Chicken in Spicy Peanut Sauce – Pollo Encacahuatado

Pollo Encacahuatado, a delicious dish originally from Puebla, does take a bit of prep time, but it’s definitely worth it! This recipe makes quite a few servings, so you can cut it in half if you’d like. I used my slow-cooker because I wanted the chicken to practically fall off the bones, but you can cook this in large pot on the stove as desired.


  • 5 Dried Ancho Chile Peppers, rehydrated in hot water until softened (I cover the chiles and let them soak while I’m shelling the peanuts)
  • 2 & 1/2 Cups Roasted, Unsalted Peanuts (you’ll need to start with about 1 lb. whole peanuts before shelling)
  • 5 lbs. Chicken Pieces (on the bone, with skin)
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • Ground Cumin, to taste
  • Ground Cinnamon, to taste
  • Ground Cloves, to taste
  • 1/4 Cup Peanut or Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Large White Onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 Garlic Cloves, diced
  • 2 Árbol Chile Peppers (chiles de árbol), stems removed
  • 5 Roma Tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 & 1/2 Bolillos (large hard rolls)
  • 2 Corn Tortillas
  • 4 Chipotle Chile Peppers in adobo sauce
  • 6 Cups Chicken Broth (you can substitute 3 Tablespoons Chicken Bouillon Powder dissolved in 6 Cups Hot Water)
  • White Sugar, to taste
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 2 Sprigs Fresh Cilantro
  • Toasted Sesame Seeds, to garnish (optional)


Let the ancho chiles soak in hot water while you remove the shells from the peanuts. You should end up with about 2 & 1/2 cups of peanuts at the end. (Note: If you are using unroasted peanuts, once you’ve removed the shells, toast the raw peanuts in large skillet set over low heat until they’re golden.)

Remove the ancho chile peppers from the hot water. Remove the stems and seeds and chop coarsely. Set aside.

Season the chicken pieces as desired with the black pepper, salt, cumin, cinnamon, and cloves. In a heavy-bottomed pot set over medium heat, add the peanut or vegetable oil (I prefer peanut oil for this recipe). When hot, add a few seasoned chicken pieces skin-side down and cook until browned.

Flip the chicken and brown on the other side.

Transfer the browned chicken to a slow-cooker (Crock Pot) and repeat steps with the remaining chicken pieces. In the same pot used to brown the chicken, now add the onion, garlic, chiles de árbol, and tomatoes. Sauté until tender, stirring occasionally.

While this is cooking, tear the bolillo rolls and corn tortillas into pieces.

Add the roll and tortilla pieces to the pot and cook until softened a bit, 1 to 2 minutes.

It’s time to combine the sauce ingredients in the blender, and you’ll need to do this in batches. Combine about 1/3 of the onion-tomato-bread mixture, 2 cups chicken broth, 1/3 of the peanuts, 1 to 2 chipotle chile peppers, and 1/3 of the soaked, chopped ancho chile peppers in a blender.

Blend until it forms a smooth purée.

Pour the sauce over the chicken in the slow-cooker. Repeat the blending steps two more times with the remaining ingredients, and pour over the chicken. Add a few teaspoons of sugar and stir the sauce in the slow-cooker, making sure the chicken pieces are completely covered. Add the cinnamon stick.

Cook the chicken in the slow-cooker on high for about 2 and 1/2 hours.

Add the sprigs of cilantro, cover, and cook 30 minutes more.

Remove cilantro, taste the sauce, and season with more sugar or salt if desired. Serve the chicken with a healthy portion of sauce, and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds if you wish. Accompany with white rice and black beans. Be sure to serve with warm corn tortillas or bolillos to sop up the sauce!

¡Buen Provecho!

Recipe Posted by Lindsay


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