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Chicken Inasal

Recipe by Connie Veneracion
Marinated in vinegar and ground spices, chicken inasal is traditionally grilled over glowing charcoal. Originating in Western Visayas, it has become a national comfort food.
Enjoy chicken inasal with a simple salad and our home-brewed dipping sauce.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Marinating time 4 hours
Total Time 5 hours
Course Main Course
Cuisine Filipino
Servings 4 people
Chicken inasal


  • 1 kilogram chicken (we used four chicken leg quarters) wiped dry with a kitchen towel


  • 6 stalks lemongrass (light colored portions of the stalks only)
  • 1 whole garlic peeled
  • 2 thumb-sized knobs ginger peeled and cut into thin slices
  • 1 half-inch knob turmeric peeled
  • 2 tablespoons rock salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon annatto powder
  • ¼ cup white vinegar (cane vinegar was used here)

Basting oil

  • ½ cup palm oil
  • 3 tablespoons annatto seeds dried
  • 4 cloves garlic lightly pounded

Side salad

  • 2 large tomatoes deseeded and cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • 1 small cucumber deseeded and cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • 1 ripe mango cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • 2 shallots peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 pinch salt

Dipping sauce

  • ¼ cup rice vinegar (milder and a bit sweet)
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons calamansi juice (for a fruity brightness and better aroma)
  • 2 shallots peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled and pounded


Marinate the chicken

  • Peel off the fibrous outer layers of the lemongrass. Lightly pound the remaining portions.
  • With a mortar and pestle or a food processor, except the vinegar, grind all the ingredients for the marinade.
  • Rub the chicken with the marinade.
  • Arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer in a container.
  • Drizzle in the vinegar.
  • Cover the container and allow the chicken to marinate for at least two hours. After two hours, flip them over to ensure even absorption of the flavors.

Make the basting oil

  • In a small sauce pan set over very low heat, pour in the palm oil and add the annatto seeds and garlic.
    Making annatto oil for basting chicken inasal
  • Heat until the annatto seeds have rendered color.
  • Turn off the heat and leave the oil to cool.
  • Strain the oil (see notes after the recipe).
  • While waiting for the oil to cool, make the salad and dipping sauce

Make the salad

  • In a bowl, toss together the tomatoes, cucumber, mangoes, shallots and salt.
    A side salad of tomatoes, cucumbers and mangoes
  • Cover the bowl and chill the salad in the fridge.

Make the dipping sauce

  • Stir together all the ingredients in a bowl.
    Spicy dipping sauce for chicken inasal
  • Taste and adjust the seasonings to your preferred balance.

Grill the chicken

  • Grill the chicken (over glowing charcoal is traditional), turning them over occasionally and brushing them with the basting oil every few minutes.
    Basting chicken with annatto oil during grilling
  • To test for doneness, pierce the thickest part of the meat with a skewer. If the juices run clear, the chicken is done.

Serve your chicken inasal

  • Transfer your chicken inasal to a serving platter or divide among individual bowls.
  • Serve with rice (see notes after ther recipe), the side salad and dipping sauce on the side.


Straining the oil AFTER cooling allows it to absorb more color from the annatto seeds and more flavor from the garlic.
Optionally, you may drizzle a little basting oil over the rice.
Keyword Chicken