Thai Gai Yang Chicken

4.75 from 4 votes

Gai Yang Chicken is a Thai grilled chicken recipe featuring a spicy lemongrass marinade. Use boneless chicken thighs and you can make this flavorful Asian BBQ in less than 45 minutes!

overhead image: Asian BBQ dinner of Gai Yang Chicken served on round platter

There’s nothing more satisfying than firing up the grill or oven to make a good Chinese or Thai BBQ recipe for a quick and easy meal. 

Whether it’s Chinese barbecue pork, sticky short ribs, or tasty char siu bao pork buns, the Asian flavors always bring me back for more.

Of all the Thai grilled chicken recipes out there, Gai Yang chicken is a must-make. After a short bath in a spicy marinade, boneless chicken thighs are placed on the grill. They cook just long enough to create a char on the outside while remaining tender and juicy.

Using boneless chicken cuts the cooking time in half, so the meal is perfect for a busy weeknight or a relaxing weekend.

grilled chicken thighs on round serving platter garnished with red chili peppers and lemongrass

Gai Yang Chicken – Ingredient Notes

  • Boneless chicken thighs– When I’m grilling chicken, I prefer to use thigh meat because it’s higher in fat than breast meat. The fat helps prevent the poultry from becoming too dry.

    This being said, you can use breasts if you prefer them. The recipe also works with bone-in chicken, but it requires additional cooking time.
  • Lemongrass paste– For convenience (and because it’s easier to find), I use lemongrass paste sold in a tube. It’s located in the produce section of most grocery stores. Actual lemongrass stalks will work as well
  • Fresh garlic cloves– Minced garlic sold in a jar works as well
  • Red chili flakes and chilis– Any type of red chili pepper is fine, but flakes will give you better flavor than ground red pepper. For the peppers, I use Fresno chilis or red jalapenos
  • Fish sauce– This is a popular Asian condiment with an earthy, umami flavor. Good substitutes are soy or tamari sauce, coconut aminos, or worcestershire sauce
  • Sake or Chinese cooking wine– There are just 2 tablespoons needed, so if you don’t have any on hand, feel free to skip it. Regular white wine works too
  • Sesame oil– This oil is used in almost all Asian recipes and its flavor is unique, so there aren’t many substitutes for it. If you must use a different oil, choose something with a neutral flavor, like vegetable oil
boneless chicken thighs in Ziploc bag with Asian chicken marinade

Video: How to Make Thai Grilled Chicken

To see how simple gai yang chicken is to make, just watch my video, located in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

Thai grilled chicken on white serving platter with grilled limes and microgreens

Cooking Tips for Gai Yang Chicken

  1. Marinate the chicken.
    Massage to spread the marinade over all the chicken for at least 30 minutes to 24 hours in the refrigerator. This infuses it with the flavors and helps tenderize the meat.
  1. Discard the marinade after using.
    After removing the poultry from the marinade, you can brush the marinade onto the meat as it grills. After that, you should promptly toss it out.
overhead image: Gai Yang Chicken on round serving platter with grilled lime halves and red jalapeno

Cooking Times for Grilled Chicken

Chicken is considered safe to eat when the internal temperature at the thickest portion reaches 165°F. Because it continues to cook for a couple of minutes as it rests, you can remove it from the heat when the internal temp is 163°F. 

Here are approximate cooking times for chicken grilled at 350°F.

  • Boneless thighs: Grill for 4 minutes per side, then check the internal temp.
  • Bone-in thighs: Grill for 6 minutes per side, then check the internal temp.
  • Boneless breasts: Grill for 5 minutes per side, then check the internal temp.
  • Bone-in breasts: Grill for 7 minutes per side, then check the internal temp.
Thai grilled chicken thighs on dinner plate with stir fried vegetables

Serving Suggestions

Spicy grilled chicken pairs well with almost any side you’re craving, from simple baked potatoes to fried rice or a healthy stir fry salad.

