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Thai Chicken

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.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Asian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 35 minutes
Servings 6 -8 servings




  • 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)


  • 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).


  • 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).


  • 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.


  • 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.