Bang bang chicken skewers are a fun and flavor-packed dish perfect for summer! Marinated to tender perfection and served with my no-sugar-added bang bang sauce, this healthy and delicious skewered chicken recipe is sure to become a go-to for family cookouts!

Skewered bang bang chicken thighs or breasts can be air-fried, broiled, or grilled. My healthy bang bang chicken marinade has NO added sugar and uses yogurt to tenderize the meat overnight. This is a great dish to make ahead for meal prep!

A close shot shows bang bang chicken skewers brushed with bang bang sauce and served with salad on the side.

Ingredients

This is one of my favorite chicken on a stick recipes because it achieves such a sweet, tangy, and spicy flavor using truly healthy ingredients. Unlike other recipes, my finger-licking bang bang sauce uses NO added sugar and this healthy marinade makes the meat incredibly tender.

Photo shows ingredients needed to make skewered bang bang chicken with sauce.

Bang Bang Chicken Marinade

  • Boneless, skinless chicken thighs: I prefer thighs because they have a bit more flavor, but you can also use skinless chicken breast. The marinade will help tenderize the meat.
  • Coarse sea salt, garlic powder, black pepper
  • Turmeric powder and smoked paprika: These spices add both flavor and color to the bang bang chicken seasoning. You can also use sweet paprika or chili powder.
  • Olive oil: Adds moisture to the meat. This is especially important if you use chicken breast.
  • Honey: Adds a touch of sweetness and helps to caramelize the chicken.
  • Plain yogurt: Or use dairy-free. Helps to tenderize the chicken when marinating overnight.
  • Chive: Chopped and used as a garnish before serving. Adds nice color and flavor to the dish.
  • Japanese chili flakes: Or Japanese furikake. Use a sprinkle as a garnish before serving.

Bang Bang Sauce

  • Kewpie mayonnaise: This is a Japanese mayo with a deep, rich flavor. Or use regular mayo.
  • Rice vinegar: Adds a subtle sweetness to the sauce.
  • Hot sauce: Or use Sriracha or Thai sweet chili sauce.
  • Garlic cloves: Grated or crushed.
  • Coconut aminos: Or use soy sauce (but half the amount as it is higher in sodium).
  • Ketchup: For a sweet, tangy flavor and a thicker sauce. Opt for sugar-free!

Tools

  • Metal skewers: You can also use pre-soaked wooden skewers, like in my kofta lamb kebabs. If you’re making bang bang chicken in air fryer make sure your skewers fit in the basket.

Substitutions and variations

  • Sweet chili sauce: Most bang bang recipes call for sweet chili, but you don’t really need it (very high in sugar!) Sriracha, hot sauce, or Yai’s Thai sweet chili sauce are healthier options.
  • Japanese mayonnaise: Kewpie mayo has a richer, less tangy flavor than regular mayo because it’s made with egg yokes. You can also use regular mayo.
  • Pineapple chipotle chicken: For a fun sweet and spicy twist, you can incorporate chipotle into your seasoning mix and use pineapple juice to sweeten your sauce.

How to make the dish

These bang bang chicken kabobs are so easy to make! Plus, they’re incredibly versatile and require minimal prep time. I’ve included instructions for air frying, grilling, and broiling.

Person demos slicing the chicken, marinate, and thread the chicken onto skewers.
  1. Prep the chicken: See section below for detailed instructions on how to cut chicken thighs vs chicken breasts for kebabs.
  2. Marinate the meat: In a large bowl, coat the chicken in marinade ingredients from salt to yogurt. Cover and store it in the fridge to marinate for at least 1 hour or best overnight.
  3. Thread the chicken: For chicken breasts and larger pieces of thigh, fold and thread the chicken two to three times. Be sure not to pack them too tightly so they can cook evenly.
Person demos how to cook the chicken and brush with sauce before serving.
  1. Cook the skewers:
    • Air fry: For bang bang chicken air fryer, cook in a single layer at 400°F (204°C) for 6 minutes. Flip, lower the temperature to 380°F (193°C), and air fry for 4 more minutes.
    • Grill: Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Grill over indirect heat for about 20 minutes until the internal temperature reaches a minimum of 165°F (73.9°C).
    • Broil: Place the skewers directly under the broiler over a lined baking sheet pan at the highest setting. Broil for 5 minutes one side, flip, and broil for 5 more minutes.
  1. Brush and Serve: Brush the hot skewers with bang bang chicken skewer sauce on all sides. Garnish with chives and furikake, if using. Serve hot with remaining sauce on the side.

