Easy Sesame Chicken Recipe – easy sticky sweet sesame chicken like takeout, made fresh from home.
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Homemade Takeout Style Sesame Chicken
This sesame chicken is sweet and sticky, light and tender, with a great crispy batter the whole family will love.
If you like sweeter, chicken breast versions of sesame chicken from places like Panda Express, you’re going to love this quick and easy sesame chicken dinner! We love this sticky sweet sauce that comes together quickly so you can coat it over the chicken – it’s delicious over broccoli, fish, shrimp, and asparagus, too!
Be sure to check out our Panda Express Black Pepper Chicken Copycat Recipe, and our too for a from-scratch takeout style dinner at home.
We hope you love this recipe as much as we do!
A note on authenticity: This recipe isn’t authentic as far as actual Chinese food is concerned – the sticky, sweet, breaded chicken is more of an Americanized concept (especially as we’re making it here with chicken breast and honey in the sauce, more like you’d find at Panda Express than an authentic Chinese restaurant). Authentic Chinese food is rich, delicious, and full of color, vegetables, spices, and amazing flavor. This dish is a from-scratch at home way to make the popular American-style takeout dish, and not a replacement for authentic Chinese food!
How To Make Sesame Chicken
To make this sesame chicken, we will need the following ingredients:
- Chicken breasts. Traditionally, sesame chicken is made with chicken thighs. For this recipe, we’re using chicken tender strip meat – pre-sliced into long, thin tenders and then cut into chunks, as the prepared chicken breasts save time so you can get dinner on the table fast!
- Oil. We prefer frying in peanut oil for flavor, but canola or vegetable oil also works.
- All purpose flour. Flour comprises our breading, and does not need lift, so all purpose flour works just fine here.
- Egg. Egg works as a binder for our breading.
- Cornstarch – cornstarch in frying helps prevent gluten development, which makes the flour coating crispier, and absorb moisture.
- Baking powder. Baking powder helps when frying chicken to help break down the proteins in the skin, draw moisture to the surface, and also helps to aid in browning.
- Garlic powder. Garlic adds a rich, savory, slightly sweet umami-friendly addictive flavor that is unctious, pungeant, and crave-worthy to dishes. Garlic powder is less “hot”, and more balanced, and is easier to incorporate in many dishes that raw garlic might overpower.
- Ginger powder. Ginger powder is
- Paprika. Paprika is earthy, lightly sweet, and vegetal – with a red color and light, slightly smoky flavor that pulls out chicken’s meaty flavor.
- Sesame oil. Sesame oil is a classic finishing oil that has a peanut like-flavor,
- Ginger. For this recipe, you can use ginger paste or freshly grated ginger.
- Honey. Honey is a more natural tasting sweetener, with a cleaner, less fake flavor in sauces than corn syrup or sugar. It also helps to thicken our sauce and make it nice and sticky!
- Soy sauce. Soy sauce has the perfect savory, salty, umami balance that is addictive and irresistible in sesame chicken – it rounds out our sauce, making it thinner, saltier, and a bit bright.
- Brown sugar. Brown sugar has a classic molasses sweet but not saccharine flavor that dissolves perfectly in sauce to thicken it without tasting too sugary.
- Ketchup. Ketchup adds acidity, a bit of sweetness, and a tangy, tart, and bright flavor to our sauce without overpowering it. This isn’t by any means traditional – but is a huge timesaver.
Once we’ve gathered our ingredients, we will use the following process:
- Bread chicken, then fry to brown. To make Sesame Chicken, you’ll first dip chicken in an egg mixture, cornstarch and breading, and cook to golden brown on high heat.
- Make Sauce. You’ll then make a delicious sticky-sweet sauce in a bowl, whisk it vigorously, and coat the chicken in it. I like to reserve a bit of sauce to serve with the chicken when its done cooking.
- Bake to done. Chicken breasts and thighs are filly cooked at 165 degrees F internal temperature.
Tips and Tricks to Perfect Sesame Chicken
Use chicken thighs. For a more traditional take on sesame chicken, you can swap out chicken thighs for this recipe. Remove bones and skin, and cut chicken thighs into 1-2″ chunks, then continue with recipe as we have outlined below.
Use honey – not store-bought sauce. Sesame chicken can have an artificial, sickly sweet flavor from store-bought sauces, but we really love this recipe for it’s subtle sweetness thanks to the addition of honey.
Cornstarch to thicken. We add cornstarch to thicken the sauce a bit – but if you’d like a thinner sauce you can omit the corn starch.
Sesame chicken lasts four days in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
Sesame chicken sauce lasts five days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Chicken is cooked when it reaches 165 degrees internal temperature.
What To Serve With Sesame Chicken
You can find our entire side dish recipe archives here.
Easy Sesame Chicken Recipe
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- For the chicken:
- Oil for frying
- 1 cup of all-purpose flour
- 1 cup of cold water
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons of cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon of ginger powder
- 1 teaspoon of paprika powder
- 2 pounds of chicken tender strips, cut into 1-inch pieces
- For the sauce:
- 2 tablespoons of sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon of ginger paste or finely minced ginger
- ¼ cup of honey
- ¼ cup of low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon of ketchup
- Heat a deep cast iron pan over medium heat with 1 inch of oil to about 265 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In the meantime, whisk the flour, water, egg, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, pepper, garlic powder, ginger powder and paprika together in a large bowl.
- Add the chicken to the batter and once the oil is hot, lightly drain 6-8 pieces from the batter and fry in the oil for 3-4 minutes or until light and golden.
- Drain the chicken from the oil on a plate with a paper towel and repeat the cooking process with the remaining chicken.
- To make the sauce, heat the sesame oil in a saucepan over medium heat - then add the ginger and cool for 30 seconds then add the remaining sauce ingredients and stir and cook until the sauce becomes thick, about 5 minutes.
- Lay the chicken out on a cooling rack and brush the sauce overtop.
- Garnish with freshly chopped green onions and sesame seeds then serve.
This chicken can be stored without the sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Reheat the chicken in a 365-degree oven for 5 minutes or until light and crispy.
The sauce can be stored separately in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Amount Per Serving Calories 687Total Fat 33gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 24gCholesterol 101mgSodium 2066mgCarbohydrates 65gFiber 2gSugar 16gProtein 33g
Nutrition is automatically calculated by Nutritionix - please verify all nutrition information independently and consult with a doctor or nutritionist for any and all medical and diet advice.