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This traditional Spanish chicken stew is a one-pot comfort dish featuring chicken thighs slow-braised with chorizo sausage in a velvety tomato sauce of white wine, oregano, cumin, thyme and paprika.
Usually served with fluffy white rice, this easy chicken stew (or pollo guisado as it’s known throughout Latin America) gets an extra hit of deep, rich flavour from garlic-rich chorizo and briny, green olives.
What is Spanish Chicken Stew?
Spanish-style chicken stews very are popular in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, and other Latin American countries where they’re known as pollo guisado, guiso de pollo, and piernas de pollo guisadas.
Unlike many guisados, this stewed chicken recipe contains no sazon or adobo mix which can contain MSG, artificial additives and preservatives. It gets its delicious flavour from smoky chorizo and all-natural spices of cumin, oregano, thyme and paprika.
However, unlike other traditional Guatemalan stews that are Maya in origin, this stew is of Spanish origin. Along with paella Valenciana, jamón ibérico, tortilla española and gazpacho, it’s a dish you’ll find served in many regions of Spain.
That means it contains smoky Spanish paprika rather than traditional Guatemalan seasonings of cilantro, chile guaque and chile pasa.
Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Quick and easy. Ready in around 45 minutes, it’s so easy to make it’s virtually foolproof.
- It’s the ultimate one-pot meal! You can make and serve it in the same pot.
- It’s super versatile. Add carrots and potatoes (as is typical in Guatemala) or sliced green peppers. Swap artichokes or chickpeas for the chorizo and olives. You can even include split red lentils to make a thicker stew.
- Hearty and satisfying. Along with other traditional Guatemalan chicken stews such as pepián de pollo, kak-ik, and pollo jocon, pollo guisado Guatemalteco is perfect to enjoy in fall when the weather gets chilly.
- Budget-friendly. Cooking chicken thigh recipes makes a very economical meal.
Before getting started cooking, here’s what you will need to gather to make this Spanish stew with chicken recipe.
- Chicken Thighs: Chicken thighs are the most flavourful cut of chicken to use. However, if you prefer you can substitute chicken breasts if you cut them into two or three pieces.
This recipe calls for boneless chicken thighs but you can use more economical bone-in chicken thighs if you increase the cooking time.
- Spanish paprika: Spanish paprika or pimentón (either sweet or hot) is a smoked pepper that’s an essential ingredient in Spanish cooking. It adds a smoky, sultry flavour that really makes this dish.
- White Wine: Adds depth and acidity. A Spanish albariño wine is ideal as it will also contribute minerality and fruit notes. If you don’t want to use white wine, you can substitute more chicken or vegetable broth in equal parts. If using store-bought broth, go for a low-sodium version (so your dish doesn’t end up too salty) and serve with a wedge of lemon or lime to add some acidity to the dish.
- Dried Cumin, Oregano, Thyme, and Cayenne: Dried (or fresh herbs) add flavour and substitute for prepackaged sazon mixes. The original recipe for stewed Spanish chicken calls for pimentón de padrón but this can be difficult to source in North America so I’ve substituted cayenne.
- Stewed Plum Tomatoes: Stewed (store-bought or canned) tomatoes make a juicy, saucy stew.
- Spanish Chorizo: Spanish chorizo is a smoked pork sausage made with garlic, salt and pimentón. Unlike Mexican chorizo that’s raw, Spanish chorizo is cooked and cured (either dry or soft/semi-cured).
- Onion and garlic: Always use North American, South American, or Spanish garlic rather than Chinese as the flavour is more subtle and less sharp.
- Pitted Green Olives: Be sure to use pitted olives, preferably not the ones stuffed with pimento.
- Chicken Stock or Bouillon: For the best flavour, it’s best to use homemade chicken stock. For example, if I poach chicken to make salpicón de pollo tostadas, I freeze the cooking liquid to use as stock.
But if you don’t have chicken stock on hand, you can substitute chicken bouillon mixed with water. Opt for a brand with low sodium and no MSG or additives.
⭐ Food Waste Tip: If you have excess chicken stock (from a can or boxed) I like to use it up in this recipe for Chicken Chipotle Slow Cooker Soup.
Spanish Stew Variations
- Spanish Chicken with Garbanzo Beans: Swap out the chorizo for garbanzo beans. Just drain a can of garbanzo beans (or cook from scratch in advance), then add during the last 10 minutes of cooking until warm.
- Spanish Chicken with Potatoes (Pollo Guisado Guatemalteco): In Guatemala, it’s typical to add peeled, diced and cooked potatoes and often carrots in this chicken stew. You could also add fresh green beans if they’re in season, making it similar to the popular Guatemalan dish known as hilachas, stewed shredded beef in tomato sauce.
- Spanish Chicken with Artichokes: Cooked artichoke hearts can also be included for a special occasion. Drain the canned artichokes, then nestle them in the tomato sauce, cover and allow them to warm in the sauce during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
- Chicken and Lentil Stew: Adding red lentils makes a thicker stew and boosts fibre and nutrition. Increase the temperature in the final 10 minutes of cooking. Add 1/2 cup of rinsed, split red lentils and simmer until tender. The cooked lentils should be quite soft. If the lentils are old they’ll take longer to cook. You may need to add a little more boiling water if necessary.
