Fish Sauce and Pepper BBQ Chicken

When I was a kid, one of my favorite chicken dishes my mom made was gà nước mắm, tiêu, đường.  Literally translated to chicken with fish sauce, pepper, and sugar.  Mom pan-fried the chicken leaving a beautiful fish sauce smell all over the house.  The chicken skin crisped up and the meat was juicy and very tender. The fish sauce marinade was salty, sweet, and spicy making every bite extremely enjoyable with tons of flavors going on at the same time.  While I was at work one day, I was thinking about it, and miss those flavors so decided to try that marinade for my BBQ chicken.

While the chicken was BBQing, I took the reserved liquid and reduced it down over medium heat to a glaze.  About 10 minutes left into the cooking, I brushed the fish sauce glaze over the chicken skin and allowed it to caramelize and finish cooking.  I ate the chicken with steamed rice and veggie/egg stir fry and was transported back to my childhood.  It was a fantastic nostalgic feeling.


6 pounds bone-in chicken, legs and thighs
1/2 cup fish sauce
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1-2 tablespoons coarse black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 garlic cloves, smashed


Prepare Marinade – In a large bowl, combine fish sauce, sugar, pepper, oil, and garlic cloves.  Mix well until sugars are dissolved. 

Marinate Chicken- Add bone-in chicken thighs to the large bowl of marinade.  Refrigerate the chicken preferably overnight or at least 2 hours.

Prepare Chicken – Place the chicken on a sheet pan and pat dry.  Add reserved liquid into a small saucepan.

Prepare Grill – Fill a charcoal chimney 3/4 full of charcoal briquettes.  Light up the chimney until coals are fully burned.  Spread hot charcoal over one side of the grill to set up a two-zone fire on the grill for indirect grilling.

Prepare Glaze –  Heat the reserved liquid over medium heat and simmer until it reduces down to a thick glaze.  Set aside for brushing.

BBQ Chicken – Add chicken pieces skin side up to the indirect side of the BBQ grill.  BBQ the chicken with the lid closed at 325-350 degrees. After 30 minutes, open the lid and rotate chicken pieces to ensure even cooking.  Close lid. After 45 minutes, open lid and brush both sides of chicken pieces with the fish sauce glaze.  Close lid.  Cook for another 10 minutes or until the internal temperature of chicken pieces reaches 175 degrees.


  • You can use bone-in chicken breasts, drumsticks, or chicken wings as well.  For bone-in chicken breasts, make sure internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

One thought on “Fish Sauce and Pepper BBQ Chicken

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  1. These flavors are excellent. I used coconut oil rather than the vegetable oil and cut the the marinade to lighten it up a bit. Grilled the thighs rather than bake in the oven and yum! Your recipes look amazing, I’ll be sharing this link with my pals. Happy cooking.


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