This Bang Bang Chicken may be completely different from the authentic Chinese dish of the same name, but I guarantee you’ll fall in love with it after just one bite.
This Americanized version is crispy-fried battered chicken coated in a thick, creamy, sweet, spicy, and umami-rich sauce.
Sounds pretty incredible, huh?
Between the crunchy and juicy chicken and the delectable bang bang sauce, it’s hard to decide what to love more!
So, why not make bang bang chicken today for a bangin’ meal the whole family will enjoy?
What is Bang Bang Chicken?
Bang Bang Chicken is an authentic Sichuan dish made of shredded chicken and sliced cucumbers in a sweet and spicy sauce. Also known as “Bon Bon” chicken, the name is derived from the Chinese word ‘bang, which refers to the hammer-like instrument used to tenderize the meat.
To be clear, this is not the dish we’ll be making today.
Instead, we’re going for the Americanized version, which is deep-fried chicken coated in a flawless sauce made of mayo, honey, and hot sauce.
While many will argue that the OG bang bang chicken is way better, I think both are amazing in their own ways.
I just happen to be more addicted to this one! You will be, too, I know it.
Chicken and Marinade
- Chicken Breast – Boneless, skinless, and sliced into 1-inch or bite-sized cubes. You can also use boneless chicken thighs for tastier and juicier meat.
- Milk – it makes the chicken extra tender and moist. I use whole fat milk, but buttermilk also works wonders.
- Egg – The binding ingredient that helps the marinade stick to the chicken.
- All-Purpose Flour – a simple dredge to coat the chicken in.
- Potato Starch – this is commonly used in Asian cooking because it has a silkier texture and a more neutral taste compared to other starches.
- Salt and Black Pepper – to taste.
- Shichimi Togarashi – This Japanese seven-spice blend includes red pepper, ground Japanese pepper, roasted orange peel, sesame seeds, and more. It’s what gives this bang bang chicken such a wonderfully unique flavor. If you can’t find shichimi togarashi in your local Asian grocery, replace it with ground red pepper. The flavor won’t be the same, though, so maybe look online!
Bang Bang Sauce
The chicken may be the main component of the dish, but the bang bang sauce is definitely the star of the show.
These ingredients make up my version of the sauce, but you can easily switch things up with your choice of sweeteners and spices.
- Mayonnaise – besides the flavor, mayo also helps make the sauce thick and sticky, which will make it easy to adhere to the chicken.
- Honey – for sweetness. Again, you’ll want to use sticky ingredients to make a sticky sauce.
- Sweet Chili Sauce – another sweet element, but with a bit of spice for added heat.
- Gochujang – this Korean paste made with fermented soy beans, red chili pepper flakes, glutinous rice, and salt. It’s what gives the sauce a nice mix of sweet, salty, spicy, and umami flavors. If you can’t find gochujang, you can replace it with sriracha.
Also, don’t forget the oil! Stick to oil with a high smoke point to keep the chicken from burning. Canola, vegetable, and corn oil all work great.
How to Make Bang Bang Chicken
1. Marinade the Chicken. Whisk eggs and milk together in a bowl and plop the chicken pieces in.
Let the chicken absorb the marinade for at least 15 minutes.
2. Bread the Chicken.
Combine potato starch, flour, salt, pepper, and shichimi togarashi in a Ziploc bag, seal, and shake. You can also do this in a bowl, but for an easier clean-up, stick to my method!
Place the chicken in the bag and shake well until each piece is completely coated in breading.
3. Double Fry the Chicken.
Deep-fry the chicken at 325 degrees Fahrenheit, then do it again at 350. This is the key to getting that ultra crunchy and crispy coating.
Important reminder: don’t cook the chicken all at once, especially if your pan isn’t big enough.
Overcrowding the pan will cause the oil’s temperature to drop, which will then yield soggy chicken.
