Grilled Thai Chicken

This Grilled Thai Chicken is bursting with flavour with lots of lemongrass, coriander (cilantro), ginger and chillies in the marinade. You can roast, grill or barbecue the chicken for crispy and golden skin. Great to make on a weeknight or for entertaining.

grilled thai chicken thighs in roasting pan with lemon wedges

I love marinated and grilled chicken and am always on the lookout for new recipes, though I think my mum makes the best version which I have tried endlessly to recreate and which comes close but, of course, it can’t quite compare.

Like most Vietnamese mothers, mine works from taste memory rather than from written recipes, yet her dishes seem to sing each and every time. Sadly, I think I missed out on that gene and am trying to make up for it by learning from different recipes and lots of trial and error in the kitchen.

four grilled thai chicken marylands in roasting pan with white tea towel

With the help of a few cookbooks, this is a recipe for Thai Grilled Chicken which I have arrived at which is a bit similar to my mum’s version, but perhaps more fragrant with the addition of fresh herbs.

The marinade for this Grilled Thai Chicken is really quick to put together – simply chop up a few ingredients, put everything into the food processor and blend away. Place the chicken pieces in a large freezer bag and pour the marinade over, leaving the chicken to marinate preferably overnight. But if time is tight, 30 minutes is also good.

step by step photos for making grilled thai chicken

For this recipe, I like to use chicken Maryland pieces (thigh with drumstick attached) for a more substantial meal, but feel free to use chicken thighs or chicken drumsticks, or a combination of each.

This Grilled Thai Chicken is something I like to make during the week, usually the night before so that I can come home after a long day at work, take the chicken from the fridge and let it come to room temperature while the oven is pre-heating.

And while it is in the oven, I simply turn on the rice cooker. As the chicken can be a bit salty from the fish sauce, it goes perfectly with steamed jasmine rice and maybe a small salad on the side. I also recommend a jar of Pickled Chillies to add a bit of spice.

And speaking of fish sauce … if your kitchen is in a separate room with a door, you would be best advised to close the door as the aroma from the roasting chicken can be quite pungent. As much as I love the taste of fish sauce, its smell can be a little strong for some. But don’t let the smell put you off! I promise that the fish sauce is what makes this marinade so tasty!

grilled thai chicken in pan with cut lemons and cilantro


Grilled Thai Chicken

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5 from 2 reviews

  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 40 mins
  • Total Time: 55 mins
  • Yield: Serves 4
  • Category: Chicken
  • Cuisine: Thai

This Grilled Thai Chicken is bursting with flavour with lots of lemongrass, coriander (cilantro), ginger and chillies in the marinade. You can roast, grill or barbecue the chicken for crispy and golden skin. Great to make on a weeknight or for entertaining.


  • 4 chicken Maryland pieces (or 8 chicken drumsticks or thighs)
  • 2 red chillies (or to taste)
  • 3 cm (1 inch) piece of ginger, peeled & roughly chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, roughly chopped
  • a good handful of coriander leaves and stalks
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar or light muscovado sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce


To prepare the chicken

  1. Using a sharp knife, cut a few slashes into the chicken pieces.
  2. Place the chicken pieces into a large zip-lock freezer bag.
  3. Place the remaining ingredients into a food processor and blend until you have a runny paste and all of the ingredients are finely chopped.
  4. Pour the marinade over the chicken in the freezer bag, making sure that the chicken is well-coated.
  5. Seal the bag and leave the chicken to marinate in the fridge overnight, but a few hours is also fine.
  6. Take the chicken out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature (about 20-30 minutes).

Instructions for oven

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C (420°F).
  2. In a roasting dish that will contain all of the chicken pieces later, lightly drizzle the bottom of the dish with olive oil.
  3. Arrange the chicken pieces in the pan.
  4. Roast for 35-40 minutes until the skin is lovely and golden.

Instructions for grill or barbecue

  1. Heat a stove-top grill or barbecue to medium-high heat.
  2. Place the chicken with the skin side down on the grill.
  3. Cook until the skin is golden and crispy.
  4. Turn the chicken over and continue cooking for another 5-10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

Kitchen Notes


You can substitute the lemongrass for kaffir lime leaves for a similar result. For this recipe, I would suggest about 4 kaffir lime leaves.

You could also use this recipe for a whole chicken. I would suggest butterflying the chicken, i.e. use poultry shears or a very sharp knife to remove the backbone, and then gently flatten the breastbone. Marinate the butterflied chicken in a large zip-lock freezer bag, and cook as per the above recipe.

All recipes on this website state temperatures for a regular oven (i.e. a conventional oven without fan). If you have a convection oven with a fan, please consult the manufacturer’s handbook on how to adjust the temperature and baking time accordingly.


  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 235
  • Sugar: 3.1g
  • Sodium: 673.6mg
  • Fat: 12.3g
  • Carbohydrates: 4.9g
  • Fiber: 0.3g
  • Protein: 24.8g
  • Cholesterol: 122.4mg

Did you make this recipe?

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This recipe was first published on 21 October 2011. It has been updated with new photos and more comprehensive recipe instructions.

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  1. Cvasbinder 25 October 2011

    This looks like a great recipe – unforunately your font is so small and light that I can’t read the ingrediants!

    • eat little bird 25 October 2011

      Hello! If you click on the recipe, it should open into a larger file where you can also zoom in if necessary. Please let me know if this helps, otherwise I can make some adjustments later 🙂

  2. Julie 25 October 2011

    It looks delicious. Could you tell me what fish sauce is and what that would be called in France?
    Thank you!

