Recipe: Thai Grilled Chicken

Thai Grilled Chicken (Gai Yang) 

By Margarita Lee

Margarita Lee


  • 1 Whole free range chicken (to be butterflied) 


  • 1 Large lemongrass stalk (white part only, finely chopped)
  • 5 cloves Garlic (finely chopped)
  • 3 Coriander root (finely chopped)
  • 2cm Fresh turmeric root (finely chopped)
  • 3 tbsp Fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp Oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp Black soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Toasted coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp Toasted white pepper corn 
  • 1 tbsp Thai palm sugar or brown sugar 
  • 2 tbsp Oil
  • 2 tsp Salt 
  • 1 tbsp Lime juice 


  1. Combine the toasted white peppercorn and toasted coriander seeds, and then grind into a powder. You may use a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder. 
  2. Add all the marinade ingredients into a large ziplock bag. Massage the bag to mix thoroughly. 
  3. Add the butterflied chicken to the ziplock bag, then rub to thoroughly coat the chicken with marinade. Marinate for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight in the refrigerator. 
  4. Preheat the grill to medium heat. When hot, place the chicken on the grill, skin side up. Once seared, turn the heat down to low or medium-low and cook with the lid closed; flipping and basting with the marinade every 5 -10 minutes. Cook until the chicken is cooked through, which takes roughly 40 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken. 
  5. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let it rest for 5 minutes. Carve and serve with dipping sauce (Nam Jim Jaew).

Dipping Sauce Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp Palm or light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp Fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp Tamarind paste
  • 2 tbsp Fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbsp Finely minced garlic 
  • 1 tbsp Chilli flakes or to taste 
  • 1 tbsp Toasted rice powder (toast the rice until it reaches a light brown colour, then ground into a powder)
  • 2 tbsp Chopped coriander leaves
  • 1 tbsp Spring onion 

Dipping Sauce Method: 

Combine tamarind, fish sauce, lime juice and finely chopped palm sugar; stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add all remaining ingredients and stir. If preparing the sauce ahead of time, do not add the coriander and spring onions until just before serving. 


Alternative Methods to Cook the Chicken 

Oven Method:

Cook the marinated chicken in a preheated oven (180℃) for 30 minutes. Baste with the leftover marinate and rotate the chicken in the oven. Cook for another 30-45 minutes. 

Make sure the juices flow clear, with no traces of blood or colour. 

Air Fryer Method:

Spray the air fryer basket with cooking oil. Place the chicken in the basket breast side down, then cook at 180℃ for 15 minutes. Flip the chicken, breast side up, and cook for a further 15 minutes. Increase temperature to 200℃ and fry for an additional 10 minutes. 


Thai grilled chicken (gai yang) is often eaten with ‘som tam’ (green papaya salad) and sticky rice. This combination makes for an extraordinarily flavourful meal!


Check out more of Margarita’s recipes on her FB @ Umummy Food


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