Recipe: Puerto Rican Pinchos

Puerto Rican Pinchos Recipe

My wife and I have a yearly tradition of celebrating our wedding anniversary by planning a week somewhere in the world to get away and relax; just the two of us. We take turns each year picking the destination and activities, but to keep it interesting, we keep the location a secret from the other until the day we depart for our holiday. To be fair, we do give each other hints the closer the time gets to departure to ensure the proper clothing, shoes and accessories are packed. This year was my turn, so I decided to take us to a place I lived in 40 years ago, the Isle of Enchantment – Puerto Rico.

We did the traditional tourist activities of exploring Old San Juan, hiking the tropical rainforest at El Yunque, lying in the sun, playing in the water and, of course, partaking in the cuisine of the island. As we traveled around the island, we encountered several roadside restaurants and food kiosks offering a variety of local tastes from fresh fruit juices (and I mean fresh!),  lechon (roasted pork), ceviche (with local seafood), mofongo (mashed garlic and plantains), alcapurias (stuffed fried fritters) and tembleque (coconut pudding).

However, of all the “quick eat” treats we found, my personal favorite was pinchos. In Spain, “pinchos” in Spanish, or “pintxos” in Basque, are small bite appetizers served as a snack in the “tapas” tradition.   These small bites are usually impaled by a small skewer or toothpick for ease of picking up and eating.  Components and ingredients can vary depending on what the chef is creating. The Puerto Rican style of pinchos is neither dainty or ingredient laden, but rather straight forward and simple. These pinchos traditionally consist of skewered pork or chicken that are slow-roasted over wood and glazed with homemade barbecue sauce. The skewers are commonly served with toasted garlic bread that is grilled over the same wood. The smokiness of the wood, combined with the sweet and tangy sauce, and the warm garlic bread are a perfect combination for an afternoon snack or a late night treat.

Here is a quick and easy recipe anyone can create during the summertime, next to the pool or by the ocean.

Grilled Chicken Pinchos with Guava Rum BBQ Glaze and Toasted Garlic Bread

Ingredients – Chicken Pinchos

  • 4 pounds (1.8 kg) skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 8 ounces (28 mL) sour orange Juice
  • 4 ounces (115 g) turbinado sugar
  • 2 ounces (60 g) vegetable oil
  • 2 ounces (60 g) white wine vinegar
  • ½ ounce (15 g) oregano, fresh
  • 10 cloves garlic, fresh
  • Black Pepper, to taste
  • Kosher Salt, to taste

Ingredients – Guava Rum Barbecue Glaze

  • 8 ounces (225 g) guava paste
  • 3 ounces (85 g) ketchup
  • 2 ounces (60 g) dark rum
  • 2 ounces (60 g) light brown sugar
  • 2 ounces (60 g) apple cider vinegar
  • 1 ounce (28 g) soy sauce
  • ½ ounce (5 g) ginger, minced
  • ½ ounce (15 g) lime juice, fresh
  • ½ ounces (15 g) garlic, fresh minced
  • Kosher Salt, to taste
  • Black Pepper, to taste

Ingredients – Garlic Bread

  • 4 each soft bread (Pan de Agua or Cuban), sliced into 6-inch pieces
  • 2 ounce (60 g) butter, melted
  • ½ ounce (15 g) garlic, minced


  • Start fire in the grill using charcoal and bring to medium-low heat.
  • On top of the grill, place two bricks about 10 inches apart.
  • Cut chicken thighs into half-inch pieces and set aside.
  • Combine remaining ingredients into a food processor and blend.
  • Season the marinade with salt and pepper.
  • Pour the liquid into a plastic food storage bag or plastic container.
  • Add the chicken to the marinade and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours.
  • In a sauce pan, combine all the ingredients for the barbecue sauce and place over medium heat.
  • While stirring the barbecue sauce, bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to a simmer and continue to cook for and additional 5 minutes.
  • Remove barbecue sauce from heat and set aside to cool for future use.
  • Remove chicken from marinade and place on skewers.
  • Check the preheated coals and make sure the heat is medium-low.
  • Place skewers over heat with each end of the skewer on the brick.
  • Cook over medium heat, turning every 30 to 45 seconds and baste with the Guava Rum Barbecue Glaze.
  • When skewers are cooked through, remove from heat and allow them to rest.
  • Combine melted butter with garlic.
  • Slice bread in half lengthwise and brush with garlic butter.
  • Place the buttered-side facedown directly on the grill until warmed through but not burnt.
  • Remove bread from grill and place toasted-side up on a plate.
  • Place two skewers on each slice of bread and drizzle Guava Rum Glaze over top.
  • Garnish and serve.

Enjoyed making this recipe? Follow us on Instagram and tag us in your culinary creations. Need help making this recipe? Tweet @airculinaire for assistance.


If you have any questions about this recipe, contact me at

Related Articles