Vietnamese Lemongrass Roast Chicken features juicy and fragrant chicken with crisp skin. It is great for everyday meals as well as special holiday dinners.
When it comes to cooking a whole chicken, Viet cooks usually poach it, shred the meat and simmer the bones to make noodle soups (such as pho ga). We sometimes cook a whole chicken with rice to make chicken congee for the whole family. However, roasting a whole chicken isn’t something traditional at home due to the lack of an oven in most Vietnamese home kitchens.
This lemongrass roast chicken used to belong on restaurant menus only. But nowadays, more and more families install an oven in their kitchens and make more restaurant-style dishes like this at home. We call it “gà nướng sả” in Vietnamese.
To make this dish, you will need just a few main ingredients:
- a whole chicken: I recommend spatchcocking it for shorter cooking time and more even roasting.
- aromatics: lemongrass, garlic, shallot and ginger.
- seasonings: fish sauce, soy sauce, salt and pepper.
The aromatics will be chopped and then pounded until fine in a mortar and pestle. You can also blitz them in a food chopper which will be faster. Then combine them with the seasonings to make the marinade.
How to Make Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken
This roasted lemongrass chicken recipe is pretty straightforward. I break the cooking process into two main steps below.
Step 1: Spatchcocking/Butterflying and marinating the chicken
As mentioned above, butterflying the chicken will not only reduce cooking time but also help with even roasting. Both the breasts and legs will turn out juicy with golden and crisp skin.
To do so, you will need a good pair of poultry shears to cut out the backbone. You can also use it to cut the wishbone, or lay the bird breast side up and push down firmly to break the wishbone and make the chicken lay flat. Tuck the wings behind the breast, and that’s it.
Next, spread the marinade mixture all over the outside and inside of the chicken to season it. I like to marinate it in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours which will result in very fragrant meat once cooked. 8-12 hours will also work, but 24 hours will be a bit too long, and the chicken can be salty. If you are short on time, leave the chicken at room temperature for 60-90 minutes before cooking.
Step 2: Roasting the chicken
So the chicken you’re seeing in the photos is a Vietnamese breed which usually has smaller breasts. For this one, it usually takes me 30 minutes to roast at 450°F (230°C). Your chicken may take longer depending on its size. You can use a meat thermometer to check and make sure it is fully cooked.
Serving Lemongrass Roast Chicken
Let the chicken rest for about 5 minutes or so, and then it’s time to carve and serve. You can learn how to carve a roast chicken here. Whether you make this dish for your family’s daily meal or an Asian-style holiday dinner, I hope you will like it!
I like to eat it on its own with some fish sauce on the side, or eat it with either steamed rice or sticky rice. I think you can even serve lemongrass chicken with rice vermicelli noodles, lettuce, herbs and nuoc cham dressing. It also goes perfectly well with boiled or roasted potatoes. And if you prefer to serve it with gravy, please feel free to do so.
In Saigon, people serve lemongrass roasted chicken with a green dipping sauce made from fresh herbs, green chili pepper and lime juice. Now, if you ask me, I’ll be honest and say I’m not a fan of this sauce :). I personally prefer this dish without the sauce so that the lemongrass fragrance can shine. However, I will include suggestions on how to make the sauce at the end of the recipe card below so you can give it a try.
Here are more recipes for holiday occasions:
More chicken recipes to try:
I’d love to hear what you think about the dish, so please feel free to leave a comment and a rating if you have tried it. New recipes are added every week so let’s connect on Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest and Instagram for the latest updates. You can find my collection of Vietnamese recipes here.
Vietnamese Lemongrass Roast Chicken
- I recommend spatchcocking the chicken for shorter cooking time and more even roasting. To do so, lay the chicken breast side down and use poultry shears to cut out the backbone. Flip the chicken over and use your palm to press down firmly over the breast so that the chicken lays flat. Tuck the wings back behind the breasts. Place the chicken breast side up on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
- Remove the outer dry layer from lemongrass stalks. Cut the stalks in half to separate the white and green parts. Lightly bruise the green parts and reserve them. Thinly slice the white parts then pound until fine with a mortar and pestle. Also pound all the garlic, shallot and ginger. Alternatively, you can blitz the lemongrass white parts, garlic, shallot and ginger in a food chopper until fine.
- In a bowl, add salt, black pepper, soy sauce, fish sauce and all the pounded aromatic. Mix to combine, then spread this mixture all over the outside as well as inside of the chicken to season it. Cover and let it marinate in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours. If you don't have time, leave it at room temperature for 60-90 minutes before cooking.
- Preheat your oven to 450°F (230°C). Spread the bruised lemongrass green parts underneath the chicken. Shake off the aromatics from the chicken skin. You can also tuck the aromatics underneath the chicken. Brush the chicken skin with oil, and then roast uncovered in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.