Easy Sesame Chicken Recipe

6 servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

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.

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How-to-Make Video

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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!

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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.

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Sauce Ingredients

  • 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.
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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.
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Chicken Ingredients

  • 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. 
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Kitchen Tools

  • 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.
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How to Make

Time needed: 30 minutes.

  1. 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.
     mixing sauce for sesame chicken

  2. 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.mixing batter

  3. 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.coating chicken in tempura batter

  4. 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.deep frying sesame chicken

  5. 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).coating sesame chicken

  6. 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!
     plate of sesame chicken

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Nutrition Facts

Nutrition Facts
Crispy Sesame Chicken
Amount Per Serving
Calories 361 Calories from Fat 135
% Daily Value*
Fat 15g23%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Cholesterol 74mg25%
Sodium 623mg27%
Potassium 227mg6%
Carbohydrates 38g13%
Sugar 18g20%
Protein 15g30%
Vitamin A 85IU2%
Vitamin C 0.4mg0%
Calcium 32mg3%
Iron 1.5mg8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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How to Store Sesame Chicken

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Storing Leftovers

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.

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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.

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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.

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How to Serve

Serve Sesame Chicken with Chinese Steamed Rice, Lo Mein, steamed broccoli, and easy recipes like Crab Rangoon and Egg Rolls for appetizers dipped in Sweet and Sour Sauce.

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Frequent Questions

What can I use instead of seltzer water in the batter?

If you don’t have seltzer water, sparkling water or even cold club soda can work as substitutes to maintain the batter’s lightness.

How do you make Sesame Chicken Sauce?

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.

Is Sesame Chicken fried?

Yes, in its traditional form, it is dredged in batter and deep-fried.

Can you reheat Sesame Chicken?

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.

Can I use white meat for Sesame Chicken?

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.

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Recipe Card

Crispy Sesame Chicken

Skip the takeout and be done with Sesame Chicken in just 30 minutes! Everyone loves this mildly sweet sauce that coats super crispy chicken!
Yield 6 servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Chinese
Author Sabrina Snyder


Sesame Chicken Sauce Ingredients:

Tempura Batter:

  • 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.



  1. Click on the “yield” amount to slide and change the number of servings and the recipe will automatically update! 
  2. To convert measurements to grams, click on the “Metric” option next to “Ingredients” in the recipe card.


Calories: 361kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 74mg | Sodium: 623mg | Potassium: 227mg | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 85IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 32mg | Iron: 1.5mg

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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).

More Easy Recipes with Sesame

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Photo used in a previous version of this post.

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Easy Sesame Chicken

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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  1. So delicious!! Next time I probably will use less brown sugar and add some red pepper flakes. But that’s just me. Great recipe to add to the books. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Would a fine rice flour work for the flour called for or is there an alternative gluten free flour that can be used?

    1. I haven’t tested this recipe with alternative gluten free flours; however, fine rice flour sounds like it might work. Let us know how it turns out!

  3. I’ve made this recipe several times and it’s always a hit! Tender but crispy chicken in a yummy sesame sauce. I serve it with rice and broccoli. I highly recommend it!

  4. This was super yummy! I had a hard time getting my sauce to thicken up but it’s been a while since I’ve made any kind of sauce like this so probably my own fault, tempura was delicious I used a beer instead of seltzer water & it worked just fine 🙂

  5. The batter is perfect. The sauce however, was a bit sour for me. In the future I think I’ll use half as much vinegar. But otherwise, it is a great recipe.

  6. Switching the cornstarch to 3/4 cup and the flour to 1/4 c for the coating and thickening the sauce a bit more solved the problem of the batter getting mushy for me.
    Super yummy.

  7. This dish was delicious me and my finance really liked it. The crispness was definitely there, and the flavor was amazing. I didn’t have the seltzer water or sesame seeds but it still came out good. It’s a very good meal with a simple sesame taste which I love I paired it with Thai rice but you can do noodle too I was just lazy lol

  8. Hello! This was fantastic.. has anyone tried freezing it after frying it and making the sauce another night? I’d love this to be a fast, less mess wk night meal

  9. Made this for the family tonight and it is incredible. I used some leftover grilled chicken that we had instead of frying the chicken. I did double the sauce so that there was some leftover for our fried rice. I will recommend That the sauce be cooked separately and then the chicken tossed in that at the very end so that the chicken doesn’t become over cooked.

  10. The flavor is great. I’m doing something wrong as each time I make it when I add the sauce chicken becomes mush. What am I doing wrong?

