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Vietnamese Braised Lemon Grass Chicken

4 Servings

1 hour 30 minutes active

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In Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, home cook Phạm Thị Thanh Tâm taught us to make her version of braised chicken with lemon grass. Seasoned with turmeric, garlic, chilies and fish sauce—staple ingredients in the Vietnamese kitchen—the dish was remarkably simple, yet wonderfully aromatic and full of flavor. Instead of mincing fresh lemon grass, which requires a good amount of time and effort, we simply bruise the stalks so they split open and release their essential oils into the braising liquid; we remove and discard the stalks when cooking is complete. The soy sauce in the recipe is our own addition, a stand-in for the MSG and pork bouillon that Phạm used, and we opt to thicken the braising liquid with a little cornstarch to give the sauce just a little body. Serve the chicken with steamed jasmine rice.




Don’t leave the skin on the chicken. We want the bone, which adds flavor to the braise, but not the skin, which turns soggy with simmering and releases fat into the liquid. But bone-in thighs are almost always sold with skin, so we simply pull it off before cooking.

1 hour

30 minutes active


  • 1

    tablespoon grapeseed or other neutral oil

  • 6

    medium garlic cloves, minced


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Robert S.
April 4, 2023
enjoyed this
This was my first Milk Street dish, after seeing it on TV. I made the recipe as is except I used Serrano peppers for a bit more heat, and might up them next husband is from Mexico, we always have a variety of chiles in the house and he likes it hot. Delicious, the sauce had the right sweet-savory complexity, and the aroma in the kitchen was to love.
Jon H.
April 24, 2024
This is a phenomenal recipe! Thank you . Question, can you substitute fresh lemongrass with lemongrass paste, such as the Ankor brand? And if so, how much?
Alphina C.

This dish was delicious. Only one correction should be made to the instructions. The recipe calls for 1 cup chicken broth as listed in the ingredients, but the instructions in the first paragraph says to add 1 cup water. The total time took me more than an hour by the time I gathered all the ingredients and prepared the chicken thighs by removing the skins and excess fat on the thighs. From start to the the time I was able to plate the Jasmine rice and the chicken, it took me closer to 1-1/2 hours. While the chicken was simmering, I washed the Jasmine rice in my microwavable cooker. I cooked the rice in the microwave while the braising liquid was being reduced so that the rice would be done just in time to be plated with the chicken.

Lynn C.

Hi Alphina -

The broth is listed in Step 1 of the recipe here - "Add the lemon grass, broth, soy sauce, sugar and 1 cup water, then bring to a simmer." Hope that clears it up! Glad to hear you liked the recipe!

The Milk Street Team

Earl E.

Very disappointing. Made true to the recipe. I love Vietnamese food so I had expectations. It was ok. But nothing special. Flat.

John J C.

This was 'good' but not as 'great' as most Milk Street's recipes are. I think it would've been better by salting the chicken first and then cutting back on the soy to compensate? It just seemed to be missing something.
I'll make it again and try salting the chicken first.

Beth M.

I agree with a couple of the comments. I hoped for more and more richness/depth in spice. I will also season the chicken prior to cooking next time. I did use bone in chicken breasts instead of thighs so - full disclosure but that probably means I need to up my spices to get the depth. I will try again with modifications. I love the lemongrass/soy/fish sauce and lime flavors. I just wanted more of a punch. I served with fresh ramen which was actually really good. I think next time I will leave the seeds in my jalapenos and season the chicken with a thay type of seasoning mix. I'll let the chicken sit in that rub for about a half hour while I do the basic prep. Definitely a keeper and fine as is but I want to make it a little more robust.

Karen H.

Just made this and it was a hit. The one and only time I didn’t have chicken broth on hand, so I had to improvise with Thai coconut broth. I also used coconut oil since we don’t use grapeseed oil.

We all loved the layers of flavor, and I also used both cilantro and scallions. Will definitely be in rotation in our house.

Michael M C.

We thought this was delicious. I will definitely make again. I might increase the amount of chicken and keep the liquid the same. This will feed a crowd if you make plenty of rice.

Brad H.

I love this recipe. Thank you for sharing it with me and my family. This is an easy flavorful dish. It’s definitely a mellow, but full of warmth braise. I cut back a little on the fish sauce and I also add mung bean sprouts for texture as a garnish. I’m making it for the second time, tonight. It’s in my tops for a quick braise.

Jennifer B.

Agree with the other reviewers, a little bland and a little too much liquid, would skip the water next time. Also we kept the skins and they were tasty! Just ok, though.

Laura C.

Loved this recipe. Make sure to use items and wear clothes that can be stained with the turmeric hahaha

David E.

I found a way to give the chicken just a bit more flavor by doing everything through step 1 and then letting the dish sit overnight in the fridge (chicken, unreduced sauce, lemon grass, etc.). The next night I brought the dish to a simmer, removed the chicken from the pot, and continued with the rest of the steps. The overnight steep made the chicken silkier and he seasoning was perfect. seasoned. (I also used double the number of lemon grass stalks because you can't have too many.)