Pollo Guisado (Braised Chicken)

Pollo Guisado Recipe (Dominican Braised chicken)

What Dominican does not love a good pollo guisado (braised chicken)?

I am the grandchild of farmers, and so is my husband. If you can count on anything it is on farmers being sensible people. They are rarely too picky about their food, after all they know full well that pork does not come cut into slices or vacuum-packed, and that chicken is not made of thighs and breasts. Every part of the animal is of some use; nothing is wasted.

Generations later, when our child has only stepped on a farm on visits, things have changed in our family.

At the farm

In my own family there are different opinions on food. Years before the term “vegan” entered my vocabulary, soy “meat” was already being consumed in my parental home, courtesy of father — who, ironically, is very carnivorous.

My siblings and I inherited my father’s adventurous approach to food. My brother, the most fearless of the three will tackle any food, even those I thumb my nose at. It’s not like my sister and I stick only to the conventional, we are open to trying new things, within reason.

Pollo Guisado Recipe (Dominican Braised chicken)

How many times have I heard, between laughter and confused looks, many a foreigner who fail to comprehend why a lot of Dominicans eat chicken feet, giblets and other parts of the chicken that are discarded or used as animal food in other countries?

The truth is that it is all a matter of culture (and, to a certain extent, the person’s means), just like farmers who decades before refrigeration would slaughter the chicken they raised and could not afford to waste too much, many a Dominican has had to squeeze every penny out of their grocery budget. Every little bit counts.

Here from our perspective, removed from the reality of the farmer of yesteryear, or the poor of today, I am in no position to judge anyone’s culinary choice. Neither should you.

Pollo Guisado Recipe (Dominican Braised chicken)

Chicken is one of the most popular meats in the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean. One reason for this, and this is partially based on first-hand knowledge, is the fact that it is a relatively inexpensive food compared to other meats. Other reasons for its popularity include its versatility and short cooking times. But most of all, chicken has more fans than any other type of meat.

And of all the ways you can cook meat, pollo guisado (braised chicken) one is the indisputable favorite amongst Dominicans.

Aunt Clara

Pollo Guisado Recipe (Dominican Braised chicken)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Our Pollo Guisado Recipe (Dominican Braised chicken) is one our most popular ones. Simple dish with cooking video for foolproof results.
Serves: 6 servings
  • 2 lbs [0.9 kg] of chicken cut into small pieces
  • 2 limes cut into halves
  • A pinch of oregano
  • 1 small red onion chopped into fine strips or eighths
  • ½ cup of chopped celery (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (more may be necessary)
  • ½ teaspoon of mashed garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of oil (corn, canola or peanut)
  • 1 teaspoon of regular white sugar
  • 2 cups of water
  • 4 plum tomatoes cut into quarters
  • 2 green bell or cubanela (cubanelle) peppers
  • ¼ cup of seedless olives cut into halves (optional)
  • 1 cup of tomato sauce
  • A small bunch of fresh coriander leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon of pepper
  1. Cut the chicken into small pieces. Scrub with the lime, getting lime juice into all the crevices.
  2. In a bowl mix the chicken, oregano, onion, celery, salt and garlic. Marinate for 30 minutes.
  3. In a pot heat the oil over medium heat, add sugar and wait until it browns.
  4. Add the chicken (reserve all the other things in the marinade) and sauté until the meat is light brown.
  5. Add 2 tablespoons of water. Cover and simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring and adding water by the tablespoon as it becomes necessary.
  6. Add onion, celery, tomatoes, cubanelle pepper, olives, and garlic, cover and and simmer until the vegetables are cooked through, adding water by the tablespoon and stirring as it becomes necessary.
  7. Add the tomato sauce and half a cup of water, simmer over low heat to produce a light sauce. Add fresh cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Serve with arroz blanco, a side dish (or salad) and beans.
Braising is sometimes also known as pot roasting.

Originally published Feb, 2002

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{ 44 comments… add one }

  • Jacquela December 20, 2014, 1:07 AM

    Hi, thanks for the recipe! I wonder though about the cubanela peppers. A few weeks I used them in Dominican beans and they were soooo spicy and DR food is mostly not spicy.

    • Aunt Clara December 20, 2014, 1:35 PM

      Cubanela peppers are very sweet, they are not supposed to be spicy. Maybe you confused them with habaneros, which are.

  • Angela December 8, 2014, 4:02 PM

    Thanks so much for posting this recipe! I added 1 1/2 chicken bullion cubes as suggested by another reviewer and it was exactly like my mom’s Pollo Guisado!
    My usually very very finicky family enjoyed it and chastised me for not making more chicken. lol

  • TMedina August 11, 2014, 8:22 PM

    Hi! Thanks for this post. As a newlywed to a Dominican man, your website is a big help. I made this a few nights ago, and it was a big success. I was just about to finish when I gave the hubby a sampling. He liked it but right away commented that it was missing “sopita”. I think everything I tasted at his home (in SPM) is made with chicken bullion. As soon as I put it in and tasted it, it tasted just like his moms. He loved it and I can’t wait to make this again. Couldn’t find Cubanelle peppers so I used Anaheim chiles. Was perfect.

