Pollo Guisado: Braised Chicken Stew

Pollo guisado over rice on a plate

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 18 mins
Cook: 40 mins
Total: 58 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
554 Calories
32g Fat
15g Carbs
50g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 554
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 32g 41%
Saturated Fat 7g 37%
Cholesterol 178mg 59%
Sodium 1087mg 47%
Total Carbohydrate 15g 6%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 50g
Vitamin C 14mg 71%
Calcium 55mg 4%
Iron 6mg 31%
Potassium 890mg 19%
*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.)

Pollo guisado is a delicious chicken dish that's characterized by meat that practically falls off the bone. Both children and adults love it, so it makes a great family meal. As an added bonus, it doesn't call for a lot of ingredients, so it's doable on a busy weeknight. It does, however, call for chicken parts—breasts, wings, thighs, etc.—with skin on and bone-in.

The chicken's tenderness is the result of a combination of two techniques: braising—lightly frying and then stewing low and slow in a closed container—and fricassee, which involves sautéing and braising the cut-up parts, then serving it in its own sauce. The combination is unbeatable; you get the benefits of both techniques.

Pollo guisado is a very popular dish on the Spanish-speaking islands of Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. Most of the ingredients will not be hard to come by in your average American supermarket. Some, such as culantro (also referred to as recao), may be trickier, but it's worth seeking out. Culantro is similar to but not the same as cilantro; its flavor is more intense and it holds up in long braises and stews, which is why it works well here. You may be able to source it in specialty grocers. Serve this stew-like chicken dish over rice, which will sop up all the tasty juices.

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Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces, such as thighs, legs, breasts, and wings, cut-up

  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon adobo seasoning

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 cup sofrito

  • 1 packet sazón seasoning (or 1 tablespoon annatto/achiote oil)

  • 1/4 cup pimento-stuffed Spanish Manzanilla olives

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 culantro leaf 

  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

  • 8 ounces canned tomato sauce with peppers and onions

  • 1 cup chicken broth or water

  • 1 large potato, cut into bite-sized cubes

  • Chopped cilantro

  • Chopped parsley

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for pollo guisado
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  2. Season the chicken pieces with the adobo seasoning. 

    Seasoned chicken parts with adobo
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  3. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy skillet or a Dutch oven. Make sure you have a lid available to cover it tightly. 

    Olive oil in pan
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  4. Add the chicken pieces and brown them on each side, about 5 minutes per side.

    Chicken browned in a pan
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  5. Add the sofrito, the sazón packet, Spanish olives, cumin, bay leaf, culantro, Italian seasoning, tomato sauce, chicken broth, and potato. Turn the chicken pieces to coat them with the sauce.

    Sofrito, potatoes, olives, bay leaf, tomatoes all added to the pot for pollo guisado
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  6. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and reduce the heat to low. Simmer the chicken stew for 35 minutes or until the chicken is done. 

    Pollo guisado after cooking
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  7. Remove the bay leaf and the culantro leaf. 

    Remove bay leaf and culantro leaf from pollo guisado
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  8. Garnish the chicken pieces with fresh chopped cilantro or parsley and serve the sauce over your favorite rice.

    Garnish chicken
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Tips

  • The chicken is done when its internal temperature reaches 160 F or 71 C. Use a meat or other cooking thermometer to test it for optimal food safety. 
  • You can use canned and prepared ingredients in this recipe, but you'll get the best results if you make some of them yourself, such as the adobo seasoning, the sofrito, and the achiote oil. 
  • This dish—and especially the sauce—tastes great over rice and beanswhite rice, or yellow rice with corn.

How to Store Pollo Guisado

This dish will keep in the fridge, covered, for 3 to 5 days. You can also freeze it for much longer, but if you do so, be sure to leave the rice out of it as it doesn't really keep its structure well when it's frozen and then reheated. If need be, make a fresh batch of rice when you reheat the stew.