Lemongrass Chicken

Juicy, fragrant Lemongrass Chicken infused with a dynamic marinade is stand-alone-delicious but also makes killer salads, wraps and zoodle/quinoa/rice bowls!

Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken is not only marinated with lemongrass but red curry paste, Asian sweet chili sauce, garlic, ginger, basil, soy sauce and fish sauce for a tantalizing complex, can’t-stop-eating chicken!  Once the marinating is complete, this chicken can be on your table in less than 15 minutes!

up close of lemongrass chicken with cilantro garnish

I am so in love with Asian cuisine from my Pad Thai to my Tandoori Chicken to my Panang Curry.  I actually have to pace my recipes so you don’t only get Asian recipes in your inbox!  Case in point, I’ve already made two more recipes with this Lemongrass Chicken to share with you because I am obsesssssssssed.

This Lemongrass Chicken is everything.  I mean, just look at the marinade ingredients.  I honestly don’t know if it gets any better and it’s so easy!  Just marinate chicken, cook/grill and eat!  Which makes this Lemongrass Chicken perfect for back-to-school hectic weeknight dinners when you don’t feel like cooking but tastes restaurant delicious.  Gotta love the magic of marinades.

showing how to serve lemongrass chicken as salad with noodles, peas, carrots

What Does Lemongrass Chicken Taste Like?

If you’ve never cooked with lemongrass before, don’t be intimidated!  It is easy to use and adds a complex slightly sweet, pungent, and lemony taste.  This Lemongrass Chicken is tangy, the perfect combo of sweet and sour with hints of lemon and herbs.   You can make it as spicy as you like with 1 teaspoon Asian chili sauce being very mild and going up from there.


far away view of pile of lemongrass chicken with cilantro and lime on a cutting board

What is Lemongrass?

Lemongrass lives up to its name – it is perennial grass that grows in tropical climates with a pungent, lemony taste. It is widely used in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine and as a medicinal herb in India.

Lemongrass grows in clusters and can reach anywhere between six to ten feet in height but is chopped and sold in about 18” stalks.  A stalk of lemongrass consists of a few layers of tough outer husks and a softer white core.

The tender white core is traditionally chopped or ground for marinades (like in our Lemongrass Chicken), curries or stir fries.  The stalk of lemongrass can also be bruised to release its flavor and added to stews and soups like in my Tom Kha Gai Soup.  Lemongrass can also be dried and powdered.

showing how to make lemongrass chicken by chopping lemongrass

Where Can I Buy Lemongrass?

As the name Lemongrass Chicken implies – you need lemongrass for this recipe!  Lemongrass can be found at Asian markets and often in the produce section of your grocery store. If your grocery store doesn’t have it, then specialty stores such as Sprouts and Whole Foods will carry it.  If you don’t spot it right away, make sure you ask someone because it is fairly common and probably hiding somewhere.

How to Choose Lemongrass

Lemongrass Chicken is only as good as your lemongrass!  When selecting lemongrass at the store, look for stalks that are firm but slightly pliable rather than soft and rubbery or dried out and brittle.  Look for stalks that transition from pale yellow at the base to bright green in the husks and avoid stalks with leaves that are starting to brown.

top view of lemongrass chicken on a cutting board

How do you make lemongrass chicken?

Lemongrass Chicken is very, very simple to make.  We are really just whisking together a bunch of marinade ingredients.  The only question you might have is how to prep your lemongrass which I’ve detailed below:

  • Trim Lemongrass. Trim the end off of the lemongrass and remove the tough outer husks – about 2-3 layers until you reach layers where the bottom is white and tender.
  • Chop lemongrass. Chop the white bottom section of lemongrass up until it gets tough – about the bottom third/5” of the lemongrass stalk.
  • Chop some more. After chopping the lemongrass off the stalk- chop some more so it’s chopped and not left in round sections.  You don’t need to worry about finely dicing though because we want the pieces large enough to pick out once cooked if needed.  I didn’t have to do this as all my lemongrass came off as I cooked my chicken.
  • Whisk marinade together. Add all of the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl or Ziploc bag (whatever you are going to marinate your chicken in).

showing how to make lemongrass chicken by whisking together marinade of lemongrass, garlic, ginger, shallots, fish sauce, soy sauce

  • Pound Chicken. Pounding chicken to an even thickens not only helps tenderize the chicken but ensures the chicken cooks evenly. Even cooking eliminates dryness caused from overcooking the chicken in order to make sure the thickest part is cooked at the peril of the thinnest.
  • Add chicken to marinade. Add chicken and massage marinade into chicken so it’s evenly coated.
  • Marinate.  Marinate Lemongrass Chicken 30 minutes at room temperature up to 24 in the refrigerator – the longer the better!
  • Let chicken rest.  Let your chicken sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes before cooking so it will cook more evenly.
  • Cook.  You can grill or cook this Lemongrass Chicken on the stovetop per recipe instructions, both work fabulously well.

showing how to make lemongrass chicken by marinating chicken in a glass bowl

Lemongrass Chicken Breasts

I know many of you are going to ask if you can use chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs for this Lemongrass Chicken – and the answer is yes!  I chose chicken thighs because they are more commonly used in authentic Lemongrass Chicken, are inherently juicier and reheat better but chicken breasts will still work.

