This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclaimer.
Learn how to make Panes con Pollo, a Salvadoran chicken sandwich that's made with pollo guisado (chicken stew), salsa, mayonnaise and plenty of vegetables. It's a holiday staple!
First I shared my family's pierogi recipe, which we make and eat every year around the holidays. Today I'm sharing Miguel's family's holiday recipe: panes con pollo.
My in-laws are originally from El Salvador, so when we celebrate Christmas with them, we tend to eat traditional Salvadoran food, like these chicken sandwiches. This might be THE thing that Miguel looks forward to eating every year, and for good reason.
While I love this crispy cod sandwich and this avocado grilled cheese, (link) this panes con pollo takes the cake! There's also something special about it knowing that we're always around family when enjoying it.
- A sandwich made with marinated pulled chicken
- Loaded with vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes and radishes
- Easy to customize based on your personal preferences (more on that below!)
Bread - Ideally, you want to use bread from a Salvadoran bakery. But, if you don't have access to one, I recommend using high quality hoagie bread.
Chicken - Preferably boneless skinless chicken thighs
Salsa (tomato sauce) - You'll use the mixture the chicken was cooked in (diced tomatoes, onion, cilantro, cumin, and Sazon seasoning), along with more tomatoes, pepper (either a green bell pepper or a poblano pepper), onion, cilantro, and plenty of salt to taste
Dressing - Every good sandwich needs mayo -- it's a fact. For this, you'll stir mayo and mustard, salt, and black pepper together.
Coleslaw - A simple coleslaw made of green cabbage, carrots and some of the mayonnaise mixture creates a creamy, flavorful coleslaw mix
Vegetables - Here's where it's fairly easy to customize based on what you have in your refrigerator. Miguel's family typically uses sliced tomatoes, cucumber, radishes, romaine, and watercress
Step 1: Cook the chicken. Place the chicken thighs in a large pot, then add in the water (or chicken broth), diced tomatoes and their juices, onion, cilantro, cumin, and Sazon seasoning. Bring the chicken to a boil and boil it until it's cooked.
Step 2: Make the dressing. Stir the mayonnaise, mustard, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl and set aside.
Step 3: Make the coleslaw. Add the cabbage, carrots and HALF of the mayo/mustard mixture to a bowl and stir to combine.
Step 4: Shred the chicken. Once the chicken is cooked, remove it with kitchen tongs and place it in a large bowl. Use two forks to shred it. Then, melt butter in a large skillet and add the chicken. Pan-fry the chicken in the butter for a few minutes to add flavor.
Step 5: Create the salsa. Pour the stock from the pot the chicken was in into a blender, along with additional tomatoes, onion and cilantro and blend it up. Taste it, then add more salt/cilantro/etc. to taste.
Step 5: Chop the vegetables. Slice the tomatoes, cucumbers and radishes, along with any additional veggies you may be using.
Step 6: Assemble the sandwiches. Open up the bread, then spread some of the mayo/mustard mixture on the inside. Then, add a romaine leaf and add a spoonful of the cabbage mix on top. Next, add the chicken, along with the sliced vegetables. Last, pour the tomato sauce from the blender on top.
Tips and tricks
- The sandwich is supposed to be wet! It's probably going to fall apart as you're eating it but that's ok -- no dry or bland sandwiches here!
- This recipe makes enough for 4 sandwiches, but you will have leftover sauce. Store sauce in a sealed container in the refrigerator and use it on tacos, stuffed peppers or alongside Spanish rice.
Can I use chicken breast instead?
Yes! If you prefer using chicken breast, you'll want to reference this post on how to boil chicken. Then, shred it and sauté it in butter just like the instructions state.
Refrigerator: For the freshest taste, store each item separately: store the pulled chicken in a container, and the tomato sauce in a separate container. That way, you can make a sandwich following the steps above even with leftovers.
Reheating: To reheat, melt butter in a skillet, then add the chicken and toss until it's warm. NOTE: this only works if the chicken isn't covered in the sauce. If the chicken already has sauce on it, reheat it in the microwave.
More easy chicken recipes
If you made this recipe, be sure to leave a comment and star rating below. Thanks!
Panes con Pollo
for the sauce:
- Start by cooking the chicken: add the chicken, water or broth, diced tomatoes, cilantro, cumin, and Sazon to a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
- While the chicken is cooking, whisk the mayonnaise and mustard together in a small bowl; set aside.
- Next, make the coleslaw: stir the cabbage and carrots together, then add HALF of the mayo mixture and stir to combine; set aside.
- You may also chop any veggies you're using at this point (I used romaine, tomato, radishes, and cucumber).
- Once the chicken is done, use kitchen tongs to remove it and place it into a large bowl. Pour the stock from the pot into a large blender, then add the bell pepper, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and salt and blend until the sauce is smooth.
- Use two forks to shred the chicken. Then, add the butter to a large skillet. Once it's melted, add the chicken and sauté for a few minutes so the chicken is coated in the butter.
- Now, it's time to assemble the sandwiches: open up a hoagie roll and add a romaine leaf on one side, and spread some of the mayo/mustard mixture on the other side. Then, add the cabbage mixture on top of the romaine leaf and the chicken on top of that. Now it's time to add the veggies (remember: this sandwich is supposed to be huge, so load it up!). Last, pour some of the tomato on top of the sandwich so that the sandwich is moist. Typically when my mother-in-law makes them, the bread is wet and it falls apart when we're eating it!