Sunday, July 14, 2024

Thai Turmeric Chicken | RecipeTin Eats

Hailing from southern Thailand, Thai Tumeric Chicken (Gai Yang Khamin) is lip-smackingly delicious street food that’s sweet, sticky and savoury. The marinade is unbelievably simple: garlic, fish sauce, oyster sauce, turmeric powder and sugar. The turmeric really makes it!

Southern Thai Turmeric Chicken fresh out of the oven

Southern Thai Turmeric Chicken (Gai Yang Khamin)

This is a great one to marinade tonight and bake tomorrow, to bring authentic Thai flavours to your dinner table! It’s sweet but has layers of savoury, and isincredibly delicious for something so simple.

With the excellent street food in Thailand, it will come to no surprise that I found this during my travels. It’s a street food that hails from the south called Gai Yang Khamin, and is one of those recipes that tastes like it has way more ingredients in it than it does.

At the time I tried it, I didn’t know what it was called, though the mystery was solved through furious Googling for “yellow Thai grilled chicken” in my determination to replicate it back at home.

Street vendors grill this over smokey coals and use butterflied whole chicken. I bake it in the oven and use chicken thighs instead to make it Monday-night-friendly. This does not, however, compromise flavour – it is still ridiculously delicious!

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Close up of Southern Thai Turmeric Chicken
Plate of Southern Thai Turmeric Chicken

Ingredients in Thai Turmeric Chicken

This is one of those recipes that tastes like it’s got way more ingredients in it that it does. I get a secret thrill out of finding recipes like this!!

Ingredients in Thai Turmeric Chicken

For the juiciest, stickiest chicken with the best glaze, bone-in thighs are best. But I’ve provided directions for breast and other cuts.

  • Chicken – As noted above, skin-on, bone-in thighs are best because the time it takes for the skin to go sticky and golden is the same time it takes for the inside to cook through to juicy perfection. Leaner, boneless cuts, like breast and boneless thigh, cook through faster, before the surface has a chance to caramelise. However, I’ve provided directions for these – and you could always pan fry instead! Drumsticks are also an excellent, economical option – these work perfectly as a direct substitute.

  • Turmeric powder – Key flavour and colour for this dish. This is what makes this Thai Turmeric chicken!!

  • Fish sauce – Secret ingredient! Adds salt with extra layers of flavour so this otherwise simple marinade isn’t bland.

  • Oyster sauce – Second secret ingredient! Adds sweetness with savoury undertones.

  • Sugar – For extra sweetness.

  • Garlic – Quite a decent wack!

  • Pepper – I like the flavour white pepper brings to this but you can substitute with black pepper.

How to make Thai Turmeric Chicken

Pop this in the marinade tonight then bake it tomorrow! Marinade for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight. Then bake and baste until golden and sticky (45 minutes).

How to make Thai Turmeric Chicken
  1. Mix the marinade in a bowl – garlic, fish sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and turmeric.

  2. Marinade the chicken for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.

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How to make Thai Turmeric Chicken
  1. Bake on a lined tray for 45 minutes until the surface is sticky and delicious.

  2. Baste using the tray juices at the 30 minute mark….

  3. Then baste again at the 40 minute mark and pop it back in for a final 5 minutes to caramelise the surface.

  4. Garnish with fresh coriander/cilantro leave if you want (it’s just for looks), then serve using the pan juices as a sauce!

Southern Thai Turmeric Chicken on a plate ready to eat

What to serve with Thai Turmeric Chicken

Serve this with a pile of steaming jasmine or coconut rice and plain chunks of cucumber and tomato, something you commonly see served as a vegetable side all over Thailand. The fresh crunch of cucumber and juiciness of tomato is a nice contrast to the sweet-savoury-meatiness of the chicken, with the added bonus that you don’t have to bother with a dressing. I’m not going to argue with that!

