One of the easiest but tastiest chicken recipes you can grill this summer involves lemongrass, a few pantry staples, and boneless chicken thighs. This Vietnamese lemongrass chicken hits all the right notes of smoky, savory, and just a touch sweet. The best part is that if you grill up a big batch, you can use it all week long in noodle bowls, salads, or sandwiches.
Lemongrass is a hard aromatic that's yellow or pale green and shaped like long, thin shoot. It has a beautiful lemon flavor and is a key ingredient in Vietnamese cooking. While it's easier to find nowadays, you may have to seek it out in specialty or Asian grocery stores. Can't find fresh lemongrass? We've also used lemongrass paste, found in tubes in the produce section of specialty grocers, to great success in this recipe.
This recipe feeds a crowd because I find that I always want to have leftovers in the fridge. I've turned it into delicious bánh mì sandwiches, sliced it for noodle salad bowls, and added it to green salads and slaws for a protein kick. You can never go wrong with a little extra lemongrass grilled chicken
You might find yourself with extra lemongrass after you make this recipe, but you have options for leftovers. Here are a couple of options: Make extra marinade and freeze it for future use, or finely chop up the lemongrass and freeze it in tablespoon portions. Instant flavor at your fingertips!
Lemongrass Grilled Chicken
freshly squeezed lime juice
finely chopped lemongrass or lemongrass paste
cloves garlic, minced
packed light or dark brown sugar
freshly ground black pepper
boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Fresh cilantro leaves, for serving (optional)
Place the oil, fish sauce, lime juice, lemongrass, garlic, sugar, and pepper in a large bowl and whisk/stir to combine and dissolve the sugar. Add the chicken and toss to thoroughly coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to overnight. (Alternatively, you can marinate the chicken in a gallon zip-top plastic bag.)
When ready to cook, heat an outdoor grill to high (about 450°F to 550°F).
Remove the chicken from the marinade and let any excess drip off. Place the chicken on the grill in a single layer. Cover the grill and cook until grill marks appear, 5 to 6 minutes. Flip the chicken, cover the grill, and cook until grill marks appear on the second side and the chicken registers 165°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 5 minutes more. Transfer to a serving plate or cutting board. Let rest 3 minutes, then cut into slices if desired, topped with cilantro, if using.
Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Make ahead: The chicken can marinate in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.
Lemongrass paste: Lemongrass paste, which can be found in tubes in the produce section of gourmet grocery stores, is a great alternative to fresh lemongrass. We liked this one from Gourmet Garden.