Easy Bourbon Chicken

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Easy Bourbon Chicken that’s crispy, sweet, sticky and tastes just like the kind you grew up eating at the mall!

Easy Bourbon Chicken that's crispy, sweet, sticky and tastes just like the kind you grew up eating at the mall!

Easy, Crispy Bourbon Chicken

Making this Crispy Bourbon Chicken actually makes me feel like a teenager. A teenager who was a rebel and once actually took Chinese food into the movie theater!

A quick apology to those people who had to watch Dude Where’s My Car in LA in the late 90’s in a Chinese food scented theater. 😉 My bad.

It was kind of the perfect movie to do that in though because the Chinese takeout drive thru scene still makes me belly laugh.

Back to the task at hand, Bourbon Chicken. This chicken is so deliciously sweet and sticky and has a deep bourbon flavor with hints of the apple juice. It’s good. Super good.

Bourbon Chicken. This chicken is so deliciously sweet and sticky and has a deep bourbon flavor with hints of the apple juice. It's good. Super good.

Is there bourbon in bourbon chicken? Yes! There absolutely is, but it cooks down in the sauce so much it just adds a certain unique flavor and won’t impair your driving. If you prefer to skip the bourbon, just double the apple juice.

Some tips to make this the best bourbon chicken ever:

  • I used chicken breast because my mall used to. If you want a more tender cut, use chicken thighs.
  • If you’d like a thicker coating dredge in the cornstarch, dip in a beaten egg then dredge in some flour and deep fry.
  • To make this more spicy double the crushed red pepper or swap the red pepper for Sriracha sauce.

Crockpot Bourbon Chicken Recipe:

To make in the crockpot, cook the chicken (use chicken thighs) as directed and add in half the amounts of the rest of the recipe sauce ingredients (they won’t be able to cook down in the slow cooker). Cook on low for 5 hours. Add in the last tablespoon of cornstarch then cook on high for 30 minutes.

Want more Chinese Food Recipes?

The best nostalgic Bourbon Chicken of your childhood! Crispy, sweet, sticky and full of apple juice and bourbon flavors.

Tools Used in the making of the Easy Bourbon Chicken:
Wok: Great for high heat, quick cooking. This wok is a great addition to your kitchen if you love cooking Chinese food or stir fries in general.
Large Frying Pan: I use this Cuisinart for most of my non cast iron cooking unless I am going with a stainless steel option, then I choose my All Clad.
Soy Sauce: Nothing much to say here except Kikkoman has the best flavor overall and I always recommend reduced sodium.



Easy Bourbon Chicken

4.97 from 66 votes
  • Yield: 8 Servings
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Course: Main Course
  • Cuisine: American
  • Author: Sabrina Snyder
Easy Bourbon Chicken that's crispy, sweet, sticky and tastes just like the kind you grew up eating at the mall!  


  • 5-6 skinless boneless chicken breasts - about 3 pounds
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup lite soy sauce lower sodium
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes


Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

  1. Cut the chicken into 1 inch pieces and in a large bowl toss it with 2 tablespoons of the cornstarch, salt, and pepper.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of canola oil into your nonstick skillet on medium high heat and let it heat until adding the first piece of chicken sizzles.
  3. Add half the chicken pieces and cook for 3 minutes without stirring.

  4. Turn the chicken pieces and cook and additional three minutes.

  5. Remove the chicken from the pan.
  6. Use the remaining oil to cook the second half of the chicken the same way.
  7. Remove the chicken from the pan.
  8. Add in the garlic and cook for 20 seconds until you can just smell it.

  9. Add in the water, apple juice, bourbon, chicken broth, lite soy sauce, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, onion powder, ground ginger and red pepper flakes.
  10. Bring to a boil then add back in the chicken.
  11. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the sauce is reduced by about half.

  12. Add the remaining tablespoon of cornstarch to a small glass with a tablespoon of water and stir.
  13. Add into the pan and stir.
  14. Cook until the sauce is thickened. Serve immediately.

Recipe Video

Nutrition Information

Yield: 8 Servings, Amount per serving: 208 calories, Calories: 208g, Carbohydrates: 8g, Protein: 15g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 67mg, Sodium: 1437mg, Potassium: 272mg, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 105g, Vitamin C: 1.8g, Calcium: 13g, Iron: 1.1g

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert.

