Gai Yang – Best Thai Grilled Chicken Recipe

Well, it’s actually just a Gai Yang or Thai grilled chicken.  But it does look mildly obscene, don’t you agree?  The poor innocent chicken is stripped bare and spread out in a rather immodest position for all the world to see.  It’s also quite immoderately delicious, and inordinately easy to do.

There’s a term for this flatten-out chicken, it’s called “spatchcock”.  To spatchcock, a chicken is to remove its backbone and flatten it out before cooking.  I doubt the folks grilling the chickens on the street in Bangkok know the proper culinary term, but this is precisely how they do it over there.  It makes things a whole lot easier to do a whole chicken on the grill.  I also think that it normalizes cooking time so that the breasts, legs, and thighs finish cooking at about the same time.  I’ve never had dried-out breasts and undercooked thighs when grilled like this over low fire.

This chicken got a Thai seasoning rubbed all over and let marinate for a bit.  It doesn’t take that long, really, just prepare the chicken before you set your barbecue afire.  By the time the fire dies down enough to cook the chicken, the marinade will have done its job.

In Thailand, a grilled chicken like this is usually served with two sauces: one is often referred to as “grilled-chicken sauce”, which is basically a sweetish chili sauce you can buy in a bottle, and the other is a Jaew sauce, which is basically this dressing I used in my Ugly Salad post last week.  You can use either, or both, or none at all.

Gai Yang, Thai Grilled Chicken

Gai Yang - Thai Grilled Chicken Recipe
Gai Yang - Thai Grilled Chicken Recipe


  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass, use only up to about 3 inches from the root (optional)
  • 1-2 tbsp of chopped cilantro roots or the bottom part of cilantro stalks
  • 1/2 tbsp white and black peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 3 tbsp canola oil or other mild-tasting cooking oil
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder (or curry powder if that’s all you have)
  • a dash of rice vinegar


Peel and finely chop the garlic.  Peel the tough outer part of the lemongrass, and discard everything but the inner stalks, about three inches from the root.  Finely chop the lemongrass.

In a mortar or food processor, pound (or process) the garlic, lemongrass, cilantro roots, and peppercorns together.  In Thailand, we use only white peppercorns, but I like to mix a few black peppercorns in it as well.  You can do as you wish, or as your kitchen pantry dictates.  Work everything together into a fine paste.

Add the oyster sauce, fish sauce, oil, turmeric powder, and rice vinegar into the mortar and mix well.  You might need to take the paste from the mortar into a bowl before doing this, depending on the size of your mortar.

Spatchcock your chicken.  The only thing I suggest differently is to use a kitchen sheer instead of a knife to cut off the backbone–much easier that way, trust me.

Place your spatchcocked chicken on a large serving platter and massage the marinade paste all over that baby.  Let the chicken rest while you go take care of the fire.  Let the fire die down to almost ember before you place the chicken on the barbecue.  You want to do this on a very low fire or your chicken will burn before it’s fully cooked.

Grill the chicken, basting a few times with the remaining marinade until done.  Serve with a chicken sauce or Jaew sauce.

In conclusion, the Gai Yang Thai Grilled Chicken is a mouthwatering delight that captures the authentic flavors of Thai cuisine. The step-by-step instructions and detailed ingredient list make it accessible for both novice and experienced cooks. The marinade’s combination of aromatic herbs and spices infuses the chicken with a burst of exotic flavors that tantalize the taste buds. The grilling process imparts a smoky and charred essence, elevating the dish to a culinary masterpiece. Whether you’re hosting a barbecue or craving an exotic meal at home, this recipe offers a delightful taste of Thailand that will leave your guests and family craving for more.


Unveiling the Taste of Thailand at Home!

Rated 5.0 out of 5
October 17, 2023

From the moment I marinated the chicken in those tantalizing Thai spices, I knew I was in for a treat. Grilling it to perfection yielded succulent, flavorful bites that transported me to the streets of Bangkok.

The clear and concise instructions on the website made it a breeze to recreate this Thai favorite, even for someone with limited experience like myself. The vibrant, aromatic dipping sauce was the perfect finishing touch, adding an extra layer of authenticity to the dish. If you’re craving the flavors of Thailand and a culinary adventure in your own kitchen, this recipe is a must-try. Trust me; it’s a taste sensation that will have you coming back for more!


Delightful Thai Grilled Chicken – A Flavor Explosion on My Taste Buds!

Rated 5.0 out of 5
October 17, 2023

This Gai Yang recipe was a scrumptious journey to Thailand in my own kitchen, with every bite bursting with authentic, zesty flavors.


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