Chicken Inasal is easy to make yet delivers tons of flavor. Marinated in vinegar, calamansi juice, lemongrass, and achiote oil, and grilled to juicy perfection, this Filipino chicken barbecue is a guaranteed crowd pleaser!

I spent the early part of this year in the Philippines, and a good number of my meals in those months was Mang Inasal pecho with unli rice. One of my aunts introduced me to this popular Bacolod specialty and I’m forever hooked to the nuot sarap inihaw na manok!

I am now back in Texas with no restaurant branch for thousands of miles to feed my inasal cravings. Sob.

If you’re like me and hankering for some juicy, flavor-packed Filipino BBQ, give this recipe a try. It’s super easy and more budget-friendly to make at home yet just as tasty and delicious!

Chicken Inasal is a popular grilled dish from the Western Visayas region. It derives its distinctive flavor and color from a marinade made of vinegar, calamansi, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, and atsuete oil. Other versions of the recipe also include Sprite or 7-up to add flavor and act as a tenderizer.

The chicken parts are usually skewered in bamboo and then grilled over hot coals to juicy perfection while basting with the oil.

How To Make ChickenOoil

The orange-colored oil is a major component in the flavor profile of this Visayan dish. I use chicken skin and fat, but feel free to swap with vegetable oil to cut down on the cholesterol.

In a wide pan over medium heat, place chicken skin, bottoms, and fat. Cook, stirring as needed until they begin to crisp and render fat.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the skins from the oil.
Add atsuete seeds, crushed garlic, and bay leaf. Cook for a few minutes until the oil is evenly colored.
Remove from heat and steep for about one hour to draw out more flavor and color. Strain using a fine-mesh sieve and discard aromatics.
If using atsuete powder, stir about one tablespoon until well-dispersed. Strain using a fine-mesh sieve.

The secret to juicy meat
Let the grilled chicken rest for three to five minutes before cutting to redistribute the juices!

Serving suggestions
Chicken inasal is commonly served as a main dish for lunch or dinner with steamed rice and condiments such as chicken/atsuete oil and calamansi-soy sauce mixture or sinamak (spiced palm vinegar).

How To Store Leftovers

Transfer leftovers to a container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for up to three days or freeze for up to 2 months.
To reheat, wrap in an aluminum foil and bake in a 350 F oven for about 15 to 20 minutes until heated. Alternatively, arrange chicken pieces on a microwaveable plate and cover them with a damp paper towel. Microwave for about 2 to 3 minutes or until heated through.


Peel and/or cut away the dark, fibrous parts of the lemongrass until you get to the white and light green portions. Using a knife, finely chop lemongrass.
In a large bowl, combine vinegar, calamansi juice, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, sugar, salt, and pepper. Whisk until well-blended.
Add chicken and cover bowl. Marinate in the refrigerator for at 2 to 4 hours.
In a wide pan over medium heat, place chicken fat and cook, turning as needed, until crisp and renders oil. Using a slotted spoon, remove skin and bottoms.

Lower heat and add annatto seeds, crushed garlic, and bay leaf. Cook for about 1 to 2 minutes, turning as needed to prevent seeds from burning.
Remove the pan from the heat and allow the oil to steep for about 1 hour or until oil is infused with deep orange color. Using a fine-mesh sieve, strain oil. Discard aromatics and set aside oil.
Lightly grease grill grates and heat over hot coals.
Drain chicken from marinade and scrape off any stray aromatics. Arrange chicken in a single layer over hot grates with skin side up.
Grill chicken, turning once or twice and basting regularly with the half of the chicken oil, for about 30 to 40 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of chicken registers 160 F.
Remove from heat, cover, and allow to rest for about 3 to 5 minutes. Serve hot with the remaining chicken oil and steamed rice.

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