My new favorite marinade for grilled chicken is this Thai inspired marinade that is quick to prepare, very tasty and relatively healthy. I think it rivals my all-time favorite Killer Chicken Thigh Marinade. It’s that good! It has just the right amount of sweet, savory and spicy and appeals to a wide audience, adults and children alike. This marinade is grill-friendly and won’t burn very quickly, but since there is a little bit of sugar in it I suggest that you keep an eye on the chicken while grilling and flip the meat or move it to a less hot area of the grill as soon as the surface starts to get too dark.
I mince and chop roots and herbs for this marinade and get great flavor after an overnight marination. But you can also blend the ingredients in a food processor or a blender. I think that a blended marinade will flavorize the chicken meat a little faster, which is important if you can’t marinate for a sufficiently long time. I do like how the bits and pieces of herbs and Thai chilies look on grilled chicken though. The pureed marinade just has a different look.
Another tip if you want to expedite marination process is to make small slits in the chicken to allow the marinade penetrate inside the meat easier. Or you can use a fork to make small holes. This will certainly flavorize the meat faster.
I’ve tried this marinade with various chicken parts, both skin-on and skinless, and found the results to be great in every case. That said, my favorite chicken meat to use with this marinade is skinless, boneless chicken thighs. It just feels like the two were made for each other.
If you are marinating skin-on chicken parts, lift the skin and rub some marinade under the skin. This will help to flavorize the parts of meat covered by skin a lot better.
Thai Grilled Chicken Marinade
Very balanced, full of traditional Thai flavors, this marinade will take your grilled chicken to a new level.
For the marinade:
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh Thai basil (or use regular basil)
- 1 lemongrass stalk (white part only, minced)
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander
- 1 1-inch piece of ginger root (peeled and minced)
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 Thai (Bird's eye) chilies (thinly sliced or minced, or use 1 Tbsp of minced regular hot red chili)
- 3 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp dark soy sauce (or substitute with regular soy sauce)
- 2 Tbsp Thai fish sauce
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp lime juice
- 2 Tbsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)
- 1 shallot (minced)
Combine all of the ingredients for the marinade in a medium bowl or a Ziploc bag and mix thoroughly, making sure that the sugar has dissolved.
Add the chicken and marinate overnight. I find that overnight (or even up to 24 hours) marination gives the chicken optimal flavor.
If you are pressed for time, marinate for at least 2 hours. You may also want to make small slits in the meat or make small holes with a fork as this will allow for quicker marinade penetration inside the meat.
After marination, remove excess marinade from the chicken pieces and grill over direct heat on a grill preheated to about 325F. As there is sugar in the marinade, make sure to keep an eye on the chicken and flip frequently to avoid burning. If using a charcoal grill, grill with a lid on to avoid flareups.
There is enough marinade in this recipe for about 3-4 lbs of chicken meat.
Sources of inspiration for this recipe:
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