If you choose to use chicken breasts then I would pound the to an even thickness before marinating.  If your chicken breasts are extra large, then slice them through the equator to create fillets.

up close top view of a piece of lemongrass chicken cooked in the skillet

How to Serve Lemongrass Chicken

Lemongrass Chicken is divine just with a hot side of rice, zoodles or cauliflower rice and some stir fried or fresh veggies.  It would also be delicious in a wrap, or on top of a salad.

You can also make a Lemongrass Chicken Stir Fry by slicing your chicken before you marinate it.  If you do this, then I wouldn’t marinate the chicken longer than 8 hours.

But my favorite way to serve Lemongrass Chicken is in my Lemongrass Chicken Rice Bowls and Vietnamese Noodle Bowls – coming soon!

Looking for more Asian favorites?


slices of Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken on a cutting board

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show how to serve lemongrass chicken in rice bowl with pineapple, cabbage and carrots

up close top view of a piece of lemongrass chicken cooked in the skillet

Lemongrass Chicken

Juicy, fragrant Lemongrass Chicken infused with a dynamic marinade is stand-alone-delicious but also makes killer salads, wraps and zoodle/quinoa/rice bowls! Once the marinating is complete, this chicken can be on your table in less than 15 minutes!
Servings: 6 -8 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes


  • 2- 2 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs pounded to an even thickness
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil




  • Whisk together all of the marinade ingredients in a large bowl or Ziploc bag (whatever you are going to marinate your chicken in). *Reserve 3 tablespoons if making Vietnamese Noodle Bowls Recipe.* Add chicken to marinade and turn to evenly coat. Marinate 30 minutes at room temperature up to 24 in the refrigerator.


  • If chicken has been refrigerated, let sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes (time permitting).
  • Heat a large skillet over medium high heat (you may need to work in batches). Remove chicken from marinade and let excess marinade drip off. Add chicken and cook, undisturbed for 3-4 minutes, or until nicely browned on one side. Turn chicken over, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Cook approximately 3-5 more minutes (depending on thickness of chicken), or until chicken is cooked through. Let chicken rest 5 minutes before slicing.


  • If chicken has been refrigerated, let sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes (time permitting).
  • Grease and preheat the grill to medium heat, 375-450°F. Remove chicken from marinade and let excess marinade drip off. Grill chicken undisturbed for 5-7 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked through. (An inserted thermometer should read 165 degrees F.) Let chicken rest 5 minutes before slicing.


***Lemongrass can be found in the produce section of your grocery store. If you grocery store doesn’t have it, then specialty stores such as Sprouts and Whole Foods will carry it.  If you can’t find it, make sure you ask someone!
***To prepare lemongrass, remove outer tough layers  until you reach layers where the bottom of the stalk is white and soft.  Chop white bottom section of lemon grass up until it gets tough – about the bottom third of the lemongrass stalk.  2 stalks of lemon grass should yield approximately 3 tablespoons. Don't chop the lemongrass too fine because you want to easily be able to brush it off your cooked chicken - we want the flavor it imparts the marinade- not the texture.

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Reader Interactions

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  1. Kara says

    I can’t tell you how much I love all your recipes, especially your chicken marinades! Your Greek chicken, buffalo chicken and chipotle chicken are all on heavy repeat over here. Thank you for making food with flavor!! I can’t wait to try this chicken!

    • Jen says

      You made my day Kara, thank you so much! I’m so happy you’re loving my chicken marinade recipes! The worst insult someone could give me is to say my recipes are bland – haha – so I’m glad you appreciate flavor! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment!

  2. mary beth says

    This looks so flavorful. I thinking of marinating whole chicken thighs (bone in) then baking them. Do you think it would be equally good? Thank you, Mary Beth

    • Jen says

      YES! I think that would be fabulous!

    • Sher Maryn LeBay says

      This is a very flavorful dish and yes, I cut up a whole chicken and marinated it overnight. I eliminated the garlic because I try to eat low FODMAP foods, and garlic shows up in the chili paste I use. I also baked it on parchment paper. Anyway Jen, great recipe. I am using your tandori marinade on another cut up whole chicken tonight. Many thanks!

      • Jen says

        mmmmm, a whole chicken sounds fantastic, love that idea! I hope you love the tandoori chicken marinade just as much!

  3. Carol F. says

    I love your recipes!!! Thank you for the tasty, healthy recipes. One thing I have noticed is that your recipe printouts do not have your name Carlsbad Cravings on them. You should get credit!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Carol! That is so odd, mine says it at the top and bottom of the page when I push the print icon – is that the button you are using?

