Asian recipes/ Chicken/ Dinner/ Lunch/ One-pot recipes/ Snacks & Fingerfood

Vietnamese Caramelised Chicken with Coconut, Lime & Lemongrass

8 October 2022

I’ll say a big YES to any Vietnamese dish, I just love the contrasts between flavours, textures and ingredients. These chicken thighs are sweet, savoury, spicy, tangy, crispy and fall off the bone good. And one of the best parts, the chicken is cooked in coconut water! It’s the first time I’ve tried this and it’s amazing!

They’re first marinated in a mix of sesame oil, spring onions, garlic, chili peppers, fish sauce, sugar and lemongrass. Then pan fried on one side for a few minutes until the skin crisps up, turns a lovely brown and the fat renders out a bit.
Turn the chicken thighs over, add the rest of the marinade, some roughly chopped white onions and 1.5 cups of coconut water. Simmer with the lid on for ± 25 minutes till the meat is cooked through. Remove the lid, drizzle with some honey and continue to cook until the sauce reduces into a thick sticky sauce, ± 20 minutes. At the end squeeze in the juice of a lime for extra zing. Serve with some extra chili’s and fish sauce. Sooooo good!

Serve just as is as a starter or with some steamed white rice and vegetables as a main.

Recipe inspired by the amazing @seonkyounglongest , in the end I added lemongrass to the marinade and lime juice to the sauce.

Vietnamese Caramelised Chicken with Coconut, Lime & Lemongrass

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Dinner, lunch, fingerfood Asian, Vietnamese
By Seonkyoung Longest & Saffron Serves: 2-4 (depending how hungry you are)
Prep Time: 5 minutes + marinading time Cooking Time: 45 minutes Total Time: 50 minutes + marinading time


  • The Marinade
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tbsp fish sauce
  • 5 green onions, white part only, roughly chopped
  • 2 to 3 red chili, roughly chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1.5 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, roughly chopped
  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (see notes)
  • The Sauce
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large white onion, sliced into rings
  • 1.5 cup 100% coconut water
  • 1.5 tbsp honey
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • To serve (see notes)
  • Fish sauce
  • Thai red chili's, finely chopped
  • Spring onions, the green part, finely chopped



For this dish you need a frying pan with a lid.


Add all the marinade ingredients (excl. the chicken of course) into a blender and blitz until you get a smooth paste.


Massage the marinade into the chicken, making sure everything is coated. Place in a an airtight container and marinade for at least an hour in the fridge.


Heat the vegetable oil in the frying pan. Scrape any excess marinade off the chicken (keep the marinade!) and place the thighs skin down in the pan. Fry for 3-4 minutes on medium heat until the skin crisps up, the chicken doesn't have to cook through yet.


Turn the chicken thighs over and sprinkle the onions in between. Deglaze the pan with the coconut water, scraping down all the brown goodness from the pan. Stir in the rest of the marinade and close the pan with a lid.


Let the chicken simmer on low heat for ± 25 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.


When the 25 minutes is up, take the lid off and turn the heat up high. Drizzle the honey over the top and keep stirring and moving the chicken around.


Let the sauce reduce until a thick gravy, this will take about 15-20 minutes. Keep your eye on the pan so the sugars don't burn. Keep turning the thighs over so everything stays coated in the sauce.


When happy with the consistency of the sauce, remove the chicken from the pan and place under the grill or broiler for 2-3 minutes, skin side up, to crisp up the skin (this step is optional, I like my skin crispy).


Serve with the fish sauce, red chili and spring onions (or the nuoc cham dipping sauce (see notes).


  • I wouldn't use chicken breast for this recipe as it will dry out too much. You can use skinless chicken thighs, the preparation is the same, but you won't get the same colouring and crispy skin of course, still super tasty!
  • This chicken would also be great with Nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce, see the recipe here in one of my other Vietnamese dishes

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