Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken

Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken by Michelle Tam

I don’t like to pick favorites, but if I had to choose one particular cuisine to eat for the rest of my life, it just might be Vietnamese. The balance of flavors, textures, and even contrasting temperatures in many of the dishes is straight-up amazing. In particular, I love the interplay of fresh herbs and seasonings that take simple proteins to the next level of flavor.

Inspired by our recent trip to Vietnam, I went in search of fresh lemongrass immediately upon returning home. This citrus-scented culinary herb stars in just about every single one of my favorite Vietnamese dishes, and it’s what makes them shine. (Well, that and fish sauce.) If you’ve never cooked with fresh lemongrass before, you owe it to yourself to try it. (You’ve got no excuse now that I’ve  prepared a step-by-step tutorial on how to prepare it!)

And with fresh stalks of lemongrass in hand, I decided to create a new dish: Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken.

My first attempts (including one that I broadcast live on Periscope!) produced some tasty chicken, but there was something a little…off. Over a couple of weeks of recipe testing, I discovered that adding fresh lime juice in the marinade seemed to alter the texture of the chicken, making it too soft. Solution: just add lime zest, and squeeze the juice of the denuded lime on the thighs after they’re out of the oven! (Pro tip: If you double the recipe, you can save even more time by blitzing all of the roughly chopped marinade ingredients in a high powered blender!)

Serves 4


  • ¼ cup minced shallots
  • 1 large lemongrass stalk, trimmed and minced (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • zest from 1 lime
  • 2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Juice from 1 lime (optional)
  • 8 chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on



First, you gotta make the marinade. Mince the shallots and and toss ’em in a large bowl. 

Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken by Michelle Tam

Trim the fresh lemongrass stalk…

Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken by Michelle Tam

…and grate finely with a microplane rasp grater (my preferred method)…

Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken by Michelle Tam

…or smash the stalk with a meat pounder and cut finely against the grain of the fibers. The finer the dice, the less lemongrass fiber you’ll be picking out of your teeth when you eat the chicken later. (Check out my lemongrass tutorial for more deets, peeps.)

Add the minced lemongrass to the bowl.

Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken by Michelle Tam

Toss in the minced garlic and ginger. You can use a microplane to mince both of these ingredients, too, but I prefer to use my garlic press for my bulbs—mostly ’cause I like to keep my fingertips intact. 

Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken by Michelle Tam

Crack some black pepper into the bowl, and then grab a lime and zest off just the outermost green layer of the fruit. If you’re grating the white pith, you’ve gone too far. Really: the white pith is bitter and will ruin your marinade.

Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken by Michelle Tam

Lastly, add the salt, olive oil, fish sauce, and honey. (If you’re doing a Whole30, you can add a tablespoon of apple juice in place of honey. I promise: it’ll still taste fab.)

Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken by Michelle Tam

Stir the marinade to combine all the ingredients.

Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken by Michelle Tam

Plop in the chicken thighs and massage the marinade all over the bird parts.

Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken by Michelle Tam

Cover the bowl and let it marinate for at least one hour and up to 24 hours in the fridge. (I’m loving these eco-friendly silicone bowl covers, by the way.)

Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken by Michelle Tam

I know it’s hard to wait, but your patience will be rewarded.

When you’re ready to cook the chicken thighs, preheat the oven to 400°F. I like to use the convection roast function because the circulating hot air cooks the chicken more evenly. No convection? No problem! Just add 5 more minutes to the cooking time and rotate the tray a few times to ensure even browning.

Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken by Michelle Tam

Place the chicken skin-side down on a wire rack placed on top of a foil lined baking sheet. Ignore the gagging noises your overly dramatic seven-year-old makes upon encountering a tray of raw chicken.

Pop the chicken in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Flip the chicken skin-side up and rotate the tray 180 degrees. Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes or until the skin is evenly browned and the thickest part of the meat registers 165°F on an instant-read thermometer.

Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken by Michelle Tam


Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken by Michelle Tam

Don’t worry about the dirty wire rack! I show you how to clean it like a champ in this Periscope video

Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken by Michelle Tam

Serve the chicken with lettuce, pickled veggies, fresh herbs, and lime wedges. Your family will love it! (And if they don’t, tell them they can make their own %@#*! dinner next time.)

Looking for more recipes? Head on over to my Recipe Index! You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPad® app, and in my New York Times- bestselling cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel 2013).

Original Source: Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken


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