The blend of flavors in this Asian Chicken Sandwich recipe is really delicious! It’s composed of grilled chicken marinated in a savory-sweet sauce, served on wheat buns, and topped with zesty coleslaw.
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Here in the South, grilling outdoors is a year-round activity. Our grill sometimes sees more use than our oven, especially when the weather is warm. Although, we have been known to throw on a sweater and start up the grill even on cold days.
One of our favorite things to enjoy from the grill has always been chicken and, because I wanted to try combining grilled chicken with classic Asian flavors, I came up with this Asian Style Barbecue Chicken Sandwich.
It’s inspired by the coleslaw-topped barbecue sandwiches you find throughout the South, except this version has loads of Asian influence. Hope you enjoy it!
❤️ Why We Love This Recipe
- Fusion of Flavors: This recipe combines the best of Southern barbecue with an Asian-inspired marinade, delivering a mouthwatering taste sensation.
- Grilled Goodness: What’s better than the smoky, charred goodness of grilled chicken? Yum!
- Zesty Coleslaw Crunch: The accompanying Asian-style coleslaw adds a refreshing crunch and a burst of flavor.
🛒 Ingredient Notes
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I know it looks like a LOT of ingredients, right? Don’t worry. The majority of them are for the marinade and the coleslaw dressing.
For the Chicken and Sandwich:
- Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts: I prefer boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but you can also use boneless, skinless thighs if you’d rather. Either choice will be delicious!
- Whole Wheat Sandwich Buns: These hearty buns provide a wholesome base for your sandwich, offering a slightly nutty flavor and added nutrition.
For the Marinade:
- Soy Sauce, Brown Sugar, Lime Zest and Juice, Honey, Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, Asian Hot Chili-Garlic Sauce, Garlic, and Salt. These ingredients make a marinade with many of the essential elements of Asian cuisine. You’ll love the mix of flavors!
For the Coleslaw:
- Coleslaw Mix: A prepackaged combination of shredded cabbage and carrots, making coleslaw preparation quick and convenient.
- Green Onions: Also known as scallions, these provide a mild, onion-like flavor and a pop of color to the coleslaw.
For the Coleslaw Dressing:
- Canola Oil, Fresh Ginger, White Vinegar, Dark Brown Sugar, Sesame Oil, Sesame Seeds, Black Pepper.
🔪 How to Make Asian Style Barbecue Chicken Sandwich
Place each chicken breast between sheets of plastic wrap or waxed paper and lightly pound them until they’re a consistent thickness.
👉 PRO TIP: Having the chicken breasts the same thickness throughout means they’ll cook through in the same time without one side being done while the other is still undercooked. Here, I’m using the flat end of a meat mallet, but you can use a weighty rolling pin or a heavy bottomed pan to do the same.
Marinate the Chicken
Combine the marinade ingredients and stir together until well mixed. Add the breasts and the marinade to a large re-sealable plastic bag and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight. Turn occasionally to redistribute the marinade around the chicken.
Get it on the Grill
Prepare a gas or charcoal grill for medium-low heat cooking. Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade. Reserve the marinade and set it aside. Grill until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees.
Make the Sauce
Make a sauce for the sandwiches by straining the marinade through a fine-meshed sieve into a small saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat and cook until reduced to a thick, syrupy sauce (boil for a minimum of 5 minutes to make the marinade safe to serve).
👉 PRO TIP: If you are at all concerned about using the leftover marinade as a sauce, simply make twice the amount of marinade called for in the recipe. Reserve half of the marinade before applying to the chicken and then reduce it as instructed above.
Make the Asian Style Slaw
When ready to serve, prepare the coleslaw. Combine the coleslaw mix, green onions, and dressing ingredients in a large bowl and toss until everything is evenly combined.
Assemble the Sandwiches
Cut each breast in half cross-wise and place on a whole wheat bun topped with a spoonful of the sauce and a mound of coleslaw.
🔀 Recipe Options and Variations
- Protein Swap: Try using different proteins like pork, shrimp, or tofu instead of chicken for a unique twist.
- Grilling Alternatives: If you don’t have access to a grill, you can also cook the marinated chicken in a skillet, oven, or on a stovetop grill pan. The key is to achieve that delicious charred flavor.