    1. Hi Melodie
      The chicken being mushy happened to me too! The problem that I noticed was with the batter for the chicken meaning I did not like it being tempura. I decided that I wanted my chicken crispy so I only coat it with cornstarch only and that solved the problem. LOVE IT

  11. Hi, Question for you. In the recipe under the heading “Chicken” you have listed:
    – 2 teaspoons sesame oil
    – 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
    – 1 tablespoon minced garlic
    But these are never mentioned in the instructions. Are these supposed to go into the sauce? There’s already sesame oil listed as a sauce ingredient, so not clear.
    Could you please clarify this?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Doug
      I’ve made this several times!! And to answer your question, I put 2 tsp of sesame oil in the skillet only then add 1T garlic. When I smell garlic I put the sauce mixture in on med-low until the sauce thickens! When it reaches the thickness that I like I then add the chicken to coat and red pepper flakes. Hope this helps!!

    2. It tells you in step 3:
      In a large wok or skillet add the sesame oil to the frying pan and add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds.

    1. In a large wok or skillet add the sesame oil to the frying pan and add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds.

    1. I tried to double it. I think it has too much of a soy sauce flavor. So I’d add a little less soy sauce if you double it. And let the sauce thicken before you add the chicken or it will loose it’s crispy-ness a bit. But it’s still good!

  12. I have mixed feelings about this recipe. I love the tempura batter and the light crispiness it gave to the chicken and the flavor of the sauce turned out delicious! However, I should have gone with my gut, rather than the recipe’s instructions, and reduced/thickened the sauce before I added the chicken into it. It was so heartbreaking to spend all that time getting deliciously crispy chicken just to watch the batter get soggy and gummy and some of it even fell off once I added it to the sauce ?.
    Ultimately I, and all of my kids, still ate it because it had good flavor but learn from my mistake. The next time I’m going to make it I’ll thicken the sauce really good before tossing the chicken in or else I will thicken it and leave it on the side to dip or pour on top so my chicken stays crispy.

  13. I made this tonight. It was okay. My sauce was NOT the same Color as the picture for some reason lol it was almost black? I don’t know why.. I’m guessing because of the soy sauce. It did thicken up nice though

  14. I made this for dinner 2 nights ago. It was so simple to make and it was a huge hit with my husband and son, I also loved it!!! I was fortunate enough to have a wok to give it that little something…. I used chicken strips and cut them into 2″pcs (per the recipe). I also added Ginger & Garlic Paste to the recipe. And made some simple white Rice. This is my new “Go to” quick meal. Thank you for this wonderful recipe. ? No more ordering out whenever we want sesame chicken!!!?????

  15. Can I use small pieces of chicken
    On the bone with skin on in the sesame friend chicken recipe ?

  16. Made this for dinner tonight and it was fantastic; definitely going to be making this more often and skipping take out!

  17. Delicious! Only tip I have is when making the sauce, let it thicken for just a minute or two before adding the chicken so the chicken stays a little crispy!

  18. Amazing sauce. Delicious recipe. I will only use this one from now on. Better than any restaurant. Thank you.

  19. I tried this recipe today 2-27-22 and this recipe is better than take out . I put my finished chicken over brown rice noodles and It was great. I did add a teaspoon or 2 of ginger powder and onion powder and it was awesome. I also used apple cider vinegar and you couldn’t tell the difference. Great recipe 5 stars.

    1. The sesame oil should be put into the sauce recipe. You should never cook with sesame oil. Use peanut oil to cook with instead of sesame oil it will burn. Also there should be ginger in this recipe that goes with the garlic when you start to cook.

  20. First off I wanted to say I’m shocked by negative comments on here as far as what people say but I respect how you respond! I made this recipe tonight and saw no one has said how it went in the air fryer and that you asked if someone tried it to let you know how it went!
    The chicken turned out great I cooked it at 400 for 10 minutes and then flipped the chicken and cooked another 10. I was able to fit all the chicken in there and lay it out flat. I did put the sauce in the pan to simmer for about 5 minutes to thicken up and then added the chicken!
    My 3 year old lives off of macaroni and cheese and uncrustables and ate all his chicken tonight and asked for more!
    Thanks again for an awesome recipe

  21. A number of people comment that their sauce is too runny.
    You don’t give any instructions to cook the sauce so I am sure that is the problem. You just say “mix all ingredients “.

    1. Hi, the cornstarch is what thickens the sauce, and mixing it all together is how its made. You can add a bit ore cornstarch to get the consistency you would like. Hope that helps.

    2. You’re absolutely right, the sauce should be added to the wok first, and heated in order to thicken, then add the chicken once that’s done. The instructions are a little ambiguous, but it’s a great recipe.