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
Total Time: 5 mins
Prep Time: 5 mins

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Ingredients

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

MARINADE

Instructions

MARINADE

  • 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.

SKILLET DIRECTIONS

  • 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.

GRILL DIRECTIONS

  • 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.

Notes

***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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56 Comments

  1. Lorelei says

    Could you tell me if I can bake these in the oven as it’s easier if you’re having guests. Also what temperature would I bake them.
    Thank you.

    • Jen says

      Yes! Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 17-22 minutes or until your chicken thighs reach 170-175 degrees F on an instant read thermometer.

  2. Chris says

    This recipe sounds delicious! Is it possible to use dried lemongrass? If so, how?

    Thanks.

    • Jen says

      Hi Chris, in theory, you should be able to substitute 1 teaspoon ground for one stalk of fresh lemongrass, so 1 TBS in this recipe. Please let me know how it turns out!

  3. Porscha says

    Our new favourite meal.
    This recipe is soooooo delicious.
    We found it best doing it in the oven. Trying it on the BBQ next

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Porscha, I’m love hearing this recipe is repeat fav!

  4. Heather Bart says

    Hello! Could I use lemongrass paste instead of stalk or ground?

    • Jen says

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

  5. Hannah says

    Absolutely delicious! Thank you for a quick and easy recipe, I will definitely be adding it to our regular rotation.

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Hannah, I’m so pleased it will be on repeat!

  6. Kathy Hoos says

    I made the Lemongrass Chicken tonight!! It was delicious! I used lemon grass paste 3 TBS. And let it marinade for about 5 hours. My husband loved it!!
    Thank you!!

    • Jen says

      You’re so welcome Kathy, I’m so pleased it was a hit!

  7. Jodi says

    I was a little intimidated by the long list of ingredients because I have a picky daughter, but even she loves everything on your site that we have tried so far. This chicken is no exception! It comes out so juicy and flavorful. My family loves it so much that I planted lemongrass in the garden this summer so we could prepare it more often! Thanks for the great recipes!

    • Jen says

      I’m so pleased this lemongrass chicken was a huge success! That is commitment/the ultimate compliment when you plan on growing your own lemongrass next summer – thank you!

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