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Easy Bourbon Chicken (20 minutes)

Delicious! Put this on your blog!” said my enthusiastic husband after the first bite. So here it is – easy bourbon chicken just like you get at the food court. A quick and easy dinner.

Bourbon Chicken (copycat)

Bourbon chicken is commonly found at Cajun-themed and Chinese restaurants. And at mall food courts. Surprisingly, most bourbon chicken recipes do not contain bourbon. The name comes from a restaurant on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Louisiana.

I used a five star Bourbon Chicken copycat recipe with almost 3000 comments as my starting point. I didn’t read all 3000 comments, but I read enough to tweak the recipe to my liking –  and hopefully yours.

This bourbon chicken recipe is not an exact replica of the one you will find at a mall, but it’s close. I made a few tweaks to the sauce, but mostly I took some liberties to simplify the cooking process and keep the chicken more tender and juicy by not boiling it in the sauce at the end. 

The result: It’s sweet, but not too sweet. It has some heat which you can adjust to your liking. It has great flavor. And it makes lots of sauce to drizzle on rice.

The core of the recipe is the bourbon chicken sauce. The chicken can be cooked by almost any method. 

Don’t let the list of ingredients intimidate you. They’re all pretty common and the whole dish can be made in about 20 minutes if you choose to grill the chicken and 30 minutes if you don’t

What to serve with bourbon chicken

As a main dish I serve the bourbon chicken over white rice or, if I’m looking for lower carbs, over lemon herb cauliflower ‘rice’ stir fry.

Other good sides for this dish are roasted bok choy and broccoli, mango salad or easy creamed spinach.  Or serve your side vegetables in a soup form with our a vegetable wonton soup.

I also serve the chicken as an appetizer with toothpicks.

Tailor To Your Taste

  • Chicken – what kind to use and cooking methods:
    • Use boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs. I prefer thighs – juicier and more flavorful.
    • You can cook the chicken on the grill, in the oven, sauteed in a pan or even sous vide. For me, the quickest and easiest is the grill if you have one available. I cook the pieces whole, then cut them into bite size pieces before adding them to the sauce. You’ll find instructions for several cooking options in the recipe. 
  • Sweetness: many people found the original copycat bourbon chicken recipe too sweet, so I cut down the sugar. Taste and add more if you want. 
  • Spiciness: I added some chili flakes for heat – adjust this to your liking. Or leave them out. Sriracha or chili paste would work too. 
  • Substitute:
    • I replaced the apple juice (which I rarely have on hand) with apple sauce and it worked perfectly. Orange juice would be fine too.
    • Feel free to leave out the bourbon.
  • Thickness of the sauce: I like a sauce with more body so I added cornstarch to thicken it. Use less or none if you prefer. If you find the sauce too thick, just add a bit of water. 

Make Ahead 

  • You can make the sauce and chicken ahead of time. Ten minutes before you’re ready to serve, heat the sauce and add the chicken to heat through.
  • You can also make the full dish ahead of time and warm it on the stove or in the microwave. 

Other quick and easy chicken recipes

How to make bourbon chicken

chicken, ginger, garlic, brown sugar, soy, apple sauce, chili flakes, ketchup, cornstarch, green onion
Ingredients: boneless chicken (breast or thigh), ginger, garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce, cider vinegar, apple sauce (or juice), chili flakes, ketchup, cornstarch. Garnish with green onion.
bourbon chicken sauce ingredients mixed in a measuring cup
Whisk together all bourbon chicken sauce ingredients.
bourbon chicken sauce in pan
Cook sauce on medium high in a pan until thickened. 3-4 minutes.
chicken grilling on BBQ
Cook chicken in your preferred way – grill, saute, bake, sous vide. Instructions for all methods are in recipe. 
grilled chicken cut into pieces
Cut chicken into bite size pieces.
chicken in bourbon chicken sauce in pan
Toss chicken in sauce and heat through until bubbly and well coated.
bourbon chicken over rice on plate 2
Serve over rice and garnish with chopped green onions (or sesame seeds) if you like.

bourbon chicken over rice on plate p2

bourbon chicken over rice on plate f
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Easy Bourbon Chicken (20 minutes)

Delicious! Put this on your blog!" said my enthusiastic husband after the first bite. So here it is - easy bourbon chicken just like you get at the food court. A quick and easy dinner.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 or 10-12 as appetizers
Author: Cheryl

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pound (0.68kg) boneless, skinless chicken (breast or thighs)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoon cornstarch (only needed if stir frying chicken)

Sauce

  • 1/3 cup (75 ml) low sodium soy sauce e.g. Kikkoman
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) water
  • 1/4 cup (60g, 2 ounces) apple sauce, apple juice or orange juice
  • 1/4 cup (50g) brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Bourbon (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes (for low-medium spice)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (or 1 clove or frozen cube or 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon minced/grated ginger (or 1 frozen cube (or 1/4 tsp ginger powder)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Garnish (optional)

  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Instructions

  • HEAT GRILL OR OVEN if using. See cooking options for chicken below.
  • PREPARE SAUCE: Combine all sauce ingredients in a bowl and whisk to mix well.
  • COOK CHICKEN USING ONE OF THESE OPTIONS. In all cases, transfer to a plate after cooking and keep warm. Note that recipe will take longer with some cooking methods.
    °Stir fry bite size chicken: Cut up chicken into bite size pieces, place in bag with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and 1/2 teaspoon salt, shake until lightly coated. Saute in oil in a skillet on medium high in two batches until lightly browned and cooked through, about 4-5 minutes depending on size of pieces.
    °Stir fry full size chicken pieces: Dust chicken with cornstarch and salt. Saute chicken in a bit of oil in pan on medium high heat, transfer to a board, let sit for 5 minutes, then cut into bite size pieces. Keep warm.
    °Grill chicken (my preference if you have a grill handy - quick and easy): Toss the larger pieces of chicken with a bit of oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill on medium high for a 3-4 minutes per side. Let rest for 5 minutes, then cut into bite size pieces.
    °Bake chicken: drizzle breasts or thighs with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Baked in pan lined with parchment (for easy clean up) at 425F/218C for about 18 minutes. Rest for 5 minutes, then cut into bite size pieces.
    °Sous vide chicken: at 144F/62C for 1.5 to a maximum of 4 hours. Here is a recipe to follow for sous vide chicken if you need one.
  • COOK SAUCE AND TOSS WITH CHICKEN: Heat skillet to medium high. Add sauce and cook, stirring, until it starts to boil and thicken about 3-4 minutes. Add chicken and stir to coat. Lower heat and cook for another 2 minutes just until chicken is well coated with sauce and heated through. If the sauce is too thick, add a tablespoon or two or water or juice. Serve over rice if desired. Garnish with chopped green onions and/or sesame seeds if you like.

Notes

Make ahead:
  • You can make the sauce and chicken ahead of time. Ten minutes before you're ready to serve, heat the sauce and add the chicken to heat through.
  • You can also make the full dish ahead of time and warm it on the stove or in the microwave. 
Nutrition values are estimates using boneless skinless chicken breasts, the minimal bourbon and no garnishes. 

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Easy Bourbon Chicken (20 minutes)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 346 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Fat 9g14%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Cholesterol 109mg36%
Sodium 1566mg68%
Potassium 742mg21%
Carbohydrates 26g9%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 17g19%
Protein 38g76%
Vitamin A 223IU4%
Vitamin C 4mg5%
Calcium 38mg4%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Easy bourbon chicken has been updated from 2016 to include new images, additional cooking methods for the chicken and more information. 

 

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