Vietnamese Caramel Chicken
Vietnamese food is one of the most popular Asian cuisines in the United States.
In the past 10 years or so, Vietnamese cuisine has captured the heart (and tummy) of many diners.
I love Vietnamese spring rolls, summer rolls, banh mi, garlic noodles, and so much more.
This caramel chicken recipe is Vietnamese-inspired. It’s sticky, savory with mild heat from the jalapeno.
Other Recipes You Might Like
- Vietnamese Chicken Curry
- Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup)
- Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken Recipe
Caramel Chicken Recipe
This recipe is sure to whet your appetite. It’s very delicious and made with simple ingredients below:
- Chicken thighs
- Fish sauce
- Ground black pepper
This recipe is adapted from The Ravenous Couple.
Fish sauce is a staple ingredient in Vietnamese cooking.
While many people are skeptical about fish sauce because of its pungent smell (from a low-grade brand), a good fish sauce doesn’t smell funky.
Made with anchovies and salt, fish sauce is a natural umami bomb that makes everything so much better.
I recommend Red Boat Fish Sauce or Three Crabs Brand Fish Sauce.
How Many Calories per Serving?
This recipe is only 444 calories per serving.
What to Serve with This Recipe?
Serve this dish with other Vietnamese dishes. For a healthy Vietnamese meal and easy weeknight dinner, I recommend the following recipes.
For more great recipes like this, sign up for our newsletter. We’ll send daily recipes you’ll love!
Sign up for our newsletter!
- 1 lb. chicken thighs with skin, deboned
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1/2 jalapeno (sliced)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1/2 tablespoon sugar
- 3 teaspoons rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- Marinate the chicken with the Marinade ingredients for 10 minutes. Mix all the ingredients in the Caramel Sauce in a bowl, set aside.
- Heat up a skillet (cast-iron preferred) on medium to high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil. Pan-fry the chicken (skin side up) until the bottom turns slightly crispy and brown. Repeat the same for the skin, until the skin becomes slightly charred. Transfer the chicken out.
- Add the remaining oil into the skillet and add the garlic. Add the chicken into the pan and follow by the Caramel Sauce mixture.
- Lower the heat to simmer and continue to cook until the caramel sauce reduces and becomes amber in color. Make sure you turn the chicken a couple of times during cooking.
- Add jalapeno and continue to cook for about 1 minute. Dish out and serve immediately with steamed rice.
Notice: Nutrition is auto-calculated, using Spoonacular, for your convenience. Where relevant, we recommend using your own nutrition calculations.
Tried it out a week or so ago following the recipe exactly. It’s really good. We like a little more heat than the jalapeno provides so when I make it tonight I’m adding a little red pepper too.
Made this today. Doubled the sauce. So simple and amazingly delicious.
Awesome thanks and please try more recipes on my site: https://rasamalaysia.com/recipe-index-gallery/
would it be too salty if i marinated it overnight?
Should be fine.
This was absolutely delicious, thank you! Even my father said it was good, and that’s high praise from a Chinese parent, haha. I subbed honey for the sugar, and I forgot about the vinegar (oops) and used 1 teaspoon or so of oyster sauce. Perfect! Thanks again :)
Hi Kate, awesome thanks for trying my recipe. Please try more recipes on my site: https://rasamalaysia.com/recipe-index-gallery/
I just made it. I goofed a little, and put 1 tablespoon of sugar in the caramel sauce. It’s just a hair sweet, and I’ll follow the recipe next time. It sure is delicious, though.
I stumbled on your site, and have been downloading recipes. I’ve made several others, and they’re all delicious. Thank you.
Hi John, thanks for trying my recipes. :)
Every time I make this recipe, we all say we should have it more often! I’ve made it with both skin and skinless thighs and chicken breasts. But I cut the breast meat smaller. Next time I will try it with halibut. Here in Alaska, you have to come up with new ideas for a freezer full of fish.
The first time I made it, I used 3 Tbs of vinegar. Everything is in Tb measure until you get to the vinegar and it says 3 tsp (which is 1 Tb). BUT it still tasted good. So was it a typo and should be 3 Tb or just 1TB? I think I try 2 TBS next time
This sounds so good! Can’t wait to try… tomorrow for sure. Thank You for this super easy recipe! I can see this as a “Go To” on many evenings, and lunches too!
Hi Rene, yes, thanks for your comment, for more recipes, please check it out: https://rasamalaysia.com/recipe-index-gallery/
I just finished making the carmelized chicken and it is delicious. It will be in my meal rotation from now on. Love it and thank you.
would i be able to substitute the fish sauce with a soy sauce/rice vinegar mix, or would that not have the same effect?
Fish sauce is not the same taste as soy sauce and rice vinegar but you can try. It’s different flavors and should be pretty good.
I found that letting it cool for about 5-10 minutes helped the sauce thicken and congeal. Delicious and thanks for sharing! I’ve seen some variations of this online that recommend palm sugar. I’ll let you know if that works better next time I try making this.
Sure, you can use palm sugar. I didn’t use it because it’s hard to find for many people.
The sauce was not thick at all like the picture
Could this be cooked in the crock pot?