  • Bill @thewoksoflife June 22, 2014, 11:13 AM

    I love Pollo Guisado and I usually use a Goya Sazon but I’ll have to try your authentic DR version.

  • Ofelia June 17, 2014, 4:49 PM

    Your blog is so lovely and useful.
    I was born in Dr but grow up in PR. My mom cooked more Puerto Rican style and I cook with a mix of the many cultures that I admired.
    I’m planning on following the recipe with chicken and I’m also trying it with tofu.
    Mil gracias, Ofelia

  • erin May 9, 2014, 4:29 PM

    the ingredient list calles for limes but the recipe saus lemon. which is it?

    • Aunt Clara May 12, 2014, 10:26 AM

      Both limes.

      • andreaya March 25, 2015, 9:49 AM

        I agree with you because i let my kids eat the food with me and my husband and, my kids went crazy with the peppers i guess, it was to hot !!!

  • Kristina January 31, 2014, 7:14 PM

    Thanks so much for posting these recipes. My boyfriend is Dominican and I was raised mostly around Dominicans so I know some cooking methods but not all… This website definitely helps when I have questions about a certain recipe.

  • sunny January 24, 2014, 12:03 AM

    Simple and great, thanks so much!

  • Rachael January 20, 2014, 1:12 PM

    My son is doing a presentation on the Dominican Republic for his Spanish immersion class. I am making this tonight (along with a few of your other recipes) for us all to get a taste of the DR. One question, in the video you seem to use a lime but in the recipe it calls for a lemon. Does it matter? Also, do you use black olives or more like a kalamata. Thanks so much for your help.

  • Emily Freeman November 15, 2013, 8:13 PM

    My husband and his family lived in the DR for 10 years and he requested I attempt to make this for him. It looks amazing, I just have a question about the chicken: can I buy one of those whole chickens that has already been cut apart and packaged? I am looking at the pictures you posted and they look bone-in and you didn’t specify if the chicken should be bone-in. :]

    • Aunt Clara November 15, 2013, 9:36 PM

      Any cut of chicken will work the same with this recipe. I prefer bone-in because it has more flavor. Just remember to cut the chicken into small pieces (no bigger than 3 inches).

  • Jennifer November 14, 2013, 10:25 AM

    Hi Clara!!! Love the blog- is there a way I can make this with boneless chicken breast?

    • Aunt Clara November 14, 2013, 4:17 PM

      Yes, the texture and flavor will be slightly different, but the recipe is the same.

  • Elvy October 19, 2013, 3:09 AM

    I am of Dominican heritage, love these recipes, my mother cooked like this and now I do, thank you.

  • Maryerline August 27, 2013, 4:53 PM

    Hi Clara,
    I’m DR-born/US-raised and I’ve always struggled to get the flavors of Dominican dishes right. You are a godsend! I just made this recipe today. My mother and brother can’t get over how great it tastes. Thank you!

  • Daviana August 14, 2013, 3:35 PM


    Soy Una Dominicana 2nd Gen. Muy feliz, to find your site!! I am cooking Your pollo guisado as I type!!! I have my moms recipe somewhere written down… with her una cucharadita de esto..y un chin de eso… I sure appreciate your exact measures!! Gracias!!

    Dios Patria Y Libertad!!!

    • Aunt Clara August 19, 2013, 9:09 PM

      Thanks for taking the time to leave us your comment. Enjoy our blog!

  • Raiza August 14, 2013, 12:06 PM

    Hi. This recipe is wonderful. Do you know how many calories are per serving. I promised my trainer to keep track of my calories. Thank you for sharing your wonderful recipe.

  • Dash June 11, 2013, 12:54 AM

    The reason Dominicans and other Latin Americans use every part of the animal is because those scraps were given to enslaved Africans by the European colonizers. This practice is found all over the Americas and is easily researchable. These parts were undesired and the Africans that were in the Dominican Republic,(Hispaniola) and every other part of the Americas literally took trash and made it DELECTABLE. This is exactly why we eat lengua (tongue), ear, feet, mondongo (intestines), chicharron, cuchifrito, rabo, I can go on and on to this day. Many of Latin American food traditions are owed to our African ancestors, who were definitely resourceful. But these animal parts are eaten in many, many other cultures as well, Europe, Asia and elsewhere. It only seems strange to a United States palate & perspective bc there really is no food original or unique to the U.S., except soul food which actually has all these animal parts included in the cuisine, so consuming various animal parts is actually pretty common. Aside from food, you can def see the African influence in all facets of Dominican culture even to the dialect of Spanish unique to the DR, our Afrodescendancy legacy is alive and well in the Americas! 😀

  • M. June 13, 2012, 7:32 PM

    I think the heart is the most underrated part of the chicken. I come from a background where people don’t eat organ meats unless they have to, so I get a lot of weird looks for that. I’ll definitely have to try this recipe with hearts!

