Orange, Chili, and Thyme Grilled Chicken

Orange, Chili and Thyme Grilled Chicken
Katie Workman /
  • Total: 15 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Marinate: 2 hrs
  • Yield: Serves 8 to 10

You don't have to use freshly squeezed orange juice, but it does make a big difference. If you don’t have sambal oelek (see Note) you can use a different kind of chili sauce—adjust the amount accordingly—the measurement depends on how hot the sauce you choose is.  

This makes a lot of chicken, but you can definitely cut the recipe in half for a smaller crowd or a family meal. Leftovers are great over green salads, like this kale quinoa salad.


  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • ¼ cup canola, vegetable or other neutrally flavored oil
  • ¼ cup minced shallots
  • ½ cup fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons sambal oelek (see Note)
  • Kosher or coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a large container or a large zipper top bag, combine the orange juice, oil, shallots, thyme, sambal oelek and salt and pepper.  Add the chicken breasts, turn to coat and marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours and up to 8.

  3. Preheat the grill to medium-high, or heat a grill pan – lightly brushed with oil – over medium-high heat on the stove.  Grill or pan grill the chicken for about 5 minutes on each side, until just cooked through.  Let it sit for a few minutes, then slice and serve.


In an article by the Kitchn, Sambal oelek is compared to Sriracha:

"Sambal oelek is a spicy Southeast Asian chile sauce made from hot red chile peppers, salt and sometimes vinegar. Some versions can also contain onion, lemon or lime juice, garlic, or sugar.

Sambal is an Indonesian term that refers to a sauce made with chile peppers and can include a variety of secondary ingredients. There are a lot of different types of sambals. Oelek, which is sometimes also referred to as olek or ulek, refers to the mortar and pestle used to make this type of sambal in Indonesian kitchens.

Compared to sriracha, sambal oelek is less acidic and lacks a strong presence of vinegar, so you can add heat to a dish without impacting the overall flavor. Sambal is also a slightly thicker, slightly chunkier sauce with chile pepper seeds included throughout. It packs more of a fiery punch, and if you're adding heat to your food, that's what you want!"

Bottom line, there's a hot sauce for every taste and sambal oelek could add just the spicy kick you're looking for.

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