These Sweet & Tangy Grilled Chicken Thighs Are 100% Ready for Summer

For busy weeknight dinners, summer BBQs, and beyond.

June 16, 2019

Summer is here, which means that it's time to fire up the grill. We've partnered with Just BARE Chicken, producers of humanely raised chicken, to share one of our test kitchen director's go-to recipes for the season: grilled chicken thighs with a lemongrass glaze.

"There is no greater cut of poultry than the über-versatile chicken thigh," says Senior Editor Eric Kim, aka The Chicken Thigh King. As much as I lean on the ever-popular chicken breast for busy weeknights and meal-prepped lunches, I've since come to realize that he's absolutely right.

Photo by Bobbi Lin. Food Stylist: Samantha Seneviratne. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis.

Juicy and flavorful on their own (just a little bit of salt and pepper will do), chicken thighs are only made better with the addition of spice blends, marinades, and sauces. What's more, they can make an appearance in just about any dish—from BBQ and tacos, to stews and yakitori—without skipping a beat.

They also happen to make a wonderful summer grilling companion (if you don't have a grill, a cast-iron skillet will work just fine), a statement that I'll back up with evidence: these quick-marinated, ultra-flavorful grilled chicken thighs with lemongrass glaze from our test kitchen director, Josh Cohen.

Inspired by the flavors of Thailand and Vietnam, the sweet, sticky, and spicy-ish marinade gets its flavor from finely grated lemongrass and brown sugar, plus punchy ingredients like ginger, garlic, chiles, fish sauce, and fresh-squeezed lime. You won't need to let the boneless, skinless chicken thighs hang out in this mixture for too long, though—just 45 minutes is plenty of time for them to soak up all that flavor.

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Top Comment:
“Grilling the chicken is essential, and we found it necessary to finish it in the oven to make sure it was completely cooked through. The glaze is insane! We served it over rice, but I am excited to try the banh mi sandwich variation, as well as the lettuce wraps. I will be making this again and again!! Thank-you so much for sharing it! ”
— Candice

After that, they're ready to hit the grill for a couple of minutes on each side; the heat not only caramelizes the sugar, but also adds a nice char to the outside that plays off the sweetness. Then that leftover marinade gets reduced in a pan over a low flame until it becomes a thick, silky glaze that the chicken gets coated in right before serving.

And the possibilities for serving are pretty much endless, but here are a few of my favorites:

  • When I'm hosting a BBQ or cookout, I like to whip up a double (or triple) batch and serve them fresh off the grill over a bed of steamed rice, with fresh cilantro sprinkled over top.
  • For a no-fuss weeknight dinner, I'll cut the chicken thighs intro strips and make a quick salad of romaine lettuce, shaved carrots, edamame, and pickled radishes (any extra glaze makes a great dressing).
  • Another dinner-friendly alternative: Chop the chicken thighs into cubes and stir them into fried rice.
  • If I've got leftovers, I'll stuff a chicken thigh or two in a baguette for a banh mi-inspired sandwich (don't forget the cucumber, cilantro, and pickled daikon, plus a swipe of mayo).
  • For the easiest-ever appetizer (or lunch), I'll slice up the chicken thighs and toss them in crisp lettuce wraps with cabbage and pickled carrots.

I'm sure there are dozens of other tasty ways to spin these grilled chicken thighs; my latest idea involves using them as a pizza topping, along with pickled red onion, mozzarella, and cilantro. But the beauty is that they're simple enough to make over and over again so you can experiment all summer long.

What's your favorite way to grill chicken? Tell us in the comments below!

In partnership with Just BARE Chicken—producers of all-natural, humanely raised, and organic varieties of chicken that are always free of antibiotics, added hormones, or artificial additives —we're excited to share our new go-to summer grilling recipe, starring chicken thighs. Juicy, easy to cook, and oh so flavorful, these grilled chicken thighs can be eaten any which way (from a hearty sandwich to crispy fried rice) but our favorite is simply served over a bed of fluffy white rice. But no matter which way you serve them, if you're cooking with Just BARE Chicken, you know you're cooking up something wholesome.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Erin Alexander

Written by: Erin Alexander

Erin Alexander is the Managing Editor of Brand Partnerships at Food52, covering pop culture, travel, foods of the internet, and all things #sponsored. Formerly at Men’s Journal, Men’s Fitness, Us Weekly, and Hearst, she currently lives in New York City.


Jana June 24, 2019
Where's the instructions that are written? I can't download the video so the instructions would be appreciated along with the ingredients. How am I to remember to grate the lemongrass? The ingredients don't tell me that.....
TrumanBear June 27, 2019
I was confused too, but here is the link to the full recipe...
Candice June 23, 2019
This is an excellent recipe! My partner and I tested it out during the week for a BBQ we were hosting later that week, and were so blown away by the flavors. Grilling the chicken is essential, and we found it necessary to finish it in the oven to make sure it was completely cooked through. The glaze is insane! We served it over rice, but I am excited to try the banh mi sandwich variation, as well as the lettuce wraps. I will be making this again and again!! Thank-you so much for sharing it!
Tee June 20, 2019
If u r talking about the Bare Chicken it is a wonderful tasting chicken cooked in my local grocery store...ready to go and I'm so happy with is a quick night for dinner after a long day and makes a great pot of soup afterwards. I hope it catches on. For only 2 dollars more than store roasted ready to go's taste alone as well as, the exposure to pestacides it is worth it. Sometimes you find good things in the ads... sometimes not. But I suppose they support the websites.
Tee June 20, 2019
That's reduced exposure to pestacides for our and in the future
Julie June 19, 2019
I don’t appreciate these sponsored posts. Who is with me?
Veggie A. July 1, 2020
Food52 gives absolutely tons of free content! Everybody’s got to make a living - I don’t mind a sponsored post now and then.