Tender, juicy, and bathed in a sweet and sticky glaze, this easy bourbon chicken recipe is loaded with deep flavors.
Between the apple juice, brown sugar, ketchup, and soy sauce, it has a wonderfully unique taste that you won’t find anywhere else.
Serve this delectable dish over white rice or with some tender noodles, and it’s sure to become your new favorite weeknight dinner.
In fact, this easy bourbon chicken is so good; you’ll lick the plate clean.
What is Bourbon Chicken?
Bourbon chicken is a classic take-out dish of chicken chunks cooked in a sweet and savory glaze. It’s named after Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Louisiana, where the recipe’s creator used to work. Commonly served in both Chinese and Cajun-themed restaurants, it’s well-loved and easy to make.
With just chicken and a few common pantry ingredients, you’ll be able to whip up this crowd-pleasing delight.
- Chicken – The main attraction of the dish. Chop it into bite-sized chunks so it’ll cook quickly.
- The Glaze – It may only be a supporting character, but it’s what takes the dish to the next level! This sweet, salty, and umami-rich sauce is made with:
- Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- Apple Juice
- Brown Sugar
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Soy Sauce
Is There Bourbon in Bourbon Chicken?
There is bourbon in the original bourbon chicken recipe, which evaporates during cooking, leaving behind only its lovely nuanced flavors. But it isn’t used in every variation. Apple juice is a good substitute that results in an equally delicious flavor; however, the two are interchangeable.
I don’t usually use bourbon, simply because I don’t always have it on hand. I like both variations, but the apple juice version is more accessible.
How to Make Bourbon Chicken
Step 1: Cook the chicken.
Pan-fry the shredded or chopped chicken in olive oil over medium heat until lightly browned on all sides. Set aside.
Step 2: Make the glaze.
In the same skillet, combine the garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, apple juice, brown sugar, ketchup, vinegar, water, and soy sauce.
Mix together over medium heat until completely dissolved.
Step 3: Combine the components.
Add the chicken to the glaze and let it simmer until the sauce is thick.
Step 4: Serve over white rice.
Tips for the Best Bourbon Chicken
This recipe is super easy and very welcome to tweaks!
Add more components and adjust the measurements according to what your heart tells you.
Or, give these suggestions a try:
- Want extra moist and juicy chicken? Use boneless thighs or chicken tenders.
- Spice things up with extra crushed red peppers, cayenne, paprika, hot sauce, or sriracha. Start slow and adjust to taste.
- Make the sauce sweeter with more sugar or honey. Or add a citrus taste by mixing in a splash of orange juice.
- Spike the sauce with bourbon, whiskey, brandy, or scotch. The alcohol will evaporate during cooking, so the dish will still be safe for kids.
- Make the glaze thicker by stirring in a bit of flour slurry. Dissolve 1-2 teaspoons of flour or cornstarch in 1-2 tablespoons of cold water. Pour the slurry into the glaze and cook over low-medium heat, constantly stirring, until thick.
What to Serve with Bourbon Chicken
The best thing to serve with bourbon chicken is a bed of steamed or fried rice. It’s simple, but it’s divine.
If your glaze is thick enough to coat noodles, you can also serve the dish over pasta or egg noodles.
If you want a less filling pairing, eat bourbon chicken with a vegetable stir-fry. Or, just add vegetables, such as mushrooms, broccoli, bok choy, and cauliflower to the dish itself.
Storage and Make-Ahead Instructions
Leftovers are highly unlikely, but just in case – store them in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
Reheat in the microwave until warmed through. You can also warm it up in a skillet over low heat.
Can I Freeze Bourbon Chicken?
Absolutely! Here’s how:
- Let the dish cool completely.
- Place in a freezer-safe bag.
- Freeze for up to 3 months.
Let it thaw in the fridge overnight before you reheat.
Reheat in the microwave or a skillet over low heat until warmed through.
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