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El Pollo Loco Chicken Grilling Instructions.

As previously reported on Nibbles of Tidbits, I ♥ El Pollo Loco Chicken.  Of all the fast food restaurants I know, EPL’s Chicken can’t be beat.  I’ve tried many times to replicate the flavor at home and still haven’t been close.  There are several copycat recipes on the web, but none appear to be accurate.  Since then, I’ve learned a few grilling tips from El Pollo Loco — Perhaps I’ll give it one more try, until then I’ll continue to buy it.


When grilling whole chickens, time and temperature are critical. Using the below technique, it will take about 45-55 minutes to grill a 3 to 3 1/2 pound bird (chicken); a few minutes longer for barbecue chicken.

At El Pollo Loco, whole chickens are first “split” and the wings cut so that the chicken will lay flat on the grill, helping to ensure that the chicken grills evenly. You can do this by cutting the chicken along the middle of the breastbone. Then open the chicken, cavity side down, and press firmly on the thigh joints. To make the wings lie flat, make a cut about a half-inch into the joint at the breast. This allows the wings to be twisted so that they lay flat without detaching the wings. The chicken is then marinated and seasoned with salt and pepper before placing it on the grill. Follow the five steps below to grill perfect chicken every time.

1) Invest in a meat thermometer or “temperature probe.” This is an essential tool for preparing perfectly grilled chicken. To check the internal temperature of chicken, place the thermometer into the meat where the leg and thigh come together, taking care not to touch bone.

2) Always grill chicken over a low to medium flame or charcoal temperature. Experiment with the setting, cooking at the highest temperature possible without flame flare-ups. Such flare-ups will cause the chicken to cook too fast, resulting in chicken that is charred on the outside, yet not fully cooked on the inside. If flare-ups occur, lift the chicken off the grill for a moment and move it to another area of the grill; reduce the flame if necessary.

3) Begin cooking the chicken by placing it on the grill cavity-side down. During grilling, turn the chicken three times. Turn it the first time when the skin begins to lose moisture, and the chicken becomes rigid. Turn it a second time when the juices pool in the cavity. Turn the chicken a third time when the internal temperature reaches approximately 165 degrees. Finish by cooking the chicken, cavity side up, with a higher flame to crisp the skin.

4) For barbecue chicken, baste with your favorite BBQ sauce before and after the last turn. Grill marks that appear as you cook the basted chicken signal that sugars in the sauce are “caramelizing,” producing the most intense flavors.

5) The chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 180 degrees. Remove it from the grill and cut the chicken into individual pieces. Remember– grilling is an art, not a science, so it’s important to practice, practice again, and then practice some more.

Source: El Pollo Loco

Thanks for the grilling instructions EPL — They’re just in time for Labor Day.

  1. December 1st, 2009 at 20:54 | #1

    I love your blog. There is so much out there which is worthless, but this is a real gold mine of quality information. Many thanks from a grateful surfer – Beth Little.

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