Guajillo Marinated Chicken with Guajillo Tamarind Glaze

The inspiration for this dish came from grilled octopus! In May, 2019, Allison, Jenn and I found ourselves in Mexico City, Mexico. We were headed to Columbia to celebrate Jenn’s 30th birthday, but after a bunch of canceled flight fiascos, ended up in CDMX- without luggage. The first thing we did was hit the nearest H & M. We shared clothes as we spent the rest of the weekend enjoying the fabulous food of the city.

In the photo above, I’m caught contemplating the pulpo (octopus) sizzling on its own little grill. Here at home, a local restaurant serves it much the same way – soaked in a delectable sauce and then grilled – but with an amazing and tangy guajillo tamarind glaze. So, I started Googling around for recipes. Since I’m not wary of eating pulpo, but not brave enough yet to go through the steps to extract all its slimy liquid before cooking it – I opted for chicken. Everything actually tastes like chicken anyway – right? Well, maybe not in this case since pulpo is very delicious, but chicken is a great substitute.

I was heavily influenced by marinade and glaze recipes I found online, but tweaked them to suit my taste. I found the guajillo chilies at Whole Foods and Walmart, but they can also be ordered from Amazon. They are so mild! Asian, Middle Eastern and Mexican groceries carry the tamarind paste, but that can be gotten online as well. 

If anyone out there has experience cooking pulpo, please email me at I’d love to hear from you!


Guajillo Marinated Chicken with Guajillo Tamarind Glaze

Ingredients for marinated chicken:

4 to 6 chicken breasts or various pieces

5 Guajillo chilies

2 chilies and 2 tablespoons sauce from can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/3 vegetable oil

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper



Place the chilies in a bowl and pour enough boiling water over them to cover. Put a plate or saucer on top of them to keep them submerged. Let them soak for 20 minutes to soften them.

Drain the chilies, take their stems off and place them in a blender with all the other ingredients. Process until all ingredients are pureed together.

Pour over chicken pieces and allow them to marinate in refrigerator for a couple hours.

Remove chicken from marinade, allowing a coating to remain on chicken. Grill over medium heat until internal temperature is 160 degrees Fahrenheit. When cut into, no pink should show and juices run clear. 


Guajillo Tamarind Glaze – yields around 1 1/2 cups 


1 head of garlic

drizzle of vegetable oil

5 guajillio chilies

1 cup water

1/2 cup tamarind paste

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup lime juice

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper



Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the top of the head of garlic, drizzle it with a bit of oil and wrap it up in foil. Bake the garlic for 45 minutes.

Squeeze the garlic pulp into a pan, discarding the skin. Add all the other ingredients. Cook over medium heat while stirring often to prevent bottom of pan burning, until it comes to a boil. Take off the heat and allow it to sit for 10 minutes.

Pour the contents of the pan into a food processor and puree.

Put the mixture through a fine mess strainer to get rid of the seeds as you transfer the glaze into a squeeze bottle or container.

To serve, plate the grilled chicken and use the glaze to garnish as you wish. A “smear” is always nice!


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Cilantro Lime Marinated Chicken Sandwich or Bowl

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 The inspiration for this post came at me from several different directions. A few weeks ago, Jenn who lives in South California, told me about a teriyaki bowl she had at a restaurant. She said it had asparagus, broccoli, and other vegetables in it, but she suspected the sauce was loaded with sugar. She asked if there a way I could come up with a healthy version. I looked up recipes for teriyaki sauce and discovered they called for honey or brown sugar, which isn’t as bad as white sugar – but it’s still sugar.  I remembered this great marinade from a fund raiser cookbook that I have used and loved in the past. In fact, I sometimes use the marinade as a salad dressing which my girls and their friends love.  I used it here with chicken in a vegetable and rice noodle bowl. The chicken and vegetables were so great together, I started thinking of banh mi sandwiches. I was introduced to them by a friend who was born in Vietnam, so she really knew what she was doing when she made them! They are fabulous sandwiches, but I rarely get a chance to indulge in one here in the midwest. I used the cilantro lime marinaded chicken to create the bahn mi like sandwich posted here. At any rate, since there is no sugar in the marinade and lots of vegetables in these recipes, I feel like I can enjoy them guilt free! 

 Ingredients and Directions for Four Cilantro Lime Marinated Chicken Breasts


 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 bunch washed fresh cilantro, just the rough stem ends cut off

1 cup oil, olive or canola

1/2 cup soy sauce

3 shallots, roughly chopped

4 garlic cloves, put through a press

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon Sriacha hot sauce

Rinse and pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels. Place in a shallow pan or in a large ziploc bag and set aside.  Roughly chop the cilantro and place in a blender or food processor along with the oil, soy sauce, shallots, garlic, lime juice, and hot sauce.  Blend until smooth.  If desired, reserve about 3/4 of the sauce for later use as a salad dressing or sauce for sandwich or noodle bowl. Pour the remaining sauce over the chicken in the pan or the zip lock bag. Refrigerate for 4 hours or keep out at room temperature no longer than 20 minutes.


 Remove the chicken from the marinade. Cook the chicken by grilling over medium heat about 6 minutes per side or baking for 50 minutes at 350 degrees.  I used a George Foreman grill on the ones shown here. It took 8 minutes until the juices ran clear and when I cut into one of the breasts, it was no longer pink in the middle.



To Assemble Four Sandwiches


 Gather Together:

4 really good sandwich buns such as soft French rolls or onion buns

1 cup white vinegar

1/2 cucumber, very thinly sliced

1/2 cup toothpick sized cut carrots or shredded carrots

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup mayonnaise

2 cloves garlic, put through a press

2 teaspoons Sriracha hot sauce

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

large handful of washed and dried lettuce leaves

4 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves

Place the carrots and cucumbers in a bowl. Combine the vinegar with the salt and pour the mixture over the carrots and cucumbers. Let them sit out at room temperature for about 10 minutes while assembling the sandwich.


Mix the mayonnaise, garlic, Sriracha, lemon juice and salt together.  This is also delicious if a couple tablespoons of the reserved cilantro lime marinade is added to it.


Toast the bun, and spread the mayonnaise mixture on both sides.


Place some of the lettuce leaves on top of the bottom bun.


Cut the chicken breasts into slices and load them on top of the lettuce.


Remove the cucumbers and carrots from the vinegar mixture. Place about 2 tablespoons of the carrots on each sandwich. Divide the cucumber slices among the sandwiches. Top each sandwich with a tablespoon of cilantro leaves.


Place the bun on top and enjoy!




To Assemble Four Noodle Bowls

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Gather together:

12 asparagus stalks

1/2 head of broccoli florets

1/2 cup shredded carrots

1/2 cucumber, sliced

1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and sliced

1 package rice noodles

Reserved cilantro lime marinade 

Sliced cooked cilantro lime marinaded chicken breasts

Cook the rice noodles according to package directions. (Usually, this means rinsing them under water, then placing them in boiling water for a couple minutes and draining them.)

Plunge the asparagus and  broccoli into boiling water for two minutes, then remove and place them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.

Place about 1 cup of cooked rice noodles into each bowl.

Divide and arrange the chicken and vegetables on top of the noodles.

Drizzle each bowl with the reserved cilantro lime marinade.


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