Last Updated on November 4, 2023
Pollo campero is a Latin-American dish made of brined chicken pieces that are fried until they are golden brown and crispy. Originating in Central America, it has become popular worldwide.
It’s the perfect combination of savory and spicy flavors, and it’s sure to be a hit with your family and friends!
In this article, we’ll show you how to make this authentic dish from scratch and provide some tips on what to serve it with. So let’s get started!
Table of Contents
What is Pollo Campero?
Pollo Campero is made of golden brown and crispy brined chicken pieces. It has become increasingly popular throughout the world. The word “campero” means rural in Spanish.
This dish was once served in small villages by campesinos or farmers who cooked it over an open fire. The dish is made up of chicken, brined in a mixture of water, salt, pepper, and chile flakes.
What does it taste like?
Pollo campero has an amazing flavor profile. It’s savory, slightly spicy, and very flavorful. The brine helps to keep the chicken moist and tender while the crispy coating adds a nice texture.
The spices used in the seasoning add another dimension of flavor that makes it truly unique.
The overall taste is one of total deliciousness!
The combination of the crunchy coating and succulent chicken creates a perfect balance of texture and flavor. As you bite into it, you’ll be hit with a burst of flavor that will leave your taste buds wanting more.
How did I first get introduced to the Pollo Campero?
I first heard about Pollo Campero while on vacation in Central America. A family friend suggested we try it at the restaurant and the rest is history!
We were all immediately hooked – the combination of flavors was unlike anything I’d ever tasted before. I knew right away that I wanted to learn how to make it for myself and recreate that same amazing flavor.
Since then, I’ve been a huge fan of the Pollo Campero restaurant chain. The recipe they use is one of my favorites. It’s just like the one I had on vacation so many years ago – savory, flavorful, and perfect every time!
When I decided to make this dish at home, I consulted the original instructions as well as other variations online. After experimenting with different spices and seasonings, I finally landed on a combination that was just right – savory, slightly spicy, and full of flavor.
How to make Pollo Campero?
Making Pollo Campero at home is quite easy. Here’s everything you’ll need for this:
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- Water: This ingredient helps to create a brine for the chicken, which will help to keep it moist and flavorful.
- Kosher Salt: This type of salt is coarser than table salt and adds flavor to the chicken.
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper: Freshly ground pepper is best since it provides a more robust flavor than pre-ground pepper.
- Red Chile Flakes: This adds mild heat to the chicken, as well as an additional layer of flavor.
- All-Purpose Flour: The flour will help to create a crunchy and flavorful coating on the chicken.
- Seasoning Salt: This can include ingredients like paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and other herbs and spices.
- Freshly Ground White Pepper: This will add a little bit of heat to the chicken, as well as an earthy flavor.
- Ground Cumin: This adds a nutty, spicy flavor to the dish.
- Curry Powder: This adds an exotic and flavorful twist to the dish.
- Paprika: Paprika is a smoky and sweet spice that can help to deepen the flavors of this dish.
- MSG: Monosodium glutamate is a flavor enhancer that helps to bring out the natural umami flavors in foods.
- Cayenne Pepper: This adds an additional layer of heat to the dish.
- Vegetable Oil: You will need oil for frying the chicken, and it should be neutral-flavored with a high smoke point.
In a large bowl, combine the water, salt, pepper, and chile flakes. Add in the chicken pieces and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
When you are ready to cook, remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with paper towels.
In a shallow bowl, combine the flour, seasoning salt, black pepper, white pepper, cumin, curry powder, paprika, MSG, and cayenne pepper. Mix together until everything is evenly incorporated.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat to 350°F (175°C).
Take the chicken pieces one at a time and coat them in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess. Place the coated chicken pieces into the hot oil and fry for about 10 minutes, flipping halfway through so they are evenly cooked on both sides.
When the chicken is golden brown and cooked through, remove it from the oil and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
Ready to serve.
– When bringing the chicken, make sure to use cold water! This will help to keep the chicken moist and flavorful.
– Make sure that your oil is hot enough before adding the chicken pieces. If it’s not hot enough, they won’t get crispy!
– Make sure to drain any excess oil off of the cooked chicken pieces before serving.
