Upgrade Your Mealtime with Caramel Braised Chicken Recipe

Vietnamese cuisine is known for its bold flavors and aromatic spices, and this Vietnamese-Style Caramel Braised Chicken Recipe is no exception. Tender boneless skinless chicken thighs are marinated in a salty-sweet caramel sauce, made from a combination of sugar, fish sauce, and shallots, then slow-cooked to perfection with ginger and garlic.

As a chef specializing in Vietnamese and Asian cuisine, I have come across many recipes for caramel chicken. However, this particular recipe has become a household favorite amongst my clients and friends. The combination of the caramel sauce and the fragrant spices gives it an undeniable flavor that you can only find in Vietnamese cuisine.

Whether you’re a seasoned cook or just starting out, this Vietnamese-Style Caramel Braised Chicken Recipe is the perfect dish to add to your repertoire. The simple ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions make it accessible for cooks of all levels.

In this article, I will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to create this delicious Vietnamese-style caramelized chicken dish. From the ingredient list to the serving recommendations, I will guide you through every stage of the cooking process so that you can achieve perfect results every time.

So, roll up your sleeves and get ready to transport your taste buds to Vietnam with this mouth-watering Vietnamese-Style Caramel Braised Chicken Recipe.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Vietnamese-Style Caramel Braised Chicken
Vietnamese-Style Caramel Braised Chicken

If you’re looking for a meal that combines the salty-sweet flavors of Vietnamese cuisine, look no further than this caramel braised chicken recipe. This dish is packed with bold flavors and unique ingredients that make it stand out from other chicken dishes.

The caramel sauce used in this recipe creates a rich and complex flavor that pairs perfectly with the tender and juicy boneless skinless chicken thighs. The addition of ginger, fish sauce, and crushed red pepper flakes elevates the dish to a whole new level of flavor.

What’s even better is that this recipe is versatile and can be customized to your liking. Use pork or chicken wings instead of chicken thighs to switch things up. You can also adjust the level of spice by adding more or less crushed red pepper flakes.

But what makes this dish truly special is the balance of flavors. The salty and savory aspects of the fish sauce and garlic are tempered by the sweetness of the caramel sauce, resulting in a deliciously well-rounded dish.

Whether you are craving something sweet or savory, this Vietnamese-style caramel braised chicken will satisfy your every taste bud. It’s a perfect meal for family dinners or even dinner parties due to its unique taste and eye-catching presentation.

So come on! What are you waiting for? Get your hands on these ingredients and prepare to be blown away by how simple yet satisfying this recipe really is!

Ingredient List

 A savory and sticky concoction of caramel and braised chicken.
A savory and sticky concoction of caramel and braised chicken.

Here are all the ingredients you will need to make Vietnamese-Style Caramel Braised Chicken:

Chicken Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 6 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 3 shallots (minced)

Marinade Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup coconut water


  • Fresh cilantro (chopped)
  • Ginger (julienned)
  • Lime wedges

Most of these ingredients can be found at your local grocery store or Asian market. If you can’t find coconut water, you can substitute it with regular water.

The Recipe How-To

 Sweet and salty flavors collide in this classic Vietnamese dish.
Sweet and salty flavors collide in this classic Vietnamese dish.

Step 1: Prep the Chicken

-2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
-1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
-1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-2 shallots, diced

  1. Start by rinsing the chicken thighs under cold water and pat them dry with a paper towel.
  2. Season the chicken evenly with the black pepper and crushed red pepper flakes.
  3. Add the garlic and shallots in a large pan over medium-high heat.

Step 2: Make Caramel Sauce

-1/2 cup granulated sugar
-1/4 cup water
-1/4 cup fish sauce

  1. In a small saucepan, heat the sugar and water over high heat.
  2. Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves completely and becomes golden brown.
  3. Remove from heat and carefully pour in fish sauce while continuously stirring with a whisk.

Step 3: Combine Caramel Sauce with Chicken Ingredients

Additional Ingredients:
– Caramel Sauce (from Step 2)
– 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
– 1/4 cup water

  1. After seasoning the garlic and shallots for about one minute, add in the caramel sauce, brown sugar, and water.
  2. Bring to a boil then reduce it to low heat.
  3. Add the chicken pieces, let it braise for about 20 minutes with top comb covered.

