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Asian-Inspired BBQ Chicken

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Think of this dish as Chicken Teriyaki with a South Asian flair, or India meets the other flavors of Asia.

Flavored with soy sauce, ginger, lime, and garam masala (an Indian spice blend), this dish blends ingredients from all over Asia. It’s deliciously different, perfect for when you want to fire up the grill and elevate the usual cookout fare. Because of the sugar content in the marinade, the chicken gets gorgeously caramelized and charred on the grill.

For the chicken, you’ll need boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I know many people prefer chicken breasts, but I hope you’ll give the thighs a try here  — they’re juicier and more flavorful than boneless chicken breasts (not to mention more economical), which makes them a much better match for the bold flavors in this dish.

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Asian-Inspired BBQ Chicken

Think of this dish as Chicken Teriyaki with a South Asian flair, or India meets the other flavors of Asia.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 30 Minutes, plus at least 3 hours to marinate the chicken


  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, from 2-3 limes
  • 1½ tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ teaspoon Asian sesame oil
  • ¾ teaspoon Garam Masala (substitute curry powder if you can't find it)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1½ teaspoons fresh grated ginger
  • ½ 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.

Pair with

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, Edamam.com. 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.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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  • Hi Jenn
    Many thanks for all these wonderful recipes. A quick one on these: Is it very important to debone the thighs? I have skin on bone in chicken thighs and was wondering if I could get away with using them as they are?

    • That’s fine, Sarah – they’ll just take longer to cook. I’d reduce the heat on the grill so they don’t burn. Enjoy!

  • This is outstanding! I have no question this is a five-star recipe as wwritten, but I did make a couple small changes: I swapped out the garam masala for five-spice powder (personal preference) and used 2 large (approximately 3/4 pound each) boneless skinless breasts because that was what I had. Marinated for about 3 hours and it came out perfectly juicy and tasty. Can’t wait to try it with thighs. Thanks for sharing!

  • This recipe has converted me to chicken thighs, especially on the grill! These were juicy and so flavorful – honestly, some of the best grilled chicken we’ve ever made!

  • I LOVE this recipe and it is in regular rotation in our house. You can adjust the heat to your crowd and it is great for busy weeknights. I’ve also used the marinade as a stir fry sauce with cut up chicken breasts and whatever vegetables I have on hand. Delicious!

  • Hey Jenn. I am looking to make these very soon but I do not have any limes in the house. Is it fine to sub in lemon juice instead? I appreciate your time!

    • Hi Chidinma, Honestly, I think limes would be much better here. Sorry!

      • Thanks so much! I did get some limes this afternoon just in case. I wonder whether it will also be fine to use boneless thighs with the skin on or if I should remove before cooking. Your feedback is always greatly appreciated:)

        • Of course! You can definitely keep the skin on, if you prefer – either way will work.

  • Hello Jenn. Do you think this recipe would work with grilled pork tenderloin? As my husband and I were devouring the delicious chicken thighs, we thought the marinade would also be good with pork tenderloin, but we would like your professional opinion first. Thank you!

    • I do think that’d work, Margie. Please let me know how it turns out!

  • Amazing! I do not have a lot of experience with Asian dishes, so I followed the recipe verbatim except I used a 1/4 tsp of cayenne for the kids. Normally I would put more than the recipe calls for. I grilled the chicken after marinating it and then used the extra cup just as the chicken was finishing up. I paired it with grilled vegetables and basmati rice with a variety of sauces. Yum Yum sauce and spicy orange sauce being my favorites. One of the best meals I’ve prepared recently. The chicken turned out great and the Asian barbecue was amazing!! Thank you. I’m going to add this site to my favorites.

    • — Michael Nelson
    • Reply
  • A big HIT with the hubby and picky kid eaters. I didn’t add any of the “heat” spices for the kids and it was still delicious. My husband who loves “heat” said “This was awesome, even without the “heat”. I served it with your Cauliflower Fried Rice which also was a huge hit with my rice loving husband. Thank you so much for your recipes and adding the “pair with” feature!! BTW, I’ve made several dinners with your recipes and have never been disappointed! I’ll be ordering your cookbook soon!

  • This was great. I doubled the marinade, submerged the chicken in it in a bowl for 4 hours, did not reserve any. Then while the chicken was grilling, I simmered the marinade on the stove for 10 minutes to kill salmonella. That way all the sauce was available to spoon over everything, including side of bok choy. Delish!

  • Easy to follow recipe that tasted amazing!

  • Jen, thanks for another great dinner! I skipped cayenne, because my little ones don’t like “spicy”, but otherwise followed exactly. Also used sauce for chicken legs.
    Served with sweet & tangy slaw. Will likely make a regular appearance at our house.

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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!

    • 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.)

  • 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.

  • 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?

    • 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!

  • 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.

  • I don’t have a grill. Can this be made stovetop/oven? If so for how long and what temperature? Thanks!!

    • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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?

    • I think either rice would be good and Simple Steamed Broccoli would work well as a veggie option.

      • I should have been clearer! I’d like to do something fun as side dishes! Not plain rice! Thanks.

        • 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!

          • 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
          • 🙂 Try jazzing up the rice next time with a little cilantro and garlic — I think that’d work well.

            • — Jenn
  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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 .

    • That is so nice to read, Taruna — thank you! Yes, you can definitely broil the chicken. Enjoy 🙂

  • 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!

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • This sounds yummy but 1536 mg sodium? How can I reduce this without destroying the flavor?

    • 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.

  • I was reading something on yahoo.com 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

  • I have achar masala, would that work instead of garam masala? thanks!

    • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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
    • Reply
  • 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 🙂

  • 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:)

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • I love this recipe for Asian BBQ Chicken. I find it is really good with Risotto and Asparagus!

  • This dish is a GREAT entertaining dish! It’s SO simple but doesn’t taste like it.

  • I made this for my boyfriend and he loved loved it! I marinated the chicken overnight and it was loaded with flavor!

  • Thanks to you I’m using thighs much more often. What a delicious recipe.

    • — Nicki Howerton
    • Reply
  • This dish is SO good! I made it for company recently and they’ve raved about it since! Definite keeper!

  • Tender & deliciious

  • probably one of my most favorite foods

  • This looks so good! I actually like using thighs for teriyaki chicken, so I’ll definitely be using them for this!

    • — Hanna Hutcheson
    • Reply
  • Oh my, my mouth is watering…..sounds so flavorful!!

  • 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, Grill pan would work great.

  • 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!

  • Made this for dinner tonight and it was delish! Your site is one of my favorites, keep the recipe’s coming 🙂

    • I gave this a trial run because I’d like to make it for a large group next week. It was amazing! Is there any type of potato dish that you think would pair well with it – or only rice?

      • Hi Rachel, You could certainly make roasted potatoes with an Asian bent (I see some recipes online that you may want to browse through) with this but I think rice is definitely a natural pairing here. 🙂 Hope you enjoy whatever you make!

        • Thank you 🙂

  • 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!

  • Can I have a bite? Please??

  • 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!

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