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Asian BBQ Chicken

5 stars based on 12 votes

BBQ chicken

Think of this dish as Chicken Teriyaki with a South Asian flair, or India meets the other flavors of Asia. It sounds exotic but it’s actually kid-friendly and easy to make.


The marinade is a simple mix of soy sauce, brown sugar, fresh lime juice, a bit of oil, garlic, ginger and spices. What makes it unique is Garam Masala, an aromatic Indian and South Asian spice blend containing cinnamon, coriander, cardamom, cumin, nutmeg, mace, peppercorns and cloves. You can find it at Whole Foods or other specialty markets — it’s worth adding to your spice rack for sure.


After the chicken marinates a few hours, you simply grill it until it turns a dark, golden brown, then scatter finely sliced scallions over top. Serve with basmati rice and enjoy!


Note: For the chicken, you’ll need boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I know some people might prefer white meat, but I hope you’ll give the thighs a try  — they’re juicier and more flavorful than boneless chicken breasts (not to mention more economical!), which makes them a better match for the bold flavors here. 

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Asian BBQ Chicken

Servings: 4
Total Time: 30 Minutes


  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons soy sauce (use gluten-free if needed)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, from 2-3 limes
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon Garam Masala (substitute curry powder if you can't find it)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (use less if you don't like heat)
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 scallions light and dark green parts only, thinly sliced


  1. In a medium bowl, mix together all of the ingredients except for the chicken and scallions. Set ¼ cup of the marinade aside and cover (you'll use this later for the sauce), then place the rest in a zip-lock freezer bag with the chicken thighs. Be sure the chicken is evenly coated with the marinade, then place the bag in the refrigerator (in a bowl in case of leakage); let marinate for 3-4 hours.
  2. Preheat grill to high heat.
  3. Grease the grill. (Lightly dip a wad of paper towels in vegetable oil; then, using tongs, carefully rub the towels over the grates several times until glossy and coated.) Place the chicken on the grill; cover and cook 3-5 minutes on each side, or until nicely browned and done. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter, then top with the reserved marinade and sliced scallions.
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Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (4 servings)
  • Calories: 653
  • Fat: 44g
  • Saturated fat: 11g
  • Carbohydrates: 26g
  • Sugar: 21g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 39g
  • Sodium: 1536mg
  • Cholesterol: 222mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Reviews & Comments

  • 5 stars

    Just delicious! The marinade was soooo good- someone suggested making more than required so that there is extra for drizzling, and I heartily second that opinion. Fantastic!

    - Astrid on November 16, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Made this a couple of weeks ago and it was a big hit! No leftovers even! I made a little extra sauce so you could spoon it over the rice. Will have a redo for sure!
    Thanks for another great recipe!

    - Naz on June 22, 2017 Reply
  • I have some chicken legs I need to use up and thought I would try this recipe using them. How would you suggest I cook them as I don’t have a grill? They will have the bone in them, so will need to cook much longer I suppose.

    Also, do you have other recipes for chicken legs that would be good to serve guests. I am having friends over and wanted to use up the legs I have already in the fridge. Thanks!

    - Danielle on November 14, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Danielle, You could use the method used for these chicken drumsticks. (And this is an additional option to use up the extra chicken legs you have in the fridge.)

      - Jenn on November 15, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I love this recipe! I’m making it tonight for the second time. I’m glad you encouraged using chicken thighs. I have never cooked with them but they are excellent in this dish.

    - Sherry on October 27, 2016 Reply
  • Hi Jen! In your other recipes you often say to use lime zest rather than juice in marinades which can make the chicken leathery. Is this an exception or would it be better to use the zest instead? If so how much?

    - Adrienne on August 11, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Adrienne, That rule only applies with white meat/chicken breasts so it’s fine to use lime juice with chicken thighs. Hope that helps!

      - Jenn on August 11, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    My family absolutely loved this marinade! I followed the directions with only one exception. I marinated my chicken thighs overnight. In the future I will increase the marinade ingredients slightly, in order to have a larger quantity for the sauce.

    - Darlene on April 24, 2016 Reply
  • I don’t have a grill. Can this be made stovetop/oven? If so for how long and what temperature? Thanks!!

    - Jenny on April 7, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Jenny, Yes, you can definitely cook this in the oven. Use the broiler and cook it for the same amount of time that the recipe calls for. Enjoy!

