Thai Chicken is an easy, healthy, juicy, fragrant explosion of exotic flavors that will have you drooling!
This Thai Chicken is an easy marinate-and cook recipe that’s 5-star taste bud heaven. It’s marinated in Thai basil, cilantro, lemongrass, fish sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic and maple for a tantalizing, complex, can’t-stop-eating chicken laced with savory, slightly sweet, sour, citrusy, herbaceous, umami notes. Once the marinating is complete, this Thai Chicken can be on your table in less than 15 minutes cooked on the grill, stovetop or in the oven. Serve the chicken up with a side of pickled veggies and coconut rice or pineapple rice or in salads, wraps, or sandwiches! This Thai Chicken recipe is excellent for meal prep, make ahead lunch/dinners, entertaining and leftovers – all instructions included.
Thai Chicken, in all its forms, is one of my all-time favorite cuisines because of the exciting layers of flavor! If you love Thai food, don’t miss crazy popular Thai Red Curry Chicken as well as Lemongrass Chicken, Banh Mi Sandwiches, Coconut Chicken, Green Curry Chicken, Yellow Curry Chicken and Thai Basil Chicken and Thai Basil Beef.
Why you’ll love this thai chicken recipe
This recipe is unabashedly flavorful. Just look at the marinade ingredients! It’s an exciting, harmonious, full sensory cocktail of savory, slightly sweet, sour, citrusy, herbaceous, umami packed goodness AKA this recipe has it all.
This Thai Chicken is so easy. Marinate the chicken, cook/grill and eat! It’s the perfect meal for busy nights or entertaining. Just slap your chicken on the grill when it’s “go time” and in minutes, you’ll have tender, juicy, intoxicatingly delicious chicken.
It’s guilt free delicious. This Thai Chicken recipe is dripping with flavor and packed with protein!
It can be cooked using any method year-round. This recipe is guaranteed to become a favorite so I’ve also included instructions for grilling, baking and pan searing.
It’s so versatile and great for meal prep. Make it tangier, spicier, less spicy, etc. Serve the chicken plain with rice and veggies, in salads, bowls, wraps, etc. I love serving it countless ways throughout the week!
Thai Chicken Recipe Ingredients
This Thai Chicken recipe features a blend-together marinade with barely any chopping. So, while the ingredient list may seem a bit lengthy, once you have everything gathered, it comes together in minutes! Let’s take a closer look at what you will need (recipe measurements in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):
- Chicken: I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but any cut of chicken may be used.
- Thai basil: Sweet or Italian basil is a good substitute, or 1 teaspoon dried basil.
- Cilantro: If you don’t like cilantro or don’t have it on hand, it’s okay to skip. Try adding 1 teaspoon ground coriander instead.
- Toasted sesame oil: Regular sesame oil may be used, but again, the depth of flavor won’t be there.
- Sambal oelek: Use another spicy Asian chili sauce if desired.
- Lemongrass: 1 tablespoon lemongrass paste. In a pinch you can use 1 tablespoon lemon zest.
- Oyster sauce: Nothing provides the rich depth of oyster sauce, but you swap it for fish sauce in this recipe. Note that I have tried this recipe with all fish sauce and it wasn’t quite as good.
How to Work with Lemongrass
How do I choose 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.
How do I prepare lemongrass?
Chop off the bottom of the stalk, remove the tough outer husks, about 2-3 layers, until you reach the more pliable layers where the bottom is white and tender. Next, chop sections of the lemongrass starting at the bottom up until it gets tough – about the bottom third/5” of the lemongrass stalk. Discard the rest of the stalk or use it soup.
How can I substitute lemongrass with lemongrass paste?
Substitute lemongrass paste by using 1-2 teaspoons of paste for every 1 stalk of lemongrass. For this recipe you will need 1 tablespoon lemongrass paste.
How do I use Lemongrass?
Looking for more ways to use lemongrass? The tender white core is traditionally chopped or ground for marinades like this one or Lemongrass Chicken, curries or stir fries. The stalk of lemongrass is bruised then used to release its flavor in soups like Tom Kha Gai or Tom Yum, stews, and marinades.
How to Make Thai Chicken
The Thai chicken is so easy to prepare, but you MUST let the chicken rest in the marinade to soak up all the nuanced Thai flavors. Here’s an overview of how the marinade and chicken are prepared. (Full recipe in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):
- Step 1: Make the marinade: Blend the marinade ingredients together in a high powered blender. If you don’t have a high powered blender, then dice the ingredients before adding to your blender.
