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 53 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. We’ve made this twice so far but not having bourbon on hand, we substituted Laird’s Apple Jack brandy which turned out great.

  2. My hats off to you, this recipe is PERFECT! My husband and father both praised it, and we will be having this again. This recipe is going in my notebook….Thank you!!!

  3. So tasty and easy to prepare. My husband thought the sauce was so good that I couldn’t have made it all from scratch ! ?

  4. I’ll give 5* easy, the fam loved it and wife says tastes just like the chicken her and her Mother used to get at the mall. My problem was I only had 1/4 c of Lt brown sugar and to mix with dark and only bourbon I had on hand was some local cheap rot-gut bourbon that work gave out as a Christmas gift?
    Hint people, try reducing the sauce before you add your “white meat” so as to not overcook it. Thats why I chose to use well trimmed thigh meat and it turned out great. And may I suggest Makers Mark bourbon, trust me, I live in the middle of bourbon country. Thanks for this recipe!

  5. What a phenomenal recipe! Thank you to the cook that came up with this flavor combination, I did not and would not change a single thing!

  6. I made this for my family and they loved it! They said it tasted just like the Chinese food at the mall! This will be my go to recipe for bourbon chicken from from now on!

  7. Hi Sabrina, I have 2 questions.
    -how can I make this recipe gluten free
    -can I substitute boneless chicken thighs for chicken breasts

    1. You’d have to make sure that the ingredients you use are labeled as GF (mainly the soy sauce and bourbon). Thighs have a higher fat content than breasts but it will still work with this recipe. Enjoy!

  8. It’s got a decent taste, but maybe I did something wrong. It’s not really sticky or crispy. It’s kind of just a sauce. I’m sure if it was crispy and sticky I would have loved this, but either I did it wrong or it needs a coating over the chicken to make it a little better, for me at least.

  9. Just as it reacts EASY!! My family loved the meal. You’re a GodSend. I’m absolutely speechless.

    Keep up the good work!

    * Used cognac because I wanna out of Bourbon. Also used pineapple juice because I was out of apple?

  10. This recipe is so delicious!! But, I found that when I reheated it in the microwave the next day for lunch, my chicken was overdone. I struggle with overcooking chicken. Is it possible to make this in the crockpot?

    1. Yes, you can make this in a slow cooker. If you scroll above the recipe card in this post, I wrote a whole paragraph with instructions to follow. 🙂

  11. Hey Sabrina!
    This is Dawnelle….
    Do you remember me from the Culinary Business Academy?!
    I was looking for a good recipe for Bourbon Chicken for 150 people I am catering for in New Orleans in August. We are going to serve it as a topping on Macaroni and Cheese; perfect for New Orleans cuisine! I saw “Dinner, then Dessert” and it was a nice blast from the past and knew it had to be good What a nice coincidence that the very last event I am catering will include a recipe from my beginnings. I have decided this is my last year and I am finally at peace with my decision. All of my cooking has been done on a 10 foot grill that holds 120 pounds of charcoal with 2400 square inches of cooking surface. It has been a blast, a lot of hard work, and never a dull moment. I would love to hear from you! I gave this a recipe 5 stars because I reviewed the ingredients and it has to be good!

  12. Question. I see the sauce calls for both water and chicken broth. Is there any reason I couldn’t replace the water with more broth? It seems like it would be more flavorful that way. Thanks.

  13. I saw this recipe and been wanting to try…i finally made it. Exellent! It really did taste like the mall bourbon chicken. Also it was very easy, usually i take recipies and put my own additions or subtractions to, but this is really just like free samples

    1. If you’re asking about the apple cider vinegar in this recipe, you can substitute with lemon juice, lime juice or 2 tablespoons of white wine. Hope this helps!

  14. Why is this site sending me around in circles?? I’m just trying to get the bourbon chicken recipe. I was asked to create an account in which I did but when I click on save recipe, it keeps asking me to log in when I’ve already done so. This site sucks and will rate it unsatisfactory!!

    1. Oh no, I’m so sorry you’re having issues. Not sure what the glitch is that’s happening but please email me at contact @ dinnerthendessert .com and let me help you with it.

  15. Love this easy recipe. It is now my favorite New dish for company. I just put it in my crockpot on low to keep it warm until served. I have served it over rice or quinoa with stir fried fresh veggies on the side. Great leftover the following day.

  16. I made it and it looked nothing like the pics. The sauce was runny and it tasted ok. But I was expecting the same flavor or close to what you get at the food courts in the mall. This did not reheat well the coating was soggy the next day. Would have to consider less liquid and make enough just for one meal, no left overs. Didnt taste bad but it won’t be on my must make again list.