Step 4: Make Kho Gung (ginger caramel sauce)

-2 heaping Tablespoons grated fresh ginger or ginger paste
-Juice of half lime
-Kosher salt to taste

  1. In a small bowl, mix together grated ginger or ginger paste, juice of half lime, kosher salt to taste.

Step 5: Garnish and Serve

– Fresh cilantro

  1. Once the chicken is fully braised and tender, add kho gung to the dish.
  2. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish it with fresh cilantro.

Your Vietnamese-style Caramel Braised Chicken is ready to serve! Enjoy with steamed rice, vegetables, or salad.

Substitutions and Variations

 Get ready for an explosion of umami flavors in every bite!
Get ready for an explosion of umami flavors in every bite!

Are you looking to switch up your Vietnamese-style caramel braised chicken recipe? Here are some substitutions and variations to help you give this classic dish a twist.

Firstly, if you’re not a fan of chicken thighs, feel free to experiment with other cuts of meat, such as pork or even thinly sliced beef. You can use the same marinade and sauce, cooking each meat accordingly. Thit kho gung (braised pork with ginger) is a popular Vietnamese dish that uses a similar cooking method.

For those who want to kick the heat up a notch, add more crushed red pepper flakes or fresh chili peppers. You can also try making caramelized chicken wings by coating them in the Vietnamese caramel sauce before baking or frying.

If you’re looking for a vegetarian/vegan option, swap out the chicken for firm tofu or seitan. Marinate the tofu/seitan in the fish sauce mixture for at least 30 minutes before cooking.

Alternatively, you can switch up the flavour profile by adding coconut milk or cream to the sauce. This will create a creamy, coconutty twist on the traditional salty-sweet flavour of caramel chicken. Simply mix coconut milk into the fish sauce mixture before adding it to the pan.

Lastly, feel free to add more herbs and spices depending on your taste preferences. Some good options include lemongrass, ginger, lime juice, coriander/cilantro, and Thai basil.

By experimenting with these substitutions and variations, you can create your own unique version of Vietnamese-style caramel braised chicken that suits your taste buds.

Serving and Pairing

 This caramel braised chicken is a must-try for all Vietnamese food lovers.
This caramel braised chicken is a must-try for all Vietnamese food lovers.

Serving and pairing your Vietnamese-Style Caramel Braised Chicken dish is as important as any other step in the recipe journey. This dish provides a beautiful balance of salty, sweet, and umami flavors that has a crave-worthy appeal.

To serve this dish like a Vietnamese local, prepare some room-temperature white rice and spoon the braised chicken over it. It’s best to top it with a chiffonade of fresh cilantro to add a pop of freshness and color.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also add some braised bok choy or steamed green beans on the side to balance out the richness of the sauce. These greens will add extra texture to the serving and provide an extra level of depth to your overall dining experience.

Pairing this chicken dish with light-bodied wines like Riesling or Pinot Gris is a fantastic choice. The fruity notes in these wines pair perfectly with the rich savory flavors in ga kho. To take it up a notch, opt for Vietnam’s popular beer: Saigon Beer or Hanoi Beer, which embodies the refreshing fruity body of the beer style.

In conclusion, whether you’re having a casual dinner party or just treating yourself after work, there’s no better pairing than Vietnamese-Style Caramel Braised Chicken.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 A perfect balance of sweet and savory, this dish will leave you speechless.
A perfect balance of sweet and savory, this dish will leave you speechless.

One of the great things about this Vietnamese-style caramel braised chicken recipe is that it can be easily made ahead of time and stored for later. In fact, this flavorful dish tastes even better after being reheated the next day.

To make ahead, simply follow the recipe instructions and let the chicken cool to room temperature. Once cooled, transfer it to an airtight container or wrap it tightly in aluminum foil. This makes storing the chicken and caramel sauce together much easier to reheat later.

When you’re ready to reheat, place the chicken and sauce in a pan on low heat, stirring occasionally so it warms up evenly without burning. You can also reheat individual portions in the microwave at half power.

The caramel braised chicken will keep well in the refrigerator for up to four days if stored properly. If you want to freeze it for longer-term storage, separate into individual servings and store them in freezer-friendly containers. Be sure to label and date each container, so you know when they were frozen.