- Step 2: Marinate the chicken: Add the chicken to the marinade and turn to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours (the longer the better!).
- Step 3: Bring chicken to room temperature: When ready to cook, remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let it rest 20-30 minutes before cooking.
- Step 4: Cook the chicken on the grill, stovetop or in the oven.
How to Cook Thai Chicken (3 Ways!)
You can either grill, bake or pan-sear the Thai Chicken – all methods result in ultra-juicy, flavorful chicken so pick whichever cooking method is best for you, although we love the added char and easy cleanup of the grill! The following instructions are for boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs:
Option 1: Grilled THAI Chicken
1. Preheat your grill to 400 degrees F with the lid closed, then clean and grease the grill grates.
2. Grill the chicken, undisturbed, with the lid closed for 5 to 7 minutes per side, or until it’s cooked through.
Option 2: PAN SEARED Thai Chicken
1. Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet or indoor grill pan over medium-high heat.
2. Add the chicken and cook, undisturbed, for 3-4 minutes, or until deeply golden on one side.
3. Flip the chicken over, cover the pan, and reduce the heat to medium.
Cook for approximately 5 to 7 more minutes (depending on the thickness of the chicken).
Option 3: baked Thai Chicken
For chicken breasts: Bake chicken in a lightly greased baking dish at 400 degrees F for 14 to 16 minutes (for small/medium breasts that are about 5-6 ounces), 16 to 20 minutes (for medium/large breasts that are 7 to 9 ounces), or 20 to 25 minutes (for larger breasts), or until cooked through.
For chicken thighs: Bake chicken in a lightly greased baking dish at 425 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until cooked through.
what temperature should Chicken thighs be cooked to?
Chicken thighs should be cooked to 175 degrees F and chicken breasts should be cooked to 165 degrees. Cooking dark meat to only 165 F will yield chewy, rubbery meat because it contains more connective tissue than light meat, but cooking thighs to 175 F, will yield tender, juicy meat as the collagen melts and turns to gelatin.
I recommend removing the chicken from the heat source 5 degrees under your desired temperature because the temperature will continue to rise 5 degrees once the chicken is removed from the heat (carryover).
how to check the temperature of grilled chicken
I highly recommend investing in a meat thermometer otherwise there is no accurate way to check when your chicken is cooked without slicing and losing valuable juices.
You can pick up an inexpensive instant read thermometer at the grocery store or Amazon, or I am obsessed with this digital probe thermometer – you will never overcook any protein again! Instant read thermometers can be temperamental, but this digital probe thermometer retrieves temperature precisely to within ±1.8°f (±1°c) and allows you to insert a probe into two pieces of chicken/any protein at a time.
FAQs About Marinating thai Chicken
Thai Chicken is best if the marinade is allowed to work its magic for at least 4-6 hours. However, the chicken can be refrigerated in the marinated for as much as 12 hours!
Yep! You can marinate the chicken for up to 12 hours, but don’t push it too much longer than that otherwise the acid in the marinade can break down the muscle fibers too much and make your chicken mushy.
No, you should NOT poke holes in the chicken before marinating. This actually drains out the valuable juices and will result in less juicy Thai Chicken. You can cut slits in thick pieces of chicken like chicken legs to reach deeper into the protein, but never poke holes.
I prefer food-safe sealable plastic bags such as freezer Ziploc bags. They really allow the marinade to envelop the chicken vs. a dish in which the marinade might not cover all of it. When using a plastic bag, make sure to squeeze out excess air before sealing then roll up the bag so the chicken is nice and snug. Sealable bags are also great for easy cleanup – just toss them!
You may also use food grade plastic, stainless steel, or glass containers and cover with plastic wrap if they don’t have a lid. If you marinate the chicken in a shallow dish, make sure to flip the chicken over occasionally so it marinates evenly.
Always marinate chicken for a prolonged period of time covered in the refrigerator and not at room temperature to avoid food-born illness. Only remove the chicken from the fridge to the counter 30 minutes before you’re ready to grill to help bring it to room temperature so it cooks more evenly.
