Estela’s Pollo en Pinol for Salvadorean Family Feasts

El Salvador family feast pollo en pinol

This pollo en pinol is the traditional dish in El Salvador to celebrate feast days — like Independence Day on Sept. 15 or the Christmas holidays. This stewed chicken is made with onions, diced potatoes, green pepper, cilantro and its defining ingredient: Ground, roasted corn flour. The is a family favorite in the home of one of our favorite Salvadoreñas Estela Medrano Benitez of Maryland.

Her mom, Carmen, is the official familia cocinera. She uses yellow precooked cornmeal in bulk bags she brings back from her El Salvador when she visits. You can buy it a most Latino grocery stores. But in a pinch, she says, just place yellow corn flour on a sheet pan and bake in a 350°-degree oven for about 10 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when the flour begins to turn deep gold and gives off a delicious aroma with a hint of popped corn kernels.

Estela familia pollo pinol El Salvador
Estela, second from right, at her birthday celebration. Her mother, Carmen, far left, is the official cocinera de la familia. This is one of their favorite family dishes: El Salvadorean pollo en pinol.

This classic El Salvadorean dish is typically served with white rice (Estela uses medium grain). Her family always prepares a side salad of sliced cabbage, tomatoes and raw beets, dressed with vinegar and lemon and a pinch of salt, to taste.

“My whole family loves pollo en pinol,” says Estela. “It makes us feel like we are back home with my sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles in El Salvador.”

Ready to Make Estela’s Family-Famous Pollo en Pinol?

Estela’s Pollo en Pinol for an El Salvadorean Feast

Recipe by Estela Medrano Benitez
5.0 from 2 votes
Cuisine: El Salvador


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil

  • 1/2 onion, chopped

  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 2 medium potatoes, yellow

  • 1 tomato, chopped

  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped

  • 1 tsp. cilantro

  • 1 tsp. salt

  • 1/2 tsp. pepper

  • 2 cubes chicken bouillon

  • 1 1/2 cups precooked cornmeal

  • 4 cups water


  • Add the olive oil to a heavy caserola or Dutch oven. Place on the stove, heat on medium low. When the oil starts to shimmer, place the chicken pieces in the pot and brown, about 5 minutes per side.
  • Add the onion, garlic, tomato, potatoes, green pepper, cilantro, chicken bouillon, salt, pepper and saute for 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Stir the cornmeal in the 4 cups of water in a container until it dissolves. Add to the chicken and vegetables in the pot.
  • Simmer at a low boil for 20 minutes, uncovered.
  • Taste, adjust salt if necessary, and serve. It’s ready for your family feast!
Estela Pollo el Pinol Corn Meal Toasted
To precook your own cornmeal, heat yellow corn flour in a 350° oven for 10 minutes to get that toasted, rich flavor.
El Salvador family feast pollo en pinol
Estela, center right, with her family on a day of festivities, which means pollo en pinol is simmering on the stove and will soon be served.
El Salvador family feast pollo en pinol
Estela’s notes, capturing the family favorite recipe.
pollo en pinol

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