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!
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
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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:
- Honey ginger garlic wings - these wings also have a delicious sticky-sweet sauce that will have you licking your fingers!
- Honey mustard chicken thighs - the crispy skin and the honey mustard glaze is super delicious!
- Instant Pot BBQ pulled chicken - one of the most popular recipes on Babaganosh!
- Instant Pot creamy Buffalo chicken
- Oven baked BBQ chicken
- Creamy sun-dried tomato chicken
- Mozzarella stuffed chicken breast
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!
Easy Bourbon 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
- 4 cloves garlic - minced
- 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 - 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!
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
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.