Yes! If you can’t get to cooking your marinating grilled chicken within 12 hours, just pop it in the freezer – another perk of using sealable plastic bags. When it’s time to cook, just thaw and cook immediately. You don’t want the chicken to marinate again or it can become mushy.
Tips for making thai Chicken Recipe
Customize the ingredients as needed: If you don’t have fresh Thai basil, cilantro, ginger and garlic – you can still make this recipe! Swap the fresh ingredients as needed for 1 tablespoon dried basil, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon ground ginger and 1 teaspoon garlic powder. Add more or less chili paste depending on how spicy you like.
Marinate the chicken: You can get away with marinating the chicken for as little as 60 minutes, but the longer you marinate the chicken, the more flavorful it will become. I recommend at least 4 hours but closer to 6 hours is ideal.
Don’t over-marinate the chicken: On the other hand, you don’t want to marinate the chicken longer than 12 hours because the acid (lime juice) can actually constrict the protein fibers and make your chicken tough and chewy.
Bring the chicken to room temperature before cooking: Transfer the marinating chicken to your kitchen counter 30 minutes before grilling, baking or pan searing. Room temperature chicken cooks more evenly and quickly, which translates into juicier chicken because there is less time for moisture to be released while cooking.
Clean your grill: You should clean your grill grates before and after grilling with a wire grill brush to remove any residue. This will help create beautiful grill marks and help prevent the Thai Chicken from sticking.
Use a hot grill (or preheated grill pan): Heat up the grill with the lid closed cranked to the maximum temperature so it can achieve temperature more quickly; plan on 10-15 minutes. Once the grill is hot, you can adjust the temperature. Don’t add the chicken until the grill reaches temperature or you won’t get those beautiful grill marks.
Flip only once using tongs: After you add the chicken breasts to the grill or grill pan, don’t touch them for a full 5 minutes. You need enough time for the chicken to sear and then they will naturally release from the grill. Once you can easily move the chicken, then you can flip it over using tongs.
Don’t overcook! Cook chicken breasts just to 160 degrees F and chicken thighs to 170 degrees then let rest for 5 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to eliminate all of the guesswork to achieve succulent, juicy chicken every time.
Let the chicken rest: Let the Thai Chicken rest for 5 minutes before slicing or chopping. This gives the juices that have pushed to the outside of the meat time to redistribute throughout the chicken. If you cut into the chicken immediately after cooking, valuable, moisture-giving juices will run out.
possible recipe variations
I don’t recommend changing up the marinade too much because it walks the tightrope of savory, salty, tangy umami pleasure. Still, you can:
- Use a different cut of chicken: I typically make this recipe with boneless thighs because the rich flavor holds its own against the strong marinade, but the Thai marinade works with any cut of chicken.
- Use a different protein: Use the marinade to flavor steak, pork, or shrimp!
- Use different or additional herbs: Fresh mint, green onions, etc.
- Make it spicy: Increase the amount of sambal oelek in the marinade, or add a pinch of red pepper flakes.
- Make it citrusy: Add extra lime juice or add lemon zest in addition to the lemongrass.
what to serve with thai Chicken
I recommend garnishing the chicken with chopped cilantro, a sprinkle of sesame seeds or chopped peanuts, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice then serving with a neutral side such as rice or noodles because the Thai Chicken is so flavorful! Here are a few options to make a complete feast:
Rice: I love serving this Thai chicken with steamed white rice, Coconut Rice, or Pineapple Rice but any rice will work. Just pop the rice in your rice cooker for a hands-off easy side or even microwave the pouches if you’re making a serving for one or meal prep.
Noodles: Rice vermicelli, ramen, soba noodles, rice noodles or even linguine are a fun way to mix things up!
Low carb: Cauliflower rice, quinoa, broccoli rice or a blend of brown rice and any of the aforementioned options. You can also use low carb noodles such as zoodles or spaghetti squash
Pickled vegetables: Quick pickling vegetables takes about 5 minutes of hands-on prep, plus 30+ minutes in the fridge to let the pickling brine work its magic. See my Banh Mi Recipe to see exactly how I do it, then use any veggies you’d like.
Appetizers: Spring Rolls, Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Pineapple Cream Cheese Wontons, Crab Rangoons, Chicken Satay, Potstickers, Pork Egg Rolls, Sesame Chicken Egg Rolls, Sweet and Sour Chicken Egg Rolls and Chinese Chicken Wings.
