Sweet And Sticky Sesame Chicken Recipe

There's something about sweet and sticky sesame chicken that hits the spot. It's crispy, it's crunchy, it's sweet, salty, and offers layers of flavor, all of which make it the perfect dinner entree when you're craving a little indulgence. Best of all? It's surprisingly easy to make, as you can have it ready-to-go in about 45 minutes. 

"This recipe is like the classic takeout dish — sticky, slightly sweet, and a little tangy," says recipe developer Michelle McGlinn. "A big flavor is sesame, which comes through in the sticky sauce and the seeds." And while this recipe is fried, McGlinn points out that it's easy to give it a healthy makeover by skipping the deep frying. "A healthier and easier version would simply involve cooking the chicken pieces in a thin layer of oil until browned, then coating [them] in the sauce. The frying takes a little bit longer, but [yields] delicious results. You won't be able to stop popping them into your mouth while you make them," she says. 

Gather the ingredients for sweet and sticky sesame chicken

To get started, you'll need to round up all the ingredients. It looks like a hefty list, but you may have quite a few items on hand. First, for the sweet and sticky sauce, you'll need soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, and cornstarch. Of course, you'll also need chicken — McGlinn uses thighs but says chicken breasts can be used as well. And for the breading and frying, you'll need eggs, flour, cornstarch, and vegetable oil. Just be sure not to skip the cornstarch. "The cornstarch helps the chicken to be crunchy and crispy, but light and airy. Using cornstarch with the flour makes for a crunchier exterior," explains McGlinn.

While only used as a topping, you may also want sesame seeds and sliced scallions (without the seeds, you'll lose some of the classic takeout-style flavor and panache). 

Mix the sweet and sticky sauce

With all the ingredients ready to go, start by whipping up the sauce. Simply whisk the soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, brown sugar, vinegar, and 2 teaspoons of cornstarch together. Continue whisking until it's completely smooth. Set the bowl aside until you've cooked the chicken and are ready to coat it. 

Bread the chicken to prep it for frying

Add the flour and remaining cornstarch to a large bowl. In a second bowl, beat the eggs together until well-combined. Set up an "assembly line" and toss the pieces of chicken in the egg before coating them in the flour mixture. When removing them from the flour, shake off the excess and set the breaded chicken pieces aside. 

Fry and drain the pieces of breaded chicken

Add the oil to a deep skillet and heat it over medium heat. You'll know it's at the right temperature if you drop flour into it and it immediately sizzles. Working in small batches, add the breaded chicken to the skillet and fry the pieces until they're golden-brown on both sides. As each batch finishes frying, remove the chicken and set it aside on a paper towel to drain. 

"The trickiest part of this recipe is frying. If you try to dredge and fry all the chicken in one big batch, you'll have a hard time getting a good, crispy skin. Not only will the chicken pieces stick together if you put them in all at once, but they'll lower the oil temperature, leading to soggy breading. The oil has to stay hot in order for the chicken pieces to fry correctly," McGlinn explains. "On the other hand, if your chicken pieces are turning dark brown, it means the heat is too high. Adjust the heat down a bit if the chicken is browning too much or too fast." 

Coat the fried chicken in the sweet and sticky sauce

To coat your fried chicken in the sauce, start by heating up the sauce over medium heat in a large skillet. Stir the sauce as it heats to keep it from sticking or burning — continue until it's nice and thick. Remove it from the heat, then toss the pieces of chicken in the sauce while it's still hot.

Add desired garnishes, and serve

With the pieces of chicken fully coated in sauce, simply sprinkle the sesame seeds on top, and top with the sliced scallions, if desired. As far as what to pair it with, McGlinn is clear: "Serve with rice, for sure. You can also serve with lo mein noodles, soba noodles, or even with fried rice. This also pairs with takeout appetizers like potstickers and egg rolls." As far as side dishes, McGlinn says it's best to keep things simple: a steamed or sauteed veggie, like broccoli, spinach, broccolini, or baby corn are all good options. And to add a little extra flavor, she suggests doubling the sauce and tossing the veggies in it, too. 

Just don't make a batch early and wait to serve it for a while, as it'll lose some of its crispiness (the sauce makes the breading soggy if it sits too long). That said, if you don't mind a less-crispy breading, it does work as leftovers. "Just store in airtight containers in the refrigerator and reheat in the microwave until hot. The chicken won't be crispy like it is fresh, but it will still be juicy and delicious," McGlinn explains. 

Sweet And Sticky Sesame Chicken Recipe
5 from 35 ratings
Learn how to make this sweet and sticky sesame chicken in just 45 minutes so you can whip it up instead of ordering takeout.
Prep Time
Cook Time
sweet and sticky sesame chicken
Total time: 45 minutes
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 cup + 2 teaspoons cornstarch, divided
  • 1 pound chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 cups vegetable oil, for frying
Optional Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, for topping
  • 2 scallions, for topping
  1. In a small bowl, whisk the soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, brown sugar, vinegar, and 2 teaspoons cornstarch together until smooth and no lumps remain. Set aside.
  2. Combine the flour and remaining cornstarch in a large bowl, then prepare a second bowl with the beaten eggs. Working in batches, toss the chicken in the egg to coat completely. Once coated in egg, toss the chicken pieces in flour, shaking off any excess.
  3. Heat oil in a deep skillet over medium heat until flour sizzles immediately when dropped into the oil. Add the chicken, working in batches so as not to crowd the skillet, and fry until golden brown on each side. Remove the chicken and place on a paper towel to drain.
  4. To serve, sprinkle sesame seeds on the chicken, then top with scallions to serve.
  5. Heat a wok or skillet over medium heat and add the prepared sauce. Simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes.
  6. Add the fried chicken to the sauce and toss until completely coated and warmed through.
  7. While hot, sprinkle sesame seeds on the chicken, then top with scallions to serve.
Calories per Serving 939
Total Fat 62.9 g
Saturated Fat 9.1 g
Trans Fat 0.4 g
Cholesterol 191.1 mg
Total Carbohydrates 66.4 g
Dietary Fiber 1.3 g
Total Sugars 11.0 g
Sodium 1,002.1 mg
Protein 26.1 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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