How to thread chicken breast (or thighs) onto a skewer

Ever found yourself puzzled over how to get that chicken to stay put on a stick without falling off? This technique ensures your chicken stays tender, moist, and firmly on the skewer. You can also use this technique for other chicken on a skewer recipes, like my chicken yakitori skewers:

How to slice:

Person demos how to slice chicken breasts and thighs differently for grilling use.
  • Chicken Breasts: Cut the breast lengthwise into long, thin strips. Aim for a bit thinner than chicken tenders for the best result.
  • Chicken Thighs: Trim any extra fat and slice them into bite-sized pieces, about 1.5 inches.

How to thread:

Person demos how to thread chicken onto skewers for grilling.
  • Set Up: Lay your skewers across a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips.
  • Breasts: Grab a strip of chicken breast. Poke the skewer through one end and weave it in and out of the meat, folding and threading 2-3 times. Slide it down gently, leaving 1 to 1.5 inches free at the top. Not too tight, not too loose!
  • Thighs: For thigh pieces, simply thread them onto the skewers. If you’ve got bigger pieces, give them a single fold and thread through to ensure they stay put.

Keep It from Sticking: A quick spritz of oil on the skewers before adding the chicken helps everything slide off easily when it’s time to eat. I prefer metal flat skewers over wooden skewers as they are more durable, reusable, and no pre-soaking is needed.

How to make ahead, store, and reheat

This is a great dish to prep ahead of time, as the marinade works best when left overnight. The skewers are also easy to store and rehear, making this a great meal prep recipe for the week. They travel well, too!

  • Make ahead: Cut and marinate the chicken ahead of time for best results. You can also mix the sauce in advance and store separately from the chicken in the refrigerator.
  • Storage: Once cooked, store kebabs in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can also make larger batches and store marinated meat in the freezer for up to 1 month.
  • Reheating: Air fry at 360°F (182 °C) for 4 minutes or microwave on medium for 1 minute.

What to serve with bang bang chicken skewers

Serve as a chicken skewers appetizer or pair with your favorite sides to let this protein dish shine as a main course of any meal. They are great served over rice and with cooked veggies or raw salads.

Umami Tips

  • Marinate Ahead: Allow the chicken to marinate for at least 1 hour, or overnight if possible. This not only infuses the chicken with flavor but also tenderizes it.
  • Cutting Technique: When slicing chicken breasts, slice lengthwise and aim for uniform thickness to ensure even cooking. For thighs, bite-sized pieces work best.
  • Threading/Folding: Weave the chicken onto the skewers carefully to ensure it cooks evenly and stays moist. This method also prevents the chicken from falling off during cooking.
  • Prevent Stickiness: A light spray of oil on the skewers before adding the chicken can keep it from sticking to the skewers.
  • Internal Temperature: Use a meat thermometer to ensure the chicken reaches a safe internal temperature of 165°F (73.9°C).
  • Sauce Application: Brush the Bang Bang sauce on the skewers while they’re still hot. This helps the sauce adhere better and infuses the chicken with extra layers of flavor.
  • Wooden Skewer Tip: If using wooden skewers, soaking them in water for at least 30 minutes before grilling can prevent them from burning.

FAQs

Why is it called Bang Bang Chicken?

Bang Bang Chicken is named after the Mandarin phrase for “excellent,” signifying a dish that’s exceptionally good and delicious.

Can you freeze chicken on wooden skewers?

Yes, you can freeze chicken on wooden skewers after seasoning and marinating. Ensure they’re fully covered to prevent freezer burn, and soak skewers before freezing to avoid splintering.

What does bang bang sauce taste like?

The American version of Bang Bang Sauce has a creamy texture due to mayo and ketchup, with a taste that’s sweet, spicy, and tangy, making it great for grilled or fried meats and seafood.

