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Grilled Vietnamese Chicken

I love this Grilled Vietnamese Chicken in Pho, in rice/noodle 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, 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 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.

For a lower calorie lighter meal, try serving the grilled Vietnamese chicken on 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. It’s also perfect paired with Jasmine rice.

 

Tailor To Your Taste

  • 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.
  • Drizzle with the Vietnamese chicken marinade: 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. The sauce is particularly good when serving with rice.
  • Herbs: If you don’t like cilantro, you can use Italian parsley instead.

Shortcuts

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

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.

Other easy grilled chicken recipes you might like

How to make this Vietnamese grilled chicken recipe

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
pounded-chicken-thighs
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.
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.
grilled vietnamese chicken on plate with sauce
Drizzle chicken with cooked marinade if desired

Grilled Vietnamese Chicken with grilled green onion on plate pp

Grilled Vietnamese Chicken with grilled green onion on plate ff
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4.75 from 31 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 mins
Cook Time8 mins
Marinating time30 mins
Total Time44 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Servings: 2 -3
Author: Cheryl

Ingredients

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

Vietnamese Chicken Marinade

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

Instructions

  • 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 cilantro if desired.

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. 
  3. 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. 

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Grilled Vietnamese Chicken
Amount Per Serving
Calories 429 Calories from Fat 180
% Daily Value*
Fat 20g31%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Cholesterol 215mg72%
Sodium 1569mg68%
Potassium 594mg17%
Carbohydrates 15g5%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 12g13%
Protein 46g92%
Vitamin A 129IU3%
Vitamin C 4mg5%
Calcium 35mg4%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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. 

 

 

13 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This has been my “Go To” Asian chicken recipe ever since I discovered it here! I always have the ingredients on hand so that makes it even easier. Thank you for sharing !!

    1. Hi Maddy, I don’t use an air fryer, but I looked it up and you can preheat to 350F, put the boneless thighs in for 10 minutes, flip them over and cook another 10-12 minutes to 160F. Let them rest a bit and they should rise to 165F. Hope that helps.

  2. 5 stars
    One of the best chicken marinades I’ve ever used.
    This recipe definitely finds it’s way to the top of my “go-to” list.

  3. 5 stars
    My kids made it for us and I loved it I am making it for company tomorrow . I am hoping for leftovers this time.

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