Skip the takeout and be done with Sesame Chicken in just 30 minutes! Everyone loves this mildly sweet sauce that coats super crispy chicken!
There are several recipes you’ll come across for Sesame Chicken. Some are healthier versions without breading while some are stir fries. This is the classic mall food Chinese takeout version. It’s a quick and easy tempura fried chicken in bite-size pieces tossed with an easy sauce made with rice wine and soy sauce sweet and spicy mixture. Garnish with sesame seeds or even green onions.
This is a perfect Chinese Food option when you aren’t looking for a recipe that is sweeter like Panda Express Orange Chicken (Copycat) or Sweet and Sour Chicken and something not quite as spicy as General Tso’s Chicken.
Why You Should Make Sesame Chicken at Home
Making Sesame Chicken in your own kitchen gives you the power to make it just the way you like. You can use better-for-you ingredients, save some cash, and take pride in creating it from scratch. Enjoy the taste of freshness and tweak things to match your preferences, all while savoring the happiness of sharing a homemade meal with your family and friends.
Table of contents
- Why You Should Make Sesame Chicken at Home
- How-to-Make Video
- Sabrina’s Sesame Chicken Recipe
- Can This Be Made Ahead of Time?
- Kitchen Tools
- How to Make
- Nutrition Facts
- How to Store Sesame Chicken
- How to Serve
- Frequent Questions
- Recipe Card
- Variations on Sesame Chicken
Sabrina’s Sesame Chicken Recipe
Sabrina’s Sesame Chicken Recipe is like a delicious flavor party in every bite. It’s inspired by the classic Chinese-American dish but with a twist – it’s a healthier and customizable version that you can make at home. Here’s how it goes: first, you whip up a mouthwatering sesame sauce using soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, and sesame oil. Then, you dip bite-sized chicken pieces into a light and crispy tempura batter and fry them until they’re a perfect golden brown. Afterward, you toss the chicken in a fragrant sauce, packed with garlic and red pepper flakes. The outcome? A wonderful blend of sweet, savory, and slightly spicy flavors that cling to each tender piece of chicken. It’s a tasty adventure you won’t want to miss!
Can This Be Made Ahead of Time?
Yes, you can prepare the Sesame Chicken sauce and batter ahead of time and store them separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. However, it’s best to fry the chicken just before serving to maintain its crispiness. Reheat the sauce and toss it with freshly fried chicken for the best results.
- ¼ cup Soy Sauce: Soy sauce provides the salty umami flavor that is essential for the sauce’s savory depth.
- ¼ cup Rice Vinegar: Readily available in almost all grocers these days, this is a great vinegar to keep on hand. It does have a hint of sweetness to it, so don’t replace it with any other vinegar except perhaps a red wine vinegar if you need to.
- ½ cup Brown Sugar: Brown sugar lends sweetness to the sauce, creating a delightful contrast with the savory elements.
- 1 tablespoon Cornstarch: Cornstarch acts as a thickening agent for the sauce, giving it a glossy texture. You can replace it with potato starch or arrowroot if desired.
- ⅓ cup Water: Water is used to dilute the sauce and achieve the desired consistency. Ensure it’s cold to mix with the cornstarch without clumping.
- 2 teaspoons Sesame Oil: The flavor of sesame oil in this dish is unmistakable and not able to be substituted. Some Asian grocery stores will try and sell less expensive options that aren’t sesame oil, so just be sure the one you’re buying is authentic sesame oil.
- ½ tablespoon Sesame Seeds: Sesame seeds provide a delightful crunch and nutty flavor as a garnish.
Tempura Batter Ingredients
- ½ cup Cornstarch: Cornstarch is a primary component of the tempura batter, creating a crisp and airy texture when fried.
- ½ cup Flour: Flour in the batter works in tandem with cornstarch to create the perfect coating for the chicken, resulting in a crispy exterior.
- 2 Egg Whites: Egg whites add structure and help bind the batter ingredients together, resulting in a light and crispy texture when fried.
- ½ cup Cold Seltzer Water: Cold seltzer water’s carbonation contributes to the batter’s lightness and crispiness, making it airy and delightful.
- 1 lb Chicken Thighs (Boneless and Skinless): Chicken thighs are chosen for their tender and juicy meat, ideal for bite-sized pieces in this dish. You can substitute with chicken breast if preferred.
- ¼ teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper: Crushed red pepper adds a hint of spiciness to the dish, complementing the sweetness of the sauce.
- 1 tablespoon Minced Garlic: Minced garlic infuses the oil with aromatic flavor.
- Vegetable Oil for deep frying: Vegetable oil is necessary for deep frying the chicken until it’s golden brown and crispy. Use a high smoke point oil like canola or peanut oil for best results.
- Wok or Skillet: A Wok or Skillet is essential for cooking the chicken and sauce. A wok’s high sides make it ideal for stir-frying, while a skillet works well too. Ensure it’s deep enough to prevent oil splatters during frying.
- Deep Fryer or Large Pot: You’ll need a Deep Fryer or Large Pot with enough capacity to accommodate the chicken pieces and sufficient oil for deep frying. A thermometer is handy for monitoring the oil temperature.
