This Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken recipe is made with the best citrusy lemongrass marinade, and can be grilled, baked or sautéed.
New favorite marinade alert!
We’ve been on a major Vietnamese food kick lately, trying to master some of our favorite dishes here at home (especially since good Vietnamese is hard to find here in Barcelona). And I have to say that our most recent attempt mayyy have even better than the restaurant version that inspired it — lemongrass chicken! Or, if you’re not into chicken, this marinade could just as easily be used to make lemongrass beef, pork, shrimp, scallops, fish, roasted veggies and more.
Basically, this marinade is going to make you want to lemongrass everything. ♡
Fresh lemongrass, with its signature delicate, tangy, lemony, minty, slightly-gingery flavor, is the starring ingredient here and somehow transforms a simple garlic-soy marinade into one that tastes fabulously fresh and light. And once it’s paired with lightly-charred juicy chicken — either grilled, baked or sautéed — I’m telling you, this slightly-sweet, savory, citrusy combo is downright irresistible.
Bonus? I’ve saved us a bunch of chopping with this recipe and in favor of just blitzing the marinade ingredients together in the blender, making this recipe a bit quicker and easier to prepare. And I can vouch that the lemongrass marinade recipe also holds up well in the fridge for a few days if you would like to prep it in advance. (Or do what I do and make a double batch of the marinade, so that you can have it again for dinner later in the week!) Once you do cook up the lemongrass chicken itself, it can be served with everything from rice to rice noodles, salad, veggies and more. And of course, makes for fantastic leftovers itself.
If you’re new to working with lemongrass, don’t worry — it’s a really simple ingredient to use and I will walk you through everything you need to know. So scout out a few stalks the next time you’re at the grocery store, and let’s make some lemongrass chicken together!
Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken Ingredients:
Alright, let’s make our shopping list! To make this Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken recipe, you will need…
Chicken: I’ve written the recipe using boneless chicken breasts or thighs. But really, this marinade will work with any cut of chicken (or even pork, beef, shrimp, tofu, etc).
Lime juice: We will use some in our marinade, but I also recommend squeezing some fresh lime juice onto the cooked chicken just before serving.
Fish sauce: Smells stinky when you’re prepping the marinade, I know. But trust me, it’s the ingredient that pulls this marinade together and will taste great in the end. (My two favorite brands are Red Boat and Three Crabs.)
Sweetener: Brown sugar (or white granulated or coconut sugar) is more traditionally used for lemongrass chicken. But I like to use maple syrup as a more natural alternative.
Soy-sauce: I always use low-sodium, but any soy sauce will work.
Oil: Any neutral-flavored oil, such as avocado oil or olive oil, will work.
Garlic: Lotsa fresh garlic!
Shallot: One medium shallot, or half of a small red onion.
Lemongrass: This recipe calls for two large stalks. But if you’re new to working with lemongrass — heads up — we won’t use the entire stalks! Instead, pull off the reedy outer few leaves until you reach the more tender leaves on the inside. Then roughly dice just the white parts of the lemongrass, usually the bottom (white) 1/3 or so of the stalk.
Also, just a note on shopping for lemongrass! It’s pretty widely available now at most grocery stores in the States (it’s usually in the refrigerated produce section). But if your store does not happen to carry it, check and see if they have tubes of fresh lemongrass paste available, which you are welcome to use instead (see notes below). Or if your store does not carry either, you should be able to find fresh lemongrass at your local Asian market.
How To Make Lemongrass Chicken:
To make this lemongrass chicken recipe, simply…
Make the marinade. I like to just toss all of the marinade ingredients into a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. But that said, if you would like to make the marinade by hand, you can finely dice the garlic/shallot/lemongrass by and then whisk all of the marinade ingredients together in a bowl until combined. Up to you!
Marinate the chicken. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces, if you are cooking it on skewers as I have photographed here. Or if using whole breasts or thighs, use a meat mallet to pound the chicken to even thickness. Then toss the chicken with the marinade in a large bowl until evenly coated, and let the chicken rest for about 30 minutes.
