Dominican Picapollo: A delicacy that you must try.

Dominican gastronomy is full of delicious dishes that delight even the most demanding palates. This is due, in part, to the great diversity of flavors from the rich cultural heritage of the Caribbean country. One of the most popular culinary delights in the Dominican Republic is the renowned Picapollo Dominicano, a Caribbean version of fried chicken. That’s right, the island has its own take on that crunchy guilty pleasure we’re all tempted by. It doesn’t matter if you visit Santo Domingo , Punta Cana or Samaná , this typical dish is one of those delicacies that you must try . Next, we explain in detail the origin, the recipe and all the secrets about the traditional Dominican picapollo.

Table of Contents

What is the dominican picapollo?

Picapollo is one of the most popular recipes in the urban menu of the Dominican Republic. It is the Caribbean version of a fried chicken that is generally accompanied with plantain chips or French fries. It doesn’t matter if you are visiting or if you live on the island, the Dominican picapollo is a dish that everyone must try.

What sets this recipe apart from the rest is the perfect balance between the spices used to marinate the chicken. Additionally, it is common for various seasonings to be used to season the flour used for breading. This keeps the chicken tender and juicy on the inside and adds extra flavor and crispness to the outer layer.Each Dominican has their own way of preparing this dish, but most prefer to use the wings and thighs to make picapollo. The reason is that the bone-in chicken pieces are juicier and retain more flavor than the breast. However, it is also common to find versions where all the pieces of the chicken are used in pieces.

Origin of the dominican picapollo

The exact origin of the Dominican picapollo is a mystery that so far no one has been able to solve. However, some sources claim that the picapollo is a variant of the popular chicharrón de pollo. The latter is a rather current preparation, since it has existed in Dominican gastronomy books since the 1940s.

The difference between both recipes is that in the Dominican picapollo the chicken is boiled before frying . Another difference is that the chicharrón de pollo has no bones and is usually served with large amounts of lemon.

As for the origin of the name, there are a couple of unofficial theories that try to explain it. The first holds that the name comes from the way in which the chicken pieces are minced and then cooked. While the second suggests that it comes from the Dominican slang in which “picar” means “to eat with your hands”.

Nowadays, it is common to come across countless restaurants, street stalls and street vendors offering their version of the Dominican picapollo. One of the first restaurants specializing in this dish is Pollos Victorina , which opened the doors of its first branch in 1982. For its part, the popular international chain KFC arrived on the island in 1997 and since then has won the hearts of the locals. A much cheaper alternative is offered by establishments for migrants of Asian origin. Since the 1990s, picapollos run by Chinese migrants have become the favorite alternative for Dominicans. Nowadays, in Santo Domingo there are still long lines to eat at the popular restaurant “Pica Pollo Joa” .


Now that you know the historical context of this dish in detail, you are surely looking forward to knowing how it is prepared. Well, we’ll tell you about it below! Without further ado, we are going to know all the secrets and best tips to prepare a Dominican pica chicken.


There are different variants for this recipe, depending on the region of the country, some use more or less ingredients . We encourage you to try them all and choose from each one what you like best to prepare your own version. The basic ingredients for the most traditional Dominican chicken pica recipe are:

for the chicken

  • 4 chicken thighs
  • ½ small red onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 bunch of fresh parsley
  • 2 lemons
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • Salt to taste)
  • pepper (to taste)
  • 150 g of wheat flour

For the garnish

  • 2 green bananas
  • Salt to taste


Of the chicken

  • Squeeze the lemons and wash the chicken with the juice and plenty of water to remove excess fat from the chicken.
  • Chop the parsley and onion into small pieces and crush the garlic cloves until you get a more or less uniform paste.
  • Place the chicken in a pot along with the onion and garlic and pour in enough water to cover the chicken.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste and bring the water to a boil.
  • When the water boils, add the chopped parsley and cook for at least 10 minutes over medium heat.
  • Remove the chicken and reserve the broth to use in another recipe.
  • Pour the flour into a large enough bowl.
  • Add the paprika, oregano, cumin, garlic, and onion powder.
  • Mix all the seasonings with the flour and add a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Coat the chicken generously in the flour, shaking off the excess at the end.
  • In a deep saucepan or pot, heat a generous amount of vegetable oil.
  • Fry the chicken pieces in the hot oil until they are completely golden.
  • Scoop out chicken using tongs or a large slotted spoon and let rest on absorbent paper to remove excess oil.

Of the tostones

  • Peel the banana and cut it into pieces of approximately 5 cm.
  • In a pan with enough oil, fry the banana pieces for 5 minutes.
  • When they start to brown, remove them from the oil and flatten them using a kitchen board while they are still hot.
  • Once crushed, return them to the oil to finish, continue cooking for 3 more minutes over medium heat.
  • Take out the tostones and let them rest on absorbent paper.

4 tips to prepare the best dominican picapollo

As we explained to you previously, there are many variants of the Dominican pica pollo. In yourdominicanguide, we have compiled some secrets that can help you enhance your recipe so that it captures the best of this Caribbean dish. Below we show you 4 tips that will help you enhance the flavor of your Dominican pica chicken.

1.Enhancing the flavor

The Chinese version of the Dominican pica pollo is characterized by using aji no moto (also known as Chinese salt) and ginger. The first is a flavor enhancer that contains less sodium than common salt. While the second gives a spicy touch to the recipe that helps balance the rest of the flavors.

2.Marinating time

Some people prefer to skip the step of cooking the chicken before frying it. Instead, they prefer to marinate the chicken with various spices and seasonings for a few hours or even days before frying. In this way they make sure that the chicken stays juicy and is impregnated with the flavor and aroma of the other ingredients.

3.Temperature shock

Several places advise leaving the seasoned chicken in the fridge to increase the temperature difference with the oil. They ensure that the temperature shock between cold chicken and hot oil produces a crispier end result.

4.Extra crunch

Crisp fans advise using a little cornstarch in the flour and spice mixture for coating. We hope you have enjoyed learning about this delicious typical dish of Dominican gastronomy. We encourage you to try the recipe and for this we leave you this video on how to prepare a chicken chop version Cooking with Yolanda . And as if that were not enough, we also encourage you to see La Caupona’s version of the Dominican pica pollo .

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