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Tender chicken coated in a deliciously sweet and salty sauce, this bourbon chicken recipe tastes just like the takeout you can’t resist! A totally family favorite, this recipe is quick and easy but loaded with flavor. Oh, and don’t worry, it makes extra sauce, too!

Overhead view of a dark blue-grey bowl of white rice topped with Bourbon Chicken and chopped green onions.

What Makes This Recipe So Good

  • If you grew up in the 90s-00s, I’m betting you have pretty distinct memories that involve hanging out at a shopping mall. You probably ordered (or at least sampled) from the Chinese takeout eatery in the food court. You also probably tasted a deliciously tender chicken that was coated in a thick, rich, sticky, sweet, salty sauce. Well, this bourbon chicken IS that amazing mall food court chicken! It tastes just like what you’d get at the mall, especially when you pair it with hot white rice or fried rice.
  • The incredible sauce is a blend of brown sugar, soy sauce, ketchup, dried ginger, red pepper flakes, and apple juice. SO much amazing flavor smothering tender, juicy chicken thigh pieces.
  • Fun fact: did you know bourbon chicken is thought to have been born in a kitchen on Bourbon Street in New Orleans? That makes it a Cajun recipe of sorts, though it’s popular in Chinese takeout restaurants across the country now. It’s also thought that the original version didn’t actually contain any bourbon at all, but we add just a little to our recipe because it gives the sauce a really nice depth.

Chef’s Tips

  • If you opt not to use the bourbon, your sauce won’t be adversely affected, so don’t stress over it. You can skip it entirely or use additional apple juice in its place, whatever gives you the flavor and consistency you’re looking for.
  • Chicken thighs are juicier than chicken breasts and hold up really to this cooking method. If you prefer chicken breasts, you can totally use them here.
  • For a spicier bourbon chicken sauce, add a dash of sriracha to your sauce mixture, or just increase the amount of red pepper flakes you add. Careful not to overdo it, though! Walking back that heat can be near-impossible if you go too far.
Close-up, overhead view of a bowl of Bourbon chicken on a bed of white rice.

More Delicious Chicken Recipes You’ll Love

Recipe By: Cheryl Malik

Bourbon Chicken

Prep 15 minutes
Cook 20 minutes
Total 35 minutes
An at-home version of that irresistable takeout dish that combines tender chicken thighs and a sweet & salty sauce.
4 servings


  • Medium bowl
  • 2 whisks
  • Large skillet
  • Small bowl


For the Bourbon Chicken Sauce

  • 3 cloves garlic crushed
  • ½ teaspoon dried ginger
  • ¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup apple juice
  • packed cup light brown sugar or coconut sugar, or Brown Swerve
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon optional
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup water
  • cup soy sauce

For the Bourbon Chicken

  • 1-2 tablespoons avocado oil or other neutral oil (canola, peanut, etc.)
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into bite-sized pieces

For the Cornstarch Slurry

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cold water


  • In medium bowl, whisk together all sauce ingredients until fully combined. Set aside.
    Overhead view of a white mixing bowl with bourbon chicken sauce on a wooden table.
  • In large skillet, add avocado oil and warm over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot and shimmering, add chicken thigh pieces to skillet and cook until lightly browned, approximately 2 minutes or so.
    Chopped chicken thigh pieces in large skillet with neutral oil.
  • Pour sauce mixture into skillet and gently stir to incorporate. Bring mixture to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10 minutes.
    Overhead view of a large skillet with chicken thigh pieces in bourbon sauce on a wooden table.
  • While chicken and sauce simmer, mix together cornstarch slurry in small bowl until fully combined.
  • After chicken and sauce have simmered 10 minutes, pour cornstarch slurry into skillet and stir gently to incorporate. Simmer 5 more minutes or until sauce has thickened. Divide chicken and sauce evenly between serving bowls and serve hot warm hot rice or cauliflower rice.
  • Make it Keto: Use Brown Swerve instead of brown sugar and serve with cauliflower rice. Make sure your apple juice doesn’t have any added sugar or sugar substitutes, or skip it completely. Use a keto-friendly ketchup.
  • Make it Paleo: Skip the bourbon, use coconut sugar instead of brown sugar, sub coconut aminos for the soy sauce, and serve with cauliflower rice. Make sure your apple juice doesn’t have any added sugar or sugar substitutes, or skip it completely. Use a paleo-friendly ketchup.

Approximate Information for One Serving

Serving Size: 1servingCalories: 419calProtein: 46gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 215mgSodium: 1364mgPotassium: 680mgTotal Carbs: 26gFiber: 1gSugar: 21gNet Carbs: 25gVitamin A: 205IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 48mgIron: 3mg
Nutrition Disclaimers
Number of total servings shown is approximate. Actual number of servings will depend on your preferred portion sizes.
Nutritional values shown are general guidelines and reflect information for 1 serving using the ingredients listed, not including any optional ingredients. Actual macros may vary slightly depending on specific brands and types of ingredients used.
To determine the weight of one serving, prepare the recipe as instructed. Weigh the finished recipe, then divide the weight of the finished recipe (not including the weight of the container the food is in) by the desired number of servings. Result will be the weight of one serving.

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