Cook. Once the chicken is all marinated and ready to go, grill, bake or sauté the chicken until cooked through. (See more detailed instructions below.) Let the chicken rest for 3-5 minutes afterwards, before serving.
Serve. Then serve it nice and warm, garnished with green onions plus an extra squeeze or two of lime juice. Delicious!
See below for the full detailed recipe!
Want to mix things up with this recipe? Feel free to…
Add ginger: If you have some ginger powder on hand, add 1/2 teaspoon into the marinade for extra flavor.
Make it spicy: If you would like to kick things up a spicy notch, feel free to toss a few slices of Thai red bird chiles or a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes into the marinade.
Make it gluten-free: Use gluten-free tamari in place of soy sauce.
Use a different cut of chicken: As mentioned above, I wrote this recipe using boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs. But this recipe would work well with just about any cut of chicken that you prefer. Also, feel free to leave the chicken breasts or thighs whole (instead of cutting them into bite-sized pieces for kabobs or sautéing) if you prefer.
Use a different protein: Beef, pork, shrimp or tofu would all taste delicious with this marinade too!
2 tablespoons avocado oil (or any neutral-flavored oil)
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
4 small garlic cloves
2 stalks lemongrass, tender white parts only, roughly chopped (see below)
1 medium shallot, peeled and halved (or half of a small red onion)
2 pounds boneless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
Combine the lime juice, fish sauce, maple syrup, oil, soy sauce, black pepper, garlic, lemongrass and shallot in a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth.
Combine the chicken and marinade in a large bowl. Toss until the chicken is evenly coated. Cover the bowl and let the chicken marinate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. (If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 15 minutes before using.) Thread the chicken evenly onto the skewers.
Once the grill is hot, place the chicken kabobs evenly on the grill. Cook for 10-14 minutes, turning once halfway through, until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through (no longer pink on the inside).
Transfer the kabobs to a clean plate, and loosely tent with aluminum foil. Let the chicken rest for at least 5-10 minutes.
Then serve warm while the chicken is hot and juicy, sprinkled with an extra squeeze of fresh lime juice (plus some thinly-sliced green onions) if desired. Or, refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.
*Lemongrass: To properly cut lemongrass, first pull off the reedy outer few leaves until you reach the more tender leaves on the inside. Then roughly dice just the white parts of the lemongrass, usually the bottom (white) 1/3 or so of the stalk. (If you cannot find fresh lemongrass, you can substitute in 3 or so tablespoons of fresh lemongrass paste.)
*Grill pan or sauté method: If you would like to cook this lemongrass chicken recipe inside on the stovetop, you can cook the skewers in a grill pan over medium-high heat (drizzle a bit of oil on it first) for about 5-6 minutes per side, until the chicken is charred and cooked through. Or you can cook the chicken in a large sauté pan (without the skewers, also drizzling a bit of oil in the pan first) for about 7-10 minutes, stirring and flipping occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through.
This chicken looks amazing! I can’t wait to give it a try!
Totally making this! That chicken looks amazing. Pinned it right away :D
Subscribe, please. Thank you
This looks fantastic. About how much is 2 stalks of lemon grass chopped? Could you substitute the jarred chopped lemon grass I’ve seen in the Asian sauces section of the supermarket?
I’ve enjoyed every flavorful recipe that I have tried from your site. I can’t wait to give this a try.
Not a fan. Came out extremely bland, I sautéed whole breasts. Maybe I should’ve marinated for longer than 30minutes? Idk would love the authors insight.
Pepper is not even in the list? Why does it say to add pepper?
Made this last night to go with some Gado Gado salads — it was my first time using fresh lemongrass and I’m a total convert now <3 Thank you for the delicious recipe! Will definitely be in weeknight rotation!
Per your suggestion, I used maple syrup and lemon grass paste, then blended all ingredients in a food processor. Chicken cubes marinated for several hours and I grilled as kabobs in an iron grill pan browning on all four sides approximately 3-4 minutes each side. Kabobs were placed in a warm oven until all were done. Squeezed fresh lemon juice over chicken just before serving. The flavors were citrusy but subtle. Served with rice pilaf, a simple salad, and a chardonnay. Enjoyed by all.
