Pollo al ajillo - Spanish garlic chicken - is an Andalusian dish you can easily enjoy in most inland restaurants all over Spain. Chicken roasted in a generous amount of high quality olive oil with whole cloves of garlic is served as a tapa or as a main dish. 

The most common side dishes are either potatoes fried in olive oil or patatas a lo pobre. Don't be afraid to use your hands and soak some freshly sliced white bread in the delicious sauce too. 

The advantage of this recipe is that it is quite easy to achieve the authentic flavours quickly and without any exotic ingredients. Even if you are not a huge garlic lover, do not be afraid of the amounts of garlic used in this lovely dish. Roasting unpeeled whole garlic releases the sharp taste slowly, which results in a consistent and delicate taste at the end. Simply delicious!


Serves 4

1 kg whole chicken ( bone in, skin on)

100 ml of olive oil

1 head of garlic ( unpeeled) 

1 bay leaf

A sprig of rosemary or thyme ( or both )

200 ml dry sherry or dry white wine

Salt and pepper



  1. Cut the chicken into smaller cca 6cm pieces ( skin on, bone in).
  2. Salt and pepper the chicken pieces on all sides.
  3. Heat a deeper pan or pot with a sufficiently large bottom ( to spread all the chicken pieces evenly) on a medium heat. Pour some olive oil and fry the chicken until brown on all sides. The chicken should be fried in oil for at least 10-15 minutes. 
  4. Add the unpeeled garlic cloves, bay leaf, rosemary and / or thyme and fry for another 10 minutes, stirring constantly.
  5. Finally add the sherry or wine, and carefully loosen the baked pieces from the bottom of the pot. Cook until almost all the wine/sherry has evaporated (approx. 5 minutes). You can also squeeze out the garlic from its skin, and spread all over the chicken.
  6. Serve with some fried potatoes.


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