Mexican Yucatan Chicken – Pollo Pibil
Mexican Yucatan Chicken – Pollo Pibil

Mexican Yucatan Chicken – Pollo Pibil

I am currently eating my way around Mexico and loving all the fresh healthy food. We are visiting the Yucatán Peninsula which is in south east Mexico on the Caribbean sea. Here the dishes are influenced by the Mayan culture in addition to the usual Mexican flavours.

Yucatan Chicken - Pollo Pibil

Yucatan Chicken – Pollo Pibil

Whenever we are travelling I like to do at least one cooking class so I can get a real feeling for how to create the local food.  Doing a class means I am able to see first hand how the food is prepared.  It also allows me to become familiar with any unusual ingredients.

Mexican Soft Taco

Mexican Soft Taco

Eating out in restaurants and on the streets of Mexico showed me how badly we have interpreted the Mexican cuisine in Australia.

Yucatan Chicken Skewers

Yucatan Chicken Skewers

When I had the opportunity to speak to chefs and my cooking teacher I quizzed them on a few of the discrepancies I had noticed.

I have prepared some interesting culinary faux pas;

  1. Until recently in Australia taco’s have been hard shells not soft tortilla.
  2. We use cheese and sour cream on our taco’s where as I haven’t seen a single taco with these fillings at all.
  3. Tortilla are usually made with Masa Corn Flour not Wheat Flour.
  4. In Australia mince meat is a common Mexican taco filling but in Mexico they don’t use mince at all.
  5. We make guacamole with sour cream.
  6. Lime is usually used not lemon in Mexico
  7. Salsa means sauce in Mexican so a salsa is not chunky its smooth.
  8. What we know as Salsa in Australia (i.e. diced tomato, chill, onion etc) is called Pico.

Mexican Soft Taco

Mexican Soft Taco

So what do you think?  Were there any surprises for you.  The hardest one to get my head around when ordering was that a salsa would always be a smooth sauce.

Mexican Soft Tacos

Mexican Soft Tacos

Yucatan Chicken is such a simple dish but the colour and flavour is absolutely delicious. The meat is marinated in a gorgeous orange spice paste made using achiote and orange juice. It gives the chicken a lovely mellow flavour which is further enhanced by the charcoal of the barbecue during cooking.

Mexican Tacos w Salsa Verde

Mexican Tacos w Salsa Verde

Yucatan Chicken is a dish that is extremely popular in the Yucatán region. The marinade can also be used for prawns or fish. The meat is served on Mexican rice or freshly made corn tortilla.

Mexican Yucatan Chicken – Pollo Pibil
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Mexican
Author: Julie
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 10
An authentic Mexican chicken recipe is easy to make and can be used in soft taco’s or with Mexican Rice.
  • 700gm chicken thigh fillets
  • Salad
  • 1/2 cup red & white cabbage shredded
  • 1/4 cup carrot shredded
  • 1 Tbs coriander
  • Marinade
  • ½ x 100 g packet “El Yucateco” achiote paste
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 garlic clove
  • To Serve
  • 10 corn tortilla’s
  • lime juice
  1. Slice the chicken thigh fillets into strips. Place in a non reactive bowl.
  2. Place all the marinade ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth.
  3. Pour the marinade over the chicken and ensure all the chicken is well covered.
  4. Place the chicken in the fridge and allow it to marinade for at least 3 hours.
  5. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.
  6. Thread the chicken onto skewers.
  7. Place baking paper on a large baking tray and add the skewers to the tray for cooking.
  8. Cook in the oven for 20 minutes. (The skewers can also be cooked on a BBQ or pan fried).
  9. Combine salad ingredients whilst the chicken cooks.
  10. Serve the cooked chicken with tortilla the salad and a squeeze of lime juice.
  11. Enjoy

Mexican Yucatan Chicken w Salsa Verde

Mexican Yucatan Chicken w Salsa Verde

The sauce on the side of the Yucatan Chicken is a Mexican Salsa Verde.  It’s basically a green hot chilli sauce and is found on every salsa bar in Mexico and California.

Yucatan Chicken - Pollo Pibil

Yucatan Chicken – Pollo Pibil

I will be sharing the Salsa Verde recipe in an upcoming story. It is so easy to make and the favour is unique to Mexican food.

Pollo Pibil "Pin Me"Mexican Yucatan Chicken.

Pollo Pibil “Pin Me”Mexican Yucatan Chicken.