Keyword: Easy Bourbon Chicken
Easy Bourbon Chicken that's crispy, sweet, sticky and tastes just like the kind you grew up eating at the mall!
Bourbon Chicken. This chicken is so deliciously sweet and sticky and has a deep bourbon flavor with hints of the apple juice. It's good. Super good.

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  1. Delicious!! I used less brown sugar so it wouldn’t be so sweet, and it was perfect! This recipe is definitely a keeper!

  2. It was ok. Tasted nothing like the mall court Chinese bourbon chicken at all. Definitely didn’t hit the craving spot but was edible.

    1. My family loves this recipe. I use extra apple juice in place of the bourbon. I’m going to try adding in broccoli and pineapple chunks this time around. Hope it don’t ruin it.

  3. This was way too sweet. The sweetness buried the other flavors. Could not taste the bourbon or red pepper. I might try it again cutting back the brown sugar to about a 1/4 cup. But will probably try another recipe.

  4. This was way too sweet. The sweetness buried the other flavors. I might try it again cutting back the brown sugar to about a 1/4 cup. But will probably try another recipe.

  5. This recipe is absolutely amazing. I added a little more chili flake and made it spicier. So good!!!!!!!!! I think I will try the spice over pulled pork next time.

  6. Absolutely delicious! A marinated the chicken overnight in the refrigerator with the sauce first. Then after draining the marinade from the chicken I followed the rest of the recipe step by step. I pan fried it and used dark brown sugar instead.

  7. Made this tonight with a few adjustments to make it easier. Mixed the sauce ingredients first and used 1/2 tsp powered garlic instead of fresh – was feeling super lazy – (just mixed into the sauce) and 1/4 c of brown sugar (not packed). I let this sit while I partially cooked the chicken. Once the sauce was reduced and cornstarch slurry added – I added the chicken back in to finish cooking and get the sauce to the right consistency. I can’t imagine a full cup of sugar in this – would end up so sweet once it is reduced. In any case you can always add sugar at the end if you need to sweeten it up! But overall a great recipe.

  8. This is my second time making this dish for family and it’s always not enough. So this time I am doubling the recipe so hopefully it will be enough. This is 1 of our favorite dishes. Thank you. Oh I also make shrimp fried rice to go with it.

  9. Great recipe but not exactly like the mall bourbon chicken. I made the sauce first and put the raw chicken breasts in the instant pot, poured half the sauce and cooked for 20 minutes. Let the slow release for 5 minutes and then quick release. Took the chicken out and shredded it. I then sauteed the sauce that was left in instant pot adding a mixture of water and cornstarch to thicken the sauce and cooked for 5 minutes. Then I added back in the chicken and served with brown rice and broccoli. It’s definitely a new fave and using the instant pot made it easy

  10. I can’t wait to try this! I want to share a good tip regarding soy sauce. I love Chinese/Asian food but the sodium makes me swell like a balloon! Substitute COCONUT AMINOS. It tastes exactly like soy sauce and has NO coconut flavor at all. Google it. I buy mine at Trader Joes.

  11. Made this for Christmas eve dinner for the family. I made a huge batch, 5 large chicken breasts, so it took a while to make it, but with a little prep before dinner, it was no problem. It was delicious and made a nice change from turkey or salmon, which is what we usually fix for a crowd. This recipe is a keeper for sure.

  12. Lot of good in this recipe. Wife and I made it tonight. we so miss the Mall’s Food Court Bourbon Chicken. Well, we made this recipe. And, it’s not exactly like the food court, because the chicken is fried on a skillet. Which, we found, is not the same texture or feel or taste of the Food Court’s. However, the sauce is WORLD CLASS.

    We will not make the chicken this way again (as the recipe says), but we will use this sauce on a different chicken preparation technique. Now, DtD says it is easy, so this is probably what most people can do in a limited amount of time. But, we’re willing to figure it out, where we never have to go out and spend loads of money to eat at places that don’t give ya much. So, we plan to try Sabrina’s sauce with this chicken approach …

    I think Copy-KAT might have the approach that makes the chicken closer to the Mall’s look, taste, and texture. And, funny, this is first time that we ever used Bourbon, and DAMNED — does it add incredible flavor. Thanks to Sabrina for teaching us the difference in a sauce before & after Bourbon. Man, is it a huge change.

    I’ll update this, if I can remember and if we get it conquered in this century. Also, if anyone has ideas, please let me know too. Thanks.

  13. I’m about to make this dish. Can you use white vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar? I’m already subbing apple juice for the bourbon. Thank you.

