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This Bourbon Chicken has tender chunks of chicken coated in a sweet and sticky sauce. Common in Cajun-themed Chinese restaurants, you can easily make this dish at home in 20 minutes. Faster than takeout!

 20 Minute Bourbon Chicken - a copycat of the Chinese mall food classic: tender chicken coated in a tangy, sticky sauce with sweet and savory flavors. It’s an easy weeknight dinner that’s irresistible down to the last bite!

Bourbon Chicken in a rice bowl

This is one of my all-time favorite American-Chinese dishes along with General Tso’s Chicken and Sweet and Sour Chicken. You get tons of flavor for little effort, and the sticky sauce is totally irresistible with rich bourbon flavors! Serve it on a bed of steamed rice or noodles with a side of broccoli or Chinese vegetables for a complete meal.

Legend has it the name came to be when a Chinese restauranteur on Bourbon Street in New Orleans created the recipe. Today, it’s common in malls and restaurants like Cajun Grill and Asian Chao. While there is a small amount of alcohol, it boils off during cooking to make this dish family-friendly!

The Bourbon in Bourbon Chicken

So bourbon is a type of whiskey hailing from Kentucky with its closest cousin being Jack Daniels. If you don’t have any on hand, most liquor stores sell miniature bottles that will provide enough for this recipe.

What Can I Substitute for Bourbon? To make a non-alcoholic substitute, combine one part vanilla extract with two parts water. Or substitute extra apple juice.

Chopstick picking up a piece of chicken coated in sauce

How to Make Bourbon Chicken

To make bourbon chicken, start by combining the sauce ingredients in a mixing bowl. Then cube the chicken and fry in a large skillet to brown the outside and enhance the flavor.

Next, sauté minced garlic in the pan until fragrant. Then add the sauce and let it simmer for a few minutes to reduce slightly. The last step is adding a cornstarch slurry for thickening purposes. Stir it in just until the sauce coats a spoon.

Don’t worry if it’s not sticky yet. When the pan is removed from the heat, the sauce will thicken further and fully coat the chicken.

In terms of garnishes, I like sprinkling minced green onions and sesame seeds on top, but it’s up to you.

Can I Use Chicken Thighs Instead of Breasts?

Yes! You can substitute chicken thighs, which will be juicier although a lot less chunky.

Chinese dish coated in a sticky sauce

Can I Make Bourbon Chicken in the Crock Pot?

You can make Bourbon Chicken in a slow cooker too. Sauté the chicken pieces until lightly browned, and add to the crock pot with all the other ingredients except the cornstarch.

Cook on High for 2 hours or Low for 3 hours. Then mix the cornstarch with water and add to the crock pot for the last 15 minutes to thicken.

More Chinese dishes:

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This Easy 20 Minute Bourbon Chicken is a copycat of the Chinese mall food classic: tender chicken coated in a tangy, sticky sauce with sweet and savory flavors. It’s an easy weeknight dinner that’s irresistible down to the last bite!
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4.63 from 8 votes

Bourbon Chicken

This Easy 20 Minute Bourbon Chicken is a copycat of Chinese mall food classic of tender chicken coated in a tangy, sticky sauce with sweet and savory flavors. It's an easy weeknight dinner that’s good down to the last bite!
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 20 mins
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients

Sauce

  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup soy sauce, low sodium (see note)
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar, or white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp minced fresh ginger, or 1/2 tsp ground ginger

Chicken

  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed, or chicken thighs
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • green onion, minced
  • red pepper flakes, optional

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl, mix chicken broth, soy sauce, apple juice, cider vinegar, bourbon, ketchup, brown sugar and ground ginger. Reserve.
  • Place a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. When hot, add 1 tbsp vegetable oil and half of the cubed chicken in a single layer.
  • Fry for 2 minutes until lightly browned. Then use kitchen tongs to flip the pieces and cook 2 more minutes on the other side. Remove to a plate.
  • Wipe the pan clean with paper towel. Add the remaining 1 tbsp oil and fry the remaining chicken pieces the same way. Then remove to the plate.
  • Add the garlic to the pan and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Then add the reserved sauce and bring to a boil for 10 minutes.
  • Add the chicken to the sauce and boil for 2 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix the cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of water in a cup and pour into the pan.
  • Let the sauce thicken stirring constantly for up to a minute or two, just until it's thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Note that the sauce will thicken further off the heat.
  • Remove to serving plates and garnish with optional green onions and red pepper flakes.

Notes

  • Chicken: You can substitute boneless, skinless chicken thighs for juicier meat if you prefer.
  • Soy sauce: I suggest using Kikkoman or San-J low-sodium (also gluten-free).
  • Cornstarch: Pre-mix the cornstarch and water into a slurry to avoid getting lumps in the sauce. If you don’t have cornstarch, you can use ¼ cup flour mixed with 2 tablespoons water but use a small whisk to avoid lumps.
  • Make Ahead: You can make this dish up to two days ahead of time and store in an airtight container in the fridge (the flavor actually intensifies with time). You can also freeze for up to one month.
Nutrition Facts
Bourbon Chicken
Amount Per Serving
Calories 360 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 4g20%
Cholesterol 96mg32%
Sodium 1253mg52%
Potassium 837mg24%
Carbohydrates 28g9%
Sugar 22g24%
Protein 35g70%
Vitamin A 265IU5%
Vitamin C 5.6mg7%
Calcium 35mg4%
Iron 1.8mg10%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Please read our nutrition disclaimer.

Author: TipBuzz
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: bourbon chicken
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