Pollo Al Ajillo Recipe – Spanish Garlic Chicken

Today, we’re revealing the classic Pollo al Ajillo recipe – a dish that embodies the heart and soul of Spanish cooking.

best Pollo al ajillo recipe by the mediterranean fork

“Pollo al Ajillo,” which translates to “Garlic chicken,” is a timeless Spanish classic that has been cherished for generations. If you’re anything like me, the mere mention of garlic and chicken in the same sentence is enough to make your mouth water. But there’s so much more to this dish than meets the eye.

Imagine tender pieces of chicken, cooked in a flavorful blend of garlic, bay leaves, white wine, and olive oil, sizzling away in a hot skillet until they’re golden and irresistibly aromatic. The aroma alone is enough to transport you to a bustling Spanish tapas bar, where you’re surrounded by the chatter of locals and the clinking of glasses filled with ruby-red wine.

If you want more spanish chicken recipes to lick your fingers, click here!

As a foodie local insider, I can’t wait to introduce you to the magic of “Pollo al Ajillo.” We’ll uncover the secrets behind its creation and, of course, share tips on how to recreate this Spanish culinary masterpiece in your own kitchen.

What makes “Pollo al Ajillo” so special?

 It’s the embodiment of Spanish cuisine’s core principles – simple yet high-quality ingredients, prepared with passion and precision. It’s a dish that exemplifies the beauty of Mediterranean flavors, where the star ingredients shine brightly, and each bite tells a story of tradition and love for food.

What is ajillo sauce?

“Ajillo” is a Spanish word that refers to a style of cooking that prominently features garlic as a primary flavor component. In Spanish cuisine, garlic is often used to add depth and richness to dishes, and “ajillo” preparations are known for their strong, savory garlic flavor.

In the context of “Pollo al Ajillo,” which translates to “Chicken with Garlic,” the term “ajillo” signifies that garlic plays a central role in the dish’s flavor profile. For this recipe, chicken pieces are typically cooked in a sauce or oil that’s infused with garlic and sometimes other ingredients like herbs, paprika, and white wine. The garlic is usually thinly sliced or minced, allowing it to release its aromatic and savory essence into the dish.

The result is a dish where the garlic not only adds a robust, savory taste but also infuses the surrounding ingredients, like chicken, with its distinctive aroma. “Pollo al Ajillo” is a prime example of how Spanish cuisine uses garlic to elevate the flavors of a dish and create a delicious and satisfying meal. Garlic lovers particularly appreciate “ajillo” preparations for their intense garlic flavor and the depth it brings to the overall taste experience.

ingredients needed to make the Pollo al ajillo

How to Make Pollo Al Ajillo

EQUIPMENT NEEDED

To make Pollo al ajillo  you’ll want the following equipment on hand: 

  • Cutting board
  • Knife /garlic press
  • Medium-size pan
  • Measuring cups and spoons

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ chicken cut into chunks. 
  • 20 garlic cloves
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1 ½ cups white wine
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves

STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS

1 — Start by cutting the chicken into big chunks. Alternatively, you can buy it pre-cut or ask your local butcher to cut it for you. Leave the skin on. 

chicken and garlic

2 — Peel the garlic cloves but one and slice thinly. Set aside. Smash the garlic that hasn’t been peeled. 

3 — Add the olive oil to the pan and the smashed garlic. Heat on medium-low heat. This step will infuse the olive oil. 

olive oil and smashed garlic in the pan

4 — In a big bowl season the chicken with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. 

chicken seasoned with salt and pepper

5 — Remove the garlic from the pan once it gets browned and fragrant. 

brown garlic in a pan

6 — Add the sliced garlic cloves alongside the chicken and cook on medium-low mixing well and turning the chicken pieces every few minutes. 

cooking the chicken and garlic for the Pollo al ajillo recipe

7 — Once all the garlic and chicken pieces get browned and fragrant, add the white wine. 

adding white wine to the garlic and chicken

8 — Add the bay leaves and mix well. 

mixing all the Pollo al ajillo ingredients

9 — Let cook on medium heat until the sauce evaporates a bit and gets thicker. 

cooking Pollo al ajillo on medium heat

10 — Serve alongside some fried potatoes and chopped parsley for garnish (optional)

Pollo al ajillo Served alongside some fried potatoes

Notes and FAQs

Still with doubts? Don’t worry, we spill all the tea about ingredients, cooking methods, storage, etc. in this section so you can reproduce this recipe like a local. 