  14. Excellent recipe! I had a little over 2 lbs. of brown meat chicken left over from making ramen broth, and this was the perfect use of it. We usually end up with not enough sauce, so this was just the right amount of sauce to chicken for us. I made a few modifications: using 3/4 cup of sugar and double the bourbon. It was perfect! This will be one of my go- to recipes.

  15. I tried it for the first time today. My boys said they would pay for it if they were in a restaurant. The bomb dot com.

  16. This is a great recipe! I found it very sweet and might do only half of the brown sugar next time. Mine also came out quite light, not sure how to get it so dark?

  17. This was delicious!! I used half the amount of sugar and it was still a little sweet for me. I also added some carrots, yellow pepper, and onion because I like more substance to my dish and try not to eat rice. There was plenty of sauce to handle the extra veggies. Definitely a keeper recipe and will be making it often.

  18. Holy cow I’m stuffed!
    Portion control??? Out the window!!
    Husband is loving on this recipe, telling me I could open a restaurant on it. Lol Too bad I can’t take credit!

    Thanks for the recipe, it was very good! Only substitute I had to the recipe was the soy sauce. I didn’t have enough Kikkoman low sodium, so finished off with a Chinese soy sauce.

    Sorry if you feel this ruins your recipe, but I also added some veggies cuz I have to have veggies – (bamboo shoots, straw mushroom, onions, a few jalapeño slices, and celery). But the heart of the recipe remained true.
    Thanks again!

  19. Well I made this tonight 17/11/2020 and it was absolutely gorgeous the only thing I did was lower the amount of soya sauce as I find it to salty and i laid it on a bed of egg noodles with bean sprouts with garlic and finely chopped shallots. I’ll definitely be making this again me and my son loved it

  20. Looks lovely! However, I am an underage chef ? what’s a good alternative to the bourbon due to being unable to purchase it?

  21. Husband cooked this tonight and it turned out more like a soup with chicken pieces in it. I’m use to bourbon chicken sauce being thick and sticking to the chicken. Not sure what went wrong…

    1. Oh no! It sounds like he didn’t let the sauce get to a full boil to be able to thicken up. Did he also add then cornstarch slurry at the end?

  22. I wanted to make this recipe. However I do not know what bourbon is? Knowingly, I do not cook at all so I have no idea what exactly I am looking for in grocery stores. All I see is bourbon brown sugar seasoning in a packet?

      1. Karen,
        Ha ha ha. Yeah, we could have “almost” said the same comment as Quinessa. First time with Sabrina’s recipe that we used Bourbon. A good Bourbon to use with this is Jim Beam’s Straight Bourbon Whiskey. We got it at Spec’s down the street for cheap. I couldn’t believe it, like 200ml for $3.99. You will barely use a fourth of it. So it is very cheap to make this dish.

    1. Quinessa,
      See comment to Karen. We bought Jim Beam’s Straight Bourbon cheap at Spec’s. I expected a $20 dollar bottle just to make dish, but we bought $4 bucks. Could have been a 100ml for $1.99 — if I’d known how little we’d use.

  23. Tried this tonight and it turned out extremely salty. Not sure what went wrong. ? Does anyone know how to help me balance the salty taste? I’m sad. ?

    1. Oh no! Sometimes chicken is pumped with a sodium/water solution so maybe that added to the extra saltiness of the dish?

    2. Hi Davina white I made some sauce the other week and it said to put half a cup of soya sauce in and mine came out the same it was so salty we had to throw the hole dish away. I didn’t know where I had gone wrong cos I fallowed the recipe to the t. Anyway me no my son tasted all the ingredients I had used and it was the soya sauce it’s so salty so I made the sauce again but this time I only put 3 teaspoons in instead of half a cup and the sauce turned out perfect. You could try doing this and then taste to see if it’s ok or needs more soya sauce. I’m making this dish tomorrow and I’ll be lowering the amount of soya sauce I put in not what’s it’s saying in the recipe Hope this helps. I’ll post tomorrow how it turns out.

      1. Hi, it sounds like you might have used regular soy sauce instead of low sodium like the recipe suggests? Or try coconut aminos, they taste the same as soy sauce but much less salt! Good luck!

  24. I made this dish and served it over white rice. I followed the recipe exactly. My kids and husband went nuts for it. I got so much praise and I had 0 leftovers. I will definitely be making this again very soon.

  25. My family’s favorite chicken dinner is your bourbon chicken! We all love it! Thank you so much for sharing!!! It’s fantastic,I I would give it 100 stars if I could!!