The Best Quick Bourbon Chicken
This is the best recipe for quick, easy, and delicious bourbon chicken – a family classic you can make in 30 minutes. Everyone will enjoy tender bites of chicken with crispy edges enveloped in a one-of-a-kind sticky, sweet pan sauce.
Love easy chicken dinners? Next, check out my Greek chicken skillet, creamy Tuscan chicken with spinach and sun-dried tomatoes, or creamy garlic chicken with thyme – all delicious, real-food meals ready in 30 minutes or less!
I know, superlatives are a tired trick, but I happen to actually believe this is the best bourbon chicken recipe, and I am positive it’s the perfect thing to add to your menu any week that you know you will be busy and tired, but still want to eat something tasty and homemade.
Most of the ingredients are pantry staples, the cooking process is dead simple, and the whole affair takes less than 30 minutes. Friends, this is what winning dinner looks like.
Ingredients and shopping notes
There are a few components to this amazing sauce, but never fear: most are basic items you may already have. Here’s a summary if you’re shopping. See the full recipe below for detailed amounts and instructions!
- Chicken – obviously! I use roughly 1 lb. of boneless, skinless breasts per batch. Round up if your people are hungry!
- Cornstarch – this is what makes the chicken edges crispy and thickens the sauce. It’s a great pantry staple – a box lasts forever! Found in the baking section of any grocery store.
- Chicken broth.
- Soy sauce – highly recommend low sodium!
- Brown sugar – light or dark.
- Ketchup – adds that little something, I swear.
- Apple cider vinegar – another staple well worth having around, sold with other vinegars and condiments. Use it next to make this luscious cider vinaigrette – your salad will thank you!
- Bourbon – optional but why not? I personally wouldn’t make a special trip to buy bourbon for this recipe, but if it’s around, you can bet I’m adding a splash.
- Garlic – one clove, minced or press. Sub 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder in a pinch.
- Ground ginger and red pepper flakes.
- A bit of cooking oil – recommend canola, vegetable, sunflower or another “high heat” oil since you’ll be cooking the chicken over pretty high heat and no one loves the smell of scorching. 🙂
Learning your way around the kitchen? For extra credit, read more about different types of cooking oils and their ideal uses.
I should note that most bourbon chicken recipes do not include actual bourbon; rather than referring to the ingredient, it’s that the namesake dish was originally conjured on New Orleans’ famed Bourbon Street. But whatever its origin, we love the addicting, sweet, sticky sauce, and it’s even more flavorful with a splash of bourbon whisked in.
How to make it
Much like this easy Mongolian beef recipe, the trick is to coat the meat with a bit of cornstarch, then brown it. This yields a delightfully crisp exterior around each tender bite.
While the chicken browns, whisk together the sauce ingredients. Then the browned chicken goes out of the pan, the sauce goes in, and you’ll bring the sauce to a simmer.
Once you see gentle bubbles, return the chicken and stir. Let the sauce thicken while the chicken finishes cooking and absorbs all that incredible flavor.
Sprinkle with a few sesame seeds if you’re feeling fancy.
Scoop out generous spoonfuls to serve over grains or veggies, and you’re done!
Next time you’re in a pinch, confidently skip the takeout and whip up this instead. You’ll have a delicious meal on the table in 30 minutes, and you can bet there will be requests to see it again.
Quick Bourbon Chicken
- 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. cornstarch divided
- 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 tbsp. ketchup
- 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp. bourbon optional
- 1 clove garlic minced or pressed
- 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tbsp. canola, vegetable, or coconut oil
- rice for serving
- steamed broccoli for serving
- Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and place in a bowl. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons cornstarch, toss briefly to coat, and set aside.
- In a separate bowl or large liquid measuring cup, combine the chicken broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, bourbon (if using), garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, and remaining 1 teaspoon cornstarch. Whisk until smooth and set aside.
- Warm the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it is hot and rippling. Add chicken pieces and cook for about 1 minute on each side, just until the outside edges are golden. The chicken should not be cooked all the way through. Remove pieces to a plate and set aside.
- If there is a lot of oil left in the skillet, soak up a bit with a paper towel and discard. Lower the heat to medium, pour in the sauce, and bring it to a simmer. Return chicken to the pan and stir to coat each piece of meat with the sauce.
- Cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is thick, almost syrupy. Serve with rice, broccoli, and/or other veggies. Enjoy!
- This recipe also works well with chicken tenders, if you prefer.
- Any leftovers keep well for 2-3 days and make a great reheated lunch! Store in airtight containers in the fridge.