Chicken Inasal Recipe

Calamansi and vinegar go a long way to create a tangy, crisp skin in this Filipino grilled chicken.


Serious Eats / Joshua Bousel

Why It Works

  • Bright orange achiote oil creates the yellow hue on the grilled chicken.
  • A marinade of garlic, lemongrass, calamansi, vinegar, and ginger also serves as a baste when cooking the chicken over indirect heat.
  • Finishing over direct heat crisps the skin.

The Philippines presented me with the option of eating an almost all-pork diet everyday, every meal (ahem, lechon). While in theory this sounds fantastic, I found myself taking the few opportunities to throw other animals into the mix. This led me to discovering chicken Inasal—a basted grilled chicken originating from the city of Bacolod on Negros island in the Visayas.

After leaving the Philippines, all I really knew about the chicken was its name and taste, and that I needed to learn how to make it. So I turned to one of my favorite Filipino cookbooks, Memories of Philippine Kitchens, as a guide.

It started with making a batch of bright orange achiote oil, which creates the yellow hue on the finished chicken. The oil was then mixed with garlic, lemongrass, calamansi, vinegar, sugar, ginger, salt, and pepper to form the marinade. This later doubled as a baste when roasting the chicken over indirect heat until it was almost cooked through. A final stint over direct heat finished the cook and crisped the skin.

The chicken itself was nice and juicy, but only faintly picked up the flavor of the marinade. The skin, on the other hand, was a tangy treat that boasted great Filipino flavor thanks mainly to the calamansi and vinegar. Overall, this was pretty much how I remembered the chicken from the Philippines (only I forgot to skewer the leg quarters before grilling), some decent dark meat that I was quite happy to eat, but at the same time, couldn't hold up to the crispy pata—fried pork knuckle—the rest of the family were relishing in, as I foolishly felt a need to vary my meals beyond the pig.

Adapted from Memories of Philippine Kitchens

June 2012

Recipe Facts

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 75 mins
Active: 75 mins
Marinating Time: 9 hrs
Total: 10 hrs 20 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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For the Achiote Oil

  • 1 cup vegetable oil

  • 1/4 cup achiote seeds

  • 3 whole garlic cloves

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 ancho chile crushed, stemmed, and seeded

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and finely chopped

  • 3 tablespoons of calamansi juice, or regular lime juice

  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or coconut vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 1 teaspoon freshly chopped ginger

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 4 chicken leg quarters


  1. To make the achiote oil: Place vegetable oil, achiote seeds, 3 cloves garlic, bay leaf, and ancho chile in a medium saucepan. Turn heat to medium and warm until bubbles begin to form around achiote seeds. Remove from heat and let mixture to steep for 1 hour. Pour oil through a fine mesh-strainer and let cool completely.

  2. To make the marinade: In a small bowl whisk together 1/4 cup achiote oil (reserve rest for future uses), minced garlic, lemongrass, calamansi or lime juice, vinegar, sugar, salt, ginger, and pepper.

  3. Place chicken in a large resealable plastic bag and pour in marinade. Seal bag and gently toss to evenly coat chicken. Place in refrigerator and let marinate overnight.

  4. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Remove chicken from bag, reserving marinade. Place chicken, skin side up, on cool side of grill and cover. Cook, basting every 10 minutes with reserved marinade, until thigh meat registers 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer inserted in thickest part of meat, 30 to 45 minutes.

  5. Move chicken to hot side of the grill, flip skin side down, and cook until skin crisps and browns, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a platter, let rest for 10 minutes, then serve immediately.

Special Equipment

Saucepan, fine-mesh strainer, grill


Nutrition Facts (per serving)
305 Calories
21g Fat
14g Carbs
17g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 305
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 21g 27%
Saturated Fat 3g 17%
Cholesterol 82mg 27%
Sodium 1126mg 49%
Total Carbohydrate 14g 5%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 17g
Vitamin C 5mg 24%
Calcium 37mg 3%
Iron 3mg 18%
Potassium 493mg 10%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)