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Thai Chicken Wings Recipe (Gai Yang)

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This Thai chicken wings recipe is packed with the authentic taste of lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, palm sugar, and soy sauce. These grilled wings, or gai yang, are so delicious, healthy, and easy-to-make.

Top-view of Thai chicken wings on a banana leaf, with sticky rice in a traditional basket.

These Thai wings are perfect for making ahead of time. You can keep them in your fridge once marinated, or simply freeze them for later.

And just like kai tod and sweet Thai chili wings, they’re delicious as a Thai appetizer, but they’re also perfect for dinner when paired with Thai sticky rice. Versatile and delicious!

What is gai yang

Gai yang is a popular Thai grilled chicken dish, characterized by its juicy texture and smoky flavor. The chicken is marinated in a blend of herbs, spices, and Thai seasonings, and is typically found at Thai street food stalls.


In Thai, gai means chicken and yang refers to grilling. When you put them together, gai yang translates to grilled chicken.

Authentic Thai chicken wings

These are the best marinated Thai-style chicken wings you’ll ever make at home. The marinade is a mix of fresh herbs and spices that are signature to Thai cuisine. It’s the real deal, filled with the authentic flavors you’d find at Thai street food markets.

My inspiration is from a local food stall in my village, known for its amazing gai yang. These Thai-style chicken wings perfectly mix sweet and savory. Thai food aims to achieve a balance of flavors, and these grilled wings are just that.

Close-up of Thai wings with a golden-brown skin, served on a banana leaf.

Grilling meat is a big part of my life. I come from Isan, in Northeast Thailand, where we’re famous for our grilled meats like moo yang and Thai crying tiger steak.

In Isan cuisine, we use lots of traditional herbs and spices. We use hot chilies and different sauces and seasonings to get that perfect mix of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy flavors.

Every family has their own special recipes that have been handed down for generations. So, rest assured, you’re getting something unique here!

Easy Thai wings recipe

As I mentioned earlier, you can easily make these ahead of time for your next party. Just marinate them in advance and grill them or pop them in the oven when you’re ready.

What makes these wings authentically Thai is the kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass, two staples in Thai cuisine.

They’re not just delicious, they’re guaranteed to be a hit with anyone. They’re perfect for your backyard BBQ or a simple family gathering.

I’ve perfected this Thai BBQ chicken recipe to taste exactly like the ones in Thailand – absolutely irresistible!

Ingredients

Ingredients can be sourced at Asian grocery stores and Asian markets.
The exact measurements are in the recipe card at the end of this post.


Top-view of recipe ingredients laid out on a wooden table: chicken wings, soy sauce, sugar, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, garlic, and more.
  • Chicken wings – The Thai marinade can be used with whole wings, with drumettes and wingettes, or with other parts of the chicken.
  • Golden mountain sauce – This staple in Thai cuisine is a savory Thai seasoning sauce, similar to soy sauce, that adds a unique umami flavor.
  • Light soy sauce – This soy sauce adds saltiness.
  • Dark soy sauce – Dark soy is thicker and less salty than light soy sauce, but adds a rich color and flavor to the wings.
  • Oyster sauce – This savory, slightly sweet sauce is popular in Thai marinades and stir-fries.
  • Palm sugar – Palm sugar is a natural sweetener with a rich, caramel-like flavor distinct from white and brown sugar.
  • Kaffir lime leaves – Their fragrant, citrusy aroma adds a refreshing flavor. Slice them into thin strips so their flavor complements the wings rather than overpowering the other flavors.
  • Lemongrass – Adds a zesty lemon flavor and aroma. Use the lower part of the stalk, finely chopped.
  • Garlic

How to make gai yang

Prepare herbs and spices

Instructional steps for cutting kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass.

Step 1: Stack several makrut lime leaves on top of each other and roll them tightly. Use a sharp knife to slice the leaves into thin strips.

Step 2: Remove the top of the lemongrass and an inch of the bottom part with the root. Then, simply remove the outer layers until you reach the inner part. With a sharp knife, slice the lemongrass as thinly as you can.

Step 3: Use a mortar and pestle to crush the garlic.

Thai chicken wings marinade

Thai chicken wings marinade in a glass bowl.

Step 4: Mix the garlic, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, golden mountain seasoning sauce, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, and palm sugar in a large mixing bowl. Mix until the palm sugar has fully dissolved. Wear a kitchen glove if you have one.

Marinated chicken wings in a clear bowl.

