Do you know what the best grilled chicken is? The kind that's so moist and flavorful, it makes your mouth water uncontrollably; the kind that becomes a family favorite at every summer barbecue. With a bold take on a classic Filipino dish, Chicken Inasal is the best grilled chicken ever and sure to become a summer staple in a backyard new you. Featuring striking flavors from lemongrass, ginger, seasoned rice vinegar, and achiote seeds, this chicken is beautifully marinated and tenderize to finish perfectly on the grill every time.

The depth of flavor begins by preparing the homemade achiote oil by gently simmering lemongrass, ginger, oil, and achiote seeds until thick, brick-red, and fragrant. Marinade the chicken in a combination of lemongrass, garlic, shallot, ginger, vinegar, Sprite, and salt for at least six hours for maximum infusion of moisture and flavors. Grill the chicken over high heat, basting with the homemade achiote oil until charred and stunning. This recipe turns everything you know about grill chicken on its head so that your friends and family will be begging for this recipe!

Serves 8

Chicken Inasal – The Best Grilled Chicken Ever! Ingredients

Achiote Oil

  • 2 lemongrass stalks, trimmed, tough outer layers removed, thinly sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 1¼ cups vegetable oil
  • ⅓ cup achiote (annatto) seeds

Chicken and Assembly

  • 3 lemongrass stalks, tough outer layers removed, thinly sliced
  • 1 head of garlic, cloves separated, chopped
  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled, chopped
  • ¾ cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • ½ cup Sprite or 7UP
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt, plus more
  • 4 chicken legs (thigh and drumstick)

Special Equipment

  • Eight 8" metal skewers or soaked wooden chopsticks or bamboo skewers (optional)

Chicken Inasal – The Best Grilled Chicken Ever! Directions

Achiote Oil

  1. Bring lemongrass, garlic, ginger, oil, and achiote seeds to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 30–45 minutes, occasionally stirring, until the oil is brick-red and fragrant.

Do Ahead: Achiote oil can be made one week ahead. Let cool, cover, and chill.

Chicken and Assembly

  1. Combine lemongrass, garlic, shallot, ginger, vinegar, Sprite, and 1 Tbsp. of salt in a large resealable plastic bag. Whisk to dissolve the salt. Set chicken legs, skin side down, on a cutting board. Working one at a time, cut a ½"-deep slash along both sides of the thigh bone with a paring knife (this lets the marinade penetrate and helps the meat cook more quickly). Add chicken to bag and close, pressing out as much air as possible; turn to coat. Marinate for at least 6 hours and up to 12 hours.
  2. Prepare a grill for medium-high indirect heat (for a charcoal grill, bank coals on one side; for a gas grill, leave one or two burners off). Remove chicken from marinade and secure each piece with two skewers if desired (the skewers will help you maneuver chicken on the grill without tearing the skin). Season lightly with salt. Discard marinade.
  3. Grill chicken over the hottest side of the grill, occasionally turning until deeply browned and charred in spots, about 5 minutes. Move to the cooler side of the grill and cover. Continue grilling (covered), basting with achiote oil, and turning every 5 minutes or so, until skin is burnished and meat is cooked through, 30–40 minutes longer.

Taken from

July 26, 2021 — Jason Klein