The lovely orange colour and mellow flavour of this barbecued chicken comes from achiote, a spice paste made with annatto popular in the Yucatán region. Serve this chicken and salsa inside corn tortillas. The marinade can also be used for prawns – simply marinate green prawns in the same way as the chicken, thread them onto bamboo skewers and cook on a barbecue with a little olive oil for just a few minutes.






Skill level

Average: 2.8 (87 votes)


  • 4 chicken thigh fillets
  • ½ x 100 g packet "El Yucateco" achiote paste
  • ½ orange, juiced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 80 ml vegetable oil
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • corn tortillas, to serve

Red onion salsa

  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  • splash of fresh orange juice
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • salt

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Marinating time 2 hours or overnight

Prick the chicken thighs all over with a fork to allow the marinade to be absorbed. Using your hands, crumble the achiote paste into a wide bowl and add the orange juice and salt to make a smooth sauce. Thoroughly rub the mixture into the chicken.

Tear off 4 large squares of foil. Wrap each chicken thigh in foil. Refrigerate the parcels for at least 2 hours or ideally overnight.

Meanwhile, combine the salsa ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour so the onion softens a little.

Preheat the barbecue.

Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion until translucent. Add the tomato slices and fry them gently on both sides until just soft. Unwrap the chicken parcels and add some onion and tomato to each one, then rewrap.

Cook the parcels on the barbecue for about 20 minutes, being careful not to overcook the chicken. Turn the parcels over halfway through cooking. Unwrap the cooked parcels and serve the chicken in corn tortillas topped with the salsa.