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Grilled Thai Chicken Breasts with Herb-Lemongrass Crust


Serves twelve.

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 86

Before chopping the lemongrass, be sure to cut off the spiky green top and enough of the bottom to eliminate the woody core. Peel off a few of the outer layers until you’re left with just the tender heart of the stalk.

  • 1-1/2 cups chopped fresh cilantro (leaves and tender stems)
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped lemongrass (from about 2 stalks)
  • 12 fresh basil leaves
  • 3 Thai bird chiles, 2 jalapeños, or 2 medium serranos, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. packed light brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp. ground coriander
  • 12 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (5 to 5-1/2 lb.), trimmed (remove the tenderloins if still attached)
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges for serving

Combine 1-1/4 cups of the cilantro with the coconut milk, lemongrass, basil, chiles, garlic, salt, brown sugar, pepper, and coriander in a food processor or blender and purée until smooth. Arrange the chicken breasts in a nonreactive baking dish or other vessel large enough to accommodate them in a snug single layer. Pour the marinade over the breasts and turn to coat them well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

Heat a gas grill to medium high or prepare a medium-hot charcoal fire. Grill the chicken (covered on a gas grill) until it has good grill marks on the first side, 4 to 5 minutes. Flip the chicken (cover a gas grill) and continue to cook until firm to the touch and completely cooked through (check by making a slice into one of the thicker breasts), 5 to 6 more minutes. Transfer to a platter and let rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup cilantro and serve with the lime wedges.

Serving Suggestions

Though these breasts are great served hot off the grill, they’re also fine served cold in the coming days, either plain or sliced atop a salad.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 240, Fat (kcal): 7, Fat Calories (g): 70, Saturated Fat (g): 4, Protein (g): 39, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 1.5, Carbohydrates (mg): 3, Polyunsaturated Fat (mg): 1, Sodium (g): 510, Cholesterol (g): 105, Fiber (g): 0,

Photo: Scott Phillips

Excellent marinade. Everyone in our family loves the "green chicken" dish. This is a go-to recipe for summer barbecues and for camping. I plan to make it ahead of time for a 25 person river trip on the Salmon River in Idaho next week. We are the second night dinner and I think the chicken will only benefit from marinating an extra day in the cooler. Every time we prepare this recipe, it gets rave reviews.

Delicious! It's just the two of us so I had left over chicken. I also made the Thai Green Mango recipe ( and had some left over so I made a salad with arugula, mango and chicken. Drizzled a bit of olive oil, rice wine vinegar, lime zest, salt and pepper and it was awesome. I'll definitely make this again.

Awesome marinade, this is a great recipe for a large group. I will definitely make this again.

Once the ingredients were gathered, the prep was easy and satisfying (lots of chopping, great aromas of the fresh herbs, whirring blender, etc.). The finished chicken was delicious, succulent and beautiful on the plate (roasted stringed beans, sweet potato or jasmine rice, lime wedge). I used bone-in breasts and would suggest adding an additional minute per side (6/7) on the grill. I heated extra marinade to spoon over the plated chicken. My picky eater husband LOVED it! I will certainly make this for company.

Love this recipe. Made it several times for parties over the summer and my guests love it. I tend to add more chiles and lemongrass. A definite "go to" recipe!

I'm still learning that fine balance of chicken being moist and done or dry and overdone; especially on a charcoal grill. This was my first experience where it came out perfectly seasoned and perfectly done. It was also a very easy recipe. I did use the full can of coconut milk as I couldn't waste it. I'll plan better next time with a use for the extras. I think the only thing I would change would be to leave some of the heat on the peppers instead of taking out all the seeds and membranes. I served it with the Lemon Rice Salad and a simple green salad. I will absolutely make this again.

I really enjoyed this recipe, as a chef im always looking for new ways to prepare chicken breast. I myself love cooking of course, but at home my time is very limited as most working persons. To speed up the marinating and cooking time for this recipe 1. pound the chicken breast so that it has the same thickness all across. 2. put chicken in ziplock bag and pour your marinate in bag. 3. let the chicken marinate at least 20 mins. 4. you can grill this indoor as well on a George Forman grill. Grill it on a hot setting. tip: if you want to eat at a later day you can place in the freezer for up to a month, as long as you properly place in ziplock freezer bag, removing as much air as possible,let thaw before cooking. Then Enjoy!! This recipe taste awesome as an wrap with lavosh or bibb lettuce!!

Very good! We made it for a BBQ and it was a huge hit.

My husband and I love Thai food and we're fortunate enough to live near some amazing Thai restaurants. That said, we both loved this recipe! I marinated the chicken all day and although it was a little time consuming to prepare, it was worth it. Great with some jasmine rice and cucumber salad on the side! Will definitely make again!

My husband and I love Thai food and we both loved this recipe. I marinated the chicken all day and although it was a little time consuming to prepare, it was worth it. Will definitely make again!

Just made this for dinner tonight, really, really good! I eat a lot of chicken breasts and get tired of the same ol same ol, anyway these had TONS of flavor and you can adjust the heat. I halved the recipe to try it just for me and my husband, but will make this for guests at a BBQ in the near future for sure! Finding the lemon grass was tricky in my area, but finally found it and I believe you cannot do without it in this recipe, it adds that certain something that makes it really great.

This was a hit at a bbq this past weekend. No one could believe that grilled chicken breasts could taste this good. Loved the Thai flavors and didn't find it to be too spicy, which was good since we were also serving kids. Had it alongside grilled vegetables (a Giada recipe off and a coconut basmati rice. Will definitely make the entire menu again!

Great juicy, versatile chicken! And no worries if you want to half the recipe like we did.

Adds great taste to chicken! Perfect for large groups.

I've used this recipe for parties of 12 and for family dinners and it always gets glowing comments. The time it takes to prepare and marinate is well worth it

very tasty, great for the big family barbecues.

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