Juicy caramelized chicken infused with delicate, zingy, and tangy lemongrass. It’s so easy to fall in love with this fresh and healthy grilled lemongrass chicken dish because it can be cooked up with minimal effort!
Throw together a few ingredients into a Ziplock, marinate for an hour or overnight, then grill for a few minutes. Can it get easier than that?
How to Prepare Lemongrass
Lemongrass stalks can typically be found at Asian markets, though it’s starting to become more broadly accessible.
The first thing to know is that the fibers of the lemongrass can be quite tough. It can be finely minced so it’s easily edible. Alternatively, the stalks can also be bruised to break up the fibers and release its flavor when cooked or in a marinade, then removed when serving. The latter is the method we’ll use.
To prepare the lemongrass, you’ll want to remove the bottom bulb and thin leaves at the top. Then peel off the tough outer leaves until you have a tender white and light green stalk. Break up the lemongrass by pounding it with a pestle or the back of your knife. Once you see the stringy center and smell the lemony, minty fragrance, add it to your marinade.
Favorite Ways of Eating Grilled Lemongrass Chicken
My favorite way of having grilled lemongrass chicken is in a vermicelli bowl with chewy noodles and fresh veggies! But there’s so much flavor from the grilled sugar caramelizing the chicken and subtle brightness from the lemongrass, this would go so well simply with rice or veggies too!
Try out this recipe and let me know in the comments section what you decided to pair your lemongrass chicken with!
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Grilled Lemongrass Chicken
- 2 stalks lemongrass* white parts only, minced (see notes below)
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 - 3 Thai chilies* sliced, adjust to spice level
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil*
- 1 pound skinless boneless chicken thighs
- In a mortar and pestle or food processor, grind together the minced lemongrass, garlic, and Thai chilies until it's a rough paste. Add the sugar and continue to grind until it's a fine paste.
- Transfer to a large ziplock or airtight container, then stir in the remaining marinade ingredients until the sugar has dissolved. Coat the chicken well in the marinade and let it marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour up to 48 hours.
- Heat a lightly oiled large skillet or cast iron on medium heat. Sear and cook the chicken for about 7 minutes, or until caramelized and cooked through, flipping halfway through. (You can also check above for alternative cooking methods.)
- Remove them from the pan and allow them to rest for about 5 minutes to keep them nice and juicy. Enjoy with rice, noodles, or in a vermicelli bowl!
- Lemongrass: Lemongrass is typically sold at Asian markets and should look fresh without any dry edges. To prep the lemongrass, peel off the tough outer layers to reveal the softer, fragrant, white bottom part - about the bottom third of the stalk. Mince the white part of the stalk then transfer it to a mortar and pestle or food processor to grind for the marinade.
- Fish Sauce: This adds incredible depth and salty flavor! Don't worry, it's not fishy when combined with the other ingredients. Fish sauce can be easily found at local Asian markets.
- Neutral Oil: This helps retain moisture in the chicken. Using a neutral oil, such as grapeseed, canola, or vegetable oil) ensures it doesn't alter the flavor of the rest of the marinade.
- Thai Chilies: They are very spicy, so adjust to your spice level.
- Alternative Cooking Methods:
- Air-Fryer: Pre-heat the air fryer to 400 degrees F. Gently pat dry any excess moisture on the chicken without removing the bits of lemongrass, garlic, and chilies. Place on a lightly oiled air fryer rack and cook for 7 - 10 minutes, or until charred and cooked through.
- Oven: Broil chicken in an even layer on the top rack of the oven. Don't let the chicken overlap, otherwise, they won't get even browning. Focus on browning the chicken on one side. If you try flipping halfway through, the chicken won't have enough time to caramelize on either side.
- Make-Ahead & Storage: Marinate chicken up to 48 hours before cooking and keep it in the fridge in an airtight container until you're ready to cook. Store leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and provided for informational purposes. Nutrition may vary based on product availability, methods of preparation, origin, and freshness of ingredients, etc. For the most accurate nutritional information, use your preferred nutrition calculator, actual ingredients, and quantities used for the recipe. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian if more precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.