Chicken Inasal

Chicken Inasal is easy to make yet delivers tons of flavor. Marinated in vinegar, calamansi juice, lemongrass, and achiote oil, and grilled to juicy perfection, this Filipino chicken barbecue is a guaranteed crowd pleaser!

inasal na manok in a glass serving dish

Chicken Inasal

I spent the early part of this year in the Philippines, and a good number of my meals in those months was Mang Inasal pecho with unli rice. One of my aunts brought me to the restaurant to try it, and I got forever hooked to their nuot sarap inihaw na manok!

I am now back in Texas with no restaurant branch for thousands of miles to feed my inasal cravings. Sob.

If you’re like me and hankering for some juicy, flavor-packed Filipino BBQ, give this recipe a try. It’s super easy and more budget-friendly to make at home yet just as tasty and delicious!

cut-up chicken marinating in a vinegar, calamansi juice, lemongrass, garlic, and ginger in a clear glass bowl
Chicken Inasal is a popular grilled dish from the Western Visayas region. It derives its distinctive flavor and color from a marinade made of vinegar, calamansi, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, and atsuete oil. Other versions of the recipe also include Sprite or 7-up to add flavor and act as a tenderizer.

The chicken parts are usually skewered in bamboo and then grilled over hot coals to juicy perfection while basting with the oil.

making chicken oil with atsuete in a pan

How to make chicken oil

The orange-colored oil is a major component in the flavor profile of this Visayan dish. I use chicken skin and fat, but feel free to swap with vegetable oil to cut down on the cholesterol.

In a wide pan over medium heat, place chicken skin, bottoms, and fat. Cook, stirring as needed until they begin to crisp and render fat.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the skins from the oil.
Add atsuete seeds, crushed garlic, and bay leaf. Cook for a few minutes until the oil is evenly colored.
Remove from heat and steep for about one hour to draw out more flavor and color. Strain using a fine-mesh sieve and discard aromatics.
If using atsuete powder, stir about one tablespoon until well-dispersed. Strain using a fine-mesh sieve.
grilling chicken inasal on a charcoal grill

Cooking tips

Depending on the size, cut the whole chicken in quarters (two breasts and two leg quarters).
Use a non-reactive bowl or resealable bags to marinate the chicken.
Marinate for at least two hours up or four hours for the best results. Do not keep the chicken in the marinade for more than 8 hours lest the acids in the vinegar and citrus juice denature the proteins and turn the meat mushy.
For food safety, divide the atsuete oil and use half for basting and the other half for serving.
To check for doneness, insert a thermometer in the thickest part of the chicken without touching the bone. 165 F is the safe internal temperature for both dark and white meat.
For moist meat, let the grilled chicken rest for three to five minutes to redistribute the juices.
chicken inasal with steamed rice and chicken oil on a banana leaf-lined wooden plate

How to serve

Chicken inasal is commonly served for lunch or dinner with steamed rice along with condiments such as chicken/atsuete oil and calamansi-soy sauce mixture or sinamak (spiced palm vinegar).
Store leftovers in a container with a tight-fitting lid and keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.
To reheat, wrap in an aluminum foil and bake in a 350 F oven for about 15 to 20 minutes until heated. Alternatively, arrange chicken pieces in a microwaveable plate and cover with a damp paper towel. Microwave for about 2 to 3 minutes or until heated through.

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