Skip to Content

Easy Bourbon Chicken

If you love a good chicken stir fry, you're going to LOVE this easy restaurant quality Bourbon Chicken! This recipe features crispy chicken breast covered in a delightfully sticky-sweet Bourbon sauce and is absolutely addicting! Serve over rice or with steamed or stir-fried veggies.

Make sure to read the recipe and blog post for tips to make this bourbon-free and kid-friendly!

And if this recipe sounds good to you, be sure to also check out this Air Fryer Sesame Chicken.

bourbon chicken over a bed of rice on a plate

Food court bourbon chicken

You're going to LOVE this Bourbon Chicken recipe if you love:

  • Quick, easy stir fries
  • Bourbon chicken from the food court or your favorite Chinese takeout place
  • Food fusions that are absolutely delicious (hello tasty Bourbon sauce with hints of Asian stir fry flavors!)
  • Flavorful sticky-sweet, just-slightly-spicy Asian bourbon sauce that stick to the chicken and make you go back for seconds

This chicken turns out so good I was literally eating it off the pan and COULD. NOT. STOP! My husband had to intervene and physically separate me from the chicken.

Related recipe: Air Fryer Orange Chicken

chop sticks picking up piece of bourbon chicken

Just look at the gorgeous bite of Bourbon chicken!


Related recipe: Blackberry Bourbon Jam

Ingredients for bourbon chicken

This recipe has a long list of ingredients, but don't be scared off! Once you have everything ready it comes together in under 25 minutes. Here's what you need:

  • 3 pounds chicken breasts
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves garlic 
  • 1 cup chicken broth (use low-sodium if you prefer less salt)
  • ⅔ cup soy sauce (use low-sodium if you prefer less salt)
  • ⅓ cup apple juice
  • ⅓ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup bourbon (use less if you're not sure you want all that bourbon flavor! Or use more (up to ⅓ cup) if you like 🙂 )
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Whoo boy! It sounds like a lot but it's really not so bad. And it's SO WORTH IT! If you're looking for a simpler boozy chicken recipe, try this honey rum chicken!

ingredients for bourbon chicken measured out in bowls

Related recipe: Hot Honey Chicken

How to make bourbon chicken

This bourbon chicken recipe is super easy and has two main steps: browning the chicken and simmering the sauce.

Step 1. Start by chopping your chicken breasts into 1-inch pieces and coating them in 4 tablespoons of cornstarch tossed with salt and pepper. The cornstarch will help make the chicken crispy and will help thicken the bourbon sauce.

chicken breast pieces tossed with cornstarch and seasonings

Step 2. Brown the cornstarch-covered chicken breast pieces on both sides in a skillet with oil. You might need to do this in two batches if you don't have a large skillet. Make sure your oil is hot to get a nice golden-brown coating instead of simply steaming the chicken!

cornstarch coated chicken pieces browned in a pan

By the way, I use the same technique of tossing chicken in cornstarch and pan-frying it, then combining it with the sauce in this sweet and spicy Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry recipe.

Step 3. Make the Bourbon Sauce! Add the minced garlic to the skillet and sauté for about 30 seconds. Then add the rest of the ingredients and whisk in the cornstarch to make sure no clumps remain. Bring the mixture to a light boil, carefully add the chicken back in, and let the sauce simmer for about 10 minutes until it reduces in half.

chicken breast simmering in bourbon sauce

Optional step: If you want to make a thicker sauce, almost like a bourbon chicken glaze, you can whisk an additional ½ - 1 tablespoon cornstarch with water and add it to the pot, to really thicken the sauce. Depending on how long you thicken it, it will turn almost into a BBQ bourbon sauce!

DONE! Serve over rice and enjoy!

pan of bourbon chicken with a bowl of rice on the side

All that gorgeous Bourbon sauce is perfect for spooning over rice!

Use up leftover bourbon: Bourbon Pecan Pie Bites

Questions about this recipe? I got answers!

What kind of bourbon to use for the sauce?

I've only used Jim Bean Bourbon for this recipe, I haven't tried it with others. If you try another one, let me know in a comment how it turned out!! 

I imagine that any whisky or bourbon would work just fine in this recipe because bourbon is just one of the many flavors in this bourbon sauce and it gets cooked down a lot, so you will end up with a similar tasting sauce at the end whether you use a super high quality bourbon or a cheap bottle of whiskey.  Now if you want to take a few sips of bourbon while cooking, that's a whole other story 😉

Use up that bottle of bourbon in this recipe: Bourbon Milkshake with Bourbon Caramel Sauce

Want to make this without bourbon?

For a kid-friendly bourbon chicken sauce, just skip the bourbon and use more apple juice and a splash of Worcestershire sauce instead! You might be able to cut down on the sugar in this case because (1) you're adding a little extra apple juice and (2) you don't need as much sugar to balance the bourbon flavor.

Do I need to use that much sugar?

This sauce really comes out AMAZING because of its sticky-sweet flavor and texture, and the brown sugar really helps. Reducing the sugar can work but will result in a less flavorful sauce.

You can try substituting half of the brown sugar with honey if you like!

More sticky saucy dishes to try: Baked Beans with Ground Beef

Is this recipe gluten-free?