4. Make the Sauce and Toss Everything Together. In a large bowl, whisk together the mayo, honey, sweet chili sauce, and gochujang until well-combined.
Add the chicken and toss to coat. Serve and enjoy!
Tips for the Best Bang Bang Chicken
The great thing about this recipe is that it’s super easy to modify.
So, if you can’t find the chili paste, or if you’ve run out of mayo, you can still make this for dinner – you just need a few adjustments:
- Slice the chicken in uniform pieces to ensure even cooking. I like to slice them into 1-inch cubes so they cook relatively quickly.
- Let the chicken marinate in the milk and egg mixture for at least 15 minutes. This is the key to moist and juicy fried chicken, so don’t skip this step!
- Don’t overcrowd the frying pan. Instead of frying the chicken all at once, work in batches. Don’t put more than 8 pieces at the same time.
- Use a kitchen thermometer to regulate the oil. It has to remain at 320 degrees Fahrenheit for the first fry and 350 for the second. Changes in temperature will cause the chicken to burn or turn soggy.
- If you’re worried the inside of the chicken is still raw after frying, check for doneness using a meat thermometer. According to the USDA, cooked chicken has an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Keep cooked chicken warm in a 200-degree-Fahrenheit oven. This way, they’ll stay fresh and crispy while you’re frying the rest.
- Replace the shichimi togarashi and gochujang with sriracha, sweet chili sauce, cayenne powder, or red pepper flakes. You can also mix and match the spices to create your preferred flavor. Feel free to go light on the spices if you don’t like the heat.
- Add your favorite seasonings to the breading for an extra punch of flavor. Garlic powder and onion powder both make great additions.
- Sprinkle bang bang chicken with chives for a prettier presentation and added peppery flavor. Or, for even more heat, use chopped chilies.
- Bang bang sauce additions:
- Soy sauce
- Chili-garlic sauce
- Worcestershire sauce
- Cayenne pepper
- Cajun seasoning
- Instead of frying the chicken yourself, try using pre-breaded and cooked chicken such as nuggets, tenders, and strips. Just cook them according to package instructions and toss them with bang bang sauce. Sprinkle some spring onions on top to make it look homemade.
- Sub the mayo for Greek yogurt. It will be just as yummy, but a little lighter.
Place completely cooled leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for 3 to 4 days.
Crisp the chicken back up in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-12 minutes.
If you plan on keeping bang bang chicken around much longer, pop it in the freezer. It’ll keep well for up to 1 month.
Thaw the chicken in the fridge overnight and reheat as instructed above.
Can I Air Fry Bang Bang Chicken?
It’s possible to Air Fry bang bang chicken for a much healthier, lower-calorie version that’s just as crunchy and flavorful. Simply Air Fry the chicken pieces for 15 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, flipping them halfway through. Then, toss in the sauce and serve.
Pro-tip: when cooking with an Air Fryer, it’s important not to crowd the basket to allow the hot air to circulate properly and cook food evenly.
How to Serve Bang Bang Chicken
To me, the best way to serve bang bang rice is to pair it with a nice cup of steamed white rice.
I love how the bang bang sauce gets absorbed by the rice, giving it so much flavor. Together, they create a hearty and satisfying meal.
In case you’re not a rice person, here are some other ways to serve bang bang chicken:
- Sandwiched in Bread. Turn the bang bang chicken into a filling and scrumptious chicken sandwich. Any kind of bread works – brioche, sandwich bread, hoagie roll, sourdough, you name it.
- Wrapped in Flour Tortilla. Make it into a wrap for a banging Tex-Mex and Chinese fusion.
- Tossed in Pasta or Noodles. This is a great way to use all that delectable bang bang sauce. Just be sure to make a little extra sauce for this version.
- Paired with Potato Chips. A crispy and crunchy side to pair with another crispy and crunchy dish.
- Served with Green Salad with Vinaigrette. Something light to counterbalance the richness of deep-fried chicken.
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