Though, if you are a better person than me and would like to make more of an effort for your side salad, you could toss any fresh or steamed greens with Asian Sesame Dressing (for a quick option). For a more substantial side salad, try Thai Chicken Salad minus the chicken, or Thai Beef Salad minus the beef (I love the dressing of these salads).

And here are some more options for things to serve on the side:

Suggestions for sides

Or, eat it street food style – just grab the chicken with your hands and munch it on the go. You know I did! (Though the vision is slightly different – in my kitchen at home in my scruffy apron, rather than the bustling streets of Thailand.😂)

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– Nagi x

Watch how to make it

Back to the old-style hands only video for this one! Ran out of time to do the new style with me and Dozer in it. 🙂

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Southern Thai Turmeric Chicken fresh out of the oven

Thai Turmeric Chicken (Gai Yang Khamin)


Tap or hover to scale

Recipe video. This is based on a popular southern Thailand street food that’s typically made with a butterflied chicken grilled over smokey coals. It’s sweet but has complexity owing to the simple but clever marinade.Here, I’m making a home version using the marinade for bone-in chicken thighs instead and baked it in my boring oven. I miss the charcoal flavour but it’s still lip smackingly delicious! The tumeric powder really makes it. 🙂


  • Marinade chicken – Mix Marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken and toss to coat. Marinade for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.

  • Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F (160°C fan-forced).

  • Prepare – Line a tray with baking paper/parchment paper. Place chicken on the tray, skin side up. Scrape all Marinade out of th bowl and dab onto chicken.

  • Bake for 40 minutes, then increase the oven to 200°C/375°F (180°C fan-forced) to caramelise the skin. Baste at the 30 minute and 40 minute mark using the tray juices to make it golden brown and sticky, and rotate the tray as needed for even colour.

  • Rest for 3 minutes before serving with jasmine or coconut rice, and plain chunks of tomato and cucumber the Thai way!

Recipe Notes:

1. Chicken cuts – For the oven, bone-in thighs are best because they remain juicy with the oven time needed to caramelise the skin nicely. Drumsticks run a close second (use around the same weight).
Next best is boneless thighs, then bringing up the rear is tenderloin and breast (recommend adding 1 tbsp oil into the marinade). Use around 750g/1.5lb for any of these cuts.
2. Cooking methods – This recipe can be cooked on the BBQ, stove or baked. Take care on the stove and BBQ as the sugar burns, so use medium heat.

  • Stove – Heat a skillet over medium heat. Place skin side down and cover with a lid. Cook for 5 minutes or until the skin is dark golden. Then turn and cover with a lid again. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes until cooked through, basting the skin with the residual marinade in the bowl. 
  • BBQ – use medium heat and cook for around 15 minutes in total, basting the skin with the marinade in the bowl).
  • Other cuts:
    – Drumsticks: Bake 40 minutes
    – Skinless boneless thighs: Bake 20 – 25 minutes, or stove/BBQ for 5 minutes each side on medium.
    – Breast: Bake for 20 minutes, or stove/BBQ for around 5 minutes on each side on medium.

3. Recipe source: Slightly adapted from this Tumeric Chicken recipe from Real Thai Recipes.
Nutrition per serving assuming 5 servings. This does not take into account the fat that is rendered out when cooking.

Nutrition Information:

Serving: 260gCalories: 505cal (25%)Carbohydrates: 15g (5%)Protein: 34g (68%)Fat: 34g (52%)Saturated Fat: 9g (56%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 7gMonounsaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 200mg (67%)Sodium: 972mg (42%)Potassium: 504mg (14%)Fiber: 0.5g (2%)Sugar: 11g (12%)Vitamin A: 160IU (3%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 39mg (4%)Iron: 2mg (11%)

Originally published November 2015. Updated with sparkling new photos with a recipe video added and most importantly, Life of Dozer section added!SaveSaveSaveSave

Life of Dozer

When Dozer sings.

(Aka annoying, persistent bark that he quickly realised is a highly effective way to get me to play with him, on command. #sucker)

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