Pollo Saltado: Peruvian Chicken Stir-Fry

Pollo Saltado: Peruvian Chicken Stir-Fry

The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Marinate: 2 hrs
Total: 2 hrs 30 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
1422 Calories
117g Fat
70g Carbs
26g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 1422
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 117g 150%
Saturated Fat 10g 48%
Cholesterol 51mg 17%
Sodium 658mg 29%
Total Carbohydrate 70g 25%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 8g
Protein 26g
Vitamin C 71mg 356%
Calcium 49mg 4%
Iron 4mg 20%
Potassium 592mg 13%
*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.)

Famous lomo saltado, a Peruvian classic of tender beef, potatoes, and vegetables, has won the hearts of food enthusiasts who can't get enough of it. Pollo saltado is a similar succulent combination, but the chicken is the star of the meal. Eaten all year-round, but especially during religious celebrations that ban the consumption of red meat, this chicken dish is a wholesome meal and so easy to make that it can be on your table within 30 minutes after you've marinated the meat for at least 2 hours. The secret to perfect pollo saltado? A very, very, very hot pan. You want to see the pan smoking, so be careful and turn on the fan, as powerful heat is what you need to make this dish in the traditional way.

Many Peruvian dishes are the product of Chinese, Japanese, and Peruvian cultures blending, thanks to the Asian immigration that took place to Peru starting in the mid 19th century, when agricultural laborers arrived in the country to work in fields, and later in the 1950s and 1980s when a wave of educated and wealthier Chinese people arrived in Peru looking for business opportunities. Their presence meant the arrival of new ingredients and cooking traditions. Pollo saltado, and most saltados—e.g., fish, shrimp, or mushrooms—feature local and Asian ingredients that blend beautifully to make delicious dishes such as this one.

Traditional pollo saltado has onions, red bell pepper, and tomatoes and it has great spice content, but you can adjust that to your liking. Served on a bed of french fries and rice (yes, rice!) this filling meal might be your new weeknight favorite.


For the Chicken:

  • 2 to 3 medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into 2-inch strips

  • 2 tablespoons vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon honey

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon paprika

  • 1 tablespoon chili paste, such as aji panca or diced fresh chile pepper, or to taste

For the Fries:

  • 2 to 3 cups vegetable oil, divided; for frying fries and chicken

  • 2 cups frozen steak cut french fries

  • Salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Saltado:

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 medium red onion, sliced

  • 2 medium red bell peppers, sliced

  • 1 medium tomato, diced

  • Cilantro leaves, for garnish

For Serving:

  • 4 to 6 cups cooked rice, white or brown

Steps to Make It

Marinate the Chicken

  1. Gather the marinade ingredients.

    marinade ingredients

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  2. Place the pieces of chicken breast in a plastic zipper bag with the vinegar, soy sauce, honey, cumin, paprika, and aji panca paste.

    marinade and chicken in a bag

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  3. Seal and mix well, then set aside to marinate for at least 2 hours, though it can be done for as much as 12 to 48 hours.

    chicken and marinade in a bag

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Fry the French Fries

  1. Gather the french fry ingredients.

    fries ingredients

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  2. Pour 1 to 2 inches of the vegetable oil in a heavy skillet with tall sides and heat over medium-high heat until hot.

    cast iron skillet with oil

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  3. Fry the french fries until golden brown, working in batches if necessary. Place on paper towels to cool. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    fries in a skillet with oil

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Cook the Chicken and Vegetables

  1. Gather the  Saltado ingredients.

    Saltado ingredients

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  2. Preheat a skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Add the marinated chicken and brown quickly on both sides, working quickly and carefully as the pan might smoke.

    chicken cooking in a pan

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  3. Add the marinade to the pan, being careful of the cold liquid hitting the hot pan. Cook the chicken for 2 to 3 additional minutes, just until it is no longer pink inside. Remove the chicken to a plate and reserve.

    chicken cooking in a pan

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  4. Add the garlic and onion to the skillet where the chicken was cooked and sauté them until soft in the remaining marinade.

    onions cooking in a pan

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  5. Add the red peppers and tomato and sauté over medium-high heat until they're just starting to brown.

    red peppers and tomato added to the pan

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  6. Add the chicken back into the skillet. Taste test and season with more soy sauce if desired.

    chicken and vegetables in a pan

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  7. Add the french fries to the skillet and gently but quickly mix everything together. Remove from heat.

    potatoes added to the pan with chicken and vegetables

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  8. Serve immediately over cooked hot rice and garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.

    Pollo Saltado: Peruvian Chicken Stir-Fry, served with rice

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi