Thai Barbecue Chicken Thighs with Peanut Sauce

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Think of that tasty standby, Thai chicken satay, and transfer those flavors to a moist chicken thigh and you’ve got a general idea of how good this recipe is. Nowadays most all of the ingredients needed for this recipe can be found at your local supermarket. If not, Asian markets definitely have them. Although we’re working with chicken thighs in this recipe, the marinade and the sauce are exceptional on pork and even lamb. The peanut sauce will keep for several days in the refrigerator. For a really funky side dish later on in the week, toss the sauce with Chinese noodles and a few minced scallions for a cold noodle salad. Serve these thighs with steaming jasmine rice.


Cooking Methodgrilling



Total Timehalf-day

Make Ahead RecipeYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, soy free, tree nut free



Taste and Texturecreamy, meaty, nutty, spiced


  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 3 cups unsweetened coconut milk (“lite” is fine)
  • 4 pounds bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1½ teaspoons green curry paste
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and worked into a paste
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon seedless tamarind paste
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup chopped unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges


  1. In a large zip-top bag, combine the minced garlic, cilantro, ¼ cup of the fish sauce, the pepper, curry powder, and 1 cup of the coconut milk. Add the chicken thighs, close the bag, and squish the marinade to coat the chicken. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 8 hours.

  2. While the chicken is marinating, make the dipping sauce. Take a medium saucepan and add the curry paste, paprika, garlic paste, peanut butter, tamarind, brown sugar, peanuts, the remaining 2 tablespoons fish sauce, and the remaining 2 cups coconut milk. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring to blend the ingredients. Let the sauce cook until thickened and reduced by half, 15 to 20 minutes. The sauce can be served warm or at room temperature.

  3. Oil the grill racks. Preheat your grill using all burners set on high and with the lid closed for 10 to 12 minutes.

  4. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 30 minutes before you plan to cook. Pull the chicken thighs from the marinade and pat dry. Pour the remaining marinade into a small saucepan. Bring to a full boil over high heat and let boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let cool.

  5. Place the chicken on the grill and close the lid. The chicken will need to cook for 25 to 35 minutes. You want to turn the pieces frequently and baste with the reserved marinade. About halfway through the cooking time, you will need to reduce the temperature of your burners to medium so that the thighs don’t turn into crispy bits of carbon. During the last 5 minutes or so, do not baste with the marinade. When the thighs are firm to the touch and an instant-read thermometer hits 165°F to 170°F, remove the thighs to a platter. Let rest for about 5 minutes, and then serve with the dipping sauce and lime wedges on the side.

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