Most bourbons are considered gluten-free because of the distillation process, however some can still cause trouble for people who cannot tolerate gluten (or alcohol!). If you're cooking for someone who is gluten-free, definitely check with them whether they are comfortable with bourbon!

And make sure to use gluten-free soy sauce instead of regular soy sauce!

Feel free to leave a comment or email me if you have any other questions about this recipe!

Other delicious chicken recipes you will love:

If you enjoyed this recipe, let me know with a comment and a star rating below. And don't forget to share it on Facebook and save it on Pinterest for later!

pinnable image for bourbon chicken recipe

bourbon chicken over a bed of rice on a plate
Print Recipe
4.74 from 120 votes

Easy Bourbon Chicken

This easy restaurant-quality Bourbon Chicken recipe is absolutely addicting, thanks to a sticky sweet Bourbon sauce with lots of flavor! Read the notes for a kid-friendly version without bourbon.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8
Author: Kate
Cost: $1.50 per serving


For the chicken:
  • 3 pounds chicken breasts - (boneless and skinless, chopped into 1-inch pieces)
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch - (plus ½ - 1 tablespoon extra, see notes)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil - or use sesame oil for more flavor
For the sauce:
  • 4 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth - (use low-sodium if you prefer less salt)
  • cup soy sauce - (use low-sodium if you prefer less salt)
  • cup apple juice
  • cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup bourbon - see notes for a kid-friendly version
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar - or less, to taste
  • 1 cup brown sugar - dark or light
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes - optional, or use more for a spicy sauce!

Special equipment


  • In a medium bowl, mix together 4 tablespoons cornstarch with ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Add the diced chicken and toss well to completely coat the chicken pieces.
    chicken breast pieces tossed with cornstarch and seasonings
  • In a large skillet or pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the coated chicken pieces and cook on one side without stirring for 3 minutes. Turn each piece of chicken and cook for an additional 3 minutes. The chicken does not have to be fully cooked here, just browned. Remove the browned cooked chicken from the skillet and set aside. You might need to do this in two batches to not crowd the chicken!
    cornstarch coated chicken pieces browned in a pan
  • Add the minced garlic to the skillet and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients (chicken broth through red pepper flakes). Stir well and bring the mixture to a gentle boil over medium heat.
    chicken breast simmering in bourbon sauce
  • Reduce the heat to low and add the chicken back to the sauce. Simmer for about 10 minutes until the sauce is reduced by half. Serve the bourbon chicken hot over steamed rice, or go on to the next step if you prefer to thicken the sauce
    pan of bourbon chicken with a bowl of rice on the side
  • Optional step: Combine ½ - 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 1-2 tablespoons of cold water in a small bowl or cup, then stir into the sauce to thicken, let it simmer for another 2 minutes, then remove from heat.


  • If you prefer a thicker, stickier sauce that really sticks to the chicken, you will need about ½ - 1 tablespoon extra cornstarch - just follow the instructions in the last step!
  • If you want a sweeter, less tangier bourbon chicken, use 1 tablespoon vinegar at first, and add more to taste later.
  • For a kid-friendly bourbon chicken, omit the bourbon, or add more chicken broth or apple juice instead.
  • This recipe has a lot of ingredients but you can get away with just a ¼ cup and a ½ cup measuring cup and measure all the ingredients into those cups! You can pre-measure all the ingredients for the sauce into a large bowl and add it all at once in step 3!
  • The nutrition facts are estimated assuming 8 servings and not including rice.


Calories: 393kcal (20%) | Carbohydrates: 37g (12%) | Protein: 38g (76%) | Fat: 8g (12%) | Saturated Fat: 4g (20%) | Cholesterol: 109mg (36%) | Sodium: 1560mg (65%) | Potassium: 766mg (22%) | Fiber: 1g (4%) | Sugar: 31g (34%) | Vitamin A: 102IU (2%) | Vitamin C: 3mg (4%) | Calcium: 38mg (4%) | Iron: 1mg (6%)

The nutritional information displayed is an estimate and not to be used as dietary or nutritional advice. Consult a nutritionist or dietician for nutritional info based on the exact ingredients you use.

Comments or questions about the recipe?
Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Monday 15th of April 2024

Made this last night. It was delicious. I will definitely make this again. I served it over Jasmine rice with steamed broccoli, carrots & snow peas.


Wednesday 27th of March 2024

Was excellent and will be making it again.


Wednesday 20th of March 2024

I could just drink the sauce. This is great.


Sunday 28th of January 2024

This recipe was amazing! My husband and 3 boys, 5, 7 and 9 all enjoyed it and had seconds! I made it with chicken fried rice! I thought there would be left overs but it was basically gone in one day!


Friday 12th of January 2024

Delicious. I’m actually cooking this right now for the second time. The first time I made it we ate it so fast and there were no leftovers and everyone was upset lol. So tonight I’m doubling the recipe! The first time I made it I had all the ingredients except the ketchup so I just omitted it and we literally didn’t miss it cuz it was so delicious and I’m actually not adding it tonight either… other then that and also only using half a cup of sugar instead of a whole cup, I followed the recipe as written. Try it you won’t regret it!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.