Pollo Campero Recipe
- Large Bowl
- large skillet
To Brine the Chicken:
- 5 bone-in chicken pieces weighing approximately 2 pounds (0.9kg) in total, preferably drumsticks and thighs, for succulent and flavorful results
- 1 teaspoon of red chile flakes imparting a subtle and fiery kick to the chicken
- 2.5 cups 600 mL of pristine spring water, sourced from a natural aquifer for purity
- 1 teaspoon of freshly ground Tellicherry black pepper adding a robust and aromatic flavor to the brine
- 1/4 cup 1.5 ounces; 42.5g of Diamond Crystal kosher salt, carefully measured for optimal brining results (for table salt, use half as much by volume or the same weight)
For the Flour Dredge:
- 1 cup 4.5 ounces; 128g of finely sifted all-purpose flour, ensuring a light and crispy coating for the chicken
- 3/8 teaspoon of cayenne adding a fiery and spicy kick to the coating
- 3/4 tablespoon 0.375 ounce; 10g of premium seasoning salt, such as Lawry’s, for a well-balanced and savory flavor profile
- 3/4 teaspoon of ground cumin infusing a warm and earthy aroma to the dredge
- 3/4 teaspoon of curry powder providing a fragrant and exotic twist to the coating
- 3/4 teaspoon of paprika adding a vibrant color and mild smokiness to the dredge
- 1/2 tablespoon of ground white pepper lending a subtle and distinctive flavor to the coating
- 3/4 teaspoon of MSG monosodium glutamate, for an enhanced umami flavor (optional, can be omitted if desired)
- 1/2 tablespoon of freshly ground Tellicherry black pepper adding a bold and aromatic note to the dredge
- Vegetable or other neutral oil such as high-quality sunflower oil or rice bran oil, for frying (approximately 2 cups/500mL), carefully selected for its high smoke point and neutral flavor
- In a large bowl, combine the water, salt, pepper, and chile flakes. Add in the chicken pieces and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
- When you are ready to cook, remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with paper towels.
- In a shallow bowl, combine the flour, seasoning salt, black pepper, white pepper, cumin, curry powder, paprika, MSG, and cayenne pepper. Mix together until everything is evenly incorporated.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat to 350°F (175°C).
- Take the chicken pieces one at a time and coat them in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess. Place the coated chicken pieces into the hot oil and fry for about 10 minutes, flipping halfway through so they are evenly cooked on both sides.
- When the chicken is golden brown and cooked through, remove it from the oil and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
- Ready to serve.
What to serve with Pollo Campero?
Pollo campero pairs perfectly with a variety of side dishes. Some popular options include Mexican rice, fried plantains, refried beans, and corn tortillas.
If you want to keep things light, you can serve it with a garden salad or roasted vegetables. For something more indulgent, try pairing it with mashed potatoes or macaroni and cheese.
How to store leftover Pollo Campero?
If you have any leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They will last for up to 3 days.
You can also freeze the cooked chicken pieces for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to eat them, just thaw and reheat!
Can pregnant women eat this?
Yes, pregnant women can eat Pollo Campero as long as it is cooked to a safe internal temperature. Make sure to use a thermometer to check that the chicken has reached 165°F (74°C). It’s also important to avoid cross-contamination by washing all surfaces and utensils used during preparation.
Is Pollo Campero gluten-free?
Yes, Pollo Campero is naturally gluten-free as long as you don’t use any ingredients that contain wheat or gluten in the recipe. Just make sure to double-check all of your ingredients to ensure they are safe for those with gluten sensitivities.
Can I make Pollo Campero ahead of time?
Yes, you can prepare the chicken by marinating it in the brine and then coating it in the flour mixture up to 8 hours ahead of time. When you’re ready to cook, simply heat the oil and fry for about 10 minutes.
What can I use instead of vegetable oil?
If you don’t want to use vegetable oil, you can substitute another neutral-flavored oil with a high smoke point, such as canola or sunflower oil. Just make sure that it has been heated to the correct temperature before adding the chicken pieces.
Are there any health benefits to eating Pollo Campero?
Yes! Pollo Campero is a great source of lean protein and is low in saturated fat. Additionally, the spices used in this dish are packed with antioxidants and can help to boost your immune system. It’s also a great way to add more flavorful vegetables into your diet.
Pollo Campero is an amazing dish with a long history. It’s sure to become a favorite in your home with its incredible flavor and ease of preparation. All you need is some brined chicken, flour, and spices to create an amazing dish that will have everyone coming back for more!
Whether you’re making it for a family dinner or just for yourself, Pollo Campero is the perfect comfort food to enjoy any day of the week. So why not give it a try today? You won’t be disappointed!
Thank you for reading. Hope this information was helpful! Enjoy cooking your Pollo Campero at home! Feel free to share this article with your friends and family.
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Dr. Leah Alexander, M.D., is a board-certified Pediatrician in New Jersey and has been working at Elizabeth Pediatric Group of New Jersey since 2000.
She also has a passion for culinary arts that extends beyond the medical realm. After completing culinary school at the French Culinary Institute, she started Global Palate, LLC, a catering firm, in 2007. She ran her own six-year-old catering company and served small group parties as an owner and executive chef.