Chicken Cachaça

It’s summer and that means it’s time to fire up the BBQ! Here’s a great recipe that makes a change from burgers and steaks. Chicken thighs are dark meat so they are slightly fattier than chicken breast but this cut of meat lends itself well to grilling and stays nice and moist.


Cachaça, Brazil’s national spirit, is made from sugar cane and apart from being crucial to cocktails such as the caipirinha, it makes a great marinade for meat or fish. You may have heard of cachaça when the World Cup in Brazil was all the rage. Since then, it has been easy to find in the shops. I got my bottle at Cambridge Wine Merchants but cachaça is readily available in various supermarkets too.

Cachaca bottle

The key to the flavours in this Chicken Cachaça recipe is the marinade. It’s easy to make! Here’s what you need.

Chicken thighs raw


1 kg boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 12 pieces)
Olive oil, preferably one infused with garlic
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Dried oregano
Freshly ground black pepper
Zest of 1 lime
1 lime
Dried or fresh chopped parsley


Drizzle some olive oil in a rectangular dish. I like to use organic extra virgin olive oil infused with garlic, black pepper and balsamic vinegar from Pata’s Le Opere e i Giorni, as it’s already packed with flavour.

Add the chopped garlic, a sprinkle of dried oregano, salt and freshly ground black pepper.


Then add a splash of cachaça, about 2 tablespoons.

Lime zest

Zest a lime into the marinade. This will give it a nice fresh flavour.


Then slice the same lime in two and squeeze the lime juice into the marinade.

Chicken thighs on cling film

Cover a chopping board with cling film. Open out the chicken thighs and place them on the board.


Cover the chicken thighs with cling film, so as to contain any splashing of raw chicken. Lightly bash the chicken thighs with a meat mallet or rolling pin until the meat is of even thickness. Sprinkle some salt over the chicken thighs.

Chicken thighs

Place the chicken thighs back into the rectangular dish. Drizzle more olive oil, add some more oregano and freshly ground black pepper. Add more cachaça this time, about 4 tablespoons.

Marinated chicken

Use your hands to toss and coat the chicken, working the marinade into the flesh. Leave to marinate whilst you fire up the BBQ.

If you wish, you can marinade the chicken thighs ahead of time. Just cover the rectangular dish with cling film and refrigerate for 4 hours. However, you must remember to remove the chicken from the fridge half an hour before you start cooking and let it come to room temperature.

BBQ chicken

Put the chicken thighs into disposable BBQ trays (this will save your sanity) and place on the BBQ.

Marinade Brush

Keep the marinade and brush it over each chicken thigh for extra flavour.

Chicken turn over

Periodically lift the chicken thighs with tongs to check if the underside is cooked. This will also keep the chicken thighs from sticking to the tray. Keep grilling until the underside of the chicken is golden, then turn over.


Brush the other side of the chicken thighs with the marinade.

Chicken on BBQ

Keep grilling until cooked through. The chicken should feel firm when lightly pressed. Leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving with a sprinkling of parsley.


And there you have it! Serve with a side dish of your choice, such as a nice fresh salad.

Makes 4 servings. Use the rest of the cachaça for refreshing summer cocktails!

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