  17. Quick question, in step 11. Am I cooking for 10-15 minutes still on medium-high heat? I’ve made a similar recipe before and found the chicken ended up over cooked, so trying to avoid that. Thanks

  18. My best friend and I live in Bermuda where there is no such thing as burboun chicken, we’ve been to some malls in America and our favorite thing to eat is the burboun chicken in the food court. We go crazy just thinking about the taste and now that I’ve found this recipe her and I are going to make it for dinner tonight. This is great, thanks so much!!!

    1. Nicole – Wong’s Golden Dragon In St. George’s serves Bourbon Chicken. It’s not on the regular menu. It’s part of their hidden selections. Pleasant Appetite!

  19. My family loves this recipe! I make it about once a month. So juicy and tender, and the spice combination is just right

    1. I may be a little late, but thought I’d mention that vanilla extract can be used as a decent substitute for bourbon. Just use a teaspoon or two though, a little goes a long way with vanilla extract. I would also suggest adding a little extra apple cider vinegar with the vanilla to make up for the lost liquid, and get it closer to a bourbon taste. hope this helps for those that can’t use alcohol for various reasons.

      1. Thank you. I hate when people who post recipes that have alcohol just say “oh no you need the booze” with no regard or thought to those who can’t/don’t want to have it (or any ingredient for that matter). I have honestly never seen a dish like this that would be ruined without the alcohol, just mildly altered in flavor but not drastically so when you substitute it. Even the ones that have a significant more alcohol flavor, it still is similar but different. This seems like no exception. So thanks again.

        1. Hey there, in further recipe testing after these comments I’ve altered the post to include the option of doubling the apple juice in place of alcohol. Vanilla was too aromatic but doubling the juice really seemed to help.

  20. We made this tonight. My son and I got into the kitchen together and cooked 😀 It was, as always, fabulous! My son doesn’t have his own household yet, and that is fine by me. He knows dinnerthendessert 😀 When he makes his own place in the world I know he will eat right 😀

  21. I see the slow cooker recipe, but could you just put everything in the slow cooker without browning the chicken in a pan first ? When I use a slow cooker, I ONLY want to use the slow cooker!

  22. Made this last night, it was fantastic and easy. I used chili sauce instead of ketchup and cayenne pepper instead of red pepper flakes. Next time I’ll try real ginger. Even picky daughter ate it. Served it with steamed broccoli and rice.

  23. This is absolutely amazing!!! I’ve been looking for a recipe like this for a while, and it was a huge hit! A nice amount of heat. I’ll have to check out more of your recipes! Thank you!

  24. I made this last night and it was a hit!!!  Very saucy!  I also used fresh ginger, added when I cooked the garlic.  I also used about 8 cloves of garlic!  This is a new regular!  Love the leftovers!

  25. I made this a couple of weeks ago. Very tasty recipe but a little salty for me. Next time, I will use low sodium chicken broth and/or reduce the salt in the coating mixture. There was plenty of sauce to spoon over the chicken and onto the rice. I added frozen/fresh green beans for an added color.

  26. I made this last night and my boyfriend loved it. It was tasty and was saucy enough to have a little extra sauce to spoon over rice. I did the complete recipe but increased the sauce ingredients by more than 1/2. I have an extra 1 1/4 cup left for future uses. The only changes I would make would be to eliminate the salt in the cornstarch mix and/or use low sodium chicken broth, as well. I felt it was a little salty but I did use Aged Soy Sauce (which was not low sodium). The more it cooks down the more the salt will become concentrated. I would also increase the garlic and use fresh ginger instead of powder if you have it (but that is just my taste). I added whole petite green beans at the end for a crunchy feel to it.

  27. Just made this last night and it was a BIG hit. Tasted great, but the sauce did not quite thicken. Would you recommend adding less water or having sauce at a boil for a longer time?

  28. OMG!!!!!! THANK YOU FOR THIS!!!! I’ve been looking for a recipe like this forever and finally here it is. I can not wait to make this. I’ve already made your version of Panda Express Honey Walnut Chicken (which was a hit with my family and so delicious ) So I already know know this is not going to disappoint also. 

  29. Just made this for dinner, and it’s delicious! My sauce didn’t cling to the chicken as the picture shows. I added fresh broccoli florets and served over basmati rice.

    1. I didn’t have apple juice either but I used the apple flavored bourbon (not sure if I could say the name) and added an extra 1/4 cup of water and burbon and 1/4 cup of brown sugar. It came out perfect!

  30. I am SO excited to see this. My son LOVES what he calls “mall chicken”. He’ll flip when he finds out that I have a recipe for it. I’ve actually been thinking about emailing you a request to see if you would be willing to try a recipe like this. Serendipity! 🙂

    (I probably won’t make it until next week, AFTER the holidays. But I’ll be happy to report the results when I do. Thanks again!)