Vietnamese Grilled Chicken

I love this Vietnamese grilled chicken straight off the grill, in Pho, in rice bowls or in salads. The marinade permeates the chicken to make it succulent, distinctive and delicious.

The grilled chicken blends slightly sweet, tangy, salty and savory flavors from the marinade of ginger, garlic, soy, lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar and cilantro. You can make it as hot as you like with chili flakes.

Grilled Vietnamese Chicken with grilled green onion

For those who either can’t eat fish sauce for dietary reasons or are a bit queasy about it (I used to be until recently), check out some substitutes below under Tailor To Your Taste.

I strongly recommend boneless chicken thighs because they are juicier, more flavorful and they are far less likely to dry out than breasts. I know many, however, who just won’t hear of eating thighs (despite a lot of effort on my part to change their minds), so go ahead, and use boneless breasts. If you take care not to overcook them, they’ll be great too.

The ingredients for this recipe can be found in the Asian cuisine section of most mainstream grocery stores or in your local Asian market if you have one nearby. 

What to serve with the Vietnamese chicken

I like to serve the chicken over white rice with a Thai mango salad

For a lower calorie lighter meal, try serving the grilled chicken on this Salad with Grilled Vegetables and Quinoa, over Lemon Herb Cauliflower ‘Rice’ stir fry, in a Quick Chicken Pho (recipe by Simply Recipes) or with Roasted Bok Choy and Broccoli. 


Tailor To Your Taste

Here are several variations and substitutes you can use for this Vietnamese chicken. 

Substitutes for Fish Sauce

  • Fish sauce is made of fermented fish and shellfish mixed with salt. It doesn’t taste like fish when mixed in a sauce, if you’re wondering.  If you can’t eat it or don’t want to, here are some substitutes you can use:
    • Worcestershire (note this has anchovies in it). Use only 1 -1 1/2 teaspoons. 
    • Soy sauce (but it won’t have the same depth of taste).
    • Recipe for Vegan Fish Sauce from Food52.
    • Recipe for Vegetarian Fish Sauce using mushrooms by Cook’s Illustrated.

Use the Vietnamese chicken marinade as a sauce

  • If you like, reserve the marinade and turn it into a sauce by boiling or microwaving it for 2 minutes. Drizzle over the grilled chicken or use it as a dipping sauce. T
  • he sauce is particularly good when serving with rice.


  • If you don’t like cilantro, you can use Italian parsley instead.

No grill?

  • No problem. You can bake the boneless chicken thighs in the oven. Instructions are in the recipe notes. 


  • Instead of fresh garlic and ginger, use the frozen cubes, purees in a jar or powder versions (1 garlic clove = 1/4 tsp garlic powder).

Make Ahead 

  • The Vietnamese chicken can be marinated a day ahead, then grilled for 6-10 minutes before serving.
  • The cooked chicken is also delicious cold or at room temperature. Use the boiled marinade as a dipping sauce if you like.

Other easy grilled chicken recipes you might like

How to make Vietnamese grilled chicken

thighs, ginger, garlic, soy, fish sauce, lime oil, cilantro, red flakes
Ingredients: Chicken, ginger, brown sugar, fish sauce, cilantro, soy, lime, garlic, chili flakes, oil
Pound thighs to even thickness. I use the heel of my hand to do it.
marinade in measuring cup
Whisk together Vietnamese chicken marinade ingredients in a small bowl or measuring cup.
chicken marinating in ziploc
Marinate chicken for 30 minutes or overnight in the Vietnamese chicken marinade
chicken on grill
Grill thighs 3-4 minutes per side on medium-high heat. I like to grill green onions along side the chicken.
grilled vietnamese chicken on plate with sauce
Drizzle chicken with marinade if desired or used the marinade as a dipping sauce. It must be boiled for 2 minutes to eliminate impurities. 

Grilled Vietnamese Chicken with grilled green onion on plate pp

grilled chicken thighs on white plate with green onions
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4.84 from 103 votes

Grilled Vietnamese Chicken

I love this Grilled Vietnamese Chicken in Pho, on rice or in salads. The marinade permeates the chicken to make it succulent and delicious.
Prep Time6 minutes
Cook Time8 minutes
Marinating time30 minutes
Total Time44 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Servings: 2 -3


  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs (or breasts)
  • garnish (optional) - 2-3 green onions

Vietnamese Chicken Marinade

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon lime juice (about 1 small lime)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon neutral or vegetable oil (vegetable, canola, olive oil-but not extra virgin)
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce (low sodium is fine)
  • 1/2 tablespoon Fish sauce (Note 1)
  • 2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon minced garlic (2 garlic cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger - or more if you like (or pinch of ground ginger)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes (medium to medium-mild heat)
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro (and more for garnish if desired)