    Love your blog – my boyfriend is Dominican and has taught me to make tostones, so I want to give him some home cooking in return.

  • andy martinez June 5, 2012, 11:40 AM

    I heard that pollo guisado is stew can someone comment about it please?

    • Aunt_Clara June 5, 2012, 1:07 PM

      Interesting. Where did you hear that?. It is technically not a stew. Not enough liquid to be called stew, plus there is no boiling involved.

      • beatriz April 5, 2013, 4:40 PM

        i have this recipe printed from 9/2004 (I’m a long time fan!) and it was named stewed chicken! maybe that is where this person got it from?? wasn’t there a beef stewed recipe previously??

  • Mari May 4, 2012, 7:18 PM

    So glad to have found this blog. Comida deliciosa!!!

  • Andrea April 19, 2012, 5:53 PM

    Hi! Thank you for posting these recipes in both spanish and english, my husband is Dominican and I love to cook and wish I'd have absorbed more of his mothers recipes. This website gives me a chance to try my not-so Dominican hand at these yummy recipes and gives my husband a taste of home. Thank you from both of us!!!

  • Camilo April 16, 2012, 8:32 PM

    ¡delicioso! Y muy bien explicada la receta. Me quedó muy rico. Muchas gracias :-)

  • Josias April 10, 2012, 9:34 AM

    Hello, I was born in the D.R and every now and then I cook the foods that I dont get to eat often, because my wife is from Honduras and our way of cooking is not known by central Americans. It is funny, but I just had Pollo Guisado with rice and fried plantains about 10 minutes ago during lunch break, and was looking for a way to translate Pollo Guisado on Google and found this awsome website.

    • Aunt Clara April 10, 2012, 9:47 AM

      Looks like we made it! We are being found as a source of language wisdom. Language is my second biggest passion right after food.

      And welcome, stick around. We could learn a thing or two from each other.

  • Yadsia @ShopCookMake April 5, 2012, 6:54 PM

    Pollo guisado es uno de esos platos que en Puerto Rico comemos tanto! Mi abuela lo prepara delicioso, pero muy diferente a las recetas traidcionales. Creo que ese es su secreto. Este se parece mucho al más tradicional que se consume en mi país. Me da hambre de sólo mirar la foto!

  • Jeannette April 4, 2012, 8:42 AM

    Can you tell me how to make this in a crock pot?

    • Aunt Clara April 4, 2012, 8:46 AM

      I wouldn't know. It would not be braised then as that specific cooking method is not suitable for crock pots.

  • Alex January 4, 2012, 3:24 PM

    you are my new best friend. Where have you been.. Yesterday I did the sancocho, today I did the this and it my house smells like my mom's use to when i was small.. I thank you, my kids thank you, and my hunnie would like to propose to you.. GREAT GREAT Recipes..

  • Barbara Pottle September 7, 2011, 2:33 PM

    I have been to the Republica Dominicana 6 times over the past 7 years as a missionary.We are building a hospital in Halto Neuvo.I LOVE the R.D. and its people!!! Were we stay is a little lady who makes Pollo Guisado every time we go .Now I can make it. I am making a R.D. dinner at church on Sunday as part of our making people aware of our up coming trip in November.Thank you when I make this dish I remember my family and friends and my adopted country.

  • Emily May 24, 2011, 8:28 PM

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I visited the DR last September for the first time and I really fell in love with the food. Sadly, I live in Denver, where there are no Dominican restaurants. I've made this at least 10 times already! It's delicious and reminds me very much of the pollo guisado we had in Cabarete. It requires a bit of work to prepare but I think it's worth it. I make it with habichuelas rojas guisadas, fried plantains, and brown rice. I know the brown rice isn't very Dominican but it makes for a healthier meal. Thanks again for the recipe. It's my own little piece of the DR :)

  • Aunt Clara May 15, 2011, 6:02 PM

    Thank you, you have a lovely blog.

  • Heart for Cooking May 15, 2011, 5:36 PM

    This recipe was delicious! Thank you for sharing. I also featured it on my food blog heartforcooking.blogspot.com.

  • Carla March 29, 2011, 8:36 PM

    This is a great, delicious recipe. However, mixing the chopped chicken with the rest of the ingredients, then having to separate them is tedious. All in all, I will probably make it again but cut the chicken into bigger chunks to make it easier to separate after the marinating time.

    • Aunt Clara April 3, 2011, 6:56 AM

      Whatever works for you. That is the beauty of our cuisine.