

      1. making the second batch tonight now that I have all of the official ingredients. Thanks for educating me about the Bitter Orange. Dinner is going to be GOOD tonight!

  27. Unfortunately, my Pollo here in my area had closed so I am dying to make this chicken! I wonder if it can be roasted in the oven and finished off with the broiler?

    1. Hi, Christy! This recipe can be cooked in the oven, but the flavor may be slightly different because it won’t have that fire-grilled flavor.

      1. Hi, I grew up in PR and Pollo Tropical was a must! 🙂 I love love loved their chicken growing up! Thanks for posting this recipe, but I was wondering if I were to use an indoor grill (Ninja Foodi) and either a whole chicken or say bone-in thighs or split chicken breasts… how do these quantities change, do you have a per pound way of knowing???

  28. Do you reserve any marinade on the died before chicken to baste? Also if I use just chicken breast ( Just bought a ton and need to use quickly) do I need to add any kind of oil to avoid over drying?

    1. Hi, Kristen! I don’t reserve any of the marinade. If you use chicken breast, adding a little EVOO may help it from not drying out, but I’ve never tried it that way so I’m not sure how it would come out.

  29. I just made this and it was good although I’m wandering why mine came out very orange. I assume its from the annatto that’s in the Goya seasoning. Was I supposed to use the coriander and annatto or the one without? The picture looks like it doesn’t have annatto in it?

    1. Hi, Dana! The one I use does have annatto in it. My chicken always has a slight orange tint like the picture above. I’m glad you liked the recipe!

  30. Ate at the new Pollo Tropical at LAN ‘O Lakes,FL last Fri tried this yesterday with skinless. Boneless. Breast and was on target. Not much room for improvement.
    AWESOME!
    PS. 6hr soak. Add tortillas if you want with black beans.

    1. Hi, Mike! Adding the tortillas and black beans sound like a great idea!

  31. I live in Wisconsin and get to Miami about 3x a year. Pollo Tropical is a must at least 2x per visit. Best ‘Fast Food’ EVER! Thank you for this recipe, I can’t wait to try it.

    1. It really is a must-try! I hope you like the recipe!

  32. Made a trip to Florida and had Pollo Tropical. Best chicken I ever had. I live in California and the chicken joints we have here don’t come close to Pollo Tropical. I’m surprised they haven’t expanded there franchise. They sure beat McDonald’s and healthier for sure.
    I got my copy of this recipe. The pinapple is the bomb along with the cilantro.

    1. I really wish they would expand because I think they’d do well across the country. Their flavors really are hard to beat. I’m glad you like the recipe!

  33. This recipe is Amazing !!! Make it All the time!! It taste just like Pollo Tropical yummmyyyy!!! Thanks for recipe!!

    1. Hi, Maria! I’m glad that you like it so much! Thank you!

  34. Hello! Would this recipe be able to used baked if so at what temp and how long..?also should I use a roasting rack pan or would cookie sheet work out lined with foil? Thank u for the recipe! Pollo tropical is delish!

    1. Hi, Marie! Of course it can be baked. When I cook them in the oven I usually use a cookie sheet or a glass casserole dish. I rub butter on the bottom of whatever dish I’m using to cook it in. After I cut them in half, I cook them for 45 minutes to 1 hour at 375 or until the juices are clear.

  35. I love pollo tropical and hope someone makes a copycat recipe for their garlic cilantro sauce to go with the chicken! I went out and bought the achiote and sour orange marinade right after reading this. BTW those 2 ingredients at the local latin supermarket were around $3, a $10 savings over Amazon,that’s enough to buy the rest of the meal!

    1. I love their garlic cilantro lime sauce! That recipe may be on my to-do list. Thanks for the idea, Wes!

  36. I simply made this and this was good although I am wandering why mine arrived out very orange. We assume its from the particular Anatolian that’s in the particular Goya seasoning. Was We supposed to make use of the coriander and Anatolian or maybe the 1 without? The picture appears like it doesn’t have Anatolian inside it?

    1. Hi, Stiven! I always use the one with annatto in it. I usually remove my skin before cooking, like in the recipe, but when I don’t remove it before putting it on the grill (or even baking it) it does come out a little more orange. I’m glad that you like the recipe!

