Spicy dishes are a staple in Mexican cuisine with pollo a la diabla being one of the most iconic. The fiery blend of chilies and spices gives it an unmistakable “devilish” flavor that sets it apart from other chicken dishes.

Pollo a la diabla is a Mexican dish made with tender and juicy chicken slow cooked in a tomato-based sauce containing roasted chilies and spices. The recipe literally translates to devil chicken, which gives you an idea of what to expect when it comes to the spiciness of this classic dish.

The chilies used to make the diabla sauce can vary depending on what’s available, but it typically involves guajillo, chipotle, and chile de árbol, giving it a unique balance of smoky, sweet, and spicy flavors.

Why you should make it

  • Spicy explosion: The combination of the chilies used gives it a unique flavor that can’t be found anywhere else, spicy enough to give your taste buds a kick and flavorful enough to keep you coming back for more.
  • Versatile: Serve pollo a la diabla with rice or salad, in tacos or burritos, or even on its own!
  • Perfect for gatherings: Devil chicken can be made ahead of time and reheated when needed. Plus, your guests will love the spicy kick!
  • Spice up your diet: Chilies are known to be full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, making this dish a great way to add some healthy heat to your diet.
Pollo a la diabla in a pan with some dried chicles scattered around.

Just so you know, Pollo a la diabla is the counterpart of camarones a la diabla!

Ingredients

  • Chicken: Most recipes call for bone-in chicken parts such as legs, thighs, or wings to ensure tender and juicy chicken. However, feel free to use boneless chicken breasts for a healthier option.
  • Guajillo chilies: Mildly hot, sweet, and fruity with a hint of smokiness, guajillo chilies provide the base flavor for this dish.
  • Chipotle in adobo peppers: Like guajillo, chipotle peppers add smoky, earthy, and moderately spicy flavors to the sauce. You can substitute this ingredient with dried chile morita.
  • Chile de árbol (optional): This small chili pepper packs a big punch of heat, which is why it’s often paired with guajillo to up the heat level.
  • Tomatoes: Fresh tomatoes are the best option to achieve maximum sweet and tangy flavors. But canned tomatoes can be used as a substitute.
  • Spices and herbs: Onion and garlic build the flavor base, while cumin puts in a complex blend of sweet, smoky, and earthy flavors and aromas.
  • Seasonings: Season with salt and pepper to taste.

How To Make Pollo a la Diabla

Clean guajillo chilies by first removing the stem then cutting them in half and removing seeds and veins. 

Heat a griddle or comal over medium-low heat and lightly toast guajillo on both sides.

Toasted Mexican chilies on a comal.

Top Tip: Keep the heat at low and only toast the chilies for a few seconds on each side, otherwise they’ll burn and add an unpleasant flavor to the sauce.

Place toasted chilies in a bowl and cover them with hot water. Leave them to soak for 10 to 15 minutes.

Soaking Mexican chilies in a bowl with hot water.

Now, roast tomatoes, onions, and garlic until nicely soft and charred on all sides.

Roasted tomatoes, onion, and garlic on a comal.

Place tomatoes, onions, garlic, chipotle peppers, and cumin seeds in a blender along with the soaked chilies.

Pour 1 1/2 cups of water (or you can also use chicken stock if you prefer) and blend until nicely smooth.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Heat olive oil in a large braising pan and sear the chicken on all sides until nicely golden.

Browned chicken on a pan.

Pour the sauce and make sure it slightly covers the chicken pieces, if needed add a little bit of water.

Added the diabla sauce to the pan with chicken.

Season with salt and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook over medium heat for 25-30 minutes or until the chicken is nicely tender.

Uncover the pan, bring heat to high, and allow the sauce to slightly thicken. 

Fully cooked pollo a la diabla in a pan.

Adjust salt to taste and turn off the heat. Serve with your preferred sides.

Recipe Notes

  • Toast the chilies before adding them to the sauce. Toasting brings out their flavor, making it more intense and robust.
  • Soak the toasted chilies to draw out the flavors of the chilies and soften them up so that they blend easily into sauces and other dishes.
  • Use chicken or vegetable broth to thin out the sauce and add more depth of flavor.

How to serve

Keep your sides simple so that the delicious flavors of the pollo a la diabla can stand out. Every bite of devil chicken pairs well with these staples:

Pollo a la diabla served with arroz rojo on a clay Mexican plate.
Spicy pollo a la diabla with arroz rojo.

Store & reheat

Make this pollo a la diabla ahead of time and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

This recipe is also a perfect prep meal that can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months to have it on hand on those busy days!

To reheat, simply place leftovers on the stovetop over low heat, stirring occasionally, until warm throughout. Or you can just reheat it in a microwave.

More Chicken Recipes

I hope you enjoyed this Pollo a la Dibla! Please take a minute to leave a comment below and rate the recipe. You can also follow this blog on InstagramPinterestFacebook & YouTube.

Video

Pollo a la diabla recipe.

Pollo a la Diabla

4 servings
Enjoy this pollo a la diabla recipe. Bone-in juicy chicken simmered in a fiery-spicy diabla sauce made of chiles and spices. The ultimate dish for Mexican food lovers!
prep 10 minutes
cook 45 minutes
soaking time 10 minutes
total 1 hour 5 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 2 lb bone-in chicken
  • 3 guajillo chilies
  • 2 chipotle in adobo peppers
  • 6 chile de árbol
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 garlic cloves (peeled)
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Instructions
 

  • Clean guajillo chilies by first removing the stem then cutting in half and removing seeds and veins.
  • Heat a griddle or comal over medium heat and lightly toast guajillo on both sides for a few seconds.
  • Place toasted chilies in a bowl and cover them with hot water. Leave them to soak for 10-15 minutes.
  • Roast tomatoes, onions, and garlic until nicely soft and charred on all sides.
  • Place tomatoes, onions, garlic, chipotle peppers, and cumin in a blender along with the soaked chilies.
  • Pour 1 ½ cups of water and blend until nicely smooth.
  • Heat olive oil in a large braising pan and add the chicken.
  • Season with salt and pepper and cook on all sides until the chicken is nicely golden.
  • Pour the diabla sauce and make sure it slightly covers the chicken pieces, if needed add a little bit of water.
  • Season with salt and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook over medium heat for 25-30 minutes or until the chicken is nicely tender.
  • Uncover the pan, bring heat to high, and allow the sauce to slightly thicken.
  • Adjust salt to taste and turn off the heat. Serve.

Notes

  • Toasting the chilies brings out their flavor, making it more intense and robust.
  • Soak the toasted chilies to draw out the flavors of the chilies and soften them up so that they blend easily into sauces and other dishes.
  • Use chicken or vegetable broth to thin out the sauce and add more depth of flavor.
Nutrition Information
Serving: 1 serving | Calories: 562kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 43g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 21g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 189mg | Sodium: 1902mg | Potassium: 728mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1817IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 2mg
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Maricruz Avalos Flores is a Mexican cook and photographer living in Italy where she shares authentic Mexican & Italian recipes that can be easily made at home using easy-to-find ingredients.

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Recipe Rating




2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    It look so spicy 🥵 🌶️ but I’d love to try it! I had pollo ala diabla many years ago and I remember I couldn’t finish it, but I want to try it again and make it myself, so I can add less chilies !

  2. 5 stars
    Loved this pollo a la diabla! I added like 10 arbol chilies and oh boy! it was SPICY! but we love spicy food and I also made your arroz blanco and it was perfect to cool down the heat, I will make agua fresca next time too!