Grilled Marinated Thai Chicken (Gai Yang)

6 mins Cook
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A classic Thai street food, this Thai grilled chicken is delicious and mostly vegetarian. true story.

For inspiration, try this Thai Chicken with Coconut Rice or Coconut Lime Rice, Thai Salad Wrap for an appetizer, Thai Red Curry or Green Curry.

Grilled Marinated Thai Chicken (Gai Yang) - NomNomWow
Grilled Marinated Thai Chicken (Gai Yang) – NomNomWow

Traditional Thai Chicken

This chicken marinade is insane. It really is. It tastes good, and I honestly think I’ll regret it if I don’t double the amount. Because you promise to eat more than your fair share.

I call this “real” Thai rotisserie chicken. As with traditional dishes from all countries and regions of the world, there is no “one” recipe. Countless variations, from family recipes handed down through generations to modern high-end interpretations by top chefs around the world, such as fried rice, chili con carne, paella, bolognese and beef his bourguignon. .

But… there is a line. A fine line between recipes that are true to their roots and those that are completely westernized. There is nothing wrong with westernizing something. In fact, some of the most popular (and delicious!) Asian dishes in the West don’t even exist in Asia, like Singapore noodles.

This Thai-style grilled chicken is a classic example of keeping the traditional flavors alive. Even across Thailand, there are so many variations of gai yang. Varies by region, from restaurants to street vendors to home versions

In addition to lemongrass and fish sauce, this chicken marinade is packed with other classic Thai ingredients: garlic, a hint of sweetness and a nice dash of chili pepper. Served with dips. I like to make it with chicken thighs because it’s a juicy cut. And thickly glazed, juicy chicken doesn’t need a dip. So I add the flavor of the sauce to the marinade instead.

All over Thailand you’ll find a variety of chicken and gai yang, a whole chicken and butterfly (my favourite, but you can’t swallow your own throat whole!!). You can use your favorite chicken, but adjust the cooking time accordingly. It is traditionally cooked over hot coals, giving it a nice smoky flavor. But whether you cook it on the grill or on the stovetop, this is the best Thai grill you’ve ever had. I promise to become a chicken. It is no exaggeration to say that this almost turned a vegetarian into a carnivore.

Grilled Marinated Thai Chicken (Gai Yang)

Grilled Marinated Thai Chicken (Gai Yang)

A classic Thai street food, this Thai grilled chicken is delicious and mostly vegetarian. true story.
prep time
10 mins
cooking time
6 mins
total time
16 mins



  • 2 lb / 1 kg chicken thigh fillets (skinless, boneless) (Note 1)


  • 1 large lemongrass stalk , white part only very finely chopped (about 2 tbsp) (Note 2)

  • 6 cloves garlic , minced

  • 2 tbsp lime juice

  • 2 tsp finely chopped red chili (optional but recommended)

  • 3 tbsp fish sauce

  • ▢2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine , sherry or sake (Japanese cooking wine) (Note 4)

  • 1 tsp sesame oil (optional)

  • 3 tbsp brown sugar or palm sugar

  • 2 tbsp honey (or 1 tbsp brown sugar)

  • 1/2 tbsp black pepper (adjust to taste - this adds spiciness)


  • Lime wedges

  • Red chili , finely sliced (optional)

  • Cilantro / coriander leaves (optional)


Place marinade ingredients in a large ziplock bag. Massage and mix.
Place the chicken in a ziplock bag and massage the marinade all over the chicken. Marinate for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight (up to 24 hours).
Remove chicken from marinade and discard marinade (if not oven-baked - see Note 3).
Heat the outdoor grill over medium heat. Alternatively, heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a nonstick skillet on the stovetop over medium-high heat.
Fry chicken until golden brown - about 3 minutes per side. Let rest for a few minutes, then serve with lime wedges and garnish with fresh chillies and cilantro, if using.
Let rest for a few minutes, then serve with lime wedges and garnish with fresh chillies and cilantro, if using.


This recipe can be made with any part of the chicken, so adjust the heating time accordingly. If using chicken breast, we recommend adding 1 tablespoon of oil to the marinade to help caramelize it. readily available. Peel off the outer green layer to expose the white part at the bottom of the stem. Only use the white/very light green part. Other parts are tough and "reed-like". 3. Depending on the size of the fillets, you can also bake them in the oven at 180°C/350°F for about 35-40 minutes. Flip once and brush at least once (preferably twice) with remaining marinade. 4 Cooking sake is a key ingredient in this, so I recommend using it if you can. But if you can't, use chicken broth.
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