  37. I made this recipe for my son’s birthday party and it was a big hit. Everyone loved it! I used boneless chicken breast because it was on sale. Used a meat mallet and a gallon size storage bag to tenderize and it was supper tender. Delicious!

  38. All the Pollo Tropicals in Georgia just recently closed! :(‘
    My kids grew up in Broward County. The nearest one is 5 plus hours away! I’m going to try this recipe for sure! What about the cilantro garlic sauce?

    Thanks!

  39. Looks so yummy! I’ve never tried Pollo Tropical. I’m not sure it we have them out west. But, I’m going to try making these because I’m sure the kids will love it. It’s a shame I don’t have something to compare it to know if I did the recipe justice.

  40. Kendra! this looks so good! I love CHICKEN . I’ll have to try this out sometime soon. Thanks for sharing!

  41. This is the review you are looking for!! I tried it, i made it!! And let me tell you. You wont be disappointed at all!! It turned out amazingly delicious!! Spot on!!(live in Fl..lol) after scrolling through all the comments not one person mentioned they tried it so i decided to go by the looks. I didnt think it turn out so good since the ingredients are just a handful but i couldnt have been more wrong!! I only let it sit for 30mins so i can onlu imagine if this was sitting overnight!! This will be a staple in our house!! Thank you for sharing your recipe. Truly enjoyed it

    1. Thank you! Cause I was surely looking through the comments for someone who said they TRIED it and LIKE/LOVED it!

  42. Awesome chicken recipe. Pollo recently closed all Atlanta area restaurants and I am in withdrawal. Please get recipe for pineapple rum sauce. I have tried several and not the same at all. If anyone can do it, I believe you can.

  43. POLLO TROPICAL CHICKEN RECIPE is great! To be honest, I’m not good at cooking but I like them, they give me joy and excitement every time I finish the dishes, which is a great thing. With your recipe, just need to follow the instructions and the rest is simple, thank you for sharing them.

  44. Wow! Nice chicken recipe i will reach today my wife. You all blog wonderful and helpful for peoples.

  45. Chicken was okay. Wouldn’t really say it’s a pollo tropical copycat. I don’t remember they’re chicken being orange. I had to cut recipe down since I was only using two boneless chicken breasts.

  46. Tried it & the chicken is awesome! Thank you!
    Did you ever figure out how to make Pollo Tropical’s Cilantro Garlic sauce? I love this sauce & would put it on everything if I could. Lol. I wish they sold it by the bottle. Would love to know if you figured out how to make it.

  47. We usually get pollo tropical once a week but with the whole COVID 19 situation and a small baby, we are not eating out. Your Pollo recipe is a life saver! My family LOVES your recipe over pollo’s! It is amazing in the oven or on the grill! Thank you! ❤️

  48. Tried this recipe today and it was delicious! Really close to that Pollo Tropical taste; I had just enough Mojo Criollo marinade on hand instead of the orange + pineapple juices and chicken breast instead of a whole chicken. I know the chicken will taste even better when it’s a mix of white/dark meat and bone next time!

  49. Thank you so much for this recipe! I can not wait to try it! I moved to Texas from Miami 8 years ago and I miss the food so much especially the pollo tropical that was down the street from my house!! I’m so happy I found your recipe! Thank you much!

  50. Can’t wait to try this. I found another recipe for the black beans. I am gluten free so whenever we go back home to Florida to visit family I get Pollo Tropical chicken and black beans and rice. Soooo yummy and gf! But no Pollos in Virginia.

  51. Tried this recipe the other day and it is so close to spot on I wouldn’t try to change it. I also used this garlic cilantro sauce recipe I found a couple years ago that is almost a perfect copy of Pollo Tropicals. For everyone asking, here’s a link to the sauce recipe.
    https://asassyspoon.com/cilantro-garlic-sauce/

    Also if you live or visit Florida and love Pollo Tropical you should check out a spot called La Granja. It is very similar and just as good. Can’t beat $3.99 for 1/4 chicken, beans and rice.

  52. Love it Love it Love it! This looks like such a pretty and yummy dish! I’m totally into grilling this year, so this might just make my list! I would love to make these sometime. Thanks for sharing.

  53. I tried this and it’s not close. Needs far more salt and something else. Cornish hens may taste different but on chicken this just doesn’t work.

