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grilled chicken thighs on white plate with green onions
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4.77 from 60 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 (change as needed): 2 -3
Author: Cheryl


  • 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.


  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