To counter the spicy heat of gai yang chicken, serve sides with fresh fruit. Grilled pineapple planks or Thai mango salad are flavorful sweet options, and both are really simple to make, too!

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overhead image: Asian BBQ dinner of Gai Yang Chicken served on round platter

Thai Gai Yang Chicken

4.75 from 4 votes
This Thai grilled chicken recipe features a spicy lemongrass marinade. Use boneless chicken thighs and you can make this flavorful Asian BBQ in less than 45 minutes!
Servings: 4
Prep: 12 minutes
Cook: 8 minutes
Marinate Time: 45 minutes
Total: 1 hour 5 minutes

Ingredients 

Marinade

Garnish

Instructions 

  • Whisk together the marinade ingredients. Add the chicken to a Ziploc bag and pour in marinade. Massage to spread the marinade over all the chicken for at least 30 minutes to 24 hours in the refrigerator. This infuses it with the flavors and helps tenderize the meat.
  • Get grill to medium high (350°F). Remove chicken from the marinade and set aside.
  • Cook the chicken for 3-4 minutes each side. Baste with marinade before turning. (SEE NOTES for grilling times).
  • Remove from grill and allow to rest for a few minutes before garnishing with sesame seeds, fresh chiles, cilantro and serve with lime wedges and steamed rice.

Video

Notes

Cooking Times for Grilled Chicken
Chicken is considered safe to eat when the internal temperature at the thickest portion reaches 165°F. Because it continues to cook for a couple of minutes as it rests, you can remove it from the heat when the internal temp is 163°F.
Here are the approximate cooking times for chicken grilled at 350°F.
  • Boneless thighs: Grill for 4 minutes per side, then check the internal temp.
  • Bone-in thighs: Grill for 6 minutes per side, then check the internal temp.
  • Boneless breasts: Grill for 5 minutes per side, then check the internal temp.
  • Bone-in breasts: Grill for 7 minutes per side, then check the internal temp.

Nutrition

Calories: 585kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 39g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 222mg | Sodium: 1154mg | Potassium: 584mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 479IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 50mg | Iron: 2mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian, Thai
Author: Kevin
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image (and shown): Thai Grilled Gai Yang Chicken

Kevin

I was bitten by the cooking bug as a kid cooking and baking along side my mom. After an ROP restaurant course in high school, I went to work in restaurants and catering. My love of travel and food has led me across the world and I love to share those foods with family and friends.

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Recipe Rating




10 Comments

  1. This recipe looks great and have made similar Thai dishes. I do however completely disagree on your comment re marinating and the time. I quite often marinate chicken for 24 hours and ever has it come out tough and rubbery. Also marinating protein does inject flavor into the food, and yes it does tenderize the protein that’s not the only purpose to marinate otherwise you wouldn’t add additional ingredients.

  2. 5 stars
    Made this for dinner tonight and it was fantastic! Will definitely be a go to for us! Thanks for sharing this delicious recipe!

  3. 5 stars
    I have made SO many Asian and Thai inspired chicken recipes, and this is my far the best flavor I’ve ever made! We are making it again tonight and I’m so excited! I’m sure you could try to make this in the air fryer as well if it’s winter time? Not sure with the juices and marinade. But this is AMAZING.

    1. AND it can be made on a grill pan or under the broiler, too Ciara. Thanks so much for coming back to let me know!

      1. 4 stars
        This is really good and so simple. I only added 1 tsp of chili flakes and it’s still a bit too hot for me. Maybe some coconut lime rice?! I boiled down the marinade (sorry!) and added some hoisin which helped. Anyway great recipe ❤️🌶️

  4. 5 stars
    We made this tonight and the flavors were amazing – definitely reminded us of our honeymoon in Thailand. Next time, I would marinade the chicken longer though as I would have liked if it had a touch more flavor. I also used Thai chilis from my garden sliced in half length-wise instead of the pepper flakes, yum! We served it with rice and grilled broccoli. This recipe will definitely be in our rotation now – it’s great for those hot summer nights when it’s too hot to cook inside.