Grilled Sriracha-Chicken Skewers

Ever get that feeling at a party, where there's so much food, that you're gaining 10 pounds just by looking at the buffet table? That was me last weekend at a family BBQ.  But, after having yummy grilled fish and Korean-style shortribs, I went home the next day still thinking about and craving even more BBQ. I'm a firm believer in the theory of "cooking it yourself is the best and quickest way to satisfy a craving", so I looked in my pantry and freezer to see what I had on hand. (Quick prayer to the kitchen gods for something good!) Chicken tenders and sriracha...Bingo.

I love sriracha. I even squeeze this hot suace over my rice, and I dip practically everything in it...especially grilled stuff...So it made perfect sense to come up with a sriracha marinade and just cook the hot sauce right into my food. With the addition of a few more pantry regulars, I came up with a dish that I would definitely serve at my next BBQ...Grilled Sriracha-Chicken Skewers :)

Before I started the marinade, I thought about my favorite asian flavors for chicken...teriyaki, peanut sauce, sweet and many to choose from! But, I wanted this sauce to be all about the sriracha and not just sauce plus sriracha. Plain yogurt turned out to be perfect as a base, ready to be infused with flavors of the hot sauce.

The tang of the yogurt and lime juice highlights the vinegar in sriracha, and a bit of freshly grated garlic intensifies the flavor already in the hot sauce, as well.

To give the marinade a little more depth, I used sesame oil, Chinese five-spice, and sweet soy sauce. Sweet soy sauce looks more like a thick syrup than a liquid and has an almost deep, caramel-like flavor similar to molasses. If you can't find sweet soy sauce at the grocery store or can't make it out to the nearest Asian market, molasses or soy sauce/light brown sugar would be good substitutes. The five-spice powder, which includes star-anise, cinnamon, and cloves, also leaves you with sweet notes. It can be a strong spice, though, so don't go too crazy with it! (When I say a "dash" in the recipe, I really mean just a dash.)

All that's left to add is the star: the sriracha. I started with 2 tbsp, tasted the marinade, then added a tbsp more at a time until it was as spicy as I preferred. If you like spicy-spicy, feel free to add a 1/4 cup. I used enough to really get the flavors of the hot sauce, but not so much that my tongue was on fire and I couldn't taste anything at all anymore.

Marinade the chicken for at least 6 hours. Then, thread the tenders onto bamboo skewers. I've always heard the tip, "Soak your skewers first"...but I forgot. SO, don't be like me, and remember to soak the bamboo in water for a few hours! This helps to keep them from burning and breaking off while on the grill.

Grill the chicken over medium-high heat. The small tenders cook quickly, so 5-6 minutes on each side will be enough.

As I mentioned before, these would be great for those potluck, backyard BBQ's. Just use large ziploc bags to marinate the chicken, and they're ready to transport then grill on-site. (Which would also make them ideal for tailgating! FOOTBALL SEASON IS COMING UP, AFTER ALL!) Spicy chicken on a stick, no fork or spoon'll be a crowd pleaser :)

Grilled Sriracha Chicken Skewers

Printable Recipe
1.5 lbs Chicken Tenders (about 12 tenders)
1 large Garlic Clove, grated
2 tbsp Lime Juice
3/4 cup Plain Yogurt
1 tsp Sesame Oil
1 tbsp Sweet Soy Sauce
2 tbsp Sriracha (*add more, as needed)
Pinch of Chinese Five Spice (*less than 1/8 tsp)
8" Bamboo Skewers (*soak in water while chicken is marinating)
  1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the grated garlic, lime juice, plain yogurt, sesame oil, sweet soy sauce, sriracha, and Chinese five spice. Taste the marinade, and add more sriracha if you'd like to make it spicier.
  2. Place the chicken tenders in a shallow dish, then pour the marinade over the chicken. Turn and mix the tenders thoroughly to coat every piece with the sriracha-yogurt mixture. Cover with saran wrap, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
  3. Before grilling, remove the chicken from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes prior to cooking. Skewer the chicken tenders; one piece per bamboo skewer.
  4. Grill the chicken over medium-high heat, and cook the skewers 6 minutes per side.