Gà Kho Recipe (Vietnamese Caramelized Chicken)

Gà kho is an aromatic, sweet, spicy, and pungent yet balanced combination of flavors that pair amazingly well with chicken. It’s quite easy to make too!

I’ve had the chance to try different recipes of ga kho back at home. When I think about thịt kho (dishes with caramelized meats) from my family’s meals, it covers a lot of dishes.

ga kho / Vietnamese caramelized chicken

Whether it be fish steaks, poultry, beef, hunks of pork, or sausage; everything has a version of the caramelized cooking method. And why not? Caramelization creates a delicious sauce that is savory, sweet, spicy, salty, and thick enough to nicely coat whichever meat you decide to cook.

My cousin came over while I was preparing this dish and asked, “what stinks?!” It was fish sauce and vinegar. A lot of folks shy away from fish sauce because of the smell, but they should give it a shot! I don’t sit around whiffing fish sauce, but it’s a vital flavor component of the dish.

If you are really afraid of the odor in your house you can always cook it outside or as a last resort substitute soy sauce instead, but the flavor will not be the same.

And if you’re strapped for time and cash, this ga kho recipe is the perfect solution.

The marinade


All you need to do for the marinade is to combine fish sauce with brown sugar and mix thoroughly to combine, then let it marinate for at least an hour in the fridge.

Aromatics and spices

This recipe is LOADED with aromatics. Everything here is potent and provides a hefty portion of aromatics. I love the punch of garlic, and shallots which you see a lot in Vietnamese recipes.

ga kho / Vietnamese caramelized chicken

Ginger goes great with the chicken. The chiles and the jalapeno crank this up a notch but you can scale this up or down as you like. They hold their own the way it’s proportioned in this recipe, to stand up with the rest of the strong flavors. For other chicken recipes with Asian flavors, try my baked chicken thighs.

Vietnamese Carmelized Chicken Pinterest Image
ga kho / Vietnamese caramelized chicken

Gà Kho (Vietnamese Caramelized Chicken)

5 from 18 votes
Packed with aromatics and spice, balanced with fish sauce to season and create the delicious Vietnamese caramelized chicken, which is pretty easy to make!
BY: Hungry Huy
Prep: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour 45 minutes



  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoons brown sugar


  • 1.5 lbs chicken drumsticks you can use any cut desired


  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon ginger minced
  • 1 shallot minced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • vegetable oil for frying

Final Additions / garnish

  • 2 sprigs of scallion roughly chopped 1/2″-3/4″ long
  • 1 jalapeno thinly sliced
  • 1 Thai chili thinly sliced


  • Marinade in about 2 tablespoons fish sauce and 1 tablespoons brown sugar for a least 1 hour. Rotate and redistribute marinade after the first 30 minutes.
  • Combine for the sauce: 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup fish sauce, 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 1/4 cup water
  • Then add to the sauce 1 tablespoon minced ginger, 1 minced shallot, and 3 cloves minced garlic.
  • Heat a pan on high heat, then add some vegetable oil. Add the chicken and rotate as it browns. This should only take a 1-2 minutes.
  • Turn down the heat to about medium so the chicken can cook through.
  • Add some of the sauce, just enough to color and kind of baste the meat as it cooks.
  • You could add the rest of the sauce now too, but I find it makes more sense to cook them separately so you can control the doneness of the chicken and thickness of the sauce independently.
  • Remove the chicken. Add the rest of the sauce and cook on medium high heat until it just reaches desired consistency.
  • Add the sliced jalapeno and scallion to cook just slightly as the sauce finishes. If you want more bite to the jalapeno, slice it thicker and don’t let it cook too much (same with the scallion).
Nutrition Facts
Gà Kho (Vietnamese Caramelized Chicken)
Serving Size
0 g
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Keyword: chicken curry, Vietnamese chicken, Vietnamese food
Did you cook this recipe?Tag @HungryHuy or #hungryhuy–I’d love to see it!

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19 comments on “Gà Kho Recipe (Vietnamese Caramelized Chicken)

  1. Rich's Mom says:

    Rich’s Mom says that you should use lemon grass instead of ginger.

    1. Huy says:

      Thanks Rich’s Mom lol

  2. Rich's Mom says:

    She also says that you should use chili paste instead of peppers.

  3. Kim T says:

    Love that Vietnamese cuisine involves braising and caramelizing meats …soo delicious. *drool* This recipe looks simple, I’m gonna have to make this some time 🙂

    1. Huy says:

      Yup, gotta do it for the texture!

  4. Trang says:

    I made this last night and it is really good!!!!! It’s different from the recipe that I grew up with (doesn’t have rice vinegar in it), but the sauce tastes amazing. I ended up only using half the sauce but that’s OK because that gives me an excuse to make more tonight!

    1. Huy says:

      Thanks for sharing Trang, I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe! Leftovers are never a bad thing 🙂

  5. Trang says:

    Oh and I cut the chicken drumsticks into 1 inch pieces like my mom does. Thanks for posting this recipe!

  6. Jamie says:

    5 stars
    Thank you so much for sharing this! I have used this recipe for a couple of times!

    1. Huy says:

      No prob Jamie, glad to hear you’re coming back to it 🙂

  7. Mari says:

    5 stars
    I made this last night and it was delicious! Posted a photo oon FB and Shared it with my friends. Thank you!????

    1. Huy says:

      Thanks for sharing Mari, glad you liked the ga kho!

  8. Jason says:

    5 stars
    Great recipe. I cooked the sauce with the chicken for the most part, and found it needed a little more water to help it reduce without turning into a thick syrup – so I definitely get why you prefer to cook it separately.

  9. cathryn says:

    I added a little Mirin cooking wine or sake to the sauce, and I think it got even better :p

    1. Hungry Huy says:

      Thanks for the suggestion Cathryn!

  10. ruth says:

    can i instead the wine with lime juice?

  11. Amy says:

    5 stars
    So good! And so easy! (Past ga kho dishes I tried making required nuoc mau/ caramelizing the sugar prior which was harder.) I used boneless skinless chicken thighs and was worried it wouldn’t be as savory, but it was good. The rest of the family (including picky toddler and preschooler) loved it and even asked for the leftovers for lunch. I’ll be making this regularly!

    1. Huy @ Hungry Huy says:

      Glad to hear about the boneless skinless thighs, there’s so much flavor here to balance 🙂 Glad the whole family enjoyed it too, thank you for sharing Amy!

  12. Lori says:

    5 stars
    I made this for our dinner tonight. It’s so easy and delicious! Thank you!

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