Grilled Sambal Chicken Thighs

Grilled Sambal Chicken Thighs are spicy, sweet and perfect for a weeknight dinner or a weekend BBQ party. Serve over rice or noodles to make a complete dish.

Grilled sambal chicken thighs on a BBQ.

Inspired by the Indonesian chili paste, Sambal Oelek, these chicken thighs are a BBQ delight. Whether you’re grilling these over charcoal, on a gas grill, or a flat to, these Sambal Oelek Chicken thighs are an easy dinner that is sure to please.

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Ingredients For Grilled Sambal Chicken Thighs

To make this recipe, it starts with a marinade for the chicken thighs. The marinade is very simple to make and can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for two days before using.

  • Sambal Oelek. An Indonesian chili paste, Sambal Oelek packs a lot of flavour.
  • Soy Sauce. This adds a salty element to the marinade and helps to balance the flavours.
  • Brown Sugar. Light brown sugar adds the sweetness that is needed to balance the heat.
  • Garlic. This is essential in any marinade for flavour.
  • Ginger. Grated ginger is used in many Indonesian dishes.
  • Lime juice. The sambal oelek has vinegar in it but not enough acid for a marinade. Lime juice adds acid and flavour to the marinade and helps tenderize the chicken.
  • Olive oil. Every good marinade has an oil in it to help bring out the flavours of all the other ingredients.
  • Sesame oil. Just a little of this oil goes a long way. This is definitely one ingredient you don’t want to over do because it has a very strong flavour.
  • Chicken Thighs. These can be bone in or boneless. We like to use bone-in when grilling chicken and boneless when cooking on the flat-top.
  • Sea Salt and pepper. For seasoning the chicken on the grill.

What Is Sambal Oelek?

Sambal oelek is an Indonesian chili paste made from chili peppers and vinegar. This paste is spicier than sriracha sauce and is approximately 2000 on the Scoville Scale, making it hotter than a Poblano but milder than a jalapeno.

The paste does have the seeds of the pepper in it, so it may seem hotter than jalapenos if you don’t usually eat the seeds of a jalapeno.

How To Serve Grilled Sambal Chicken Thighs

These chicken thighs are perfect for a weeknight dinner. They can be placed in the marinade in the morning and they will be ready to grill for dinner.

  • Serve on a plate of basmati rice with a side of grilled asparagus. Coconut rice is also a good option.
  • Noodles. This chicken goes well with spicy noodles and peppers. We like to grill sweet peppers to add to noodles and chicken.
  • On a Salad. If making these with boneless chicken thighs, slice into strips and serve on a garden salad with your favourite dressing.
  • Sliced Sambal chicken is also great in a wrap with shredded carrots and cabbage.

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

As with any chicken dish, leftover chicken should be properly stored and reheated. To store this chicken, cool and place in an air tight container in the fridge and use within 2 days.

To reheat chicken, it can be done in the microwave on medium high until heated through. It can also be reheated in the oven until heated through.


Grilled sambal chicken thighs on a BBQ.

Grilled Sambal Chicken Thighs

Grilled Sambal Chicken Thighs are spicy, sweet and perfect for a weeknight dinner or a weekend BBQ party.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Marinating time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Course Main Course, Meat
Servings 6 chicken thighs


  • ¼ cup sambal oelek
  • cup soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp ginger, grated
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 6 chicken thighs
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp pepper


  • In a large bowl, whisk together sambal oelek, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, lime juice and oils.
  • Reserve a ¼ cup of marinade for basting.
  • Add chicken to marinade and toss to coat.
  • Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 12 hours.
  • Preheat BBQ to 350℉ or medium heat.
  • Grill chicken thighs for 5-7 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 170℉.
  • Baste the chicken with reserved marinade 2 minutes before removing from grill.
  • Serve hot over rice or noodles.
Keyword Chicken

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