      - Jenn on April 7, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Made this today for dinner. Seriously good. I think the boneless skinless thighs are really the way to go when marinating and bbqing.
    Will be making this again for sure.

    - SandraM on March 30, 2016 Reply
  • I can’t get a feel for whether this will lean towards Japanese or Indian! What sides do you recommend, other than plain jasmine or basmati rice?

    - LB on January 26, 2016 Reply
    • I think either rice would be good and Simple Steamed Broccoli would work well as a veggie option.

      - Jenn on January 26, 2016 Reply
      • I should have been clearer! I’d like to do something fun as side dishes! Not plain rice! Thanks.

        - LB on January 26, 2016 Reply
        • Ah, got it. The sauce on the chicken is really flavorful, so I’d still keep the sides pretty simple. What about doing a cilantro rice like this one? That’d be pretty and a little more fun than plain jasmine rice, but still not too overpowering. As for a veggie, you could do roasted carrots with ginger (see this recipe), or throw a mix of veggies on the grill. Or combine the starch and veggie and make an Asian fried rice. Hope that helps!

          - Jenn on January 26, 2016 Reply
          • Thank you Jenn! I made plain basmati rice and the ginger carrots (and broccoli). Chicken was awesome, but the veggies competed too much with the chicken. I should have stuck with your original suggestion! Love your site. I am having lots of fun going through the recipes. So is my family!

            - LB on January 27, 2016
          • 🙂 Try jazzing up the rice next time with a little cilantro and garlic — I think that’d work well.

            - Jenn on January 27, 2016
  • 4 stars

    I used skinless drumsticks and boneless, skinless thighs. I started it on the stove and finished it in the oven. I really enjoyed the flavor. One kid was leary at first, noting how sticky the pieces were, but ended up eating three drumsticks! I’d say it was a hit. Thanks, Jen!

    - Mo on January 7, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I happened to be at whole foods and saw a small bag of Garam Masala for $1.99. I made the Asian BBQ chicken sauce as instructed but used wings and drumsticks instead of thighs. I also baked the chicken, broiling once the chicken was cooked. It was delicious, sweet and savory!!!! In fact I am already looking forward to making it again.

    - Christina on November 12, 2015 Reply
  • Hi Jen, thanks for a collection of awesome recipes . I have tried a few and they always turn out delicious . Because of you my daughters enjoy cooking. Can I make this chicken in the oven .

    - Taruna on October 9, 2015 Reply
    • That is so nice to read, Taruna — thank you! Yes, you can definitely broil the chicken. Enjoy 🙂

      - Jenn on October 10, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This is a delicious recipe. I followed the recipe as printed even though I am not all that fond of chicken thighs. Very tasty marinade with just a hint of heat. Will definitely make again. Thanks!

    - Delada on September 2, 2015 Reply
  • How do you recommend measuring for a half tablespoon (i.e. 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil). Thanks. Just trying the Asian BBQ chicken for the first time.

    - Delada on September 1, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Delada, A half tablespoon equals 1-1/2 teaspoons — but honestly you can just eyeball it 🙂

      - Jenn on September 1, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This is another perfect grilled chicken recipe. I used Chicken Breasts and they were wonderful. So much flavor. The Garam Masala and ginger sent it over the top.

    - Cindy G on August 27, 2015 Reply
  • This sounds yummy but 1536 mg sodium? How can I reduce this without destroying the flavor?

    - Phil on August 9, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Phil, The only way to reduce the sodium would be to use low sodium soy sauce. If you try it, please let me know how it turns out.

      - Jenn on August 10, 2015 Reply
  • I was reading something on about chicken recipes around the world. I was able to pin the first 2, Asian BBQ, and Thai Minced Chicken lettuce. How can I get the rest of this list?

    Thank you

    - elaine on July 12, 2015 Reply
  • I have achar masala, would that work instead of garam masala? thanks!

    - Kelly on February 19, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Kelly, I believe that is a pickling spice mix so, unfortunately, I don’t think it would be a good substitute. You’re better off using curry powder if you can’t find garam masala. Hope that helps!

