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17 May 2021

This bourbon chicken recipe is quick easy to make with juicy chunks of chicken simmered in a sweet and spicy brown sugar sauce, a classic from Louisiana. A perfect weeknight meal.

If you’re looking for a quick and easy weeknight chicken dinner with a combination of sweet and spicy, Bourbon Chicken is a recipe you’ll want to keep in your recipe collection.

Bourbon chicken is a southern dish with chunks of juicy chicken simmered in a sticky bourbon and brown sugar sauce, with a sweet and spicy kick. It is named for its use of bourbon, but also for Bourbon Street in New Orleans, where the dish originated.

You may have encountered the dish in Cajun restaurants or Chinese restaurants from the area, or heck, in mall food courts or other simple menus. It looks like a Chinese dish, and may be Asian inspired, but it’s considered Cajun.

Now matter how you classify it, I think you’ll agree that it is delicious and satisfying nonetheless. I love it for how easy it is to make, essentially done in about 15 minutes once you have your chicken chopped up.

Breaking down the recipe, you’ll cook chopped chicken in a pan, add a quickly made sauce and simmer, then thicken it with a bit of cornstarch. Done! Plus, you can up the chili flakes or add in some spicy peppers if you’re looking for a version with a bit more kick.

It’s quite a bit like other stir fries, though the bourbon gives it a unique flavor unlike other stir fry dishes you’d tried.

I know you want to, my spicy food loving friends.

Let’s talk about how we make bourbon chicken, shall we?

Spicy Bourbon Chicken in a wok with chopped green onion

Bourbon Chicken Ingredients

  • Boneless Chicken. Use chicken breast, chicken thigh, or a combination.
  • Veg. Garlic and Ginger.
  • Oil for Cooking. Use sesame oil for extra flavor, though you can use vegetable oil or olive oil as well.
  • Soy Sauce
  • Bourbon. The alcohol cooks off on the sauce. However, if you’d prefer a non-alcoholic version, sub in apple juice. 2 tablespoon to 1/4 cup will suffice.
  • Brown Sugar
  • Rice Vinegar
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Corn Starch Slurry. For thickening. It’s a mixture of cornstarch and water in a bowl, whisked until it forms a slurry with no lumps.
  • For Garnish. Chopped scallions/green onions, spicy chili flakes

Spicy Bourbon Chicken in a wok

How to Make Bourbon Chicken – the Recipe Method

Cook the Chicken. Heat the sesame oil together in a wok or pan to medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often, until they begin to turn golden brown.

Cooking chicken in a wok to make Bourbon Chicken

Garlic and Ginger. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.

Make the Bourbon Sauce and Simmer. Whisk together the soy sauce, bourbon, brown sugar, vinegar and red pepper flakes in a medium bowl. Pour the sauce into the wok or pan and reduce heat. Simmer for 10 minutes to cook off the alcohol from the bourbon and cook the chicken through. You can cook longer, 20 minutes or up to 30 minutes to build flavor, though don’t let it dry out or reduce too much.

Simmering the Bourbon Chicken in a wok with the sauce

Thicken and Sauce. Whisk together the cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Stir it into the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes, until the sauce thickens to your preference. You can use a bit more cornstarch for a thicker sauce.

Thickening the Bourbon Chicken sauce in the wok

Garnish and serve! I love mine served over rice, or with noodles!

Boom! Done! Bourbon chicken is ready to serve. Looks delicious, doesn’t it? And it’s so quick and easy to make, isn’t it? Done in about 15 minutes once you’ve got everything prepped.

Bourbon Chicken in a bowl over rice

Give it a taste. It has such a nice touch of sweetness from the brown sugar, and the bourbon really imparts a unique flavor. So good. I really love this dish. And it’s easy to spice up, too, which is great for me.

Recipe Tips & Notes

  • The Chicken. I usually make this with boneless chicken breast, though I also enjoy it with chicken thighs, which you can usually simmer longer. Both are great, and it’s really your choice. Go with both!
  • Thicker Sauce. For a thicker, stickier sauce, add an extra teaspoon or more of cornstarch slurry to the sauce and let it simmer until it thickens even more. The sauce should stick to and coat the chicken pieces.
  • Skip the Bourbon. Bourbon is a key element in making a proper Bourbon Chicken, but for those who do not prefer to cook with alcohol, do not fret. You can substitute apple juice for bourbon. You won’t achieve the exact same flavor, but you will achieve a flavorful dish that you will enjoy.
  • Heat Factor. Mild-Medium, though you can spice things up with more chili flakes, or use a spicy chili powder. Or, add in a spicy chili pepper or two to the mix when you cook the chicken. Easy way to get some heat!
  • Scale it Up. This recipe easily scales up. There is enough sauce to add extra one half to one pound of chicken and still have all the chicken pieces nicely coated. Adding cooked rice or noodles rounds out the dish.

Spicy Bourbon Chicken in a bowl

That’s it, my friends. I hope you enjoy your new bourbon chicken recipe and that your family loves it. Let me know if you make it. I’d love to hear how it turned out for you. Keep it spicy!

Try Some of My Other Popular Recipes

Bourbon Chicken on a fork

Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.

Bourbon Chicken Recipe
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Bourbon Chicken Recipe

This bourbon chicken recipe is quick easy to make with juicy chunks of chicken simmered in a sweet and spicy brown sugar sauce, a classic from Louisiana. A perfect weeknight meal.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: bourbon, chicken
Servings: 4
Calories: 267kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 pound boneless chicken breast cut into bite-sized chunks, or use chicken thighs
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil or use vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup bourbon use apple juice as a non-alcoholic substitute
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional for a touch of heat, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • For Garnish: Chopped scallions/green onions spicy chili flakes

Instructions

  • Heat the sesame oil together in a wok or pan to medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often, until they begin to turn golden brown.
  • Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
  • Whisk together the soy sauce, bourbon, brown sugar, vinegar and red pepper flakes in a medium bowl. Pour the sauce into the wok or pan and reduce heat. Simmer for 10 minutes to cook off the alcohol from the bourbon and cook the chicken through.
  • Whisk together the cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Stir it into the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes, until the sauce thickens to your preference. You can use a bit more cornstarch for a thicker sauce.
  • Garnish and serve! I love mine over steamed rice, or with noodles!

Notes

For a thicker sauce, add an extra teaspoon or more of cornstarch slurry to the sauce.
Heat Factor: Mild-Medium, though you can spice things up with more chili flakes.
Calories estimated without rice or noodles.

Nutrition

Calories: 267kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 955mg | Potassium: 495mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 182IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 1mg

4 comments

  1. 5 stars
    We loved this! As a cajun I can’t say I was familiar, but definitely intrigued. We added a serrano during the garlic/ginger phase and there was a LOVELY heat. Rice w/ turmeric, saffron, sweet onion, garlic, and s/p; served with charred broccoli? Yes please thank you.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Nice! Thanks, Robin! Glad you enloyed it.

  2. 5 stars
    I wanted a quick and tasty dish and the promises were kept.
    Yes, that one not only looked but tasted like a chinese dish. I don’t think Bourbon makes much more cajun… but who cares? was tasty and delicious, thanks Mike.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Jérémie. We really love this one. Super tasty!

Recipe Rating




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