Easy Bourbon Chicken

8 Servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

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.

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Easy Bourbon Chicken

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


  • 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


  • Cut the chicken into 1 inch pieces and in a large bowl toss it with 2 tablespoons of the cornstarch, salt, and pepper.
  • 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.
  • Add half the chicken pieces and cook for 3 minutes without stirring.
  • Turn the chicken pieces and cook and additional three minutes.
  • Remove the chicken from the pan.
  • Use the remaining oil to cook the second half of the chicken the same way.
  • Remove the chicken from the pan.
  • Add in the garlic and cook for 20 seconds until you can just smell it.
  • 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.
  • Bring to a boil then add back in the chicken.
  • Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the sauce is reduced by about half.
  • Add the remaining tablespoon of cornstarch to a small glass with a tablespoon of water and stir.
  • Add into the pan and stir.
  • Cook until the sauce is thickened. Serve immediately.



Calories: 208kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 67mg | Sodium: 1437mg | Potassium: 272mg | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 105IU | Vitamin C: 1.8mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 1.1mg
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.

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. Tried it this evening. Added onion, green pepper and mushroom to the garlic. Mine didn’t reduce as much… doubled the cornstarch slurry and it tightened up nicely. Really turned out great. Family enjoyed it already fighting over leftovers for tomorrow. ?

  2. Made last night for the hubby so he’d have dinner when he got off late from working. He woke me up to tell me how good the chicken and sauce was 🙂 I subbed low-sodium Tamari for the soy sauce, added some fresh grated ginger with the garlic instead of ground, and used chicken thighs. Because I only used 2 lbs of chicken, I reduced all of the ingredients accordingly and it was PERFECT! Thank you for this recipe.

  3. Loved it! My kids said it was better than the one at the mall ?. Will repeat this week since they ate most of it.

  4. This was amazing. 1000% better than any Chinese store/restaurant I’ve ever been too. Thank you for sharing. It was so simple and delicious ?

  5. Thanks! We are powering through all the meat in our freezer as we prepare for a move. Your recipes help me change it up so we don’t get burn out. Look fwd to your emails everyday!

  6. Made this for dinner & it’s a keeper ! I followed the recipe exactly,except I did not have lite soy sauce & used regular soy sauce. Next time I will reduce the amount that I use as it was almost too salty but not bad. Also will reduce the sugar as it is pretty sweet. My 5 yr. old grandson loves it & called it “Sugar chicken” ! Next time I will also add some peppers, Broccoli, & onion. The only reason I gave it 4 stars was it was a bit too sweet for our tastes . It is better than some that I have ordered or had on buffets.

    1. Thank you for the high praise and I totally get things being too sweet. Everyone’s palette is so unique.

  7. I’ve never had bourbon chicken at the mall however I will look for it the next time I’m there. I made this the other night and it was fantastic! We loved it! The only change I made was I used Wondra because we were out of cornstarch. We will be making this again and again!! Thank you for this recipe!

  8. I’m confused by steps 10-15.

    Bring to a boil then add back in the chicken.
    Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the sauce is reduced by about half.

    Are you supposed to keep it at a boil the entire time? I did and my sauce never thickened. Was this supposed to be a simmer after you add the chicken?

    1. A couple of questions come to mind. Did you toss the chicken 2 T of cornstarch along with the other ingredients? That would thicken the sauce with the 1 remaining Tbsp of Cornstarch when the recipe has been completed. Did the sauce reduce to about half? I’m sorry the recipe was a disappointment.

  9. This was so good . The reason I gave only 4 stars is it was so sweet.
    Should I cut back the sugar to 1/2 cup??

  10. Wow! Made exactly as is but less chicken which is okay because now I have leftover sauce for another batch! Better than takeout!!! Thank you for sharing!!!

    1. I used half a thing of chicken thighs and had some extra sauce too! After reading ur comment I think I will freeze the remaining sauce for an easy dinner coming up! Thanks for the idea!

  11. The flavor was good but the recipe as is makes way too much sauce, it’s basically drowning in it. Next time I will cut it in half.

    1. I, on the other hand, found the sauce just barely enough, even though I used less chicken. Maybe you didn’t reduce it enough?

    2. Here too. I had so much liquid that I was afraid the chicken would spill over. Had to mulk it down quite a lot with more cornstarch.

  12. Awesome taste! Used Jim Beam Extra Aged Bourbon plus fresh ginger. Also used a lot more corn starch to coat the chicken and therefore didn’t have to add any to thicken the sauce

  13. I normally don’t leave reviews but this was AMAZING. I made it last night for a dinner party and every single bite was eaten, the guests ended up debating who’d get the last few pieces and almost licked the sauce off of the pan. The only alteration I made was that I used 9 cloves of garlic instead of 2, but I always do that lol. Will definitely be making this again, perhaps next time I will coat the chicken with more cornstarch and an egg, to get crispier chicken bits. Absolutely amazing recipe, thank you so much. I will definitely be cooking more recipes from this site, my next one will be the Korean fried chicken and I’m already looking forward to eating and making it.

  14. I made this recipe with everything except the Burbon. Even though I was nervous it wouldn’t taste quite right, I had nothing to worry about, it is AMAZING! And my whole family agrees!
    I followed the recipe except added a little bit more of everything it called for, and then right at the end, added fresh green beans and about 2 cups of mixed sweet peppers. And then served over top of rice! Voila, amazing! This is being added to my personal recipe book as I type, lol. Thank you so very much for the recipe, I will be making it often!!

    p.s. I also used 7 large pieces of chicken breast and it was perfect liquid to meat ratio:)

    1. Yes, tomato ketchup. The red thin condiment you can buy at any grocery store, and they serve it at fast food places.

  15. Best Bourbon Chicken I’ve ever had . Hands Down . I’ve had it at a few restaurants and have always liked it . But this recipe blows those Restaurants recipes away . Very Very Good . I wish I was not so full . I’d eat the whole pan .