Soup: Tom Yum Soup, Tom Kha Gai, Laksa, Curried Butternut Squash Soup and Thai Noodle Soup.
Salad: Ramen Noodle Salad, Crunchy Asian Salad, Chinese Salad, and Asian Pineapple Salad.
Fruit: simple chopped pineapple is always an easy, welcome side or Grilled Pineapple, Summer Fruit Salad, Perfect Fruit Salad, Creamy Grape Salad, and Pina Colada Fruit Salad are also fantastic.
more ways to serve thai chicken
In addition to serving Thai Chicken with a few of your favorite sides, it can also be used in sandwiches, tacos and bowls! Here are a few ideas:
Banh Mi Sandwiches: Use this chicken instead of pork in this Banh Mi Sandwich recipe. Smear a toasted baguette with chili mayo and optional pate, pile with thinly sliced Thai chicken, tangy pickled vegetables, crisp cucumbers, spicy jalapenos and fistfuls of fresh, zesty cilantro.
Thai Chicken Rice Bowls: Use the same ingredients from above but instead of piling on a baguette, pile on hot steamed rice. Some tasty toppings include pineapple or mango, avocado, cashews/almonds or peanuts, grilled vegetables or roasted sweet potatoes. Drizzle it all with with Thai Peanut Dressing.
Thai Chicken Tacos: Load the chicken in warm flour tortillas and top with pickled vegetables and sriracha aioli or a pineapple cabbage slaw.
Thai Chicken Salad: Combine sliced chicken with sliced green cabbage, grated carrots, mango, pineapple or papaya, cilantro, chopped peanuts/almonds or cashews, green onions with Peanut Sriracha Dressing.
Can Thai Chicken Be Made in Advance?
Yes! You can either make the entire recipe as written for meal prepping, or prepare individual components of the Thai Chicken recipe:
Marinade: Blend the marinade together; store in an airtight container in the refrigerator WITHOUT the chicken for up to 2 days ahead of time.
Chicken: Cooked Thai Chicken makes fantastic meal prep or leftovers if not initially overcooked. If you are making the chicken specifically to reheat, consider chicken thighs which don’t dry out as easily when reheated.
Pickled vegetables (if using): Can be stored in the pickling liquid up to 1 week.
How to Store and Reheat Thai Chicken
Storage: Store cooked Thai Chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Microwave: Chop or slice the chicken so it reheats more evenly, then transfer a small portion to a microwave safe dish. Heat for 30 seconds, then at 15-second intervals as needed.
Oven: Transfer chicken to an oven-proof dish. Cover with foil and reheat at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes or just until warmed through.
Can Thai Chicken Be Frozen?
You can freeze the uncooked Thai Chicken in the marinade or after it’s been cooked:
Freeze chicken in marinade: Add the chicken to the marinade ingredients in a freezer-safe bag, squeeze out excess air and freeze for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to use, the chicken will marinate as you thaw the chicken in the refrigerator; cook immediately so it doesn’t marinate for too long and become mushy.
Freeze cooked Thai chicken: After you have grilled the chicken, let it cool completely then transfer it to an airtight container or plastic freezer bag and squeeze out any excess air. If you want access to individual pieces of chicken without having to thaw all of the chicken, wrap each chicken breast in plastic wrap before adding to the freezer bag. Freeze for 2 to 3 months.
Looking for more Thai Chicken recipes?
Chicken Panang Curry
Red Curry Chicken
Yellow Curry Chicken
Green Curry Chicken
Thai Coconut Curry Chicken
WANT TO TRY THIS thai chicken RECIPE?
PIN IT TO YOUR chicken, grilling, asian or thai recipe BOARD TO SAVE FOR LATER!
FIND ME ON PINTEREST FOR MORE GREAT RECIPES! I AM ALWAYS PINNING :)!
©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com
Tools Used in This Recipe
Save This Recipe To Your Recipe Box
You can now create an account on our site and save your favorite recipes all in one place!