- Coleslaw Crunch: Add extra ingredients to the coleslaw for additional flavors and textures. Consider tossing in shredded carrots, bell peppers, or chopped cilantro for a fresh twist.
- Pickled Veggies: Pickled cucumbers or daikon radish can provide a tangy contrast to the sandwich’s rich flavors. They’re a popular addition to many Asian-style sandwiches.
- Gluten-Free Option: Opt for gluten-free buns or lettuce wraps for a gluten-free version of this flavorful sandwich.
🍽️ How to Serve
The possibilities are endless! Consider serving the sandwich with sides like sweet potato fries, a cucumber salad, or even a side of pickled vegetables for a well-rounded meal.
- Sweet Potato Fries: The sweet and savory combination of sweet potato fries pairs beautifully with the rich flavors of the sandwich. Season them with a touch of salt and your favorite spices.
- Cucumber Salad: A light and refreshing cucumber salad seasoned with rice vinegar, sesame oil, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds provides a refreshing contrast to the bold flavors of the sandwich.
- Pickled Vegetables: Tangy pickled cucumbers, daikon radishes, or other pickled vegetables can provide a satisfying contrast to the savory and spicy components of the sandwich.
- Grilled Corn on the Cob: For a taste of Southern tradition, grill some corn on the cob alongside the chicken. Brush it with a mix of butter and your choice of seasonings.
- Fruit Salad: A fresh fruit salad with a medley of seasonal fruits adds a touch of sweetness and freshness to the meal.
❓ Questions About Asian Style Barbecue Chicken Sandwich
While I do recommend boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs for quicker and more even cooking, you can certainly use bone-in chicken. You’ll need to remove the bones before assembling the sandwiches. Keep in mind that bone-in cuts may require a longer cooking time on the grill.
The spice level in this sandwich is fairly mild but may be adjusted to your preference. You can increase the spiciness by adding more hot chili-garlic sauce or crushed red pepper flakes. On the other hand, you an reduce or eliminate these ingredients for a no-spice version.
Absolutely! The chicken can be marinated up to 24 hours ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until you’re ready to grill.
Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken. It should reach 160 degrees F. Make sure the grill is preheated to medium-low heat for even cooking.
More Questions? I’m happy to help!
If you have more questions about the recipe, or if you’ve made it and would like to leave a comment, scroll down to leave your thoughts, questions, and/or rating!
Thanks so much for stopping by!
Asian Style Barbecue Chicken Sandwich
For the sandwiches:
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 6 whole wheat sandwich buns
For the marinade:
- ⅓ cup soy sauce
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- Zest and juice of 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon Asian hot chili-garlic sauce
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For the dressing:
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- Juice of 1 lemon
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger about 1-inch
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
For the slaw:
- 1 pound coleslaw mix
- 3 large green onions thinly sliced
- Lightly pound the breasts between sheets of plastic wrap or waxed paper until they are a consistent thickness.
- Combine remaining ingredients, except buns, and stir together until well mixed.
- Add the prepared breasts and the marinade to a large re-sealable plastic bag and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight. Turn occasionally to redistribute the marinade around the chicken.
- Prepare a gas or charcoal grill for medium-low heat cooking.
- Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade. Reserve the marinade and set it aside.
- Grill until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees.
- Make a sauce for the sandwiches by straining the marinade through a fine meshed sieve into a small saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat and cook for at least 5 minutes or until reduced to a thick, syrupy sauce.
- When ready to serve, prepare the coleslaw. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss until everything is evenly combined.
- Cut each breast in half cross-wise and serve on a whole wheat bun topped with a spoonful of the sauce and a mound of coleslaw.
- If you are at all concerned about using the leftover marinade as a sauce, simply make twice the amount of marinade called for in the recipe. Reserve half of the marinade before applying to the chicken and then reduce it as instructed above.
- Having the chicken breasts the same thickness throughout means they’ll cook through in the same time without one side being done while the other is still undercooked. You can use the flat end of a meat mallet, a weighty rolling pin, or a heavy bottomed pan for this task.
Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.
— This post was originally sponsored by Tyson Foods and published on September 9, 2014. It has been updated with additional information.