      - Jenn on February 19, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    What I like the most about the recipes on this site is that they are inspiring (I appreciate the Asian, Middle Eastern, and Latin flavors infused throughout) but detailed enough for those of us who are not instinctively fabulous cooks. They are also flexible, so they make cooking a fun time rather than a stressful one. For example, I didn’t have Garam Masala, but upon looking up what most blends required, I realized I had everything except the nutmeg, so I created my own “in a pinch Garam Masala” mix and pressed on. I also threw in ¼ teaspoon of Chinese 5 Spice because it has the nutmeg I didn’t have by itself, plus other sweet-savory elements that I thought would complement the dish…I didn’t have chicken thighs, so I used leg quarters that I skinned and deboned. I couldn’t use my grill (it’s covered with snow) so I cooked it in a cast iron skillet on the stovetop at medium-low (covered) until the chicken looked almost done, then at a higher temp, uncovered, to caramelize the sauce that was still clinging on. Even with all the changes, it turned out out-of-this-world delicious! It is fragrant and sticky and sweet and spicy (but not hot) and made me forget I was eating boring chicken again. I served it with white jasmine rice and sautéed spinach. It was one of the best “workday” meals I’ve cooked in a while. Thank you for making cooking such a pleasure!

    - rodriyaya on January 27, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Everybody loved it, from my 6-month-old to my 62 year old mother, who said, “This is dark meat?!” We are definitely adding this to our regular rotation. Thanks so much for the recipe!

    - Courtney Ostaff on September 17, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made your chicken lettuce wraps this week and they were yummy! Will definetely make them again! I love your blog and web page… you are becoming my favorite 🙂

    - MARY ALLEN on August 7, 2014 Reply
  • I used five spice powder found in the ethnic aisle of my grocery store in place of Garam Marsala. Smells divine, been marinating all night! I’ll post results later:)

    - Denise on May 26, 2014 Reply
  • I made this last night for my kids and they both loved it! That’s saying a lot since one of my boys is on a strict white food diet :). What a simple and great recipe, thanks Jenn for another hit!

    - Carrie H on May 19, 2014 Reply
  • I tried this last night and the flavor was very good. My daughter, who likes dark meat, loved it! My husband didn’t care for the dark meat so I will make again because the flavor was great but I think I will make it with both white and dark meat next time. Also, the sauce reminded me of a Chinese dumplings dipping sauce and I’m excited to try it with that as well! Thanks for the recipe!

    - Cheryl on July 15, 2013 Reply
  • I love this recipe for Asian BBQ Chicken. I find it is really good with Risotto and Asparagus!

    - Linda on March 12, 2013 Reply
  • This dish is a GREAT entertaining dish! It’s SO simple but doesn’t taste like it.

    - Amy Simonson on March 9, 2013 Reply
  • I made this for my boyfriend and he loved loved it! I marinated the chicken overnight and it was loaded with flavor!

    - Nicole Conger on March 9, 2013 Reply
  • Thanks to you I’m using thighs much more often. What a delicious recipe.

    - Nicki Howerton on October 2, 2012 Reply
  • This dish is SO good! I made it for company recently and they’ve raved about it since! Definite keeper!

    - Amy Simonson on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • Tender & deliciious

    - alicia on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • probably one of my most favorite foods

    - Arnold on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • This looks so good! I actually like using thighs for teriyaki chicken, so I’ll definitely be using them for this!

    - Hanna Hutcheson on March 5, 2012 Reply
  • Oh my, my mouth is watering…..sounds so flavorful!!

    - Lisa on March 2, 2012 Reply
  • I live in they city and do not have a grill. Can you recommend a way to cook this either on a grill pan or in the oven? Thanks. Looks great!

    - Lori on January 12, 2012 Reply
    • Lori, Grill pan would work great.

      - Jenn on January 12, 2012 Reply
  • I made this last night and we loved it. Even my husband who is not a big fan of chicken had seconds! It was so flavorful. thanks!

    - Lynne on August 3, 2010 Reply
  • Made this for dinner tonight and it was delish! Your site is one of my favorites, keep the recipe’s coming 🙂

    - Masha on July 31, 2010 Reply
  • omg!! that loooooksss amazing!!
    looks really easy to make too!!
    my bf is one of those ppl who only eat chicken breasts which is a bit annoying! but i think i will definitely give this recipe a try with chicken thighs!! thanks!

    - kwanster on July 23, 2010 Reply
  • Can I have a bite? Please??

    - Carla on July 22, 2010 Reply
  • You are so right about using chicken thighs! So much more tender and flavorful than chicken breasts on the grill. What a great idea to use Garam Masala; I’ll be trying it, for sure!

    - Kath on July 21, 2010 Reply

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