Ayam Penyet: Indonesian Smashed Chicken In Chilli Sambal

Ayam Penyet - Indonesian smashed chicken with chillies

Ayam Goreng Penyet

Ayam Goreng Penyet

Ayam Penyet 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 chilli lovers since it was introduced in Surabaya, East Java. 

So, what and why is this dish about?

Well, Ayam Goreng Penyet literally 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 serves you with a mouthwatering look and taste. If you like the western flour-dipped fried chicken that you often enjoy with ready-made chilli sauce from the bottle, then you must try this Ayam Penyet. 

Just get your plain white rice ready with some 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 flavoursome chicken for your next dinner. Or lunch. Or brunch?? 

But please don’t complain to me 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 that roots in the original recipe. It will help you make Ayam Penyet from scratch, with no shortcut of using ready-made chilli paste or sambal and whatever. And the best thing is you can adjust the heat level of chilli 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 chillies.
  4. Tomatoes (optional)
  5. Onion.
  6. Garlic.
  7. Oil for frying.

So you only need 7 items. Ah, I forgot to mention salt. But do I have to put salt on the list anyway? Because you will always have salt in your kitchen cupboard or pantry, won’t you?

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

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

But if you are a true chilli lover, you can omit the tomato. And use twice as much the big red chillies for this recipe. 

How to make Ayam Penyet

As time goes by, the popularity of this humble dish spreads beyond its birthplace. And there are numerous ways and methods of cooking that have been invented and developed.

But the essence is the same. You cook the chicken and make the sambal (chilli paste sauce), then you smash the chicken before you pour the chilli over it. It is as simple as that. 

So 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 flavour go into the poultry meat better.

Or, if you want to use a very 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. And they are:

  1. Deep-fry the chicken until thoroughly cooked, golden brown in colour 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, you 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 conscious about deep-frying and would prefer to choose 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 chilli sambal, pound the onion, chillies, 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 chillies and onion.

Then you fry the chilli 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 chilli sauce over the chicken. You can rub the chilli all over the chicken too. 

Top tips to make the best Ayam Penyet from scratch

  • Marinate the chicken for at least half an hour, so the flavour will develop better in the poultry meat. 
  • When you deep-fry the chicken, do so until it goes a little brown and crispy.
  • Make sure you have your chilli sambal ready before you deep-fry the chicken, so you can pour it over while the chicken is still piping hot. 
  • Make sure you cook the chilli until all the liquid released from the onion and chillies have evaporated. You should end up with a nice-sheen chilli 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.

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

Last but not least, 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.

Yield: 6

Ayam Penyet

Ayam Penyet - the smashed chicken with fresh chilli sauce

Ayam Penyet is a simple chicken dish that offers delicious flavour. It's a choice for the chilli lovers.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour


  • 800 gr/ 28.22 oz chicken (equal to 1 baby chicken), cut in pieces.
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste.
  • 75 gr/ 2.65 oz 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 tsp salt.
  • Cooking oil for frying.


  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. 
  5. In the meantime, lay the chicken pieces on a chopping board. Using a pestle, pound the chicken until it’s slightly bruised.
  6. 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. 

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 378Total Fat 20gSaturated Fat 5gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 13gCholesterol 125mgSodium 487mgCarbohydrates 17gFiber 1gSugar 10gProtein 33g

The nutrition calculation you find here is just a guide provided by online nutrition calculator. You should not use to substitute advice from nutritionists or health practitioners.

Did you try the recipe?

Share how you like the recipe in the comments below and show a picture of your creation


  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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