More recipes using bang bang sauce

If you can’t get enough of this tangy, sweet, and spicy bang bang sauce, we’ve got you covered. Give some of our other popular bang bang recipes a try, too!

A side close shot shows bang bang chicken skewers brushed with sauce and garnish on top.
Recipe image shows chicken breasts and chicken thighs marinated and skewered with bang bang sauce.
5 from 4 votes

Bang bang chicken skewers recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Marinate time:: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings: 6 7-inch (18 cm) skewers
Author: ChihYu Smith
Bang bang chicken skewers with homemade bang bang sauce. The chicken is marinated to tender flavorful. Air fry, grill, or oven instructions included.
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Ingredients 

Bang bang chicken marinade:

  • 1.5 lb skinless and boneless chicken thighs, or breasts
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • ½+ ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika, or sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt, or dairy-free yogurt
  • Garnish Chive, diced
  • Sprinkle Japanese chili flakes, or Japanese furikake

Bang bang sauce (makes about 1 cup):

  • ½ cup kewpie mayonnaise, or regular mayo
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • ½-1 tsp hot sauce, or Sriracha, sweet chili sauce
  • 0.2 oz garlic, grated or crushed, about 1 large clove
  • 1 tbsp coconut aminos, or 0.5 tbsp soy sauce to taste
  • 1.5 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 pinches coarse sea salt

Tools:

  • 6 7-inch (18 cm) Metal Skewers

Instructions 

Slice:

  • For chicken breasts, slice the breast lengthwise into long and thin strips that are similar but a little thinner than chicken tenders. For chicken thighs, trim away the excess fat and slice into bite sizes, about 1.5-inch chunks.

Marinate:

  • In a large mixing bowl, add the chicken with ingredients from salt to yogurt. Mix and coat evenly then cover the bowl and store it in the fridge to marinate for at least 1 hour or best overnight.

Thread:

  • Place skewers over a rimmed baking sheet. For chicken breasts, take one piece and carefully insert the skewer from one end then fold and thread the chicken two to three times. Gently push the piece down the skewer. Repeat the process, leave about 1 to 1.5 inch (2.5 cm – 3.8 cm) top portion free. Try to pack it not too tight or too loose.
  • For chicken thighs, thread the pieces onto the skewers. For larger pieces, fold/thread the chicken once so they won’t fall off the skewers.

Air fry:

  • 400°F (204°C) for 6 minutes. Open the basket, use a tong to flip the skewers by holding the meat portion. Close the basket. Lower the temperature to 380°F (193°C) and air fry for 4 minutes.

Grill:

  • Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Grill skewers over indirect heat for about 20 minutes until the internal temperature reaches a minimum of 165°F (73.9°C). When flipping the chicken, use a tong and hold the meat portion.

Broil:

  • Place the skewers directly under the broiler over a lined baking sheet pan at the highest setting (closest setting to the heating source). Broil for 5 minutes one side, flip, and broil for 5 more minutes the flip side.

Brush Sauce and Serve:

  • As soon as the skewers are out, while still hot, brush with bang bang sauce on all sides. The sauce will melt and add shine and gloss to the skewers. Garnish with chives and lightly sprinkle with furikake, if using. Serve with the remaining bang bang sauce on the side. Serve hot.

Notes

  • The recipe and cooking temperature work for both chicken thighs and breasts but personally I like chicken thighs more – juicier and more flavorful but both versions are very good.
  • If using wooden skewers, soak them in water at room temperature for 30 minutes so they don’t catch fire. Metal skewers don’t need to be soaked.
  • According to the USDA, chicken should reach a minimum internal temperature of 165°F (73.9°C) throughout the bird, including the breasts, legs, thighs. Always use a digital meat thermometer to test the temperature before consumption.
  • Reheat, air fry at 360°F (182 °C) for 4 minutes or microwave on medium power for 1 minute.

Nutrition

Serving: 1skewer, Calories: 221kcal, Carbohydrates: 7g, Protein: 25g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 0.02g, Cholesterol: 77mg, Sodium: 862mg, Potassium: 460mg, Fiber: 0.2g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 140IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 23mg, Iron: 1mg
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: American, American Chinese
Keyword: bang bang chicken skewers
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