Sticky Chinese Bourbon Chicken Recipe

For those who have yet to come across this delicious and well-loved fusion dish, it may seem a little confusing to see Bourbon, a classic American liquor, as a key ingredient for an otherwise self-proclaimed Chinese dish. And, you'd be absolutely right to question it. The inclusion of Bourbon in this Chinese recipe actually originates from a Chinese restaurant on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. In fact, there is some debate surrounding whether the original dish even contained Bourbon, or whether it is simply named after the street where the dish was first conceived. Regardless of its origins, we are definitely supporters of the inclusion of Bourbon in this recipe!

In this take on the seasoned classic, Tasting Table recipe developer Jennine Rye has created this flavorful and filling alternative to getting a takeout, making for a healthier and more cost-effective meal. And, because it only takes 35 minutes to prepare and cook from start to finish, it is also an ideal midweek dinner option. Due to the abundance of flavor in the sauce, no fancy sides are needed. Simply pair this dish with rice to absorb the delicious juices of the dish, or noodles are another great option to carry the sauce. Add in some lovely fresh steamed veggies and you're good to go. 

Gather the ingredients for this sticky Chinese bourbon chicken

To begin this recipe for sticky Chinese Bourbon chicken, first you will need to gather the ingredients. Obviously, you will want some chicken. While Rye recommends chicken thighs as they are less prone to drying out and create a wonderfully succulent dish, you can substitute these for chicken breast if you prefer. To make things even quicker, you can always opt for ready-diced chicken if your supermarket has this in stock.

You'll also need soy sauce, black pepper, cornstarch, chicken stock, hoisin sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, rice vinegar, whole garlic cloves, fresh ginger, and of course, the eponymous ingredient: Bourbon. You don't need to go for the high-end brands to make this dish a showstopper, but whichever Bourbon you pick will affect the final outcome. For a slightly sweeter dish, choose a Bourbon with vanilla and caramel notes, or for a spicier end product, pick a bottle with more smokey and spiced flavors.

Prepare the ingredients

Before beginning the cooking, there's a little bit of preparation to do. If the chicken wasn't bought precut, chop it up into cubes about an inch in size and then mix it with a little soy sauce and water; this serves to both add more flavor to the meat and also it helps to tenderize it. Taking the time to do this now will make the chicken in the dish super moist and succulent, as the acidity of the soy sauce will react with the meat fibers to break them down and soften them up.

Then, in a clean bowl mix together the chicken stock, the hoisin sauce, the soy sauce, the brown sugar, the sesame oil, some cornflour, and the rice vinegar to make the sauce. 

Fry the chicken

With the prep work out of the way, it's time to fry the chicken thighs. First, mix some cornflour into the chicken thigh mixture. Heat up a large pan to medium-high heat, add in some cooking oil, and then fry the chicken pieces. You'll want the chicken to be nicely browned and just cooked through, which should take about 5 to 6 minutes depending on the size of the chopped meat. Once the chicken is cooked, transfer it from the pan to a clean bowl and set it to one side.

Finish the dish

With the meat cooked and removed from the pan, it's time to add the sauce ingredients. In the same pan, add the minced garlic and minced ginger and sauté the ingredients for a few minutes until they are nice and fragrant. Then add the Bourbon and use it to deglaze the pan, before adding the rest of the sauce mixture. Lower the heat to medium and allow the sauce to simmer away until it starts to become thick and glossy. Lastly, return the chicken to the pan to heat through for a few minutes, then top the dish with chopped scallions and serve hot. 

Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge and should be consumed within 3 days.

Sticky Chinese Bourbon Chicken Recipe
5 from 33 ratings
This flavorful and filling sticky Chinese Bourbon chicken is a great alternative to getting a takeout, making for a healthier and more cost-effective meal.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Sticky Chinese bourbon chicken
Total time: 35 minutes
  • 1½ pounds chicken thighs, boneless and skinless, chopped into inch cubes
  • ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon soy sauce, divided
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • ⅓ cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch, divided
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, minced
  • 3 tablespoons Bourbon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped spring onions, to serve
  1. Prepare the chicken by mixing the chopped pieces with 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of water, and the black pepper.
  2. Prepare the sauce by mixing together the chicken stock, the hoisin sauce, the soy sauce, the brown sugar, the sesame oil, 1 tablespoon cornflour, and the rice vinegar. Set this to one side.
  3. Heat up a frying pan to a medium-high heat. Mix 2 tablespoons of cornflour into the chicken mixture.
  4. When the pan is hot, add the cooking oil to the pan and then add the chicken pieces, frying them for 5 to 6 minutes until coloring and just cooked through. Then remove from the pan and set to one side.
  5. Add the minced garlic and minced ginger to the pan and fry it for a minute or two until fragrant.
  6. Add the Bourbon to the pan to deglaze it, before adding the rest of the sauce mixture to the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and allow the sauce to cook until it is thickened and glossy.
  7. Return the chicken pieces to the pan and cook for a few minutes until the chicken is warmed through.
  8. Serve immediately, topped with fresh chopped scallions.
Calories per Serving 591
Total Fat 37.6 g
Saturated Fat 8.6 g
Trans Fat 0.2 g
Cholesterol 168.2 mg
Total Carbohydrates 23.7 g
Dietary Fiber 1.1 g
Total Sugars 10.9 g
Sodium 1,624.1 mg
Protein 31.5 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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