- 2 pounds boneless chicken thighs or breasts, pounded to an even thickness
- 1/2 cup packed cilantro
- 1/3 cup Thai basil leaves (or regular basil) (may sub 1 TBS dried)
- 1 shallot, peeled, roughly chopped
- 2 stalks lemongrass – white inner part only, roughly chopped (see notes)
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup (may sub brown sugar)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar (may sub maple)
- 1 tablespoon chili paste (like sambal oelek)
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 inch ginger, peeled, rougly chopped (or 1 tsp ground)
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled, roughly chopped (or 1 teaspoons powder)
- 1/2 tsp EACH ground turmeric, Chinese 5 Spice
For serving (optional)
- Asian sweet chili sauce
- sesame seeds
- lime wedges
- Add all of the marinade ingredients to a high powered blender. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.
- Combine chicken and marinade in a large freezer bag or bowl and turn to coat. Cover and marinate for 2 to 12 hours (the longer the better).
TO GRILL CHICKEN
- Preheat grill to 400 degrees F with the lid closed, clean and grease grates.
- Grill chicken undisturbed with the lid closed for 5-7 minutes per side, until chicken is cooked through. (For chicken breasts, cook to 160 degrees F on an instant read thermometer; for chicken thighs, cook to 170 degrees F, then allow to rest for 5 minutes to carryover to 165/175).
TO PAN SEAR CHICKEN
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet or indoor grill pan over medium-high heat. Once very hot, add chicken and cook, undisturbed, for 3-4 minutes, or until deeply golden on one side.
- Flip chicken over, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Cook for approximately 5-7 more minutes (depending on thickness of chicken), or until chicken breasts are cooked to 160 degrees F on an instant read thermometer and chicken thighs are cooked to 170 degrees F, then allowed to rest for 5 minutes to carryover to 165/175.
TO BAKE CHICKEN
- For breasts: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line chicken in a single layer in a lightly greased baking dish. Bake the chicken for 14 to 16 minutes (for small/medium breasts that are about 5-6 ounces), 16 to 20 minutes (for medium/large breasts that are 7 to 9 ounces), or 20 to 25 minutes (for larger breasts). Cook to 160 degrees F on an instant read thermometer, then allow to rest for 5 minutes to carryover to 165 degrees F.
- For Thighs: Bake chicken in a lightly greased baking dish at 425 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until 170 degrees F on an instant read thermometer, then allow to rest for 5 minutes to carryover to 175 degrees F.
Tips and Tricks
- Making this recipe without fresh ingredients: If you don’t have fresh Thai basil, cilantro, lemongrass, ginger and garlic – you can still make this recipe! Swap the fresh ingredients as needed for 1 tablespoon dried basil, 1 tablespoon lemongrass paste, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon ground ginger and 1 teaspoon garlic powder.
- Lemongrass: Chop off the bottom of the stalk, remove the tough outer husks, about 2-3 layers, until you reach the more pliable layers where the bottom is white and tender. Next, chop sections of the lemongrass starting at the bottom (just to fit into your blender) up until it gets tough – about the bottom third/5” of the lemongrass stalk. Discard the rest or use it soup. You can find lemongrass at Sprouts and Whole Foods either whole or in sectioned into smaller pieces with the herbs. If you can’t find it – make sure to ask!
- Lemongrass paste: Substitute the lemongrass with 1 tablespoon lemongrass paste.
- Chinese five-spice and turmeric: Add great flavor, but may be skipped if you don’t keep them on hand.
- Blender vs. Food Processor: I found my food processor started to leak because there was too much liquid, so, I suggest sticking with your blender, but a food processor may be used in a crunch.
- Serving: See post for side serving suggestions and fun ways to serve Thai Chicken!
Storing and Reheating
- Storage: Store cooked Thai Chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
- To reheat: Microwave chicken for 30 seconds then at 15-second intervals as needed or transfer to an oven-proof dish, cover with foil and reheat at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes or just until warmed through.
- Freeze chicken in marinade: Add the chicken to the marinade ingredients in a freezer-safe bag, squeeze out excess air and freeze for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to use, the chicken will marinate as you thaw the chicken in the refrigerator; cook immediately so it doesn’t marinate for too long and become mushy.
- Freeze cooked chicken: After you have grilled the chicken, let it cool completely then transfer it to an airtight container or plastic freezer bag and squeeze out any excess air. If you want access to individual pieces of chicken without having to thaw all of the chicken, wrap each chicken breast in plastic wrap before adding to the freezer bag. Freeze for 2 to 3 months.
Did You Make This Recipe?
Tag @CarlsbadCravings and Use #CarlsbadCravngs
Leave a Review, I Always Love Hearing From You!
leave a review