Vietnamese five spice chicken is a simple yet delicious grilled chicken recipe, marinated in delicious spices and fragrant lemongrass to make a truly mouthwatering dish.
It’s super versatile and can be great paired with a side of rice or on its own. This is a great option to prep in advance and grill to serve with some rice bowls throughout the week.
✅ Why This Recipe Works
Easy to make – No hours of prep needed – just add the chicken to the marinade and grill when you want to eat
Very Versatile – You can add this chicken to a rice bowl, with some garlic noodles, as a Vietnamese sandwich, or pair with some veggies and eat as is.
Healthy and nutritious – This is a great lean protein recipe – the marinade is very low in calories and pairs well with the chicken, making a great Healthy Vietnamese recipe
💭 What is Vietnamese Five Spice Chicken?
Vietnamese five spice chicken is a cut of chicken marinated in five spice, fish sauce, and fresh lemongrass, giving it a deliciously tangy, citrus, and sweet flavor. It is a staple in Vietnamese food and can be found served with a side of nuoc cham dipping sauce and a side of rice, or in bahn mis (Vietnamese sandwiches). It's super versatile, delicious, and a great option for lean protein that packs a delicious flavor.
🍎 Calories and Nutrition – How to Make It Healthy
A serving of Vietnamese five spice chicken, with a serving of rice, is only 392 calories with 39 grams of protein, 16 grams of fat, and 42 grams of carbs. Given the high protein content from the chicken, low-calorie content from the seasonings, and a portioned side of carbs, this is a very healthy dish that is well-balanced with macronutrients.
For a detailed breakdown of each ingredient, their portioning, and how they make up the nutrition profile of this Vietnamese five spice chicken recipe, you may refer to the table below:
|5 Spice Chicken Rice
📋 Ingredient Notes
To make the Vietnamese five-spice grilled chicken, you’ll need the following key ingredients.
- Five Spice – This is a popular medley of spices in Asian cuisine and includes star anise, cloves, fennel seeds, Szechuan peppercorns, and cinnamon. It gives the dish its distinct rich and flavorful spice flavor.
- Boneless chicken thighs – I opted for boneless skinless chicken thighs since it has enough fat for the flavor but not too much so that it would make the dish unhealthy.
- Fish Sauce – Gives the sauce a very umami and tangy funk with savory flavors
- Brown Sugar – Balanced out the saltiness of the dish and gives it a delicious umami flavor. Traditionally, palm sugar is used, but I used brown sugar given it is harder to find. You can also use granulated sugar.
- Lemongrass – A fragrant herb that gives the chicken a hint of citrus and freshness. You can get these at most Asian markets, or your local grocery store if you're lucky. You can also substitute with a tube of lemongrass paste, although the flavor won't be quite the same.
See my recipe card below for a complete list of the ingredients with measurements.
📖 Substitutions and Variations
Swap soy sauce for oyster sauce – It has a thicker and sweeter consistency.
Replace the sugar with honey – Be sure to portion the honey mindfully
Whole Chicken breast or boneless chicken breasts instead of chicken thigh would also work well here.
Chicken skewers – Add these on some skewers for a great easy-to-eat snack.
Switch up the herbs – Garnish with Thai basil or spring onions
🔪 Step by Step Instructions
Prepare the marinade – Mince the garlic and lemongrass. In a large bowl, mix together with give spice, fish sauce, soy sauce, and sugar.
Marinade the chicken – Trim the excess fat off the chicken. Mix in the marinade thoroughly and let marinade for at least an hour, or overnight for best results.
Cook the chicken – Heat a cast iron on the stove to about medium-high heat. Spray the cooking oil on the pan and add the marinated chicken thighs into the pan in a single layer for about 4-5 minutes on each side, or until there is a tender white core on the chicken. Pour the reserved marinade over the chicken while it is cooking to baste it.
Garnish and serve – Serve the chicken with a side of rice and garnish with some fresh herbs and chili flakes. Serve and enjoy your Vietnamese chicken!
🍽 What To Eat It With
In this Vietnamese five spice chicken recipe, I paired the chicken with a side of white rice. This is a super versatile dish that can be paired with several other options including the following:
- Garlic noodles
- Rice Noodles or rice vermicelli, to make a Bun Cha (Rice noodle Bowl)
- In a baguette to make a Vietnamese banh mi (sandwich)
- Serve with a side of fresh vegetables
💡 Expert Tips
Lemongrass Tips – To prepare lemongrass, start by peeling it back a few layers to reach the white fleshy part. Then, cut the lemongrass into thin slices until the purple rings disappear.
For more information about how to cook with lemongrass, check out this article from The Spruce Eats on How to Prepare Lemongrass.
Alternative Ways to Cook – You can also cook this in an air fryer, on the grill, or in the oven.
🍳Ways To Cook
I like to cook it in the cast iron to give it a delicious smokey flavor without having to fire up the grill. You can also use these alternatives.
Cook on a grill – Grill the chicken at 165F for around 8-10 minutes.
Cook in an air fryer – Follow the instructions for my air fryer lemongrass chicken for cooking directions.
Oven bake – Add the marinated chicken to a baking sheet and bake at 425F for 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 160F. You can use a meat thermometer to gauge the temperature.
💭 Recipe FAQs
Prepare the chicken and marinade and put them in the Ziploc bag. Take it out to cook within 2 days and serve it your way.
You can marinate the chicken in the fridge for up to 2 days. After cooking, it can last for about 3 days in an airtight container.
Alternatively, you can also store the raw marinated chicken in the freezer for up to 3 months.
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Vietnamese Five Spice Chicken Recipe
- 1 Cast Iron
- 1 teaspoon Five spice powder
- 1 tablespoon Fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon Soy Sauce
- 1 teaspoon Honey
- 2 cloves Garlic
- 1 stalk Lemongrass
Chicken and Rice
- 6 oz Boneless skinless chicken thigh
- 1 serving Brown Rice (¼ cup uncooked)
- Salt and Pepper
- Cilantro and red pepper flakes (For garnish)
- Prepare the marinade – Mince the garlic and lemongrass. In a large bowl, mix together with give spice, fish sauce, soy sauce, and sugar.
- Marinade the chicken – Trim the excess fat off the chicken. Mix in the marinade thoroughly and let marinade for at least an hour, or overnight for best results.
- Cook the chicken – Heat a cast iron on the stove to about medium-high heat. Spray the cooking oil on the pan and add the marinated chicken thighs into the pan in a single layer for about 4-5 minutes on each side, or until there is a tender white core on the chicken. Pour the reserved marinade over the chicken while it is cooking to baste it.
- Garnish and serve – Serve the chicken with a side of rice and garnish with some fresh herbs and chili flakes. Serve and enjoy your Vietnamese chicken!