Feel free to pin the dish for later, it’s great cooked on the BBQ.

Mexican Chicken Skewers Food Gawker

Mexican Chicken Skewers Food Gawker

So readers, I’m curious, what is your favourite Mexican dish? Do you like to take cooking classes whilst on holidays?

Annatto Sauce Ingredients

Annatto Sauce Ingredients

P.s These are the sauce ingredients. I was able to find the Annatto Paste very easily in our small Coffs Harbour specialty store. Otherwise have a look online. 1 package makes a double serve of the recipe.

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About Julie


  1. I don’t think there’s too much authentic Mexican food around here, either. Hope to get some traditional fare up in Chicago next month. Till then I may have to make your chicken—it sounds so flavorful and delicious!

  2. It goes the same here where I am ;P. Always been minced meat and cheese. Until some newer restaurants offered chunks of meat! Love your photos! 😀

  3. I loved eating on the Yucatan peninsula and you’re right, it’s different and SO much better than we can get here. I did know there is smooth salsa and pico de gallo and I like them both. Regardless of how they eat them there, I like sour cream. 🙂

    • Hehe, I know what you mean about the sour cream, I’m so used to it on my Mexican. Now I just add an extra squeeze of lime juice and remind myself I will have to do less gym time

  4. I love authentic Mexican food too, and was quite spoiled for choice living in California for 7 years. I was SO excited when we found a Mexican restaurant near us last year, but so disappointed when the food came. It was sweet instead of savory, with little to no flavor. I’m so glad you’re sharing what really good Mexican food is all about. 🙂

  5. It is not just Australia…I think at most places, we don’t get authentic Mexican food. Yucatan has some wonderful food such as your pollo pibil.

  6. Those chicken skewers look droolworthy!

  7. Wow… This pollo pibil looks absolutely fantastic… ideal to celebrate Memorial Day and summer.

  8. Love this Julie ! I liked read about your faux pas in mexican cuisine, sometimes we learn a lot of mistakes !

  9. I think visiting Mexico would be fascinating. There’s a new Mexican restaurant that’s opened in Darlinghurst and it’s very authentic. The food is amazing and nothing like what we traditionally think of when we think, ‘Mexican’. The tacos (soft) are amazing and all come with lime – not a lemon in sight xx

  10. hahaha I totally agree with those facts you had mentioned, I totally only knew tacos as hard shells before and now the soft is totally a go-to and the occasional hard is nice to go back to as well XD

  11. I feel like Mexican right now and I don’t normally eat Mexican cuisines…YUM

  12. Sounds delicious!

  13. Looks amazing!
    Melanie @

  14. Ooh love the gorgeous color on your chicken and all the lovely pics!!The paste is calling my name and I have to look for it in the stores!

    • Hi Soni, You can get the paste in any gourmet food or Asian store. I was able to get it in Coffs Harbour. I will post a picture of the box so you know what to look for.

  15. Julie, your Yucatan Chicken looks very tasty and authentic! Practice makes perfect 🙂

  16. Thanks for the insider knowledge Julie … some Aussie interpretations are pretty disrespectful of such a beautiful cuisine.

  17. Love the idea of doing cooking classes while traveling! Always nice to bring back pictures, but bringing back skills is so much more rewarding. And great to taking Mexican cooking classes — there are so many different styles of Mexican food, aren’t there? Anyway, what a terrific looking dish — thanks so much.

  18. I so want to taste authentic Mexican tukka. It all seems so sloppy and unappetizing at the restaurants we have here in the Berra. Guess I should get crackin on trying your recipe, it totally looks drool worthy…. So it must taste pretty fab too.

  19. Recipe looks easy, but not sure I can find some achiote paste in Adelaide. But for sure, I’m going to now throw out my El Paseo instant taco mix!

  20. That looks so delicious! Have fun in Mexico Julie! 😀

  21. Nancy Vallereux :

    The salad doesn’t make sense to me. It’s really just a little bit of shredded cabbage, carrots and an entire tablespoon of coriander? Ground toasted coriander I assume?

    • Hi Nancy, Thanks for commenting I obviously didn’t make it very clear. The salad has fresh coriander. Mexican food uses a lot of fresh coriander, or cilantro as it’s known in some parts of the world. The salad gets its flavour from the chicken and lime in the tortilla. The salad adds a fresh, crunchy component to the dish. I hope you enjoy the dish.


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