Would extra marinade set aside work as a dipping sauce? It’s so yummy!
I watched a DD&D episode today where Guy covered a restaurant that used a marinade similar to this but had their own dipping sauce. Trying to find that recipe.
This looks great! Can the chicken be baked instead? If so, for how long and at what temperature?
This really IS my new favorite marinade! I used lemongrass paste, because I couldn’t find lemongrass stalks. I also cooked it in a large cast iron skillet on the stove top, because when I finally dug my cast iron grill pan out of the garage, I found that it was a bit rusted and I didn’t have the will to remove the rust and reseason it just yet. I had just under 2lbs of chicken (1.86lbs), so there was ample marinade in the pan while I cooked it over medium high and it made an delightful sauce with rice and broccoli. The fish sauce sort of stood out more than the lemongrass, so I may cut that back a bit next time.
Easy and Tasty!
Black pepper is mentioned in your marinade instructions but not listed in the ingredients. How much should be used? Thanks!
I made this with salmon and it was incredible! I definitely encourage blending the marinade.
I made this using seitan and as I’m in Central Asia had nothing but powdered lemongrass but it’s the same as Vietnamese restaurants’ flavor. Will certainly make it again!
I was a little hesitant with how the marinade looked and smelled, but glad to say that the end result was delicious … and quite quick to throw together! If anyone has tested this on seafood, I’d love to hear how it went.
Oops, I feel silly, there was a comment right above mine saying it went great on salmon. My bad!
Made this tonight, served over some jasmine rice. Delicious!
Our new favorite!!!
This was delicious! My boys ate it up, including the picky one!! Thank you for sharing.
I’ll try this recipe
This was really really tasty! We cooked it in a cast iron skillet on the stove top. Running low on limes so we used a mix of lime juice and ponzu in place of part of the soy sauce to up the citrus flavor. We had the chicken on rice vermicelli bowls with fresh herbs, pickled carrots, peanuts, etc. but the chicken was the real star. Definitely saving this to make again.
Olive oil and avacado oil are the opposite of neutral oils. Those two oils have to much flavor. I’m suprised that you listed those oils as neutral. I never would use those oils for Asian food either as imparting olive or avacado flavor would not be ideal. The best Neutral oils are canola oil and grape seed oil. Peanut oil and coconut oil although not neutral would be a good substitute since those flavors would be okay with this type of cuisine.
I loved using avocado oil and the Asian cook I watch on YouTube: Asian at Home with Seonkyoung uses avocado oil all the time. It’s much more healthier than canola oil.
I used only 1 lb of chicken and cut up a bunch of veggies and marinated them too. I only had a nonstick pan though, so I sauteed it all on the stove. It came out more like steamed though. Not as tasty as on grill or in a better pan, I think. Something to improve on for next time. Still good.
I used a toasted sesame oil and frsh lemongrass, cooked on the stove top, and served with jasmine rice and sautéed greenbeans. Delicious!
Good recipe!!. Next time I am gonna marinate for a hour. When the chicken was almost completely grilled I squeezed a whole lime over chicken. Recomend using mesquite charcoal or if you don’t have that use 2 tsp mesquite liquid smoke in marinade. Good stuff and I will make this recipe again.
Has anyone tried converting this recipe for use in the Instant Pot? And how about freezing the chicken in the marinade first? Now that the summer is here we like to use the Instant Pot whenever possible.
This chicken was amazing! I used 1 lb of chicken thighs with the bone on but used the same amount of marinade recipe it called for, should have used half! I also couldn’t find lemongrass at any grocery stores so I had to omit, definitely need to find it for next time. I also baked the chicken in the oven with some of the marinade and it turned out great!
This is the 2nd time that we make this dish and it’s definitely a keeper. I added lime zest and ginger to the marinade because they were on hand, and while I don’t know how/whether they improved the mix, they didn’t hurt anything. Thanks for making this available!
This was yummy, didn’t grill just made it into a sauce for my rice. We loved it and it was great way to use all the lemongrass growing in my garden.
We made this recipe with cornish hens and grilled them on our Treager grill. They came out amazing!! This will definitely become a regular meal for sure!!!
