Ayam Penyet: Indonesian Smashed Chicken in Chili Sambal

Craving crispy chicken with a spicy twist? Try our Ayam Penyet recipe, easy to cook and packed with flavor. It’s a simple way to bring a burst of Indonesian taste to your table.

Ayam Penyet - Indonesian smashed chicken with chillies

Ayam Goreng Penyet

Ayam Penyet means bruised or smashed chicken, and it is one simple chicken dish that offers delicious flavor. It has become very popular in the last decade. This chicken dish was originated in Solo, Central Java. And it has taken place in the hearts of chicken and chili lovers since it was introduced in Surabaya, East Java. 

So, what and why is this dish about?

Ayam Goreng Penyet means fried chicken (Ayam) that has been lightly bruised, crushed, or smashed using a pestle. 

Indonesian chicken with chillies - Ayam Penyet

Even though this dish doesn’t use many ingredients and its cooking method is pretty straightforward, it gives you a mouthwatering look and taste. If you like the western flour-dipped fried chicken you often enjoy with ready-made chili sauce from the bottle, try this Ayam Penyet. 

Just prepare plain white rice with a simple salad such as cucumber, tomatoes, and carrots. Or, you can have it with this cucumber and tomato salad or the well-known Gado-gado. Whichever you decide, you’re good to eat this flavorsome chicken for your next dinner. Or lunch. Or brunch?? 

But please don’t complain if you can’t stop eating it, as I have the same problem whenever I make this chicken dish. I can never get enough, and at times, I become greedy.

Key Ingredients

This recipe I’m sharing with you is based on my mom’s recipe rooted in the original recipe. It will help you make Ayam Penyet from scratch, with no shortcut of using ready-made chili paste or sambal. And the best thing is you can adjust the heat level of chili in your dish without reducing the deliciousness of your chicken.

Here is the list of what you need to make Ayam Penyet:

  1. Chicken ( ideally with bone).
  2. Tamarind (block or paste).
  3. Fresh red chilies.
  4. Tomatoes (optional)
  5. Onion.
  6. Garlic.
  7. Oil for frying.

So you only need 7 items.

As you can see, I put tomatoes as optional. The reason is that the original recipe doesn’t use tomatoes. However, I understand that I will need to double as many red chilies to make enough sauce for this recipe. Although it won’t be a problem for me, it can be a problem for those who can not handle chilies well. 

Therefore, I put in tomatoes to increase the amount of chili sambal. And decrease the chili heat at the same time.

But you can omit the tomato if you are a true chili lover. And use twice as much of the big red chilies for this recipe. 

How to Make Ayam Penyet

Firstly, you marinate the chicken with tamarind and salt. If possible, try to pierce the chicken using a skewer or fork before you marinate. This will help the flavor go into the poultry meat better.

Or, if you want to use a traditional way like the original recipe, you can also use the same spice as Indonesian Ayam Goreng Bumbu (spicy fried chicken)

Then you cook the chicken. There are three ways of cooking the chicken to make Ayam Penyet. Either way is good, so you can choose whichever you like. They are:

  1. Deep-fry the chicken until thoroughly cooked, golden brown, and slightly crispy on the outside. 
  2. Double-cook and deep-fry the chicken. Steam cook the chicken until it is cooked through. Once the chicken is cooked through, heat the oil in a deep frying pan or a wok. And deep-fry the chicken until crispy or lightly brown on the outside.
  3. Bake or air-fry the chicken. If you’re concerned about deep-frying and prefer a healthier option, you can roast or air-fry the chicken. Roast the chicken in the oven at 4/ 170°C/ 338°F for 45-50 minutes until fully cooked.
raw chicken with tamarind and salt
Frying the chicken
Frying the chilli paste
fried chicken and a bowl of chilli sauce

As for the chili sambal, pound the onion, chilies, tomatoes, garlic, and salt into a roughly grounded paste. You can use a pestle and mortar or a food processor for this. Make sure you don’t pound the paste too smoothly. You want the rough cuts of chilies and onion.

Then you fry the chili mixture, using some oil previously used for the chicken until the sambal is cooked. 

Lastly, using a pestle, lightly bruise and smash the chicken pieces. Then, pour and spread the chili sauce over the chicken. You can rub the chili all over the chicken, too. 

