Bourbon Chicken is a rich and flavorful dish made with juicy chicken thigh meat and an amazing bourbon sauce. This sauce is sweet and spicy, it’s bursting with flavor from bourbon, brown sugar, apple juice, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and a few more tasty ingredients. Serve it over rice or vegetables and it will be an instant dinner hit.
WHAT IS BOURBON CHICKEN?
Delicious! It is a delicious chicken dish, is what it is. But really, Bourbon Chicken is a very popular dish found on the menu in many mall food courts across United States. This popular chicken dish was named after the main ingredients in the sauce, which is bourbon.
It doesn’t have any Chinese cuisine origin and I’m not sure how much Cajun origin it actually has. Although some say that it’s named for Bourbon Street, in Louisiana. Perhaps because it’s often served in a mall restaurants called Cajun Café. Alter asking a few of my friends from Louisiana, they’ve never actually heard of this dish being in Cajun cuisine.
Ultimately, my conclusion about the origin of this dish came down to the main ingredient of the sauce. Bourbon does give it a unique and distinct taste.
The sauce is made of more than just bourbon though. There are a lot of complimentary flavors like soy sauce, apple juice, vinegar, garlic, fresh ginger, red pepper flakes, and brown sugar for sweetness.
DOES THIS DISH HAVE ALCOHOL?
Now, of course this dish has alcohol, it’s made with bourbon. If you don’t have bourbon, the closest thing you can use to substitute it is another type of whiskey.
If you want to substitute alcohol completely, you can increase the amount of apple juice or use grape juice. Also, add a little extra sherry vinegar (instead of apple cider vinegar). The flavor of the sauce will not be the same and it won’t be as strong, but it will still be tasty.
IS BOURBON CHICKEN GLUTEN FREE?
Yes! This chicken recipe gluten free as long as you use gluten free soy sauce and make sure that the bourbon you are using is one of the gluten free ones.
Many bourbon brands claim that they are gluten free due to the distillation process but so may still cause a reaction. So make sure you are using the brand that you are good with.
HOW TO MAKE BOURBON CHICKEN
To make the chicken tender and also have a little crispiness to it, you will want to dredge the chicken pieces in cornstarch and sear it before mixing it with sauce.
Cut chicken thighs into small pieces (cut off as much excess fat as possible in the process) and put them into a large zip-lock bag. Add cornstarch, close the bag and give it some good shaking to make sure that all the chicken is coated evenly.
Preheat a large cooking pan first and add peanut oil. Add chicken and sear it on all the sides until almost done. Take chicken out and set is aside.
Whisk all ingredients for the sauce together in a bowl while chicken is cooking. After you take out the chicken, stir the sauce and add it to the same pan where the chicken cooked.
Slowly stir and let the sauce simmer and thicken. Once it’s thickened, add chicken back in and let it finish cooking together with sauce.
Finish the dish off with some diced scallions.
HOW TO SERVE BOURBON CHICKEN
The best way to serve this chicken dish is over rice or vegetables. You can roast the vegetables in the oven or sauté in another pan. Rice and vegetables are just wonderful when coated with this bourbon sauce.
If you want to go a little lighter than rice, use quinoa or cauliflower rice.
SOME MORE DELICIOUS CHICKEN RECIPES
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Bourbon Chicken is a rich and flavorful dish made with juicy chicken thigh meat and an amazing bourbon sauce. It's perfect over rice or vegetables.
- 2 lbs chicken thigh meat
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- 3 tbsp peanut oil or vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup bourbon
- 1/2 cup apple juice
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2/3 cup soy sauce
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 4 large garlic cloves
- 1 tsp shaved fresh ginger
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes more or less to adjust the heat
- 2 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
Combine all ingredients for the sauce in a mixing bowl, whisk well, and set aside.
Cut chicken thighs into small pieces and cut off as much excess fat as possible in the process.
Put cut chicken into a large zip-lock bag. Add cornstarch, close the bag and give it some good shaking to make sure that all the chicken is coated evenly.
Preheat a large cooking pan first and add oil. Add dredged chicken and sear it on all the sides until almost done. Take chicken out and set is aside.
Stir the sauce again and add it to the same pan where the chicken was cooked.
Slowly stir and let the sauce simmer and thicken. Once it’s thickened, add chicken back in, lower the heat, and let it finish cooking together with sauce.
Finish the dish off with some diced scallions.
Serve over rice or simple roasted/sauteed vegetables.
All images and text ©Lyubov Brooke for ©Will Cook For Smiles. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If using my posts in collections and features, please link back to this post for the recipe. Disclaimer: Nutrition information shown is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate as most ingredients and brands have a slight variation.
Originally published on Will Cook For Smiles on September 5th, 2011. Updated February 27th, 2020.