• For the Achiote Oil
  • 1 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup achiote seeds
  • 3 whole garlic cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 ancho chile crushed, stemmed, and seeded
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of calamansi juice, or regular lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or coconut vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly chopped ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 chicken leg quarters


  1. To make the achiote oil: Place vegetable oil, achiote seeds, 3 cloves garlic, bay leaf, and ancho chili in a medium saucepan. Turn heat to medium and warm until bubbles begin to form around achiote seeds. Remove from heat and let mixture to steep for 1 hour. Pour oil through a fine mesh-strainer and let cool completely.

  2. To make the marinade: In a small bowl whisk together 1/4 cup achiote oil (reserve rest for future uses), minced garlic, calamansi or lime juice, vinegar, sugar, salt, ginger, and pepper.

  3. Place chicken in a large resealable plastic bag and pour in marinade. Seal bag and gently toss to evenly coat chicken. Place in refrigerator and let marinate overnight.

  4. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Remove chicken from bag, reserving marinade. Place chicken, skin side up, on cool side of grill and cover. Cook, basting every 10 minutes with reserved marinade, until thigh meat registers 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer inserted in thickest part of meat, 30 to 45 minutes.

  5. Move chicken to hot side of the grill, flip skin side down, and cook until skin crisps and browns, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a platter, let rest for 10 minutes, then serve immediately.