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Tomatillo and Chayote Chicken

Tomatillo and Chayote Chicken

Photo: Randy Mayor; Styling: Lindsey Lower

Hands-on Time

2 Hours 5 Mins


Serves 6 (serving size: 4 ounces meat and about 2/3 cup vegetables)

Meet your new Sunday supper—a dish that's great on the weekend, when you have more time for the pleasures of slow cooking. Serve on crusty toast slabs or a bed of pasta. Add a pinch of crushed red pepper if you'd like a little kick.


  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 cups shaved onion
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 3 cups diced chayote
  • 3 tomatillos, chopped
  • 2 serrano chiles, sliced
  • 12 garlic cloves, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
  • 3 tablespoons Cotija cheese
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • Lime wedges

Nutritional Information

  • Calories 270
  • Fat 11.4g
  • Satfat 4.7g
  • Sodium 467mg

How to Make It

Step 1

Preheat oven to 325°.

Step 2

Melt 1 tablespoon butter. Pour into a 13 x 9–inch glass or ceramic baking dish; tilt to coat bottom of dish. Top with onion.

Step 3

Rub salt into chicken; arrange chicken over onion. Combine chayote, tomatillos, and serrano chiles; tuck between thighs. Scatter garlic over chicken; sprinkle with oregano.

Step 4

Cut 1 tablespoon butter into pieces; scatter over dish. Cover; bake at 325° for 1 hour or until a thermometer registers 180°.

Step 5

Uncover; bake 45 minutes, basting every 5 to 10 minutes.

Step 6

Sprinkle cotija cheese over chicken; drizzle with basting juices. Bake 10 minutes. Top with cilantro; serve with lime wedges.

Recipe Summary

  • 2 pounds tomatillos (husks removed), washed and halved
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 whole chicken (3 to 4 pounds), cut into 10 pieces (wings reserved for another use)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 jalapenos, chopped
  • 1/2 medium white onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 can (15 ounces) hominy (optional), drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a food processor, puree tomatillos set aside. In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high. Season chicken with salt and pepper and add to pot, skin side down. Cook until browned on one side, 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add jalapenos and onion to pot and cook, stirring frequently, until slightly softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in tomatillo puree and hominy, if using season with salt and pepper. Nestle chicken, skin side up, in sauce. Cover pot simmer until chicken is cooked through, 22 to 25 minutes. Stir in cilantro season with salt and pepper.

Tomatillo Chicken Recipe

Keyword how to make tomatillo chicken, Mexican chicken recipe, tomatillo chicken recipe


  • 4 chicken legs
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 1 ¼ lb. tomatillos or green tomatoes
  • 2 large white potatoes
  • ¼ large white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 sprigs cilantro
  • ½ tsp. oregano
  • 1 canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt + to taste
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil



  • You can leave the skin on the chicken if you prefer. Follow the same steps for browning and cooking.
  • It will keep well in the refrigerator for 3 days.


More Mexican Chicken Recipes

Recipe Summary

  • 2 &ndash 2.5 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves or thighs
  • 1 14.5 ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 recipe Tomatillo-Garlic Sauce

Place chicken in a 3 1/2- or 4-qt. slow cooker. Stir together the chicken broth and half of the Tomatillo-Garlic Sauce (refrigerate remaining sauce).

Cover and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

Remove chicken from cooker. Shred chicken using two forks. Pour cooking liquid into a bowl. Return chicken to slow cooker. Stir in the remaining Tomatillo-Garlic Sauce. If necessary, add enough of reserved cooking liquid to moisten chicken.

Nutrition Facts (Tomatillo Shredded Chicken)

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Every country has a few traditional dishes that they are known for and pulique, a delicious chicken stew bursting with the flavors of fresh market vegetables and herbs, is one of those traditional dishes that is commonly known in the Guatemalan highlands.

Today we are going to explore one of Guatemala’s most beloved dishes, pulique, which is a ceremonial dish popular among the Mayan people in the Midwestern highlands in Guatemala. It is also a Guatemalan food enjoyed throughout the country on special occasions.

The history of Guatemalan cuisine

The history of Guatemala is often recognized in three stages: the Mayan Empire, the Spanish rule, and the modern republic (which is in existence today). All three have had an influence on Guatemalan cuisine. The ancient Mayan civilization lasted for about six hundred years before collapsing around 900 A.D. These ancient natives lived throughout Central America and grew maize (corn) as their staple crop. In addition, the Mayans ate amaranth, a breakfast cereal similar to modern day cereals.

Guatemala remained under Spanish rule from 1524 to 1821. Typical Spanish dishes, such as enchiladas, guacamole, tamales, and tortillas, began making their way into the Guatemalan diet.

