Grilled Chicken with Salsa Macha (Whole 30 and Paleo)

There’s no fluff today. You just need to go out and get the ingredients for this Grilled Chicken with Salsa Macha and make it this week. It’s good whether you’re still actually having winter or if you’re having perpetual Spring like we are here, it’s even better. What is Salsa Macha Chicken? Well, it all starts with the sauce that I got from one of my favorite blogs: Tasty Yummies. I saw it and read about her delicious breakfast. Her story reminded me of my own story of being in Mexico and discovering real Mexican food. And immediately made me crave Salsa Macha having never even seen it.

What is Salsa Macha?

The name may cause confusion since most of us assume a salsa is tomato (or tomatillo) based. This one however is a blend of chiles, garlic, seeds and nuts blended with olive oil to make a paste. Really it’s much like an Italian pesto, except where there would normally be fresh herbs or greens, there are chiles. Mine is more of a dark brown color because I used all ancho chiles while Beth’s at Tasty Yummies is a brick red because she used a blend of guajillo and chipotle. There is definitely room for interpretation on the varietal of chiles and what kind of nuts you use. Some recipes even use peanuts, but to keep this paleo and Whole 30 compliant, I only used almonds, pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and sesame seeds. There is this crazy cheap and delicious place in Santa Barbara called Mony’s that has a small but varied salsa bar and I remember a salsa with peanuts in it. It makes me wonder if it wasn’t there version of Salsa Macha.

Although it is delicious, I wanted to try it with something other than eggs which is what I ate the salsa with after reading the post at Tasty Yummies. The thawed chicken breasts in my fridge were the answer so with a quick grill in my countertop grill, they were ready to serve with mixed greens, avocado and pickled onions. Since I am not currently doing Whole 30, I indulge in Siete grain-free tortillas a few days a week so I wrapped everything up in a couple of cast-iron warmed Coconut Cassava flour variety. (By the way, “Treat Yo’ Self” with Siete tortillas if you are doing Paleo…they behave just like flour tortillas with a quick warm-up.)

Rather than repeating everything for the salsa, I am simply listing the ingredients and directions that I used for the finished dish, so pop over to Beth’s to print the salsa recipe and view her beautiful photos then pop back over here to make the full chicken recipe.

This is a “recipe” that can be interpreted several ways. If you are doing Whole 30 or choose not to eat tortillas and don’t want to make tacos, just build a bowl by placing greens on the bottom then layering everything else. If you eat dairy a little cotija or feta cheese will add a sharp and slightly creamy tang to the bowl or tacos.

Grilled Chicken with Salsa Macha (Whole 30 and Paleo)


  • Pickled Onions and Salsa

  • 1/2 recipe Salsa Macha (save the rest for eggs and thank me and Beth later)

  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced

  • 1/2 cup distilled vinegar

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 cinnamon stick, optional (don’t sub ground cinnamon)

  • Chicken and Remaining Ingredients
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

  • olive oil, rendered fat of choice or coconut oil

  • sea salt and pepper to taste

  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced

  • a couple handfuls mixed greens

  • 1 lime, quartered

  • coarsely ground sea salt

  • Tortillas of choice, optional

  • Chopped cilantro, optional for bowls

  • Feta or cotija cheese (not Whole 30 and entirely optional)


  • To make Pickled Onions:
  • Place onions in a deep bowl or mason jar. Bring other ingredients to a boil then pour over the onions making sure they are completely submerged in liquid. Let stand while preparing the rest of the dish. These can be made a day or two (or more) ahead.
  • If you haven’t already made the Salsa Macha, now is the time to do so then keep it warm or room temperature while preparing remaining ingredients.
  • Grill Chicken
  • Brush the chicken with oil or fat of choice. Liberally sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Grill or pan-saute until the chiken registers 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Let stand covered loosely while you prep remaining ingredients.
  • Everything Else
  • Sprinkle the avocado with lime and salt. If assembling tacos, mash the avocado until it is spreadable.
  • Warm tortillas if using in a cast-iron skillet.
  • Thinly slice the chicken on the diagonal if serving as tacos or serving a crowd, otherwise you can leave as is.
  • Serving Options
  • Make Your Own Tacos – Serve the components composed on a plate for each person to make their own.
  • Pre-Assemble Tacos – Spread mashed avocado on warm tortillas then top with greens, chicken salsa and onions in that order.
  • Bowl – Layer greens, chicken, salsa macha, avocado and pickled onions. Top with chopped cilantro.

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