30 Minutes or Less, Main Courses, Poultry

Bourbon Chicken

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.

Bourbon Chicken Recipe

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.

Bourbon Chicken Recipe

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.

Bourbon Chicken Recipe

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Bourbon Chicken Recipe
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Bourbon Chicken

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.
Prep Time 8 hours
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 8 hours 15 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Lisa B.


Bourbon marinade:

  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup bourbon

Teriyaki Sauce:

  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup 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.


  1. I just love and adore…CHICKEN TERIYAKI…and this looks absolutely gorgeous! I know BOURBON is clearly one of the main ingredients of this dish, but if I d want to make just CHICKEN TERIYAKI, what could I substitute the bourbon with??

  2. This is beautiful! I saw this on tastespotting or food gawker and made a mental note to try using bourbon with a teriyaki sauce. Lovely!!

  3. I love this post and I’m so proud of you for kicking the food court’s butt! This looks delicious.

    Also, pinterest is like crack. Can’t stop, won’t stop.

  4. This recipe really appeals to me and will definitely give it a try. It may even make it onto my blog, in which case I will of course mention/tag you! It’s definitely my kind of food. Great photo btw and I like your site.

  5. Thanks for letting me know how it turned out! I’m so glad it was a success. Funny, my husband mentioned adding some heat and I decided next time I made this I would add a little chili garlic sauce.

  6. I just made this – I followed the recipe except for I added fresh ginger, garlic, and chili garlic sauce to both the marinade and the sauce (I like some heat). It was amazing. I’ll be cooking this at my next dinner party. Thanks so much for the recipe!

  7. This looks amazingly delicious. Am craving for some right now… my only wish is to be taught on how to use the chopsticks 🙂

  8. Everything with bourbon in the kitchen MUST works!!
    So, I have to try this recipe, the colour of the food in the photo, and the verdict of your husband seems enough guarantees!!

  9. You can’t possibly go wrong with a recipe that includes a bourbon marinade, IMO. 🙂
    PS – I’m convinced that Pinterest is a conspiracy designed to make me feel that my food isn’t photogenic enough, my outfits aren’t coordinated enough, my house isn’t decorated enough, and my vacation destinations aren’t breathtaking enough. And yet… I still can’t stop pinning everything that catches my eye (like, say, this recipe). Sigh.

  10. You had me at bourbon. That looks delicious! Lovely pic.

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