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At the beginning of the twenty-first century, an empanada (meat turnover) could be purchased for about twenty-five cents, chicken tortillas for fifty cents each, and a hot beef sandwich for about seventy-five cents. Other countries and their cultures have also affected the Guatemalan diet, including the Chinese.

Chicken, turkey, and beef (roasted, grilled, or fried) are the country’s most popular meats and are normally accompanied by beans and rice (frijoles con arroz). Meats are often served in stews (caldos) or cooked in a spicy chili sauce, though whole chickens may occasionally be served with the feet still attached.

What is pulique?

Pulique, a thick meat and vegetable stew, is a common dish, which can be made with chicken, beef or pork, but most commonly made with yellow chicken. Seafood is most common along the coasts, and is usually prepared with various spices.

Pulique is commonly made with a criollo (yellow skinned) chicken which is more expensive than white chickens, but more flavorful. The chicken is cooked in a sauce made of tomatillos, tomatoes and various spices and vegetables like the branch of epazote and chayote squash. Americans refer to tomatillos as a Mexican green tomato, but they actually taste nothing like regular tomatoes. In fact, the tomatillo is not a tomato at all. The plant is grown mostly in the Mexican states of Hidalgo and Morelos, and in the highlands of Guatemala where it is known as miltomate.

A little tidbit I picked up along the way of growing my own tomatillos in my vegetable garden, is that there are actually male and female tomatillo bushes. So if you happen to plant only 1 and it happens to be a male, guess what? It will not produce!

The tomatillo has a tart, lemony flavor that is enhanced when cooked (especially roasted) and is an excellent base for salsas. While salsa verde is the most popular way to enjoy tomatillo, they can be used in other ways. It gives a balanced tangy tartness to the pulique stew.

Unlike a guisado, which is a preparation of meats that use many seasonings and are usually browned in oil first, a pulique omits oil of any kind. The meats and the seasonings are cooked at the same time. It is a Mayan preparation. The chicken is cooked in a sauce that is referred to as a recado, which consists of standard ingredients like onion, garlic, tomatoes, spices and the thickening medium such as tortillas or rice.

The unique flavor of this dish is provided by the apazote (Chenopodium ambrosioides), also known as epazote, vomiqueira herb, pazoli, huacatay, among others.

Guatemala does not have a national dish, but there are many foods that have become a part of the everyday diet. Just like during the time of the Mayans, corn continues to be a staple food. It is most often eaten in the form of a tortilla (a thin corn pancake). These are usually served warm and wrapped in cloth. Black beans (frijoles), another Mayan staple, are eaten at almost every meal. They are usually refried (volteados), mashed, or simply eaten whole (parados). Rice, eggs, and cheese are also widely consumed. Other popular dishes are bistec (grilled or fried beef), guacamole (mashed avocado with onions and spices), mosh (porridge), churrasco (charcoal-grilled steak), and chiles rellenos (chiles stuffed with meat and vegetables). Fresh fruits and vegetables, such as yuca, carrots, plantains, celery, cucumbers, and radishes, help to keep the Guatemalan diet healthy. However, snacks, such as doughnuts (donas), are also widely popular.

You already know that recado is the shared name for any thick sauce used in the traditional cuisine. There is a wide variety of recados and depending on the main ingredients and preparation methods, some can be brownish like the pepian, others are green or red, and the pulique recado is of an intense yellow.

The key to success for pulique de pollo is in the stirring. It’s important to simmer the sauce until it’s the color of a mandarin orange. If you’re making pulique for 50 people, it’s typically done outdoors over an open fire with a huge paddle. Your arms are usually sore and singed with fire by the time you’re finished. Luckily today we are only making it for 6 people, so no singed hands here.

Pulique is cooked and eaten at special occasions like cultural rituals, festivals and celebrations. This beloved Guatemalan main course, also called chicken in sauce is best served over rice with corn tortillas on the side for soaking up the rich and tangy tomatillo and tomato sauce!

Recipe Variations to Try

This bbq chicken salad recipe is easily customizable. Here are some variations you can try out:

  • Add shrimp. Instead of bbq chicken, you can easily make bbq shrimp and add those to the salad instead.
  • Add pork. Swap out the bbq chicken for carnitas, salsa verde pork or chipotle pork.
  • Add avocado. I use avocado in the dressing so I haven’t included it in the salad, but you can still add it to the salad if you wish. Make sure you use ripe avocados but not overly ripe or they will turn to mush.
  • Add bacon. Because bacon makes everything better. I recommend thick-cut bacon so its wonderfully meaty texture doesn’t get lost in the salad. You will want to add the bacon to the bbq ranch chicken salad at the end with the tortilla chips.