Do you have an easy noodle bowl recipe as in the picture shown with this recipe?
Thanks in advance!
Ultimate Meal Prep Marinade!
I keto-fied this recipe by swapping maple syrup/brown sugar for Lakanto Golden alternative sugar. I used diced skinless boneless chicken thighs and marinated + froze in ziplock bags. So so good served on top of cauliflower rice!
So good, just made it! I added ginger, sautéed on the stove, and put it in flatbreads/ pita with a chili coconut mayo, lettuce and tomato. Delicious. Would be great in a sandwich or with crusty bread as well!
BOMB! my bf made this. so good!!!!! and easy too
This was very nice on chicken thighs and relatively easy to make. It was a touch salty for me, so cut back on the soy if you are sensitive to salt, and obviously use low sodium soy sauce.
Thank you, thank you!!! Wow, truly a new favorite. Made this verbatim to the instructions and had some doubt with knowing how overpowering fish sauce can become. I took a chance and so glad that I did. I let this marinade overnight. Will make this again very soon.
I’m a Texan living in East Africa right now and we have so much lemon grass growing around the house. Seems it would grow well in the southern USA states. We typically only use it for Lemongrass tea (mm), but I’m excited to cook with it. I can’t find fish sauce at any supermarket here, so I will try the recipe without it and will add fresh grated ginger which we use often. Hoping it will be great even without the fish sauce! ?
Wasn’t a fan not the strong lemongrass taste I was hoping for I found it to be bland really disappointed
Our first experience using lemongrass in a recipe, and we’re hooked!! This is a delicious recipe. Since it was raining, we didn’t do the skewers, but more of a stir fry over rice.
Love this recipe! I have cooked this 4 times now and it’s a hit every time! I’ve used both fresh lemongrass and the paste, and works either way. Grill, pan fry or broil. Easy, reliable and full of flavour. Serve with some rice and veggies.
As I write this I have chicken in the marinade – prefer it overnight.
Can I marinade overnight?
What’s a good substitute for fish sauce? I’d like to make this but we have a fish allergy in our family. Thanks!!
I have had luck subbing coconut aminos for fish sauce in other recipes.
This sounds great and I mean to try it using thighs, on kabob sticks, cooked over charcoal.
I will be making the marinade on Friday night, chilling it by itself until Saturday night. Then I’ll put the chicken in the marinade until Sunday afternoon, when I grill it.
I really don’t think a marinade with as complex a flavor profile as this one can have based on ingredients … is ‘ready’ immediately. Nor is it ready in 30 minutes, nor can chicken be properly marinated in 30 minutes.
I suppose if you’re in a big hurry this 30 min recipe will ‘do’, but I’m very sure it given it some time will take it to a whole other level :) I’ll let you know how it turns out!
Delicious! I grew lemongrass in my garden and wanted to use it somehow. I found this recipe and everyone loved it. Great flavor and easy to prepare. I will definitely make it again.
Maple syrup was a poor idea in this recipe, very overpowering. I should have trusted my gut and went with palm sugar or brown sugar. The maple syrup really ruined this recipe for me. I’m surprised how overpowering it was considering there isn’t much of it in here. If I ever try this recipe again I will definitely substitute for brown sugar or palm sugar
Love this recipe. Made it once chopped marinade with chicken thighs, good! Made tonight blended marinade with chopped chicken breast, so yummy!
Fun easy recipe
Excellent flavours! I used this as a stir fry sauce and not as a marinade. I added garlic chili sauce for a bit of heat and fresh ginger. As my hubby said “it’s a keeper!”.
I’ve made this a bunch of times now!
Thank you for the recipe. Making it tonight. 😀
Amazing! Favorite chicken recipe of the moment. So easy. I’ve added ginger at hot peppers and that variation is yummy but recipe is great as written too! I cook the chicken in a hot cast iron pan and it always comes out great.
Love this recipe. Made it for the 4th time tonight.
I grow lemongrass in a large planter and love the trying out new recipes using it.
Excellent recipe! I added the fresh ginger, green onions and red pepper flakes and it was perfect.