Citrus Achiote Chicken Skewers with Pepper Rice

Citrus Achiote Chicken Skewers
Citrus Achiote Chicken Skewers with Pepper Rice

These Citrus Achiote Chicken Skewers are a great way to prepare chicken that is easy, beautiful, and extremely tasty. 

You could certainly opt to leave the chicken breasts whole or even use chicken thighs, but we love the amount of flavor that the marinade gives the finished chicken by cutting it first into cubes. The char from a grill is just another taste component added to the chicken to give it a nice smoky flavor.

What is Achiote?

The key ingredient in this dish is achiote paste, which is not terribly difficult to find (we get it HERE). The paste is already prepared and tastes great, but it can also be made from scratch if you wish, as there are many recipes for the finished product out there.

The Achiote paste is derived from annatto seeds, which is often used in cuisines from Mexico to South America and all through the Caribbean as well as parts of Southeast Asia. The flavor of the paste is unique, bringing elements of sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and earthiness while also producing a beautiful color. It is pretty mild on spice and carries more peppery notes than heat.

Citrus Achiote Chicken Skewers
Achiote paste is the main ingredient in the marinade for these chicken skewers.

What flavors are in the Citrus Achiote Chicken Skewers?

Combining achiote paste with citrus is a great fit that really amps up chicken. A few other ingredients, such as ginger and garlic, help enhance the flavor and a bit of chile paste, such as Sambal Oelek, allows for just the slightest bit of spice to wake up the skewers. A creamy sauce compliments the chicken and adds a fresh, lively flavor as well.

What to serve with the chicken skewers?

We included a recipe for what we feel is a great side dish for the Citrus Achiote Chicken Skewers. The Pepper Rice is a simple preparation using bell pepper, jalapeño pepper, and black pepper while cooking basmati rice in chicken stock. Since rice is so absorbent and welcoming to flavors, whatever you cook it in will impart its flavor directly to the rice.

You can also serve these skewers with mixed vegetable skewers, or with fresh tortillas for more of a fajita style meal. 


We hope you enjoy this recipe for Citrus Achiote Chicken Skewers! If you give it a try, leave us a comment below or tag us on Instagram @cooking_with_wine!

Citrus Achiote Chicken Skewers
Citrus Achiote Chicken Skewers with Pepper Rice

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Citrus Achiote Chicken Skewers with Three Pepper Rice

Course: MainCuisine: MexicanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time


Marinate for


Total time




  • For the Marinade
  • 1/2 cup 1/2 grapeseed or canola oil (or other neutral veg oil)

  • 2 2 lemons, juiced

  • 2 2 blood oranges (or oranges), juiced

  • 1 1 large grapefruit, juiced

  • All juices = approx. 1.25 cups

  • 3.5 oz 3.5 prepared Achiote paste

  • 2 Tbsp 2 Sambal or other fresh, spicy chile paste

  • 1 Tbsp 1 kosher salt

  • 1 tsp 1 black pepper

  • 1 Tbsp 1 finely minced garlic

  • 1 Tbsp 1 finely minced shallot

  • 1 Tbsp 1 finely minced or grated ginger

  • 4 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

  • For the Rice
  • 12 oz 12 Chicken stock

  • 1 small 1 jalapeño, small diced

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 red bell pepper, small diced

  • 1/4 tsp 1/4 kosher salt

  • 1/4 tsp 1/4 black pepper

  • 1 Tbsp 1 unsalted butter

  • 1 cup 1 Basmati Rice*

  • For the Sauce
  • 5 oz. 5 Crème Fraiche

  • 2 Tbsp 2 heavy cream

  • 2 tsp 2 grapefruit zest

  • 2 Tbsp 2 grapefruit juice

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 kosher salt

  • 1/4 tsp 1/4 white pepper

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 sugar

  • 1 tsp 1 thyme leaves


  • Add all marinade ingredients to a bowl and thoroughly mix. Cut the chicken into bite-sized chunks (about 1.5” x 1.5”) and add to the marinade. You can also do this in a zip-top plastic bag but ensure the Achiote is completely incorporated. Marinate in the refrigerator for 2-6 hours. When the chicken is done marinating, remove it from the marinade and put onto grilling skewers.
  • The sauce can be made ahead by combining all ingredients thoroughly. Cover and place in the fridge until ready to use. If you make it at least an hour in advance of serving it, and up to several hours, it will help the overall flavor.
  • Meanwhile start the rice. Add all ingredients except the rice to a large saucepan, cover and bring to a boil. Immediately add the rice, return to a boil then cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 18-20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.
  • While the rice cooks, grill the chicken on a hot grill to achieve a char while still cooking the chicken through and turning the skewers frequently. You can (and should as the cook!) have a tester piece, but the chicken should be done in 9-11 minutes, depending on the heat of your grill.
  • Serve the chicken with the pepper rice and dipping sauce.


  • *If you choose to use a different type of rice, refer to cooking directions on the package, as all rice varieties don’t cook for the same amount of time or with the same liquid-to-rice ratios.

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Join the Conversation

  1. Sooooo we made some edits (mainly because I’m too lazy to skewer things), but what a dang delight! I went looking for a recipe to use up some juice and this was perfect. Great, great flavors.

    1. Angela and Mark Author says:

      Thanks for trying this recipe out! So glad you liked it!

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