  4. Tania says

    Love this! lemongrass is amazing with chicken! Thank you for sharing this!

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome! I hope you can try it soon!

  5. Jaimie says

    I made this yesterday and it was delicious….better than the Thai restaurant! I baked the thighs in the oven for 20 minutes and they were really juicy when served over coconut jasmine rice. Thanks for the tip on preparing the fresh lemongrass too.

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment Jaimie! I’m thrilled the Lemongrass Chicken was a hit and they sound delicious with coconut jasmine rice!

  6. stephanie says


    hoping to make this for the family so don’t want it to be spicy! Just wondering if I omit the sambal olek will it reduce the flavour somehow?

    • Jen says

      Hi Stephanie, I wouldn’t omit the chili sauce – it makes it flavorful but not spicy. If you are really concerned then you can reduce the amount but yes, omitting it will reduce the flavor.

  7. laura power says

    Did you reserve some of the lemon grass chicken marinade to serve over your noodle bowls ? Or did you just serve the lemon grass chicken over rice noodles and veggies ?

    • Jen says

      Hi Laura, I made a separate dressing using some of the reserved marinade. I will post that full recipe this week!

  8. Deb Blecha says

    I ended up fusing the chicken, the Vietnamese noodle, and the chicken pad Thai recipes.. there was no lemongrass in my town, so found a lemongrass marinade, and I was out of basil, so added a heaping tablespoon of basil pesto. The finished product was a super flavorful delicious stir fry (I used part of a bag of broccoli slaw, and a handful of matchstick carrots with a sliced red pepper and sweet onion). Not sure if I will ever be able to recreate, but your recipes were the base of a freaking fantastic meal.
    P.S. I started the butternut, sweet potato soup, but was too full to finish or eat it. It will be on the table with my second round of Vietnamese stir fry for tonight’s dinner. Thank you as always.

    • Jen says

      Thanks for your awesome comment Deb, your fusion sounds absolutely fantastic!

  9. Mariah says

    Hello! I am wondering if you think this could work with pork instead of chicken? What cut of pork do you think would work best?

    • Jen says

      Absolutely! I would use sliced pork tenderloin. Enjoy!

  10. Mariah says

    Thanks! We made pork noodle bowls tonight and they were great!

    • Jen says

      This marinade sounds delicious on pork – yum!

  11. Corinne says

    This is hands-down the best marinade EVER!! I Meade it with pork tenderloins, beef, chicken and each time the BBQ’s at my house are a success!! I added “extra heat” with some sriracha and one chopped Thai chili, and a bunch of fresh Thai basil. This last ingredient adds extra sweetness that marries well with the head of the chillies!
    Thanks for a great recipe and hugs from Berlin, Germany

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much for your comment Corinne! That is awesome you’ve used this lemongrass marinade on so many types of proteins and I love your addition of heat and Thai basil – yum!

  12. WILLIAM G KLETT says

    Thank you for this delicious looking recipe! My local Vietnamese restaurant closed last summer and I was addicted to their Lemongrass Chicken. Now I have something to look forward to.

    • Jen says

      You’re so welcome William! I hope this lemongrass chicken lives up to your favorite restaurant!

  13. Mav says

    Hi! I’m wondering if I can use this marinate and maybe make a curry? Perhaps add some chicken stock of water for consistency? Looks delicious and would love to try it!

    • Jen says

      Yes, I think it would be delicious! It is very similar to my other curry recipes with a base of coconut milk. Please let me know how it turns out!

  14. Yolanda says

    Hi, not sure if my other question posted (I don’t see it) but it was about temp to cook in the oven. Well I figured that out. New question is can you freeze the cooked chicken?

    • Jen says

      Hi Yolanda, yes I just saw your other question- sorry I didn’t get to it in time! Yes, you can freeze the cooked chicken for up to three months.

  15. Crissy says

    Hi! I’m trying to make this recipe but don’t have Sambal Olek. Would the korean red paste or Chinese chili bean paste be a good substitute?

    • Jen says

      Yes, the Korean paste would be great!

  16. Chin says

    Hi, I don’t have Thai red curry paste. Is there substitute? Or can I omit it?

    • Jen says

      Unfortunately there isn’t a good substitute in this recipe.

  17. Natalie Morine says

    Absolutely delish recipe..salty, sweet & spicy!! So pleased to have found you..Many thanks from NZ..

    • Jen says

      You’re so welcome Natale! Welcome to my site, I hope you find many favorites here!

  18. jennifer says

    I absolutely LOVED this chicken!! I did not make it into the bowl this time, but just made it with bok choy and rice. It was a huge hit, very flavourful even though I only had time to marinade it for 6 hours. Thanks for posting

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Jennifer! I love hearing this was a hit!

  19. Winnie says


    I have a question. I can’t buy fresh lemongrass where I live but I have the lemongrass paste in a tube. How much would you say I can use as a substitute? Thanks!

    • Jen says

      Hi Winnie, I would use 2 tablespoons lemongrass paste. Good luck!