To thaw frozen caramel braised chicken, take it out of the freezer 24 hours before you plan to eat it and let it thaw in the refrigerator. Then, reheat as directed above.

Overall, this dish is ideal for meal prepping, dinner parties or having a delicious meal in minutes on busy nights. It will still maintain its flavor profile when reheated as long as you handle its storage with care.

Tips for Perfect Results

 Let your taste buds travel to Southeast Asia with this delicious meal.
Let your taste buds travel to Southeast Asia with this delicious meal.

To ensure that this Vietnamese-style caramel braised chicken recipe turns out perfectly, there are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind. Here are some of my recommendations:

1. Use boneless, skinless chicken thighs: Chicken thighs are the best cut of chicken for this recipe because they stay juicy and moist after braising in the caramel sauce.

2. Don’t skip the fish sauce: Fish sauce is a key ingredient in Vietnamese cuisine and it adds depth and umami to the dish. Don’t substitute it with soy sauce or any other ingredient because it won’t give you the same flavor.

3. Cook low and slow: Braising the chicken takes time but it’s worth it to achieve tender chicken in a rich caramel sauce. Cook your chicken on low heat and cover, allowing the meat to fully cook while absorbing flavors from the sauce.

4. Season correctly: Be sure to season your chicken with salt and pepper before braising. This helps bring out flavor while balancing out the salty-sweet taste of the caramel sauce.

5. Use fresh ingredients: When making a dish like this one, fresh ingredients always result in a better outcome than older ones, especially with spices like ginger and garlic. Using fresh and quality spices will give your dish more complex flavors.

6. Let the dish sit for a few minutes: After turning off the heat, let your dish rest for several minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to make this Vietnamese-style caramel braised chicken recipe into a savory masterpiece!

Bottom Line

In conclusion, this Vietnamese-style caramel braised chicken recipe is a must-try for any food lover. With its blend of salty and sweet flavors, combined with tender, flavorful chicken thighs, it is the perfect dish for any occasion. As a chef specializing in Vietnamese and Asian cuisine, I highly recommend trying this recipe at home using the ingredients and tips provided, or even experimenting with some substitutions and variations to make it truly your own.

Whether you’re cooking for yourself or hosting a dinner party, this dish is sure to impress. So don’t be afraid to give it a try and experience the mouth-watering flavors of Vietnamese-style caramelized chicken. Make sure to use fresh cilantro as garnish, as it adds a nice touch to the final presentation.

I hope these instructions and tips have been helpful in guiding you through the recipe. Remember to follow each step carefully and take your time in preparing the dish to ensure perfect results. With practice, you’ll master this recipe and be able to add your own unique spin.

So what are you waiting for? Get in the kitchen and start cooking up some delicious Vietnamese-style caramel braised chicken – your taste buds will thank you!

Vietnamese-Style Caramel Braised Chicken

Vietnamese-Style Caramel Braised Chicken Recipe

From Fine-Cooking magazine.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Vietnamese
Calories 186.2 kcal


  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 -8 boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 3/4 wide strips
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


  • Place chicken thighs on a rimmed baking sheet in a 400º oven for 20 minutes.
  • In a small bowl, mix the fish sauce and 1/4 Celsius water. In another small bowl, mix the shallots, garlic, red pepper flakes and 1/2 t. black pepper.
  • Put the sugar and 2 T. water in a 10-inch straight-sided saute pan over medium heat and cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. Let the melted sugar come to a boil and cook, swirling the pan occasionally at first and more frequently as the sugar browns, until it has caramelized to a deep amber color, 5 to 8 minutes.
  • Remove pan from heat and carefully pour in fish sauce mixture to the pan. Swirl the pan to combine and return to medium heat and bring to a boil. Add the shallot mixture and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until the shallots soften.
  • Add the chicken pieces, stirring to coat them. Serve sprinkled with cilantro and your favorite rice.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 146gCalories: 186.2kcalCarbohydrates: 15.2gProtein: 21.4gFat: 4.1gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 85.9mgSodium: 1187.2mgFiber: 0.1gSugar: 13g
Keyword < 60 Mins, Asian, Chicken, Chicken Thigh & Leg, Easy, Healthy, High In..., High Protein, Meat, Poultry, Vietnamese
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