Top Tips to Make the Best Ayam Penyet From Scratch

  • Marinate the chicken for at least half an hour to improve the flavor of the poultry meat. 
  • When you deep-fry the chicken, do so until it goes a little brown and crispy.
  • Ensure you have your chili sambal ready before deep-frying the chicken so you can pour it over while it is still piping hot. 
  • Ensure you cook the chili until all the liquid released from the onion and chilies evaporates. You should end up with a nice-sheen chili sauce with the oil separated from the edges.

More Chicken Recipes From the Indonesian Kitchen

Thank you for stopping by to check this Ayam Penyet recipe. I hope you’re now planning to try it. When you do, can you share what you think about it in the comments below (leave a reply box)? I’ll really appreciate it.

Take a look at my other chicken recipes of Indonesian foods that you may love.

Lastly, please follow me on Facebook, Instagram and/or Pinterest. To sneak a peek at what’s cooking in my kitchen. 

Take care and all the best.

Ayam Penyet - the smashed chicken with fresh chilli sauce
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5 from 2 votes

Ayam Penyet

Ayam Penyet is a simple chicken dish that offers delicious flavour. It's a choice for the chilli lovers.
Author: Devy Dar
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indonesian
Servings: 6


  • Chopping board
  • Kitchen knife
  • Mixing bowls.
  • Frying pan
  • Slotted spoon


  • 1.8 pounds chicken equal to 1 whole baby chicken, cut in pieces.
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste.
  • 3-4 big red chillies cut in big chunks.
  • 1 medium-size tomato see the note.
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced.
  • 2 small onions cut in chunks.
  • 1 teaspoon salt.
  • Cooking oil for frying.


  • Clean the chicken and pierce it with a skewer or a fork. Mix the tamarind with ½ tsp of salt, and rub it all over the poultry. Make sure all pieces are covered with tamarind mixture. Leave to marinate. 
  • Using a pestle and mortar, pound the chillies, onion, and tomatoes into a rough paste. You can use a food processor too. Just give it a few blitzes to process. Set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a deep frying pan or a wok then deep-fry the chicken pieces until light golden and thoroughly cooked. Set aside.
  • Using ⅓ cup (80 ml/ 2.82 oz) of the oil from frying the chicken, fry the chilli mixture, garlic and ½ tsp of salt in another pan. Cook until all the liquid evaporates and the oil separates from the edges. 
  • In the meantime, lay the chicken pieces on a chopping board. Using a pestle, pound the chicken until it’s slightly bruised.
  • Then quickly but carefully pour the chilli mixture over the chicken. Enjoy.


  • If you like hot chilli flavour, you can omit the tomato and just use chillies and onions. And you can double the number of chillies if you prefer a hotter-sauce. Equally, if you want a milder heat, you can replace some chillies with more tomatoes. Just bear in mind that the more tomatoes you put it, the longer you have to cook and fry the chilli mixture. Because obviously, tomatoes release more juice. 


Serving: 1g | Calories: 378kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 125mg | Sodium: 487mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 10g


Nutritional info in this recipe is only estimate using online calculator. You should refer to it as a guide only. Please verify with your own data if you seek an accurate info.

Author: Devy Dar

Title: Food Writer, Recipe Developer, and Digital Content Creator.


Devy Dar founded So Yummy Recipes and Drizzling Flavor to share her love of food after exploring various cultures and cuisines for more than two decades. Her mission is to help others easily recreate traditional and non-traditional food with readily available ingredients. Her works have been featured in Reader’s Digest, Al Jazeera, MSN, Yahoo, Bon Appetit, and more. 

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  1. I love recipes with less than 10 ingredients and your Ayam Penyet fits the bill! Thanks for the detailed explanation.

  2. This is so new to me, so those process shots were super helpful for me. I am definitely going to be giving this recipe a go next week. Thank you so much for the recipe!!

  3. Tawnie Kroll says:

    This chicken was so flavorful and easy to make – will be adding into our recipe rotation! Thank you!

  4. I actually hadn’t heard of this dish before I came across your blog post, but I am so excited to try it!! It looks easy to make and so flavorful!

    1. Yes, it is delicious. Perfect choice if you love chillies 🙂

  5. I had never made this at home before but your step-by-step instructions made it so easy! Thank you! And I love the big flavors in this dish.

  6. This looks so amazing ?. Going to try it . Because we can’t travel the world right now , atleast we can try new dishes !

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