Last updated on May 15th, 2023
Yummy, sticky, bourbon chicken recipe tastes just like your favorite food court restaurant. Chicken is marinated overnight, then browned and simmered in a tasty homemade teriyaki sauce.
For years now, The Husband has been obsessed with the Bourbon chicken at this greasy-spoon restaurant in the food court at the mall.
I’m a little competitive when it comes to my cooking and I was determined not to let myself be outdone by a restaurant that sells chicken-on-a-stick. I have tried just about every recipe for Bourbon chicken you can imagine and have never been able to get it right – the flavor wasn’t the same, the sauce wasn’t sticky enough, etc., etc.
I felt like a complete and utter failure, but I wasn’t going to let that derail my quest. After one first batch came out looking kind of pale and sickly, I made some adjustments – added a little flour, let the chicken brown a little longer. Soon the sauce began to turn caramel brown and coat the chicken.
I think I’ve got it! I think I’ve got it!
It starts with the marinade.
Plan ahead so your chicken can marinate beforehand! I recommend eight hours, but you could get away with as little as 2-4 hours. But don’t bebop into your kitchen 30 minutes before dinnertime, realize you’ve forgotten to marinate your chicken and decide you are going to skip this step. It won’t produce the same results.
The marinade is easy to whip up and you likely already have all the ingredients right in your cabinet. Especially if your house is like mine — mama always has a bottle bourbon in her liquor cabinet.
I prefer to use diced boneless, skinless chicken thighs. The meat is much more tender and flavorful. Diced boneless, skinless chicken breasts are fine if that’s what you have on hand.
Whisk all your marinade ingredients together and dump them in a Ziploc bag. Add your chicken, press any air out of the bag, and seal. I usually keep my bag upright by setting it in a bread loaf pan to prevent any leaks. Place your chicken in the fridge for the next several hours.
What is mirin?
Next comes the homemade teriyaki sauce. You will probably have most of these ingredients on hand as well. However, if you don’t do a lot of Asian cooking, you may not have the mirin. It’s a subtly sweet, slightly tangy rice wine that is the key ingredient in homemade teriyaki sauce. Typically , if your grocery store has an International or Asian food section, mirin should be easy to find. But if you need a substitute, try cooking sherry, sweet marsala wine, dry white wine, and rice vinegar.
How to Make This Bourbon Chicken Recipe
Once your chicken has marinated, you want to drain off all the excess liquid. Add a couple tablespoons of flour to your chicken and toss until it’s well-coated. This helps absorb any remaining liquid and ensures your chicken will brown nicely.
Heat a few tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large skillet. You want to spread your chicken out in the hot skillet in a nice even layer so every piece is touching the hot surface. You will probably have to work in batches — add part of the chicken to the skillet, brown it, remove it from the pan and set aside. Add the rest of the uncooked chicken and repeat until everything is browned and cooked through.
While your chicken is browning, you can go ahead and start cooking the teriyaki sauce. Combine the chicken broth, soy sauce, mirin, white granulated sugar and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Heat until the sugar dissolves.
Combine your water and cornstarch until the cornstarch is dissolved. This is called a slurry. You don’t want to add the cornstarch right to the hot teriyaki sauce or it will clump up (every had lumpy gravy?). Mixing the cornstarch with a little water beforehand allows your sauce to thicken and stay nice and smooth.
Bring the teriyaki sauce to a boil until it thickens to the consistency of syrup. Remove it from the heat. It will continue to thicken as it sets.
Add all the cooked chicken back to the skillet. Pour in half of the teriyaki sauce. Cook until the sauce reduces and thickens, then add the rest of the sauce. you know its ready when your sauce coats your chicken pieces.
The real test of course would be whether the Bourbon chicken man himself approved. He took a few bites and I waited in agonizing silence.
“Well?” I finally asked.
He looked at me and nodded. “This one is a keeper. It’s really good.”
So I my house may not always be clean, the laundry may not always be folded, and my kid may occasionally have applesauce smeared in his hair. But I can make a mean Bourbon chicken that The Husband approves of. I’ll take it.
I like to serve my bourbon chicken recipe over hot rice. Sprinkle some sesame seeds and green onions over the top.
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- 1 cups chicken broth
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup bourbon
- 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons mirin
- 2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 cup cold water
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 green onions thinly sliced
For the marinade:
- Combine first six ingredients in a large bowl or resealable plastic bag.
- Add chicken pieces.
- Marinate for up to eight hours.
For the sauce:
- Bring chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the soy sauce, mirin, and sugars. Stir until sugars are dissolved. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and water. Add to soy sauce mixture and continue to boil until sauce begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Drain and discard chicken marinade. Add flour to chicken pieces and stir to coat.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, spread chicken pieces in a single layer in the pan. Cook until chicken begins to brown, about 3-5 minutes. Using a spatula, flip chicken pieces over to brown the other side.
- Add ¼ cup of the teriyaki sauce to the pan. Cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, stirring often, until the sauce reduces and darkens in color and begins to coat the chicken. Remove chicken from the skillet and set aside.
- Repeat with remaining chicken. Afterwards, return all the chicken to the skillet. Add another ¼ cup teriyaki sauce. Cook until chicken is heated through and coated with the sauce.
- Serve chicken over hot white rice. Sprinkle with sliced green onions if desired.