  54. Hahahaha Im here because my husband realized he spends way too much money at Pollo while he’s working. So, he asked me to make him some pollo tropical at least once a week

  55. I’m a Florida native living in Boston and missing Pollo Tropical. When I say this recipe was SPOT ON… it was SPOT ON. I couldn’t believe it. I’ve tried so many copycat recipes before for various things and this one is the closest copycat I’ve ever made. Bravo Kendra! Loved it and it was so easy! (Also, for reference, I couldn’t find sour oranges, so I used 2 parts freshly squeezed orange juice, 1 part freshly squeezed lemon juice, and 1 part freshly squeezed lime juice.)

  56. I absolutely LOVE Pollo Tropical chicken. I’m wondering if this Goya Packet has MSG in it. Some Goya things do.
    What is sour Orange? Fresh or bottled?
    I would like to marinate chicken pueces like thighs and drumsticks or a whole chicken. Would your recipe be good for a whole chicken? Or how many pieces do you think. Cornish hens are great for a special meal but I want this for everyday meals.
    Thanks!

  57. Holy cow! Have you ever outdone yourself! Our story, originally from South Florida and very familiar with Pollo Tropical! We used to have a common lunch called “Pollo Thursday”! We moved to the capital and there are no Pollo Tropicals here 🙁

    Ok, so I tried this recipe and followed exactly as written. First child said this tastes like Cuban chicken, like Pollo! Next, the other said not only does it taste like it, it smells like it.Note, I didn’t say anything about your receipe.

    I know you don’t know me, but you’ll never get a better compliment from my kids; thanks so much for sharing!

  58. Whoa it’s orange ! I tripled the recipe to make with 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut in chunks and skewered to grill. It tasted great but was VERY orange . Similar flavor to Pollo Tropical. I was happy with the results and will make again .

  59. Finally….this is the one. Pollo has the best chicken at it’s best. but they overcook their chicken and the customer service is just terrible most of the time. I marinated mine 24 hours the first time, but was better when I soaked it fir 48 hours. And it is spot on. I have tried numerous copy cats and my own, but this one is spot on!!! Thank you.

    1. Hi, Troy! I’m so glad that you enjoyed it!

  60. Hey Kendra, Every winters me and my all friends are having a bbq party. Now you shared an amazing recipe. And we will try this pollo tropical chicken recipe. Big thanks for sharing this recipe.

    1. You’re very welcome, Tanvir! I hope you and your friends like it!

  61. I’m in Georgia, and all the Pollo Tropicals cloased. So sad as we had some gift cards for there. Anyway, I just made my TropiChop at home last night just the way I used to get it there with sautéed onions and green peppers, 1/2 brown rice/1/2 lettuce, added cheese and sour cream with rotisserie chicken pieces. I always liked the pineapple rum sauce, but as I am unable to find that, I use the Smuckers Pineapple ice cream topping and it tastes just the same. Ohhh, it was so good.

  62. THANK YOU KENDRA FOR THIS GREAT RECIPE! ITS JUST LIKE THE REAL POLLO TROPICAL WITHOUR LEAVING YOUR HOME….AS FAR AS THE BLACK BEANS JUST SAUTE SOME DICED ONLINS GREAN PEPPERS SOME GARLIC POWDER OF CHOPPED CLOVES AND A BAY LEAF IN SOME OLVE OIL IN A KETTEL OR SAUCE PAN UNTILL ITS WELL REDUCED ….ADD THE CANNED BEANS AND SIMMER FOR AN ADDITINAL 20 MINUTES. REMOVE FROM STOVE AND ADD A TABLE SPOON OF SUGAR AND A GOOD ONE OR TWO OUNCES OF EXTRA VERGIN OLIVE OIL…..THERES NOTHING TO IT……IF YOU NOTICE THE BEANS GETTING A BIT THICK JUST ADD A QUARTER CUP OF WATER AND LET THEM SIMMER A BIT MORE. THE LONGER BLACK BEANS SIT AFTER HAVING BEEN COOKED THE BETTER THEY WILL TASTE…..GOOD LUCK !!…HOPE THIS HELPS>>>

    1. Hi, Frank! I’m so glad that you like the recipe! I’ll definitely try out the black bean recipe! Thank you so much for sharing!

  63. We are Floridians now living in MI but missing Pollo Tropical. We are trying this recipe for the holiday
    end of summer celebration. We will be back to post results.

    1. I hope you like the recipe! Please let me know what you think after trying it.