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Guatemalan Chicken Pepián

Updated: Aug 16, 2023

A flavorful and hearty stew with a base of meat, vegetables, and spices. The recipe below is for Pepián de Pollo (Chicken Pepián), but you can also make it with other meats like beef or pork if you prefer. Enjoy!

A delicious plate of Chicken Pepian


  • 1 whole chicken (cut into pieces)

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1 onion, finely chopped

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • 2 tomatoes, chopped

  • 1 bell pepper (any color), chopped

  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped

  • 2 potatoes, peeled and chopped

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 2 cups chicken broth

  • 1 cup water

  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds

  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

  • 3 tablespoons corn tortillas (or white bread) cut into small pieces

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon ground achiote (annatto) or paprika (for color)

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • Salt to taste

  • Fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish

  • Cooked white rice, for serving


  1. In a large pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté until translucent.

  2. Add the minced garlic and continue to sauté for another minute until fragrant.

  3. Add the chicken pieces to the pot and brown them on all sides, about 5 minutes.

  4. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, bell pepper, carrots, and potatoes. Cook for a few minutes until the vegetables start to soften.

  5. In a blender or food processor, combine the sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, tortillas (or bread), and achiote (or paprika). Blend until you get a smooth paste. If needed, you can add a little water to help with blending.

  6. Add the seed paste to the pot and mix well with the chicken and vegetables.

  7. Stir in the tomato paste, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper. Season with salt to taste.

  8. Pour in the chicken broth and water, and bring the mixture to a boil.

  9. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let the Pepián simmer for about 1 to 1.5 hours, or until the chicken is tender and the flavors have melded together. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

  10. Check the seasoning and adjust with more salt or spices if needed.

  11. Once the Pepián is ready, serve it hot over cooked white rice.

  12. Garnish each serving with fresh chopped cilantro for a burst of freshness and color.

Enjoy your delicious Guatemalan Chicken Pepián! This rich and savory stew is perfect for sharing with family and friends. Buen provecho!

**Picture was taken from

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