  • PREPARE CHICKEN: Trim larger pieces of fat from chicken (don't worry about smaller ones - they'll burn off). Pound chicken to even thickness for even cooking. I use the bottom of a pot or heal of my hand.
  • MARINATE CHICKEN: Place all marinade ingredients in a ziploc bag or sealed container. Mix or squish bag to combine well. Add chicken, Seal bag/container and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes or overnight in fridge.
  • HEAT GRILL to medium-high. Oil grill with paper towel or spray.
  • GRILL CHICKEN AND SERVE: Remove chicken from marinade (reserve marinade for sauce if desired Note 2). If using low salt soy sauce, lightly sprinkle chicken with salt. Grill chicken for 3-5 minutes per side, depending on thickness of chicken. Instant thermometer should read 160F. Add green onions for last 2-3 minutes if using. Transfer chicken to plate. Cover loosely with foil and let rest 5 minutes. Garnish with green onions and chopped fresh cilantro if desired. Note 3 to bake.


Recipe Notes

  1. Substitutes for Fish Sauce. Fish sauce is made of fermented fish and shelfish mixed with salt, If you can't eat it or don't want to, here are some substitutes you can use:
    • Worcestershire (note this has anchovies in it). Use only 1 -1 1/2 teaspoons. 
    • Soy sauce (but it won't have the same depth of taste).
    • Recipe for Vegan Fish Sauce from Food52.
    • Recipe for Vegetarian Fish Sauce using mushrooms by Cook's Illustrated. 
  2. To make sauce from marinade: While chicken is resting, boil reserved marinade in small microwave safe measuring cup or bowl for 90 seconds. Or boil in small pot on stove. This will remove any bacteria. Drizzle over chicken or use as a dipping sauce. 
  3. To bake the Vietnamese chicken (instead of gas grill), heat oven to 425F/218C, place chicken on pan lined with parchment (or even better, on a wire rack over the pan), then bake for 15-20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches says 160F/71C with an instant read thermometer. Let chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving.
  4. Make Ahead: 
    • The chicken can be marinated a day ahead, then grilled for 6-10 minutes before serving.
    • The cooked chicken is also delicious cold or at room temperature. Use the marinade (cooked) as a dipping sauce if you like.
Nutrition values are estimates based on chicken thighs (about 1/2 lb per person). Chicken breasts would have less calories and fat. 


Calories: 429kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 46g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 215mg | Sodium: 1569mg | Potassium: 594mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 129IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?We'd love you to rate it above under 'rate this recipe' or in the comment section below. Thanks!

The marinade for this chicken is loosely adapted from recipes by Serious Eats and Food & Wine. 



4.84 from 103 votes (81 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    This is a reliable recipe. I make something very similar to this with grilled chicken wings. Sometimes I throw in a little oyster sauce to get the chicken a little charred and sticky and then add crushed unsalted roasted peanuts. Make it with sticky rice and papaya or cucumber Lao style salad! You can’t go wrong!!

  2. 5 stars
    I added double the fish sause by accident but it was so good I would make it again just like that. I may try this marinade with pork loin. My husband loved this to!

  3. 5 stars
    What a great website. I hustled happened across it by accident and so happy I did. Made this chicken and followed the recipe exactly…except for the cilantro, I was out! So flavorful and my husband loved the simple quick meal.

  4. 5 stars
    I made this recipe today my husband and I absolutely love it !!! I brined my chicken for an hour with salt water and bay leaves before adding it to the marinade and have it sit for 2 hours before cooking it!

  5. 5 stars
    This was absolutely amazing! I made this chicken to put on a Vietnamese vermicelli salad with tons of fresh herbs and veggies. I will definitely make this again and again!! So delicious!

  6. I was really hoping for a great recipe after reading g the wonderful comments. My experience was different unfortunately. Had every ingredient listed on hand including boneless chicken thighs. In fairness I tried the 425 degrees in the oven. The. Hi Jen was certainly edible but we all agreed too many others out their to get stuck on a recipe that didn’t make our taste buds sing: (

    1. So sorry to hear the recipe didn’t meet your expectations Brad. Everyone’s tastes are unique, so I would encourage you to play around with the ingredients with more of less of what you like since, as you said, it’s a popular recipe> But ultimately, it’s up to you. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  7. 5 stars
    This was a hit! I’m not even sure if they have fish sauce in my country of residence, but the Worcester worked well anyways. I served it with salad and some tamarind juice I’d made earlier. Easy and tasty!

    1. Glad you like the recipe Kelly. And thanks for sharing that the Worcestershire worked well as a substitute for the fish sauce. I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment.

  8. 5 stars
    This dish was a huge hit. I used the worcester sauce but otherwise followed the recipe. Definitely save and reduce the marinade, sooo good! I doubled the recipe for dinner and leftovers were gone before lunch the next day. Definitely adding to the rotation.

  9. 5 stars
    Made this without the ginger or cilantro (forgot to buy) and substituted white for brown sugar and it was still delicious. Followed instructions on reducing marinade for a glaze and was amazed how much it added. Super easy and very tasty recipe. Definitely going into the rotation.