Vietnamese Caramel Chicken

Vietnamese Caramel Chicken


1/3 cup brown sugar 

½ cup fish sauce (I prefer, Three crabs)

3 tbsp canola oil

1/2 medium onion, small dice

1/8 cup fresh ginger, peeled, brunoise

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 TBSP lemongrass, minced

8 each bone-in, skin on chicken thighs, 

1/4 tsp kosher salt (season chicken)

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp serrano

3 green onions, thinly sliced – shocked in ice



1 Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat and add brown sugar. Cook until the sugar starts to melt. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, swirling the pan frequently, until the caramel is bubbling and turns amber, another 4 to 5 minutes.

2 Remove the pan from the heat and, very carefully, pour in the fish sauce. Please be sure not to get too close otherwise you could get steam burn. If the caramel hardens, set the pan over medium-high heat.

3 Stir until the caramel dissolves, then pour it into a heatproof measuring cup or bowl.

4 With hot water (so the leftover caramel bits don't seize up on the bottom of the pan), clean and dry the pan.

5 Place the skillet over medium-high heat and heat canola oil in the skillet. Add onion, lemongrass and ginger. Cook for 1 minute.

6 Add sliced garlic and cook for an additional minute. With a slotted spoon, remove the onion, ginger, garlic and lemongrass from the oil and reserve in a bowl.

7 To the skillet, add chicken thighs. Cook until the chicken no longer looks raw on the outside, about 2 minutes per side. 

8 Add the reserved fish sauce caramel, black pepper, and Serrano chili. Mix to coat the chicken. Reduce the heat to medium and cook (the mixture will be simmering briskly) until the chicken is cooked through, turning the chicken every 2 to 3 minutes, about 20 minutes.

9 Stir in the reserved onions, ginger, and garlic and cook for 2 to 3 additional minutes.

Transfer the chicken and cooked aromatics to a plate. Thinly slice 3 green onions and use to garnish the chicken. Serve with Jasmine rice.