This Vietnamese caramel chicken recipe features chicken thighs that are slow simmered until tender in a coconut brown sugar sauce. The end result is super juicy and tender chicken in a flavorful savory and sweet sauce. Great for weeknight dinners!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Vietnamese caramel chicken is my latest obsession. Tender chicken thighs simmered low and slow until tender and crispy on the outside. The chicken is cooked in an irresistible coconut brown sugar sauce. The sauce is made up of rice vinegar, fish sauce, brown sugar and coconut milk. The sauce is the best part of this dish!
This recipe is super simple to make. Everything gets cooked in one skillet! The chicken thighs are simmered in the sauce until the sauce is thickened and most of the liquid is absorbed.
- Chicken thighs (bone-in and skin-on is preferred)
- Light brown sugar
- Coconut milk (full-fat, unsweetened)
- Fish sauce
- Rice wine vinegar
- A jalapeño
- Green onions
How To Make It
- Make the sauce: Heat brown sugar and water in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Whisk constantly until mixture starts to thicken slightly and bubble, 1-2 minutes. Stir in coconut milk, fish sauce, rice vinegar, garlic and jalapeño.
- Cook the Chicken: Add in chicken skin side down and simmer for 25 minutes over medium heat. (If the sauce is getting too brown turn down the heat) Flip chicken and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes. Turn chicken once more so it is skin side down. Cook for a 1-2 more minutes to brown the skin and remove from the heat.
- Serve: Immediately with green onions for garnish if desired.
- White or brown rice
- Or, for a low-carb option, try cauliflower rice
- Steamed vegetables
- Roasted vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, or cauliflower.
- Chow mein noodles
- Lo mein
- Vegetable Fried Rice
Substitutions and Variations
- If you prefer crispier chicken thighs, you can bake them in the oven at 375 for 25 minutes, and then finish them off in the skillet with the sauce.
- Serve with toasted sesame seeds or sliced almonds in addition to the sliced green onions for some crunch.
- Swap the brown sugar for honey if you’re trying to avoid refined sugars.
- Not a fan of dark meat? You could use bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts. Just be careful not to dry them out.
- Or if you prefer boneless, skinless chicken thighs, use those instead!
- Spice up the Vietnamese caramel chicken sauce by adding some cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes.
Storage, Freezing, and Reheating Instructions
- Store cooled leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Freeze this Vietnamese caramel chicken once cooled in an airtight, freezer-safe container or plastic bag for up to 1 month.
- Reheat chilled leftovers (or thawed from the freezer) in a skillet over medium-low heat or the microwave until warmed through.
More Chicken Recipes To Try
- Easy Chicken Marsala
- The BEST Chicken Parmesan
- Easy Chicken Shawarma
- Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken
- Easy One Pan Bourbon Chicken
- Easy Thai Chicken Satay
Vietnamese Caramel Chicken
- 4 bone in and skin on chicken thighs
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 14 ounce can coconut milk
- 1 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 small jalapeño sliced (optional, can omit if you don't want any spice)
- green onions for garnish if desired
- Heat brown sugar and water in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Whisk constantly until mixture starts to thicken slightly and bubble, 1-2 minutes.
- Stir in coconut milk, fish sauce, rice vinegar, garlic and jalapeño.
- Add in chicken skin side down and simmer for 25 minutes over medium heat. (If the sauce is getting too brown turn down the heat)
- Flip chicken and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes.
- Turn chicken once more so it is skin side down. Cook for a 1-2 more minutes to brown the skin and remove from the heat.
- Serve immediately with green onions for garnish if desired.
Adapted from Recipe Tin Eats