- Mixing Bowls: Various Mixing Bowls are used for combining the sauce ingredients, making the batter, and coating the chicken. Opt for bowls in different sizes to accommodate various stages of the recipe.
- Slotted Spoon: A Slotted Spoon is crucial for safely removing the fried chicken from the hot oil. It allows excess oil to drain, resulting in crispier and less greasy chicken.
- Measuring Cups and Spoons: Measuring Cups and Spoons are vital for precise ingredient measurements, ensuring the right balance of flavors and consistency in your Sesame Chicken. Use both dry and liquid measuring cups as needed.
How to Make
Time needed: 30 minutes.
- Step 1: Prepare the Sesame Chicken Sauce
In a mixing bowl, combine ¼ cup soy sauce, ¼ cup rice vinegar, ½ cup brown sugar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, ⅓ cup water, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, and ½ tablespoon sesame seeds. Mix until the cornstarch is fully dissolved. Set the sauce aside.
- Step 2: Make the Tempura Batter
In a separate bowl, mix ½ cup cornstarch, ½ cup flour, 2 egg whites, and ½ cup cold seltzer water until just combined. A slightly lumpy batter is ideal. Set it aside.
- Step 3: Prepare the Chicken
Cut 1 lb of boneless, skinless chicken thighs into 1-inch chunks. In a large wok or skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add ¼ teaspoon of crushed red pepper and 1 tablespoon of minced garlic to the hot oil. Stir-fry for about 30 seconds.
- Step 4: Fry the Chicken
While the garlic and red pepper are sizzling, heat vegetable oil in a deep fryer or large pot to 350°F (175°C). Dip chicken pieces into the tempura batter to coat evenly. Carefully add battered chicken to the hot oil in batches, frying until golden brown (about 4-5 minutes per batch). Use a slotted spoon to remove and drain on paper towels.
- Step 5: Combine Chicken and Sauce
Return fried chicken to the wok/skillet with garlic. Pour the prepared Sesame Chicken Sauce over the chicken. Quickly toss chicken in the sauce until coated and slightly thickened (1-2 minutes).
- Step 6: Serve and Garnish
Transfer Sesame Chicken to a serving dish. Garnish with additional sesame seeds for flavor and presentation. Serve immediately, and enjoy your homemade Sesame Chicken!
How to Store Sesame Chicken
To keep leftover Sesame Chicken fresh, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator within two hours of cooking. Proper sealing prevents moisture loss and helps maintain flavors.
Reheat leftover Sesame Chicken in the oven or a skillet for crispy texture. To maintain the sauce’s consistency, add a splash of water before reheating in the microwave.
To preserve Sesame Chicken’s taste, place it in a freezer-safe container or airtight freezer bags. Ensure it’s well-sealed to prevent freezer burn and use within 2-3 months.
How to Serve
If you don’t have seltzer water, sparkling water or even cold club soda can work as substitutes to maintain the batter’s lightness.
There are a couple of ways to make sesame sauce. This recipe includes soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and cornstarch whereas more in-depth recipes include dark soy sauce and Shaoxing rice wine.
Yes, in its traditional form, it is dredged in batter and deep-fried.
Once you serve the chicken the sauce starts soaking up into the crispy chicken. Because of this reheating won’t result in crispy chicken, but it will still be tasty.
Use skinless chicken breasts in this Sesame Chicken in place of chicken thighs. There’s no other recipe adjustment, you will fry for one less minute.
Sesame Chicken Sauce Ingredients:
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 egg whites
- 1/2 cup cold seltzer water
- 1 lb chicken thighs , boneless and skinless cut into 1 inch chunks
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- vegetable oil for deep frying
- To make the sauce mix all the ingredients together, then to prepare the batter, add the ingredients together until just combined.
- Add the chicken pieces to the batter and coat while heating 3 inches of oil to 350 degrees, add the chicken to the oil in batches, frying until golden brown.
- In a large wok or skillet add the sesame oil to the frying pan, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add in the sauce and the chicken, coat quickly and serve immediately, garnished with sesame seeds.
- Click on the “yield” amount to slide and change the number of servings and the recipe will automatically update!
- To convert measurements to grams, click on the “Metric” option next to “Ingredients” in the recipe card.
Variations on Sesame Chicken
Because there are so many different versions, let’s go over some of the other options. This version is the best one though, especially if you’re reliving your mall food court childhood.
- Baked Sesame Chicken: You can dredge the chicken in flour, egg, and finally in panko. Spray the pieces of chicken with some vegetable oil spray and bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. Toss with sesame sauce then continue baking for an additional ten minutes.
- Honey Sesame Chicken: Replace the brown sugar in the recipe with honey for a more pronounced honey sesame chicken recipe. You’ll also love making Chinese Honey Chicken without any of the sesame flavors.
- Sesame Chicken Stir Fry: Don’t bread the chicken – just cook it in the skillet with a bit of sesame oil and vegetable oil. Add fresh garlic and vegetables (bell pepper, onion, and zucchini) to the skillet and cook for 1-2 minutes. Then pour the sauce in and cook until reduced (you may need to add a bit of cornstarch and water).
Photo used in a previous version of this post.