Roasted Tomatillo Chicken and Rice Bowls

I have to tell you – I know this recipe is two years old but I just ran across it the other day – and your roasted tomatillo sauce is AH-MAZING! I’ve tried other recipes and absolutely NOTHING compares. THANK YOU. This is a keeper for sure. Tomorrow night we’re using it for chicken enchiladas verde!

Roasted Tomatillo Chicken and Rice Bowls! I’ve been waiting for uuuuuu.

Let’s just cut right to it –> the main idea here is that you eat a big bowl of savory, spicy, tangy AND creamy chicken with tomatillo sauce piled on rice and topped with colorful and crunchy things, and you feel really good about it. It’s one of my best ideas ever, which isn’t really one of my ideas, which is how all my ideas are – but this one was inspired by something I saw on the menu at a place called Sammy’s Bistro in Salt Lake City. Have you been? Have you ordered the Savory Chicken Bowl? You win! That’s what I was trying to recreate here.

It starts with pile of shredded chicken is taken in by a big bowl of homemade roasted tomatillo sauce with jalapeños, poblanos, roasted garlic, a huge mess of cilantro, and a touch of cream – and the saucy tomatillo chicken mixture is heaped over steaming rice and topped with just about anything you want: limes, cilantro, sour cream, or homemade fried tortilla strips.

Or homemade fried tortilla strips.

Or homemade fried tortilla strips.

Yuhhguys! The homemade fried tortilla strips.

I wanted to post about these bowls the nanosecond after I made them, which was last week sometime (last week x5, because, ummmyeah), but did I mention? I got knocked down with a Minnesota winter sick bug instead and started spending all my time watching trashy TV and eating very safe, extra mild, ultra healing things like the Inner Goddess Raspberry Breakfast bowls in wiser moments and Cup o’ Noodles in moments of weakness.

I was SO not thinking anywhere near the Roasted Tomatillo Chicken Bowls section of my brain and it was a sad time.

But the good news (like, good enough news that every time I remember it I get a little excited buzz running through my body) is that my old friend The Appetite is back and I can 1 – EAT! Oh the pure joy. and 2 – actually talk about these Roasted Tomatillo Chicken Bowls and tell you why they’re so super delicious.

Which is because of that roasted tomatillo sauce.

Roasted tomatillos, poblanos, and jalapeños + roasted garlic and shallots + cilantro, cream, salt… oh me oh my. It’s super easy and it’s really, really, reeeeeeally good. It’s the kind of good where I think about how to incorporate it into just about every spicy, flavor-kicked recipe between now and forever.

Also – the sauce-simmering-smells in your house are not a bad thing. At all.

So in a weird twist of events (or maybe just a weird blogger move) I’m actually bringing you this post this morning from the road somewhere between Orlando and Charleston! It’s a beautiful thing, technology – to be in a tiny little red rental car barreling along down the highway with an Americano in hand, sunglasses on, and my blog in my lap. Just… seriously. Weird life moment and I like it.

We’ve had such a great time these last few days taking Orlando by storm – Bjork experienced Disney for the first time, I ate five hundred mini shrimp toasts with pickled kumquats at the event brunch, we led a session at the Food Blog Forum conference, and both of us met and adored all the incredible food bloggers who were a part of the weekend. Wows.

Since we’ve made it this far on our journey and we are, in fact, ON OUR WAY TO CHARLESTON AS WE SPEAK, I would like to issue a final (potentially obnoxious? shameless?) call for any Charleston recommendations right here and now – we’re literally on the road as I type, I’ve literally written down all your recommendations to date and have them in a very Type A style notebook/calendar format so we can hit as many as possible, and you are literally the best ever for talking us through this charming foodie city. Lit-er-al-ly.

Next time we meet, I shall be in Charleston and you shall be eating one of these Roasted Tomatillo Chicken and Rice bowls and there will be good vibes alllll around.

Crockpot Chicken Tomatillo


  • 6 boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 red peppers sliced
  • 1 red onion sliced
  • 2 jalapeños sliced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms sliced
  • 1 to mato sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 12-ounce jar of tomatillo salsa
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin


***Disclosure: If you purchase any of the products linked in this post or products through the links on the right side of my page, I receive a small percentage from the respected affiliate programs***

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We tested this tamales recipe with both instant and fresh masa. Fresh masa yielded the best corn flavor and best texture, but we’ve included instructions for using instant since the flour is easier to find. You can find fresh masa and dried corn husks at tortilla stores/factories, in the international section at larger grocery stores, or online. Whichever masa you choose, be sure to save some of the tomatillo purée from the chicken filling.

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