For a delicious low-carb meal, plate with some yummy grilled vegis and a grilled ear of corn.

Portuguese Style Grilled Chicken (Frango Grelhado)


Summer time is here and the grill is my main source of cooking all summer long!  Throughout the summer in Southcoastal MA as well as, I’m sure, in many other Portuguese dense communities across the country, it is feast season.  Feasts encompass so much of Portuguese culture not minimally the food.  It seems whenever we head to St. Michael, there is one feast or another going on and undoubtably there as well as in feasts across my region here in Massachusetts you will find men grilling chicken over an open pit filled with charcoal.

“Portuguese Style” Chicken depends largely on it’s marinade, but it also is greatly enhanced by it’s method of cooking.  This can of course be done with a gas grill, but if you have the time, charcoal is the best way to enjoy it.  This chicken does not need an sauce helping it to keep it’s low-carb status.

In this recipe tutorial I will take you through the marinade and show you how I place my coals, but a more extensive tutorial on working with a charcoal grill will come soon.  So, keep an eye out!

This marinade is best done 6-8 hours or better yet 24 hours ahead.  It’s an intense brine more than just a marinade really.  Take a look.


Start by placing a gallon sized zip bag into a large bowl.

Pour a can of beer into the bag.

To that, add two heaping soup spoons worth of ground red pepper. If you don’t have ground red pepper available, finely dice a medium heat pepper such as a red Pablano pepper and add in.

To this add in about 4 cloves of fresh garlic, sliced.

Now, add two large soup spoons full of kosher salt.

Add in about 1/4 of a soup spoon (or 1 teaspoon) of Portuguese Allspice.

This is what your consentrated marinade should look like.

Add your chicken into your concentrated marinade.

Add enough luke warm water into the bag so that most of your chicken is covered in liquid.

Now, a trick to this is to try to remove as much air from your bag as you can. The less air in the bag, the more contact your chicken has with the spices.

Close up your bag and place in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours or overnight.

Be sure your coals are hot and white and you burn off any actual fire as shown here.  Also, be sure you have a “hot” side of your grill and a “not so hot” side.  To achieve this just place your coals with the majority to one side.

Now, keep your chicken on your medium to not so hot side of your grill and don’t walk away. Chicken cooked over coals needs to be tended to.  This doesn’t mean constantly fuss with it, just watch that it doesn’t burn.

Some of your chicken skin will blacken and char… this is part of the flavor, it’s ok. Just be sure that when this starts to happen you move it to the not so hot side of the grill… you want the chicken to cook too… if it chars too quickly you may think it is ready before it really is. This process should take a good 45 minutes, but if you have concerns, just get a meat thermometer and when the fleshy part of your chicken registers 160°F, it is all set to be taken off the grill.

For a delicious low-carb meal, plate with some yummy grilled vegis and a grilled ear of corn.

For a delicious low-carb meal, plate with some yummy grilled veggies and a grilled ear of corn.

Recipe for Portuguese Style Grilled Chicken (Frango Grelhado):

(serves 4)

4 chicken leg quarters

For marinade:

1 8 oz. can beer

4 Tbls. ground red pepper

4 Tbls. kosher salt

1 tsp. Portuguese Allspice

4 cloves of fresh garlic, sliced

1 cup luke warm water.


Place a zipper bag in a large bowl and combine all marinade ingredients.  Add chicken.  Marinate (brine) over night if possible, but at least 6-8 hrs.

Grill over charcoal if possible for about 45 minutes while tending.  If using a gas grill, grill on low for about 45 minutes.  Meat should register 160°F on a meat thermometer.


note: to make this recipe gluten-free, just use a gluten-free beer, I would not suggest wine.  You could also use chicken stock, but add in 1 tsp of white vinegar if doing so.

4 thoughts on “Portuguese Style Grilled Chicken (Frango Grelhado)

  1. amy says:

    Thanks you for all your posts…I wanted to know what is portuguese all spice and where can I buy this…I raise my own chickens and wanted to marinate one and use my new rotisserie attachment for my grill.

    • Stacy says:

      Portuguese Allspice is a combination of spices… It is Paprika based and contains a little Turmeric, a little orange peel and a little tiny bit of pepper. The kind I use is distributed by The Henry Gonsalves Co. and comes in a small plastic jar with a white lid. It is sold in 1/2 oz. jars. If your market has an international foods aisle that includes some Portuguese imports, you can find it there. If not, just mix 4 Tbs. sweet paprika (that’s just your run of the mill paprika, not hot and not smoked) then add 1/8 tsp. white pepper and 1/4 tsp. turmeric, mix these together and place in a ziploc bag with the one large orange zest. After 24 hrs. remove the zest and you will have something very similar to Portuguese Allspice.

      p.s. fresh chicken is always the best!

    • Stacy says:

      Let me know how you do! The important part of this marinade is the time, it’s best to let it sit over night in your fridge! Have fun!

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