Bourbon Chicken


Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: around 30 minutes


The name "bourbon" chicken is a bit of a misnomer; there's really no bourbon in this recipe. However, the sweetness of a soy and fruit juice sauce base, combined with the flavor of brown sugar and crushed red pepper flakes, yields a sweet and spicy sauce that melds together beautifully. Sliced scallions and toasted sesame seeds, while optional, are highly recommended, as they not only make the dish visually appealing, they add a great flavor contrast. Keep in mind that if you slice your chicken thinly, your cooking times will be reduced - it's very easy to overcook boneless, skinless chicken breasts, especially if they're in small, thin pieces. This recipe is lower in fat, sodium and refined sugars than the version you will get at your local Chinese restaurant.


  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 - 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 tbsp. freshly grated ginger
  • 1/4 - 3/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (or more, to taste)
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (or apple juice)
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. ketchup
  • 1 tbsp. cider vinegar (can also use balsamic vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup reduced sodium tamari
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch, dissolved in 1 tbsp. water (optional)
  • Sliced scallions (optional)
  • Toasted sesame seeds (optional)


Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned - times will vary based on the thickness of the chicken pieces. Remove the chicken to a separate plate and keep warm.

Add the garlic, ginger and crushed red pepper flakes to the pan. Briefly sauté until the garlic is fragrant, around 30 seconds. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan and stir until the mixture is uniform is consistency and well-blended. If you want to thicken the sauce, now is the time to add the cornstarch dissolved in water. Stir and heat gently until the sauce is as thick as you want it. Normally the sauce is very thin, and you need to spoon it over each serving

Return the chicken to the pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. You may have to adjust your cooking times based on the size of your chicken pieces - 20 minutes probably will be far too long for thin slices.

Serve immediately over hot cooked brown rice. Spoon the pan sauce over each serving, if you did not choose to thicken the sauce. Sprinkle with sliced scallions and the toasted sesame seeds, if using.

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