Yucatan-Style Chicken Legs

Return to This Week’s Menu

Yucatan-Style Chicken Legs

Serves 4  | Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 30-45 minutes

Achiote (annatto seed) is a spice native to the tropics of Mexico and the Caribbean. It’s distinctive red hue gives food a peppery and earthy flavor. This is a classic preparation from the Yucatan.


  • 2 teaspoons cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • Juice of one orange
  • 3 tablespoons achiote paste
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 4-6 whole chicken legs
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 onion, cut into sixths 
  • 3 large boniato sweet potatoes
  • Suggestions serve: steamed rice, black beans and baked sweet potatoes

Chef Tips

Prep enough rice, black beans and sweet potatoes for two meals. You’ll be using it for some creative leftovers the next day.


Step 1

Preheat oven tot 400F.

Toast cumin, coriander, black peppercorns, allspice and cloves in a dry skillet until you can smell the spices. Allow to cool. Grind in a spice grinder. Set aside.

Step 2

Place spices, garlic orange juice and achiote in a blender until smooth. Season chicken all over with salt. Place in a bowl and cover with the achiote marinade. This can be done the night before. If doing it the day of allow the chicken to sit out at room temperate for an hour.

Step 3

Drizzle a little olive oil on the sweet potatoes. Season with salt. Bake in the oven until tender; about 30 minutes.

Step 4
Grill the chicken legs on both sides until caramelized. About 10 minutes. Place into a baking dish along with the water and cider vinegar. Place the onions into between the chicken. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until the chicken is cooked through and gender. About 30 minutes.

Step 5

While the sweet potatoes and chicken are cooking. Drain and rinse the black beans. Here there are many ways you can flavor the beans; sauté half a diced onion and a clove or two of garlic until tender . Add a teaspoon of cumin. Add the beans and just enough water to moistened the beans. Bring to a simmer and season with salt. Cook for about 10 minutes. Taste again for seasoning.

Step 6

Serve chicken alongside black beans, rice and sweet potatoes.