The Ultimate Bourbon Chicken
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The Ultimate Bourbon Chicken Recipe – You’ll love our smoky, sweet, and zesty version of classic Bourbon Chinese Chicken! It’s easy to make on the stovetop or in a crockpot, and perfect to serve with rice and your favorite sides.
What is Bourbon Chicken?
Bourbon Chicken is a confusing dish in name, ingredients, and flavor. Although bourbon is in the title it does not technically have to have bourbon in the ingredients list…
Fun fact: It’s actually called Bourbon Chicken because it was first created by a Chinese chef at a food court on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. This sticky-sweet chicken is a true Chinese-American creation using ingredients like soy sauce, ginger, and garlic then mixed with ketchup, apple juice, and brown sugar to create the sauce.
The original recipe includes no bourbon at all! However, we’ve added a small amount for depth of flavor. But feel free to leave it out if you prefer a completely no-bourbon chicken dish.
The Ultimate Bourbon Chinese Chicken Recipe
Smoky, sweet, and terrifically tangy Bourbon Chicken is simple to make at home from scratch. Start to finish it takes under 40 minutes to prepare, so it’s perfect for an easy weeknight meal. Plus, leftovers hold over really well and are excellent to enjoy for lunch.
Because it is so effortless to cook on the stove, that’s typically how I prepare this dish. However, you can certainly make Bourbon Chicken in the crockpot! Below you’ll find steps for both methods, so just choose whichever you like.
Ingredients You Need
Many of these ingredients are pantry staples, and all are easy to find at your local grocery. To make the ULTIMATE Bourbon Chicken recipe (on the stovetop or in a crockpot) you need:
- Boneless chicken breasts – or boneless skinless thighs
- Cornstarch – for a perfectly thick, luscious sauce
- Apple juice – to get just the right sweetness
- Light brown sugar – packed
- Soy sauce – we suggest low sodium soy sauce
- Bourbon – can omit
- Ketchup – for that signature tangy Bourbon Chicken taste
- Seasonings – onion powder, ground ginger, and crushed red pepper
- Vegetable oil – or peanut oil
- Garlic cloves – minced
- Salt and pepper – to taste
If you prefer to leave out the bourbon, simply substitute with more apple juice per the recipe below.
I also like to sprinkle on some freshly chopped green scallions to finish the dish. They add a nice pop of fresh flavor.
How To Make Bourbon Chicken From Scratch
Here are the 5 simple steps for the best homemade Bourbon Chinese Chicken:
First, cut the chicken into small 1 inch pieces. In a bowl toss the chicken pieces with corn starch, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper.
Next, make the sauce. In a medium bowl mix the apple juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, bourbon, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, onion powder, ginger powder, and crushed red pepper together. Mix well and set aside.
Set a large saucepot (or sauté pan) over medium heat. Add the oil. Once hot, move the coated chicken pieces to the pan and sear the pieces on all sides. They don’t need to be completely cooked through, but you do want a nice gold color all around.
Then move the chicken onto a holding plate.
Next, add the garlic to the hot pan, and sauté for one minute. Pour in the sauce, stir, and bring to a boil. Allow the sauce to simmer and thicken for about 5 minutes.
Now stir in the chicken pieces, and simmer for another 5 minutes to finish cooking.
Get the Complete Ultimate Bourbon Chicken Recipe (Stovetop and Crockpot) + VIDEO Below. Enjoy!
Serve warm with chopped scallions on top.
How to Prepare Bourbon Chicken in a Crockpot
Although cooking this dish in a crockpot doesn’t cut down on set up or cook time, it is a great “set and forget” option. The deep, smoky, and sweet flavor is also incredibly rich when the Bourbon Chicken is made in a slow cooker.
First, prep the chicken per the original recipe. Toss with the cornstarch and seasonings, and brown the chicken on the stovetop. Then place all of the ingredients in the crock, cover, and slow cook for 3 to 4 hours. Give it a good stir before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
Traditionally, this dish is enjoyed alongside a fluffy bed of white rice. You can also serve it with brown rice, or cauliflower rice for a lower-carb recipe. For a complete dinner, I like to make veggie side dishes, too. A few of our favorites are Panda Express Super Greens, stir-fried mushrooms, or grilled or seared baby bok choy.
As-is this recipe includes 1/2 a teaspoon of crushed red pepper for a bit of heat. But feel free to add a full teaspoon to really crank up the heat.
Stored in an airtight container in the fridge, homemade Bourbon Chicken will keep well for up to 4 days. If you use bourbon to make this recipe, the chicken will not freeze well. However, if you’d just used apple juice you can certainly freeze leftovers. Allow the chicken to cool completely before transferring to a sealed zipper bag. Keep in the freezer for up to 3 months, and allow to thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.
Looking for More Delicious Chinese-Inspired Dishes?
- (Better Than) Panda Express Orange Chicken
- Black Pepper Chicken Stir Fry
- Sheet Pan Mongolian Beef
- Firecracker Chicken Recipe (Paleo!)
- Slow Cooker Broccoli Beef Recipe
The Ultimate Bourbon Chicken Recipe + VIDEO
- 3 pounds boneless chicken breasts and/or thighs
- 3 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 cup apple juice
- 2/3 cup light brown sugar packed
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup bourbon
- ¼ cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ¼ cup vegetable or peanut oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- Salt and pepper
- Cut the chicken into small 1 inch pieces toss with corn starch, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper.
- In a medium bowl mix the apple juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, bourbon, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, onion powder, ginger powder, and crushed red pepper together. Mix well.
- Set a large saucepot (or sauté pan) over medium heat. Add the oil. Once hot move the chicken to the pan and sear the pieces on all sides. Then move the chicken onto a holding plate.
- Next add the garlic. Sauté for one minute. Then pour in the sauce. Stir and bring to a boil. Allow the sauce to simmer and thicken for 5 minutes.
- Stir in the chicken pieces and simmer another 5 minutes to finish cooking. Serve warm with chopped scallions on top.
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