How to Make Spanish Chicken Stew with Chorizo
Are you ready to get started cooking this Spanish chicken stew recipe? Let’s look at the main steps. Please scroll down to the recipe card for the complete method and ingredient measurements.
- Remove the casing from the chorizo sausage if necessary. Cut the chorizo into slices. Heat a large braising pan with oil on medium heat. Brown the chorizo for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let the chorizo release a bit of juice and fat.
- Add the trimmed chicken thighs, skin down to the pan and brown for about 2-3 minutes. When the skin is browned, flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Remove both the chorizo and chicken from the pan and set aside.
- Add the white wine to the same pan and deglaze by scraping the browned bits with a wooden spoon. Add the sliced and chopped onion and garlic.
- Reduce the temperature to medium-low heat and cook for a few minutes. Then add the thyme, oregano, paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper and salt. Stir everything together.
Add the chopped tomatoes, water mixed with bouillon powder (or chicken stock) to the pan. Bring to a low boil.
- Transfer the chicken thighs (and their juices) back into the braising pan with the chorizo. Cover and bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 25 minutes or until tender.
- Remove the cover and add the honey, olives and freshly-ground black pepper. Add boiling water if the sauce is too dry or remove the lid and allow the stew to cook longer if it’s too thin. This step will depend on how saucy the canned tomatoes are that you add to the stew. Cook together until heated through.
- Give it a taste, adjust the salt, and sprinkle with red pepper flakes (optional).
How to Store
This Spanish chicken stew works great prepared ahead. It freezes perfectly and is even better when reheated.
Store covered in the refrigerator for up to three days. Freeze in an airtight container or large freezer bag for up to three months.
To reheat, return the thawed portion to a skillet or saucepan and heat until warmed through. If the sauce thickens too much thin it out with some additional broth.
How to Serve
Spanish chicken stew tastes best served immediately in a deep bowl with white rice (most typical for pollo guisado), egg noodles or creamy polenta.
A slice of thick-crust bread (the more rustic the better) is always welcome to mop up the juices.
It’s a hearty dish that works great for cooler weather when you need something warm and comforting. Easy enough for weeknight dinners but also a great stew to serve for company.
- Make sure you use smoked paprika which is different from regular paprika. It adds a unique flavour that you don’t want to skip.
- Use green olives without the pits or pimento.
- Taste before adding salt. If using bouillon rather than chicken broth, watch the salt you add as it often contains higher amounts of salt.
- If you use bone-in chicken thighs, increase the cooking time by 15 minutes.
It’s possible but the skin actually adds flavour and keeps the chicken moister. My suggestion is to use the skin on chicken thighs and remove the skin after cooking and before eating if you prefer.
This type of chorizo can be found in many large supermarkets in the deli section or butchers that specialize in Spanish meats. Make sure you don’t buy Mexican chorizo which is raw rather than cured like the Spanish variety.
Cooking chicken at too high of a temperature in insufficient liquid can make stewed chicken tough and rubbery. Chicken thighs have less of a tendency to become rubbery when stewed than chicken breasts. As well, if chicken has freezer burn it will be dried out and tougher than chicken that has been frozen properly or is fresh.
More Stew and Soup Recipes You’ll Enjoy
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Easy Spanish Chicken Stew with Chorizo
- 1 Braising pan with lid
- 5 oz chorizo sausage fully cooked, cured sausage
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil extra virgin
- 6 chicken thighs skin on, boneless
- ¼ cup white wine dry
- 1 onion peeled and sliced
- 3 garlic cloves peeled and minced
- 1 teaspoon oregano dried
- 1 teaspoon pimenton – Spanish paprika powder preferably smoked
- ½ teaspoon cumin ground
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne or pimentón de padron (Spanish hot pepper powder)
- ½ teaspoon thyme
- 14 oz chopped tomatoes
- 1 cup water or chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon if not using chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 15 green olives pitted
- ⅛ tsp sea salt to taste
- ⅛ freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes optional
- Remove casing from chorizo (if necessary). Cut chorizo into slices.
- Heat a large braising pan with oil on medium heat. Brown the chorizo for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let the chorizo release a bit of juice and fat.
- Trim excess fat and skin from the boneless chicken thighs.
- Add the chicken thighs, skin down and cook for about 2-3 minutes. When the skin is browned, flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Remove chorizo and chicken from the pan and set aside.
- Add the white wine and deglaze the pan by scraping the browned bits with a wooden spoon.
- In the same pan, add the chopped and sliced onion and garlic. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 2 minutes.
- Add oregano, paprika, cumin, thyme and cayenne pepper. Stir all together.
- Pour in the chopped tomatoes, water and chicken stock into the braising plan. Increase heat and bring to a low boil.
- Transfer chicken thighs back into the casserole with the chorizo. Cover and bring to a simmer. Cook for 25 minutes or until tender.
- Remove the cover and add honey and olives. Stir then cover and allow olives to heat through.
- Add freshly ground black pepper and adjust salt. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes (if desired)
- Serve with fluffy white rice and slices of thick-crust bread.
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Dividing her time between Canada, Guatemala and Mexico (or the nearest tropical beach), Michele Peterson is the founder of A Taste for Travel. Her award-winning travel and food writing has appeared in Lonely Planet’s cookbook Mexico: From the Source, National Geographic Traveler, Fodor’s and 100+ other publications.
Read more about Michele Peterson.