Crispy Paleo Latin American Chicken

For me, watching America’s Test Kitchen and reading Cook’s Illustrated are similar to flipping through a copy of Vogue and drooling over the fashions: I can enjoy looking at the tempting things, and I might even imagine them in my life, but—to my chagrin—there’s no way I will ever eat the Cook’s Illustrated fried chicken nor will I wear the Alexander McQueen gown.

That doesn’t mean I can’t DIY my own version.

This recipe was inspired by CI. It combines Latin-inspired spices in a quick arrowroot “breading,” then uses the transformative power of the grill to make it crispy, light, and irresistible. It’s got all the attitude of fried chicken without the pesky downsides of deep frying — not unlike the happy discovery that a killer outfit is actually comfortable, too.

This recipe is part of my Paleo Latin American Dinner Party menu!

Crispy Latin American Chicken

Serves 6-8 | Prep 10 minutes | Marinate 1 hour | Cook 15 minutes | Whole30 compliant

  • 1/4 cup lime juice (2 limes) plus 2 teaspoons grated lime zest

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped coarse

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin

  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika

  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves

  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs and/or breasts

Crispy Coating:
  • 1 cup arrowroot powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon coarse (granulated) garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1 large egg


Combine lime juice, lime zest, olive oil, salt, garlic, cumin, paprika, oregano, and pepper in a large bowl. Add the chicken and turn it in the marinade to coat thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 hours (but not longer; the lime juice will make the chicken weird).


When you’re ready to grill the chicken, preheat a gas grill on high with the lid closed until very hot, 10-15 minutes. Whisk the arrowroot, baking soda, pepper, granulated garlic, salt, cumin, and cayenne together in a shallow bowl. In another bowl, beat the egg.


Set a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet. Remove chicken from the marinade and shake off excess marinade. Working with 1 piece at a time, dunk chicken in egg, then dredge in the arrowroot, pressing to adhere. Set on the wire rack.


Place the chicken on the grill and cook, 6-7 minutes per side, with the lid closed, until it’s brown on the outside and cooked through on the inside.

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  • Diannah says:

    So, if you don’t have access to a grill, what’s the best way to cook these? Roast in the oven? Grill pan on top of the stove? Temps and time? Looks fabulous, but I don’t always have the chance to grill, esp in the winter here in MN. 🙂

    • The best way, I think, would be to quickly brown each side on the stovetop — say, 3 minutes per side, just to get some color on it — then finish in the oven… 400F for 10-15 minutes to cook it through. You can do the whole thing on the stovetop, but I find it easier to finish in the oven.

  • sadmasy says:

    Wow!!! That looks good!

  • Liz says:

    Well that’s dinner sorted 🙂 Looks good!

  • Karlene says:

    This was a huge hit with my entire family of 6. I would never have thought to dredge grilled chicken, but it was fantastic! Thanks for another keeper! 🙂

  • Julie says:

    Thanks! I’m assuming this would work with chicken leg quarters?

  • Gary says:

    We made this last night – freakin’ awesome!
    We’ve never used arrowroot powder this way before. I did not expect it to be that crispy – wow!

    I microwaved leftovers today for lunch, and that caused it to lose the crispy goodness. I’ll have to work on that.

    We’re already planning how we can use this same technique with other flavors.

    Thanks for the recipe!

  • Jess says:

    Wow, fantastic recipe. Amazing flavors!

  • Kim d. says:

    Thanks for an AMAZING recipe, Melissa! I have never “breaded” a piece of meat and then put it on the grill, I was intrigued and a bit skeptical. So glad to report that it turned out incredible. The flavors were bold and tasty and the crispy exterior was such a treat, not something we usually get when eating paleo. Thank you so much for an absolute keeper and repeater of a recipe!

  • Emay in PA says:

    Looks like I’ll have to go buy that 5 pound container of arrowroot powder I’ve been eyeing for ages! 😉

    Thanks, Melissa!

  • Jessica says:

    These were awesome! My husband knows EVERY TIME i make one of your recipes. He said “Damn it’s good! Is this a Well Fed?” LOL

  • Laura says:

    I used this coating recipe on pork chops in a cast iron skillet today! Best pork chop ever!!

  • Tracy says:

    So bummed, tried this last night and the coating was burnt. I guess I left it on too long but it was only 4 minutes on each side and was raw in the middle. Sad face. Sounds delicious though!

  • Carmen says:

    I made it yesterday and it was delicious. I seared each side for 3 minutes and then put in the oven for 25 minutes at 400 degrees, since I had thighs with the bone in. It was so moist and tasty. Thank you for this recipe. Everything in your cookbook is delish!

  • Angelique Lindberg says:

    Could you fry in cocout oil?

  • Joan says:

    Another terrific recipe. Loved it. I’m one of those with no access to a grill and your instructions above worked perfectly: I browned the chicken in a cast iron skillet in coconut oil then put it in a 400F oven for 10 minutes. Perfect. Only thing I changed was that dredging the egg-coated breasts in the almond flour was making a huge mess. I ended up putting the almond flour in one of those old-fashioned tins used for sprinkling confectioner’s sugar and sprinkled the flour over the chicken and then patted it to adhere. Worked well with much less mess.

  • Karen says:

    I made this last night. It was really good. Hubby liked it! Score!

    But then he said he wanted the leftovers on hard roll with spicy mustard. Fail :~)

  • Lisa says:

    I’ve made this two times in three weeks (big deal around my house because I don’t often repeat recipes). This was so tasty, so easy and will grace our table multiple times this summer!

  • Madonna says:

    Made this tonight! The taste was so amazing. I did have one issue though. My perfectly crispy breading just slid right off of the chicken I probably made a mistake somewhere since no one else has commented with this issue. Definitely going to be in heavy rotation though.

  • Elizabeth says:

    Dumb question….do you put the chicken straight on the grill or put the cookie sheet on the grill with the chicken on the rack?