Step 5: Add wings and coat each piece. Refrigerate and marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Grill chicken wings

Close-up of Thai chicken wings in an air fryer.

Step 6 Grilling method: Preheat your grill to medium heat. If you’re grilling over charcoal, cover the coals with ash to prevent burning. Arrange the marinated wings on the grill and cook for about 15 minutes, turning occasionally until cooked through.

Step 6.1 oven and air fryer method: Preheat your oven to 200°C and switch it to grill mode. Lay the wings on a baking sheet and bake for about 5–10 minutes on each side. Preheat your air fryer to 180°C and cook each side for approx 5–10 minutes.

Kitchenware for Thai BBQ chicken

  1. Cutting board and a sharp knife
  2. Mortar and pestle (if you don’t have one, you can mince the garlic)
  3. Measuring spoons and cups
  4. Mixing bowl
  5. Tongs
  6. Air fryer, charcoal grill, grilling pan, or oven
  7. Meat thermometer (optional)

Grilled Thai chicken wings tips

Marinate for hours or overnight to let the flavors soak into the meat.

Grill over low to medium heat to avoid burning and get crispy skin with juicy meat. Add more marinade while grilling for extra taste.

Use fresh ingredients (lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves) for the best taste. If fresh herbs aren’t available, frozen works too.

Kai yang serving ideas

These sticky wings are ideal for snacking, they’re perfect for making those meals in between extra delicious! You can enjoy them solo or pair them with Thai sticky rice for a filling meal.

Top-view of Thai chicken wings on a banana leaf, with sticky rice in a traditional basket.

They’re always a hit at our family gatherings, my niece and nephew love grilled chicken. We typically pair them with other Thai dishes. I love having these wings with som tum Thai and som tam pla ra, two spicy green papaya salads.

They don’t need a dipping sauce, but this Thai sweet chili sauce, dipping sauce for chicken, and Thai hot sauce for homemade sriracha can be good sauce options.

Storage and reheating tips

Storing: If you have any leftovers, let them cool to room temperature, then put them in an airtight container. Keep them in the fridge like this for up to 3 days.

Freezing: Freeze your marinated wings on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, with some space in between. Once frozen, transfer them to a freezer-safe bag or container to keep them frozen for up to 3 months.

Reheating in the microwave: Heat them up in 1-minute intervals, checking to see if they’re hot all the way through.

Reheating in the air Fryer: Heat at 180°C (356°F) for about 5–6 minutes until they’re warm and crispy again.

Reheating in the oven: Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Lay the wings out on a tray and bake until they’re hot, flipping them occasionally.

Authentic Thai chicken recipes

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Thai Chicken Wings Recipe (Gai Yang)

Top-view of Thai chicken wings on a banana leaf, with sticky rice in a traditional basket.
These authentic Thai chicken wings are full of delicious Thai flavors. Enjoy them baked or grilled, as a snack or for dinner with rice.
Praew
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Resting Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 30 minutes
Cuisine Thai
Course Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Serving Size 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 kg chicken wings
  • 1/3 cup garlic
  • 8 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 lemongrass stalks
  • 4 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 0.5 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup palm sugar
  • 3 tablespoons golden mountain sauce

Instructions

  • Stack several makrut lime leaves on top of each other and roll them tightly. Use a sharp knife to slice the leaves into thin strips.
  • Remove the top of the lemongrass and an inch of the bottom part with the root. Then, simply remove the outer layers until you reach the inner part. With a sharp knife, slice the lemongrass as thinly as you can.
  • Use a mortar and pestle to crush the garlic.
  • Mix the garlic, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, golden mountain seasoning sauce, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, and palm sugar in a large mixing bowl. Mix until the palm sugar has fully dissolved. Wear a kitchen glove if you have one.
  • Add wings and coat each piece. Refrigerate and marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Grilling

  • Preheat your grill to medium heat. If you’re using charcoal, cover the coals with ash to prevent burning. Arrange the marinated wings on the grill and cook for about 15 minutes, turning occasionally until cooked through.

Oven or air-fryer

  • Bake in an oven or air fryer. Preheat your oven to 200°C and switch it to grill mode. Lay the wings on a baking sheet and bake for about 5–10 minutes on each side. Preheat your air fryer to 180°C. And cook each side for approx 5–10 minutes.

Notes

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • The Thai marinade can be used with whole wings, with drumettes and wingettes, or with other parts of the chicken.

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