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close up of garnished honey sesame chicken in a skillet
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5 from 1 vote

Crispy Honey Sesame Chicken

This homemade crispy honey sesame chicken is so much better than takeout! It's crispy, light, and airy at the same time. The honey sesame sauce is the perfect balance between sweet and savory, perfect for coating all the crispy chicken.
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 487kcal
Author: Tania

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1.5 pounds chicken breast, cut into 1 inch cubes boneless, skinless
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese cooking wine (Shaoxing wine) see note
  • Vegetable oil, enough to cover about 2-3 inches of the pot plus more for sauce
  • ¾ cup cornstarch for dredging
  • Sesame seeds for garnish
  • Thinly sliced scallions for garnish

For the batter

  • cup cornstarch
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ½ cup COLD soda water keep refrigerated until ready to use

Honey sesame sauce

  • cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine (Shaoxing wine) see note
  • ½ teaspoon rice wine vinegar
  • ½ cup chicken broth plus more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Marinate chicken

  • In a bowl, evenly combine the chicken with 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 1 teaspoon Chinese cooking wine. Set aside and let it marinate for 15 minutes.

Make the batter and cook chicken

  • Meanwhile, heat vegetable oil in a large cast iron Dutch oven pot over medium-high heat, enough to cover 2-3 inches of the pot. Use a candy thermometer (clipped to the pot) to make sure it reaches the right deep frying temperature, 360 to 375 degrees F. This will take a few minutes.
  • While the oil is heating, make the batter: In a large bowl, evenly mix the cornstarch, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the COLD soda water and combine until a batter forms. It won’t be too thick or too thin. Set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, add the cornstarch. One by one, thoroughly dredge the chicken in the cornstarch followed by the batter, shaking off any excess batter. Drop each coated piece of chicken into the hot oil.
  • Fry for about 6-8 minutes until golden brown. Do it in batches, as adding too much food at one will cause the oil temperature to drop.
  • Transfer the cooked chicken onto a plate or sheet pan lined with paper towel to remove any excess oil.

Make the honey sesame sauce

  • In a medium bowl, mix the honey, sesame oil, soy sauce, Chinese cooking wine, rice wine vinegar, chicken broth, and cornstarch. Set aside.
  • In a large deep skillet over medium heat, add the minced garlic and a few drizzles of oil. Cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Then add the sauce mixture and bring to a light boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 3 minutes, whisking. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Toss with sauce and serve

  • Add the cooked chicken to the skillet with sauce, and toss to coat the chicken evenly. Serve and garnish with sesame seeds and sliced scallions.

Notes

  • Chinese cooking wine, also known as Shaoxing wine, can be found in the Asian aisle of grocery stores, at Asian grocery stores, or online. It has a dark amber color and has a milk sweet taste, which is great for adding flavor. If you really can't find it, use dry cooking sherry instead.
  • Do not substitute cornstarch with more flour. Flour contains gluten, so the chicken won't stay as crisp. Use both cornstarch and flour per the ratios listed in the recipe card.
  • Use COLD soda water to maximize crispiness (keep it refrigerated until ready to use). Adding soda water and baking powder to the batter will also incorporate lightness and airiness to the chicken.
  • Use vegetable, canola, or peanut oil for deep frying. Don't use olive oil - it will burn.
  • Use a candy thermometer to make sure the oil is at the right temperature, 360 to 375 degrees F. It will This way, your chicken will always come out golden brown and crispy.
  • Try not to heavily drench the chicken in sauce. You want to generously coat the chicken, but not swimming in a pool of sauce - it will just get soggy. You can always dip in extra sauce on the side!
  • Storing and make-ahead: Unfortunately, the chicken may turn soggy after refrigeration. An alternative would be to refrigerate the fried chicken WITHOUT sauce and reheat it in the oven at 400 degrees until warmed up - it will be crispy but not as crispy as freshly made.
  • Make ahead: The sauce can be made 1-2 days in advance and refrigerated. Reheat over the stovetop.
 
Substitutions and variations:
  • Chicken breasts: Chicken thighs (boneless, skin removed).
  • Chinese cooking wine (Shaoxing wine): Dry cooking sherry, but Chinese cooking wine highly recommended.
  • Vegetable oil: Canola or peanut oil.
 
Disclaimer: Nutritional values (per serving) are approximates only.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 487kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 11g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 997mg | Potassium: 476mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 35IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 37mg | Iron: 1mg