Cooking method: 

Infusing the oil:

I like to infuse the oil in which I’m going to create the ajillo sauce with this method I’ve explained step by step. This way by slowly infusing the olive oil with a garlic that has been smashed and still has the skin on, the olive oil gets a lot of the garlic flavor without risking to burn the rest of the garlic we are going to use later on. Burning the sliced garlic is way too easy since it’s cut super thin. 

Frying the chicken and garlic:

At this point is crucial that you fry them on medium-low heat making sure to stir and mix so the garlic does not get burned, but making sure it gets slowly golden as well as the chicken. Burnt garlic is very bitter and that’s not the flavor we want!

Adding the wine: 

This step is quite straightforward, just make sure to add it when the chicken and garlic have had the opportunity to get golden and fragrant for maximum flavor. Cook on medium-low so the chicken has the opportunity to cook through and also the sauce gets the maximum development of flavor possible. 

Serving the Pollo al ajillo: 

Pollo al ajillo is traditionally served alongside fried potatoes, so they can get drowned in the super delicious ajillo sauce, however, you can change that for the side of your choice. 

Adding some chopped parsley is optional but it gives a nice fresh touch to the final dish. Alternatively, you could also add some fresh chives. 

Storage: 

Pollo al ajillo can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days in sealed containers. Whenever you want to reheat it, add it to a pan with a drizzle of olive oil and reheat on medium-low covering it. 

Ingredients: 

These are the notes on the specific ingredients used in our version of Pollo al ajillo recipe and also the substitutions in case you cannot find or use any of them. 

Chicken: Choose bone and skin on pieces if possible, chicken breast tends to turn to dry. You can do Pollo al ajillo using only wings or drums, it’s completely up to you. 

Also, to be fair, anything or almost anything can be done with the Ajillo sauce, so if you don’t like chicken, you can substitute it for the meat of your choice, like turkey, pork, or beef

Garlic: Fresh garlic, not powdered garlic, is the answer for this recipe

Olive oil: As in any Spanish recipe, olive oil is a complete must, Do not use any other oil since it would impact massively the final flavor of the dish. 

Black pepper: There are other variations that use cayenne pepper instead of black pepper, Honestly we love both, so you can include both in the sauce or only one of them. The sauce should turn a bit spicy not hell-spicy so go easy if using cayenne pepper. 

White wine: for pollo al ajillo white wine is a must. Is the base that alongside garlic will create the delicious ajillo sauce. You can use any variety of your choice, the only consideration would be to choose a dry or medium-dry white wine and keep it strictly white, not red, not rosè wine. Of course the nicer the wine, the nicer the sauce, but there’s no need to rob a bank for this recipe. Simply choose a wine that you would like to drink a glass of. 

close up shot of the Pollo al ajillo dish
best Pollo al ajillo recipe by the mediterranean fork

Pollo Al Ajillo Recipe

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote
We dive into the world of "Pollo al Ajillo" – a dish that embodies the heart and soul of Spanish cooking.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Spanish

Equipment

  • Cutting board
  • Knife /garlic press
  • Medium-size pan
  • Measuring cups and spoons

Ingredients

  • 1/2 chicken cut into chunks
  • 20 garlic cloves
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves

Nutrition

Calories: 450kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 21g | Cholesterol: 0.2mg | Sodium: 15mg | Potassium: 289mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 25IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 85mg | Iron: 1mg
Servings: 2
Calories: 450kcal

Instructions

  • Start by cutting the chicken into big chunks. Alternatively, you can buy it pre-cut or ask your local butcher to cut it for you. Leave the skin on.
  • Peel the garlic cloves but one and slice thinly. Set aside. Smash the garlic that hasn’t been peeled.
  • Add the olive oil to the pan and the smashed garlic. Heat on medium-low heat. This step will infuse the olive oil.
  • In a big bowl season the chicken with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  • Remove the garlic from the pan once it gets browned and fragrant.
  • Add the sliced garlic cloves alongside the chicken and cook on medium-low mixing well and turning the chicken pieces every few minutes.
  • Once all the garlic and chicken pieces get browned and fragrant, add the white wine.
  • Add the bay leaves and mix well.
  • Let cook on medium heat until the sauce evaporates a bit and gets thicker.
  • Serve alongside some fried potatoes and chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
KEYWORD: pollo ajillo recipe
Spanish garlic chicken in a pan
Photo of author
Born and raised in the Southeast of Spain, Alba is a photographer and a foodie. Always hungry for new flavors and recipes but with a big passion for traditional recipes that speak about roots and family. You can always find her talking about food, photographing it, or cooking! Obviously, she is team “Tortilla de patatas con cebolla”. Her favorite dishes are "Arroz de Conejo" and "Gazpacho".