A mainstay of Southeast Asian street food, these satay-inspired Grilled Thai Chicken Skewers can also make great campfire fare. Grill them over an open fire or on your barbecue for a quick and easy camping meal.
While campfire kebabs might seem simple enough (it’s just putting things on a stick, right?), there are actually a few challenges worth noting. Chief among them is the potential for dry, tough, overcooked meat. If you’re cooking over a campfire, you’re probably dealing with fairly high and not super controlled heat. Especially if you don’t have the time or patience to wait until it has died down to a nice bed of embers.
If you want tender and juicy kebabs, the first step is using the right cut of meat. Throw on thinly sliced chicken breasts and they’ll overcook in an instant. Instead, we recommend larger pieces of chicken thighs. This flavorful dark meat stands up better to the heat of the fire and can be a lot more forgiving if you leave it on for a little too long.
Another way to keep your food from overcooking is to give it a proper marinade beforehand. For this Grilled Thai Chicken Skewers recipe, we blended soy sauce, red curry paste, lime juice, and sesame oil. Not only does this really enhance the flavor, but it keeps the meat from drying out. We made our marinade a day before our camping trip, but in a well-chilled cooler, it can last a couple days if needed.
And of course, a good dipping sauce always helps. Chicken satay traditionally comes with a peanut based sauce, which we spiced up with some soy sauce, lime juice, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and chili-garlic sauce (Sriracha would also work well!). This we also made ahead of time at home and brought with us in the cooler.
On their own, these chicken satay skewers make a great pre-dinner appetizer. Or they can be a complete meal when served with some rice and vegetables. So if you’re looking for something to make ahead that will be quick and easy to cook, these grilled chicken skewers are perfect!
‣ Fire bans throughout the West mean that for many, campfire and charcoal grilling is off the table. We used our Gonzo Grill to cook these, which runs off of propane so it’s OK to use wherever camp stoves are permitted. This Coleman grill stove also looks like a great option at a lower price point, and would also allow you to use a burner while also using the grill surface if you wanted to cook a side at the same time.
Grilled Thai Chicken Skewers with Peanut Sauce
These satay-inspired Thai Grilled Chicken Skewers can be made ahead and grilled right on the campfire.
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 small red onion
- 1 red pepper
- 2 teaspoons neutral oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce (or tamari for GF)
- 1 lime juiced (about 1 ½ tablespoons)
- 2 teaspoons red curry paste
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
PEANUT DIPPING SAUCE
- 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce (or tamari for GF)
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons chili garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
AT HOME (or an hour before dinner)
Stir together all marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Place the chicken in a large zip-top bag or resealable container and pour in the marinade, making sure the chicken is completely coated. Chicken should marinate at least an hour and up to 48 hours.
If prepping the veggies ahead of time, cut into 1-inch pieces and pack them in a second bag or container. Pack chicken & veggies in your cooler.
In a separate container, mix together all the ingredients for the peanut dipping sauce. Seal and pack in your cooler.
Fire up your grill or get your campfire going. You’ll be cooking the skewers over medium-high to high heat.
Build your skewers: chicken on their own skewers, and the onions & peppers together. Brush the veggie skewers with oil, and season the chicken skewers with salt.
Once the grill has reached a medium-high heat, place all the skewers on the grate. Grill, turning often, until the chicken has cooked through (about 10 minutes), and the vegetables are tender (7-10 minutes).
Serve with the peanut sauce & enjoy!
2 zip-lock bags sealable containers + small sealable container for sauce
4-8 Skewers, either metal or wood. If using wood, soak in water for at least 30 minutes before grilling to prevent them from burning.
Sharp knife + cutting board
Plates + utensils for serving