This Chinese-inspired honey chicken recipe is sure to be an instant favorite. We start by hand battering and pan frying tender chicken pieces to a perfect, golden brown crisp. The chicken is then drenched in mouthwatering honey sauce that is sweet, tangy, savory, and oh-so delicious. Kids LOVE this one!
Sweet, sticky, and savory, today’s recipe for honey chicken highlights some of my favorite parts of Chinese cuisine. Hot and crispy bites of chicken meet ooey-gooey honey sauce and toppings for a dynamite flavor combination. While the minced red chili is optional, I highly recommend it. Just a small dash of heat really brings the other flavors in the dish to life. This dish is bursting with so much flavor, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to make!
If you are anything like me, once you realize how easily you can make homemade Asian recipes, you won’t want to stop. And you shouldn’t! Go ahead and try out some of my other recipes like Honey Garlic Shrimp, Sticky Asian Short Ribs, or Hunan Chicken.
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Chicken - Boneless, skinless chicken breast is the best option for this recipe, but thighs will work too.
- Eggs - Helps the batter stick to the chicken.
- Flour - Seals in moisture while adding a crunchy texture to the chicken. All purpose flour is a great choice.
- Cornstarch - Adds a special bit of crunch to the batter and thickens the sauce.
- Salt & Pepper - Our unconditional companions! This dynamic duo enhances the flavor of the batter. I use white pepper here.
- Oil - Delicate, nutty sesame oil is the best choice for the sauce. When frying the chicken, use vegetable oil.
- Toppings - Green onions, red chili, and sesame seeds add color, texture, and fresh flavor to the dish.
- Honey - Adds sweetness and forms the base of the honey sauce.
- Soy Sauce - Contributes salty, savory, and umami tones.
- Vinegar - I went with apple cider vinegar for its acidity, brightness, and tang. White vinegar, red wine vinegar, or lemon juice will also work.
HOW TO MAKE HONEY CHICKEN
1. Prepare Chicken. Cut the chicken into one inch cubes. Add to a bowl with the beaten eggs. Toss to coat and set aside.
2. Combine Dry Ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine and whisk together the cornstarch, flour, salt, and pepper.
3. Make the Sauce. Add the honey, soy sauce, vinegar, 2 tablespoons of water and sesame oil to a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Whisk together 1 tablespoon of water with cornstarch and mix it into the boiling honey mixture. Reduce heat to medium and cook until sauce has thickened. Turn off heat.
4. Heat the Oil. Place 2-3 inches of oil in a Dutch oven or deep skillet. Heat to 350°F over medium heat.
5. Bread the Chicken. Meanwhile, use a sieve to drain the egg and chicken mixture and discard the egg. You can add the chicken pieces right in the bowl with the dry ingredients, tossing to coat evenly. Alternatively, you can add the dry ingredients to a resealable bag, throw in your chicken pieces, and shake to coat. I find the bowl method leaves less of a mess but both work. Shake off excess flour before frying.
6. Fry the Chicken. Working in several batches, fry the chicken pieces in the hot oil for about 5 minutes or until light golden brown, and be sure to turn while cooking. Transfer cooked pieces to a wire rack or paper towel-lined plate to drain, then continue with the rest of the chicken.
7. Add the Sauce. Add the fried chicken pieces to a large bowl and carefully pour the honey sauce all over. Toss well with a spatula before transferring to a serving tray. Top with green onion, sesame seeds, and red chili (optional), then serve with a steaming bowl of rice. Enjoy!
What is the Secret to Moist Chicken?
The chicken in this recipe stays moist and succulent thanks to being bathed in eggs and dredged in a dry mixture of cornstarch and flour. This process seals in the moisture, keeping the chicken delightfully tender.
You can get melt-in-your-mouth tender chicken without the breading too. It’s a simple technique used by Chinese chefs known as velveting. It involves soaking meat in cornstarch, baking soda, egg white, or a combination of ingredients before stir frying.
Why is My Honey Chicken Sauce Not Thickening?
Patience is the key! First, ensure that you have added the cornstarch and water slurry to the sauce and mixed well. After that, low and slow is the key. Reduce heat until the sauce is at a gentle simmer and continue simmering until enough liquid has evaporated.
What Goes With Honey Chicken?
You can enjoy this recipe alone as an appetizer or serve it with a steaming batch of white rice to make a meal. It also pairs wonderfully with quinoa, rice noodles, or any of your favorite vegetables — broccoli, zucchini, carrots or mushrooms are all great choices. When I’m looking for that Chinese restaurant experience, I like to make my Crab Rangoon to start the meal off right!
- 1 ½ lbs boneless skinless chicken breast
- 2 eggs beaten
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- 2 cups oil vegetable oil
- 4 green onions thinly sliced
- 1 red chili minced (optional)
- sesame seeds
- ½ cup honey
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon water
- Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces and toss with beaten eggs in bowl. Set aside.
- In another bowl whisk together the flour, cornstarch, salt and white pepper.
- In a small saucepan add the honey, soy sauce, vinegar, 2 tablespoons water and sesame oil. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Mix cornstarch with 1 tablespoon water and whisk into boiling honey sauce. Turn heat to medium and cook until thickened. Turn off the heat.
- Heat 2-3 inches of oil in deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat to 350°F.
- Drain chicken and egg in sieve and discard egg. Transfer dry ingredients to a sealable bag and add drained chicken pieces. Seal and toss to coat chicken evenly. Otherwise, toss drained chicken pieces in dry ingredient bowl (I find it's less of a mess tossing in the bag) to coat chicken.
- Fry chicken in several batches. Shake excess flour mixture from chicken pieces and fry in hot oil for 5 minutes, turning to cook until light golden.
- Drain chicken on paper towel lined baking sheet (with wire rack) and continue cooking remaining chicken in batches.
- Transfer crispy chicken pieces to a large bowl, pour honey sauce over and toss with rubber spatula to coat evenly. Transfer to serving platter and top with green onion, red chili (optional) and sesame seeds. Serve with steamed rice.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.