Estela’s Pollo en Pinol for Salvadorean Family Feasts

Estela El Salvador Pollo al 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 the defining ingredient—ground, roasted corn flour. The remains 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 prefers to use prepackaged roasted yellow corn flour in bags she brings in bulk from her El Salvador when she visits. 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.

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 Cook Pollo en Pinol?

Estela’s Pollo en Pinol for an El Salvadorean Feast

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


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 1 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces

  • 2 Tbsp. 2 olive oil

  • 1/2 1/2 onion, chopped

  • 4 cloves 4 garlic, chopped

  • 2 2 medium potatoes, yellow

  • 1 1 tomato, chopped

  • 1/2 1/2 green pepper, chopped

  • 1 tsp. 1 cilantro

  • 1 tsp. 1 salt

  • 1/2 tsp. 1/2 pepper

  • 2 cubes 2 chicken bouillon

  • 1 1/2 cups 1 1/2 corn flour, ground and roasted

  • 4 cups 4 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 corn flour in the four 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, lid off.
  • Taste, adjust salt if necessary, and serve. It’s ready for your family feast!
Estela Pollo el Pinol Corn Meal Toasted
To make your own pinol, heat yellow corn flour in a 350° oven for 10 minutes to get that toasted, rich flavor.
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.
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.
El Salvador Feast Day Pollo al Pinol

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