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Sambal Chicken Skewers


Kebabs get a bad rap. (Decades of alternating zucchini coins and cherry tomatoes can do that.) But this Asian take, with a spicy, sticky glaze, makes for a very convincing comeback.




cup (packed) light brown sugar


cup unseasoned rice vinegar


cup hot chili paste (such as sambal oelek)


cup fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)


cup Sriracha


teaspoon finely grated peeled ginger


1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2-inch–2-inch pieces


bamboo skewers soaked in water at least 1 hour


Step 1

Prepare grill for medium-high heat. Whisk brown sugar, vinegar, chili paste, fish sauce, Sriracha, and ginger in a large bowl. Add chicken and toss to coat. Remove chicken and thread 4 or 5 pieces onto each skewer.

Step 2

Transfer leftover marinade to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until reduced by half (about 1 cup), 7–10 minutes.

Step 3

Grill chicken, turning and basting often with reduced marinade, until cooked through, 8–10 minutes.

Reviews (21)

  • I have been making this marinade with chicken since it appeared in Bon Appétit. It is by far my most referenced recipe. I love it! I use it with or without skin on whole chicken thighs. Skewers are the best as there is more sauce! Thank you for an awesome recipe!



    • 1/19/2021

  • We've been making this recipe since I saw it in the magazine when it was published, hard to believe it's been 7 years now. Always a favorite of my teenage boys. There was a garlicy dip that accompanied the recipe that I can't seem to find now, but I wing what I remember.. Mayo, Greek yogurt, lemon juice, fresh garlic, anchovy paste, salt and pepper. Helps mitigate the spiciness.

    • DUFFY


    • 11/9/2020

  • I can't believe I've been making this recipe since 2013. It is that much of a keeper. I use it not only for skewers, but for any stray hunk of chicken that could use some delicious sauce and time on the grill - drumsticks, thighs, I don't care, this stuff is amazing. Usually I serve it with a side of steamed or sauteed green veggie (baby bok choy, broccoli) but have also had it with sliced cucumbers with a simple rice vinaigrette and steamed rice. Could also work with some soba noodles, but no need to get too fancy since the sauce is so flavorful.

    • MARIA


    • 8/31/2020

  • Finally made it! No fish sauce in house, but it was a great hit regardless!! No leftovers for me tomorrow, it was devoured. Worked with 2lbs boneless/skinless. This 'll now be a regular.



    • 7/29/2020

  • This recipe was amazing. Didn’t change a thing. Served with some jasmine rice and grilled veggies. 👍



    • 7/14/2020

  • Amazing! Just finished eating this and loved it. Might let marinade a few hours next time and will steal Krau's idea of cooking with pineapple. I am not a chef, but this was easy.



    • 7/11/2020

  • 2013, huh...It stands up in 2020! Amazing.



    • 5/23/2020

  • Used chicken breasts and adding a few cloves of garlic, but otherwise followed the recipe as is. The marinade is the perfect amount of heat and flavor! I think basting the chicken every couple minutes is key for developing that flavor, char, and juicyness (even with white meat). Even with some veggie kebabs as sides, I’d say the serving size is closer to 2-3.


    • NC

    • 5/16/2020

  • Superb Recipe. Bought a fresh pineapple and interspersed the chicken with pineapple chunks. A great combination! Dont use canned pineapple. It falls apart.

    • KRAU


    • 5/9/2020

  • A. Perfect. Recipe.


    • 3/17/2020

  • Love this recipe, make it better by: 1. Add a little more than suggested ingredients for marinade as it runs out quickly. 2. marinading for hours in the sauce. 3. What I did is turn every minute for 10-12 minutes, and brush with sauce each time, vs letting it sit several minutes before turning. This way you get a nice glaze build up like the picture, vs boring!. 5 thumbs up!

    • NAGA

    • EARTH

    • 5/28/2019

  • We love this recipe! It takes chicken kabobs to the next level. I didn’t change a thing and have made this over and over. Serve with a cooling cucumber dill salad if you need to tame the heat.

    • PGBG

    • RI & FL

    • 4/24/2019

  • This marinade/sauce is sensational on rotisserie chicken. I have 3 "go to" preparations for chicken on the BBQ, and this is The Best. The only drawback is that it's a little more work. You need to brush it on regularly during cooking (Other rotisserie chicken preps you just close the lid and wait an hour.)

    • SNAK3


    • 12/11/2018

  • I had high hopes for this recipe because the photo of the grilled chicken looked absolutely delicious. The sauce is a bit too spicy for me but the main reason I don't care for it is that there is way too much fish sauce! A little fish sauce goes a long way and 1/4 cup is excessive for such a small recipe. It over powers all of the other flavors and doesn't have a pleasant scent when it's being reduced in the pan.



    • 6/4/2018

  • Got home too late to grill these up--opted to cook 'em up in a cast iron instead. We LOVED this recipe! The chicken still developed a nice caramelized glaze, and the sauce reduced nicely in the pan to coat the chicken. Perfect amount of heat, and it came together really quickly. A great weeknight "it's hot and I don't know what to cook" recipe.

    • OCEANS


    • 4/26/2018

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