When it’s cold outside (read: 6 months out of the year in New England), we want weeknight dinner recipes that are warm and cozy. Bonus points if they’re quick cooking, only require a few ingredients, and are full of flavor. That’s exactly what this Lemongrass Thai chicken is!
Our favorite way to serve it is over fluffy Jasmine rice, with lots of fresh lime wedges, basil (Thai basil or regular), and fresh cilantro. If you’re crazy about crunch — who isn’t?! — you should top it with crushed salted peanuts.
Lemongrass Thai chicken may not require a lot of effort, but thanks to a few flavor packed ingredients (lemongrass paste! Thai chilies! coconut milk and ginger!) it offers serious depth. The kind that usually takes much longer than 30 minutes to accomplish.
Ingredients For Lemongrass Thai Chicken
In addition to boneless skinless chicken thighs, you’ll need to make the simple homemade poaching liquid. It’s a mix of coconut milk, lemongrass paste (instructions for substituting fresh lemongrass below), garlic, lime juice, ginger or ginger paste, fish sauce, and Thai chilies.
The poaching liquid for the chicken thighs is creamy (but dairy-free!), spicy, and begs to be spooned over jasmine rice for sopping up every last drop!
To garnish, we recommend an abundance of fresh herbs: cilantro and Thai basil are our favorites. Serve with lots of fresh lime wedges, thinly sliced marinated cucumbers, and extra chili slices for anyone who loves an extra hit of heat!
If substituting with chicken breasts, cook time will increase by a few minutes, as determined by thickness. Chicken is safe to eat at an internal temperature of 165 F (74 C).
How To Use Lemongrass
First, let’s clarify: lemongrass paste is different than fresh lemongrass. You can use them interchangeably in recipes, which is why I always keep lemongrass paste in my fridge, but they are not one and the same.
Fresh lemongrass is sold by the stalk. It’s long, thin, and similar in appearance to scallions or green onions, except that it is much thicker and more dense. In terms of flavor, lemongrass has a subtle lemon flavor with a very slight hint of mint. It is often used in Southeast Asian cuisine.
I Can’t Find Lemongrass Paste
If you can’t find or don’t want to use lemongrass paste, substitute 1 fresh lemongrass stalk.
- Slice off the base of the stalk, then peel and discard any hard outer layers. Next, cut the stalk into 3″ pieces.
- Use the back of a sharp chef’s knife blade to bang into the lemongrass, smashing the layers open a bit and releasing the aromatic oils. Place smashed stalk pieces into poaching liquid in place of lemongrass paste.
If you’re using fresh lemongrass for this recipe and have leftovers, they will keep for weeks in a refrigerator. Alternatively, you can cut the lemongrass stalk into pieces a couple inches long, then store in a Ziplock bag and freeze until needed. Put those leftovers to use in this Vietnamese lemongrass chicken recipe, which looks killer!
How To Make Lemongrass Thai Chicken
- Make the poaching liquid. Combine coconut milk, lemongrass paste (or fresh lemongrass), lime juice, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, and thinly sliced Thai chili in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
- Season the chicken. Cut the thighs into ½” pieces (roughly bite-size), then sprinkle Kosher salt on all sides.
- Poach the chicken. Submerge the chicken in the poaching liquid, then cover and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat. Chicken is safe to eat when an internal temperature of 165 F (74 C) is reached.
- Serve immediately. Once cooked, serve over fluffy jasmine rice, spooning extra poaching liquid on top. Garnish with fresh cilantro, Thai basil, sliced Thai chilis, lime wedges, and chopped salted peanuts. This is even more delicious with light and crisp marinated cucumbers for crunch and sweetness!
We recommend the Thermapen MK4 to check for doneness on all meats!
Tips + Tricks!
Why crushed peanuts? They add both crunch, which the dish needs, and salt. The poaching liquid, while spicy, is not super salty. If you omit the peanuts, add ½ tsp Kosher salt to poaching liquid before adding chicken.
If you are a coconut milk curry lover like myself, but are looking for a recipe featuring seafood, we cannot recommend our scallop coconut curry any more! It’s one of the oldest recipes on Well Seasoned, but also one of our family’s absolute favorites!
And perhaps the most popular recipe of all are my Thai turkey meatballs. You will LOVE how quickly this weeknight dinner comes together!
This is such a good one! Honestly could not be easier to make or quicker to cook (5 minute cook time for the chicken is unreal!). If you are a fan of bright, vibrant, Thai-inspired flavors, this one is definitely for you. Do not underestimate the power of fresh herbs, salty peanuts, and spicy Thai chilies. The combination cannot be beat, and the combination with the coconut poached chicken is just stellar.
If you make this Lemongrass Thai Chicken, please let us know by leaving a review and rating below!
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For more Asian-inspired meals, check out the following recipes:
- Chili bourbon glazed salmon
- Spicy ramen noodles
- Soy sauce eggs
- Shrimp lettuce wraps
- Blistered shishito peppers
20-Minute Thai-Inspired Poached Lemongrass Chicken
- 5-6 chicken thighs boneless, skinless
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 (13 ½ oz) can coconut milk
- 3 Tbsp lemongrass paste see note below
- 2 Tbsp fish sauce
- 1 medium lime juiced, about 2 Tbsp
- 1" piece ginger peeled, thinly sliced, see note below
- 3 cloves garlic smashed
- 1 Thai chili very thinly sliced
- Jasmine rice cooked
- Fresh cilantro
- Basil or Thai basil leaves
- 1 Thai chili very thinly sliced
- Lime wedges
- Scallions optional, for serving
- ¼ cup salted peanuts finely crushed or chopped
Optional marinated cucumbers
- 1 small cucumber thinly sliced
- 1 Tbsp mirin or rice wine vinegar
- ½ tsp Kosher salt
- ½ tsp granulated sugar
- Sesame seeds optional garnish
- Make the poaching liquid. Combine coconut milk, lemongrass paste (or fresh lemongrass), fish sauce, lime juice, ginger, garlic, and thinly sliced Thai chili in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
- Season the chicken. Cut the thighs into ½" pieces (roughly bite-size), then sprinkle Kosher salt on all sides.
- Poach the chicken. Submerge the chicken into poaching liquid, then cover and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat.
- Serve immediately. Once cooked, serve chicken over fluffy jasmine rice, spooning extra poaching liquid on top. Garnish with fresh cilantro, Thai basil, sliced Thai chilis, lime wedges, scallions (if using), and chopped salted peanuts. This is even more delicious with light and crisp marinated cucumbers for crunch and sweetness!
- To make marinated cucumbers, place cucumbers in a bowl, then add mirin or rice wine vinegar, Kosher salt, and sugar. Toss to coat, then allow to sit for at least 10-15 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired. Serve at room temperature or cold.
- Nutrition facts do not include rice or cucumber salad.
- If you can’t find or don’t want to use lemongrass paste, substitute 1 fresh lemongrass stalk. First, slice off the base of the stalk, then peel and discard any hard outer layers. Next, cut the stalk into 3″ pieces. Use the back of a sharp chef’s knife blade to bang into the lemongrass, smashing the layers open a bit and releasing the aromatic oils. Place smashed stalk pieces into poaching liquid in place of lemongrass paste.
- You can substitute chicken breasts, but cook time will likely need additional time.
- Chicken is safe to eat when an internal temperature of 165 F (74 C) is reached. The best way to ensure this is to check the temperature with a meat thermometer. Cook time varies based on thickness of chicken.
- Thai chili peppers are extremely hot. If you don’t like spice, omit entirely, or only use in poaching liquid and leave off of the finished dish. It’s a super pleasant spice!