Salvadorian Pollo Encebollado Recipe

**This post is sponsored by Gigasavvy. The recipe as well as all opinions are my own.**

Years ago when Amy and Adam were very small and I was a single mother, I had a wonderful neighbor named Isabel. She was from El Salvador. Because I was one of the few people on the block that spoke Spanish, she and I became fast friends and would often compare cultural notes. 

Although our foods had some marked differences and we would argue the merits of pupusas vs. empanadas, we both agreed that onions are God's gift to us and that plantains should be served with every meal. Amen.

When I was asked to develop a recipe for Hispanic Heritage Month to represent a Central American food, my thoughts immediately turned to my friend, Isa and her delicious Salvadorian food and onions, of course. 

Shopping for Ingredients

Sometimes it's hard to get what I call, "The Ingredients of My People." You know what I'm talking about. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm pleased to say I've found a source. Northgate Markets. They have 3 pretty local (for me) locations:

  • 770 S Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana, CA 92703
  • 831 N Hacienda Blvd., La Puente, CA 91744
  • 16259 Paramount Blvd., Paramount, CA 90201

Cue the angelic choir. The Santa Ana store is a short drive from my home. (Which proves the existence of God.) Here's a link to their site: where you can check out the awesome. 

Coincidentally, from 09/07-10/01, Northgate Markets are also celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.

So, back to my shopping trip. I found ALL the things at Northgate. Is this not magnificent?

Again, there's nothing better than being able to shop for all the recipe ingredients you need in one stop. Here's the proof:

They have a super fresh meat market in the store, as well pretty much every "Ingredient of My People." Color me happy.

I created the recipe from memory with a lot of tasting and trial. I vividly remember the "2 cups of white wine," but that's not important right now. Of course, because no one should spend more time in the kitchen than they need to, I made it super easy - one pan, people! 

So, in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month and my Salvadorian friend, Isabel, today we're making Salvadorian Pollo Encebollado. "Pollo," of course, means chicken. And "encebollado" loosely translated means "smothered with onions." As God intended.

Salvadorian Pollo Encebollado Recipe

My Big Fat Cuban Family - Pollo Encebollado Recipe


  • 6 Chicken thighs (with skin and bone-in for better flavor) 
  • 1 Spanish onion - thinly sliced
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt & black pepper - to taste
  • 3 tsp. paprika (I confess. I'm much more generous with paprika.)
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 limes 
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 10 sprigs fresh cilantro
My Big Fat Cuban Family - Pollo Encebollado Ingredients


1) Bring the chicken thighs to room temp for at least 20 minutes.

2) Drizzle with olive oil and generously season the chicken with sea salt, pepper & paprika.

3) Heat up a seasoned cast iron skillet (or heavy bottomed pot) over medium heat and brown the chicken thighs until golden brown on both sides. 

My Big Fat Cuban Family - Pollo Encebollado Recipe

4) Work in batches to brown chicken. Transfer browned chicken to a plate and keep warm. 

5) Add sliced onions to pan with a pinch of sea salt and sauté until they start to caramelize. About 10 mins.

6) Add the 2 cups white wine to pan of caramelized onions. Deglaze over medium heat and add bay leaves.

My Big Fat Cuban Family - Pollo Encebollado Recipe

7) Return the chicken to the skillet.

8) Increase heat and bring to a boil. 

9) Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 25 to 35 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and tender.

10) Remove chicken from heat and add the cold butter on top of chicken pieces.

My Big Fat Cuban Family - Pollo Encebollado Recipe

11) Cover with the lid and allow the butter to melt into the chicken and sauce.

12) Squeeze the lime over the top and sprinkle the cilantro leaves over the top. 

My Big Fat Cuban Family - Pollo Encebollado Recipe

You can serve with rice, but I went with roasted potatoes and my family was very pleased. 

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month and also, Thank You, Isa. 

  • Yield: Makes 6 servings
  • Prep time: About 20 minutes
  • Cook time: About 35-40 minutes

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