    • eat little bird 25 October 2011

      Hello Julie! I think the French call fish sauce by the Vietnamese name, which is nuoc mam. It is sometimes labelled sauce de poisson but I don’t think the French use this term. You can find nuoc mam at any Asian grocery store, and some supermarkets (such as Intermarché and Monoprix) also stock nuoc mam in the aisle selling Asian food. Where do you live in France? If you need help finding some Asian ingredients, please let me know and I can try to help 🙂

  3. Manuela 25 October 2011

    This sounds appetizing and the picture makes it so too! I have to agree that although the recipe format is attractive and fun, it is very hard to read. I am most likely to pass on making it because of it. Even by clicking on it, I still have to squint hard to read it. A slight turn off. I get that it’s meant to be different and design/hip but it’s missing on the goal of recipe posting which is ease of reading and writing it down to redo.

    • eat little bird 25 October 2011

      Hi Manuela, many thanks for your feedback. I guess the recipe format is a different experience for everyone, particularly since I have a large screen which makes it easier to read! Also, on my computer, if you click on the recipe, it will open into a bigger format which you can again zoom into. But I suppose this might not be the case for all computers. I will test out the format on different computers to see what changes I can make – no point publishing them in this format if it makes it difficult for people to use! So again, thank you again for your comments!

  4. ReaderA 25 October 2011

    When I click on the recipe, I get a full image that is automatically re-sized to fit by my browser. In Firefox, all I have to do is click on it again, and the text becomes readable at the image’s true dimensions. In IE, you might have to save the image to read it, but it’s still readable at its true dimensions. I think a person’s inability to read it rest solely upon their lack of know-how.

    • eat little bird 26 October 2011

      I’m happy to hear that you are able to view my recipes as intended 🙂 Thanks for your feedback concerning Firefox as I haven’t been able to test my recipes with that browser. I use Safari at home and IE at work, and I’m able to view my recipes on both browsers, though you do have to click on the image twice to get the true dimensions. However, I think this is not apparent to everyone. I will fiddle around with the settings and hopefully arrive at a suitable solution for everyone! I have already changed the font and colour of the recipe so hopefully that is a start … 🙂

  5. Jill 26 October 2011

    Errr….is 220 degrees actually right? This sounds so amazing, I’m making it tonight but 35 minutes at 220 sound kind of low. (Also possible I have no idea what I’m talking about since i bake chicken thighs, like, never.)

    • eat little bird 26 October 2011

      Hi Jill, the recipe specifies 220° Celsius, which is 425° Fahrenheit. Hope this clears the confusion!

      • Jill 26 October 2011

        Oh wow. Is now a poor time to admit that I teach reading comprehension for a living?

        • eat little bird 26 October 2011

          LOL! You are probably used to reading recipes using Fahrenheit so I think you are excused 😉 Actually, thank you for pointing this out to me. I will try to show some conversions in my future recipes so the recipes will be easier for you to follow. Hope this dish works out well for you!

  6. At Anna's Kitchen Table 27 October 2011

    Ooh, that chicken looks so good!!

  7. Annie 1 December 2011

    Hi, I’m a Vietnamese-American living in France, who recently discovered your blog and looks forward to future posts. The simple recipe for Thai Sticky Chicken turned out wonderfully (even without the coriander)–thank you.

    • eat, little bird 1 December 2011

      Hi Annie! Many thanks for your feedback! I’m happy to hear that this recipe worked out well for you, even without the coriander. That’s great to know that I can make this marinade without coriander which can sometimes be hard to find in Zurich. Thank you for visiting my blog 🙂

  8. Deena 8 February 2012

    Made and loved! I used chicken breasts and thighs; broiled to brown them at the end of cooking. So much flavour!

    • eat, little bird 9 February 2012

      Hi Deena! Thank you for letting me know that you tried this recipe. I’m so happy to hear that you loved it!! I haven’t tried this marinade with chicken breasts so it’s good to know that it works well. I also like to bake it until it is golden and crispy, and a few minutes under the broil or grill is a great tip!

  9. Prontip 7 November 2012

    This reminds me of a dish my mom makes. She’s Thai. Thanks for sharing!

  10. natalie 18 May 2013

    I really love the look of this. I’ve recently taken on the challenge to cook a roast chicken once a week to a new recipe and write a blog about it. I came across this in my hunt for inspiration. Have a look at my blog so far
    Thanks for sharing

    • eat, little bird 22 May 2013

      What a great premise for a blog! And also a great food challenge in general which I’m sure would mean many delicious meals in your home. Roast chicken would have to be one of my favourite meals so I look forward to reading your blog 🙂

  11. Vivien 5 February 2016

    I can’t see the quantity if fish sauce required

    • Eat, Little Bird 5 February 2016

      Hi Vivien, sorry about that! I changed the recipe format recently and it seems I forgot to add the fish sauce quantity. I’ve updated the recipe to show 3 tablespoons of fish sauce. I hope you will enjoy this recipe!

  12. Julia 12 April 2018

    What an AMAZING idea!!! Looks so warm and comforting. I definitely want to try this! Thank you for sharing this great recipe!

  13. Dave 23 July 2018

    Delicious. Made it tonight & it was awesome. Easy as & packed full of flavour

    • Eat, Little Bird 24 August 2018

      Hi Dave,
      So glad that you enjoyed the recipe! Thanks for popping back to leave your comment.

  14. Mike 14 January 2019

    I’m the US, coriander is a seed, usually ground for a spice. The leaves and stem, we call cilantro, popular in Latin-American dishes.

  15. Nancy 3 October 2020

    yummy thai recipe.