  16. I made this dish and followed the recipe completely except I omitted the bourbon. I found it not to be very tasty – it was just mainly sweet with a strong vinegar taste. It didn’t taste like the take-out place I go to. The deep richness was missing, it was just mainly a sweet taste. You couldn’t taste the chicken at all. I don’t know what was wrong but something is missing from this recipe.

    1. This can’t be a serious comment. You’re wondering what’s missing when you omitted the bourbon in a recipe titled “Bourbon Chicken”???

    2. “I omitted the bourbon.” and “I don’t know what’s wrong, but something is missing from this recipe.”


      Your brain must be as smooth as glass.

  17. Great recipe! We loved the chicken and especially the sauce. I make this exactly as written and it was perfect. Thank you!

  18. As a pro chef for many years I’ve been searching for the perfect bourbon chicken recipe and this unfortunately was not it, the frying than putting the chicken back in to simmer in the sauce made it a gross soppy fried chicken texture and was super acidicc and salty but the only thing to save this dish was the rice because it balanced our the harsh overwhelming flavors but overall edible and mall food quality

  19. Making this tonight. Discovered this recipe 10 years back or so and shared it with a friend. Both of us still cook it for our partners. The only tweak I make is to use pineapple chunks and use the pineapple juice. Partner and kid request more and more sauce.

  20. Disclaimer: I suck at giving reviews: good or bad, sorry :(.
    In truth though, I have NOT been disappointed in any of the recipes I’ve gotten from you.
    Made this last week and got RAVE reviews, thank you. The sauce is so delicious and easy to make….I’ll definitely be making it again.

  21. Many recipes like this thow ingredients together in a meaningless way and miss the importance of deglazing the pan which loosens all those tasty bits at the bottom before adding the sticky stuff.

  22. The family loved this. They wanted more after it was all gone. Sauce was a little to sweet for me so next time I’ll decrease the brown sugar or add a little more chicken stock. Great recipe. This recipe will definitely be added to my recipe book.

  23. Three star Michelin recipe! This is the best Bourbon Chicken ever! Even though it took me a little longer on my cook time I won’t fuss, it was well worth the wait. I mixed all my wet ingredients up early afternoon, made it a whole lot easier to prepare. Fry chicken, sizzle the garlic, add the sauce, then the chicken, after 15 minutes I added the wet cornstarch and in two minutes it was ready! I did make one switch, I had fresh ginger root so I used it instead of the powder, otherwise it was cooked to given quantities and directions. I cooked this last night, this morning at breakfast my family wanted to know when I was going to make it again…!!! It was a hit with everyone…. Will be trying more and more of Sabrina’s recipes….if I can break the addiction my family has to the Bourbon Chicken!

  24. This is truly the best Bourbon chicken recipe we have ever made! Only thing we changed was taking the ketchup out, since its not a flavor we like. Other than that, this recipe was perfect as is and great over rice. Definitely part of our recipe book. Thank you!!

    1. I loathe ketchup, so I don’t keep it. I replaced it with tomato paste, some extra cider vinegar, and bit more sugar.

  25. Sauce was delicious, spot on. I did use chicken breasts but next time I’m going to try thighs for that more authentic tender texture of bourbon chicken. Didn’t change a thing and everything came out perfect IMO.

  26. This was absolutely delicious! The family highly enjoyed it and requested I make it often. Thank you for the recipe. It’s delicious!!

  27. Recipe was awesome, I used Rum instead of bourbon(that’s all I had). It smelled so good with the garlic and used flour instead of cornstarch

      1. Because it has too many different notes of sugar. Like she used apple juice, ketchup and then packs on one CUP….ONE CUP of light brown sugar.

        Sauce was much too sweet for me to call it bourbon although it is okay to eat.

      2. This was so good . The reason I gave only 4 stars is it was so sweet.
        Should I cut back the sugar to 1/2 cup??

  28. This recipe crushed it! Delicious! I wonder if you take the chicken out after and pan fry it a little more if it would get a little more crispier than added back to the sauce. Either way, as an American born Chinese who grew up with traditional Chinese food almost every night, this was awesome!!

  29. We enjoy this but cannot get it to look like yours. It’s light and TONS of sauce. What am I doing wrong?!

    1. I have not tried this particular recipe, but when I make bourbon chicken I let the sauce bubble and reduce down for 10-15min until it gets dark and thick. This recipe has a lot of liquid, maybe reduce the liquid quantities by just a smidge and let it reduce.

  30. Authentic Bourbon chicken does NOT have Bourbon in it. The Bourbon comes from Bourbon Street, where the recipe was invented.

  31. This was very good and a big hit in the house. I love how much sauce it makes. It’s perfect..and just a little spice.

  32. Nope. Decent recipe but not bourbon chicken at all. Taters and smells more like bbq and not salty like other statements but super sweet

  33. Love this recipe!!!

    When I was a teenager I would get a bourbon chicken salad at the mall! This was spot on.

    We let it cool down some and served over romaine with some corn, tomatoes, cheese, cucumber and ranch! The way it all mixes together is amazing! I’ve made it another time and served over rice.