Lessons learned from the Old World: When the water is unclean, cook your chicken in wine.

And for extra protection (from vampires), add 10 cloves of garlic.

Spanish Garlic Chicken, Pollo al Ajillo, is no joke. Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs are dusted with flour then pan-fried for crispy skin. Then, pour in 2 cups of wine and 10 cloves of sliced, sautéed garlic and simmer until it’s done.

The smoked paprika turns the whole dish a gorgeous bright orange.

This isn’t like my college days of cooking dry chicken breasts with garlic salt and rueing the day chickens were born. For one, Spanish Garlic Chicken is on the bone so it’s full of flavor. It’s simmered in wine, so it’s moist.


And like Spain’s other garlic masterpiece, Gambas al Ajillo (Shrimp in Garlic), the garlic is both tame and luscious at the same time.

Nothing like serving bone-in, skin-on chicken for a true Old World experience. Plus, thighs are cheaper than those boneless, skinless breasts we’ve been loading up on at Costco.

Wine in Old World Cooking: People drank and cooked with wine because it was usually safer and better-tasting than water. Nowadays in Europe wine and beer can be less expensive than bottled water! Also, wine adds flavor and moisture to long-cooked meats.

For the wine in this dish, you can use any dry white wine (one that is not sweet). Either Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio is fine. Since you’ll be using 2 cups of wine, no need to break the bank — unless you plan to drink the rest at the table.

So yes, the wine is one of the stars of Spanish Garlic Chicken. But the garlic steals the show. The garlic does get mellowed, however, in the sautéing and simmering.

How to Make Pollo al Ajillo – Spanish Garlic Chicken – at Home

Cook your sliced garlic in some oil to soften it and also infuse your oil with garlic. One trick I’ve learned is to put the garlic and oil in the pan as it is heating. That way, you are less likely to burn the garlic.


Remove the garlic and keep that tasty oil. Dredge the chicken in flour, sprinkle with smoked paprika and brown in the same skillet on medium.


Pour in the wine and add the bay leaves and sautéed garlic. Simmer for 25-30 minutes, uncovered until the chicken is cooked through. If the chicken is taking a while, turn up the heat on the pan rather than covering it with a lid. You want the skin to stay crispy.


How to Tell When The Chicken Is Cooked: It’s hard to know when a whole piece of meat is cooked to a safe temperature. I had avoided cooking certain cuts of meat until I got a high-quality digital food thermometer for Christmas. It’s the amazing Thermoworks Thermapen. The metal stick gives a fast reading. It has given me way more confidence in the kitchen!

Serve your Pollo al Ajillo with rice or potatoes and a side of wilted greens. Turn some Spanish guitar on Pandora and call it a night!


Pollo al Ajillo

Spanish Garlic Chicken

Chicken thighs in white wine and garlic.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 4


  • 3 tbsp. oil
  • 4 chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cups dry white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Parsley, for garnish
  • Instructions

    1. Heat a large skillet on low. Add oil and garlic to pan and cook until garlic is straw-colored, about 5 minutes. Remove garlic with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving oil in pan.
    2. Put flour on a wide plate. Remove excess skin from chicken thighs, such as skin hanging off sides. Pat dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Dredge both sides of chicken in flour then sprinkle with smoked paprika.
    3. Heat skillet with garlic oil to medium. Brown chicken on both sides, about 10 minutes total, or until the skin is crispy but not burnt. Place chicken skin side up in pan.
    4. Add 2 cups of wine, bay leaves and reserved garlic to pan. Bring to a boil, then keep a good simmer 25-30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Turn up heat if necessary but do not cover pan. Alternatively, place your oven-proof skillet in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. The chicken should be 165 degrees on the inside as measured with a thermometer.
    5. Top chicken with a few pieces of sliced garlic from the pan.


    Recipe adapted from PolloAlAjillo.net
    recipe image
    Recipe Name
    Spanish Garlic Chicken - Pollo al Ajillo
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