My Sticky Chicken recipe is an easy way to enjoy complex Asian flavors right at home. Its crisp, sticky exterior surrounds juicy meat that’s been thoroughly flavored and tenderized with a sweet, tangy marinade. While it takes just under 2 hours to make, it’s worth every moment of preparation!
Sticky honey chicken is basted and glazed in a sweet and salty combination of honey, soy sauce, sesame oil, and vegetable oil. This completely coats the chicken and traps all of the moisture inside, leaving you with tremendously juicy and tender meat.
While you do need at least an hour for the marinade to work its magic, it can actually sit overnight. It’s great for night-before or morning-of prep, cutting your meal time preparation time in half.
Some notable ingredients that you may not have laying around are dry sherry and Chinese Five Spice. Try out my own spice blend for an inexpensive, natural option.
I love to serve this dish with fried or plain white rice: it soaks up all of the juices and makes each grain extra delicious! A fresh, crisp cucumber salad is an excellent choice of side dish as well.
Cuisine Asian / Chinese
oven roasted / baked
Difficulty: Easy 🥄
Marinated bone-in chicken pieces are basted with a sticky honey glaze while cooking in the oven. It’s tender, sticky chicken at its best!
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Chicken – Bone-in legs and thighs, or one or the other, are my preferred cuts to prepare sticky honey chicken. Other cuts are fine to use, but cooking time will vary. Keep an eye on the internal temperature and don’t overcook.
- Marinade – The meat will be flavored and tenderized in a mixture of:
- Soy Sauce – You generally want to use light soy sauce, though dark can be used for a deeper flavor and color.
- Dry Sherry – A very crispy and tangy cooking wine. Instead of replacing with a different wine, use white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar as substitutes if necessary.
- Ginger Paste – You can buy this ingredient already prepared, or make your own with fresh peeled ginger and some oil.
- Brown Sugar – A sugar with a deep, molasses-like sweetness.
- Chinese Five Spice – 5 iconic Asian spices blended together into one ingredient. I always prefer making it at home to avoid unnecessary additives and preservatives.
- Basting Sauce – The meat will be basted with a sweet, sticky, and savory mix of soy sauce, honey, vegetable oil, and sesame oil.
- Garnish – Sesame seeds and chopped cilantro are sprinkled on top for decoration, but also for texture and a fresh flavor.
HOW TO MAKE STICKY CHICKEN
1. Mix the Marinade. Add the soy sauce, sherry, ginger paste, brown sugar, and Chinese five spice to a bowl and whisk together until well combined.
2. Marinate. Put the meat and marinade into a large baggie and close. Massage the marinade into the meat, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
3. Mix the Basting Sauce. Meanwhile, combine the soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, and vegetable oil for the basting sauce in a separate bowl. Let sit while the meat marinates.
4. Prepare to Roast. Preheat the oven to 375°F and prepare a baking dish lined with foil by spraying lightly with cooking oil. Lay the marinated chicken in the dish and top with some of the basting sauce. A pastry brush is an excellent tool for this.
5. Bake. Slide the dish into the oven and bake for 40 minutes. Baste the meat every 10 minutes or so for maximum moisture and flavor. Once the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, remove from the oven.
6. Let Rest & Serve. Take some of the juice from the pan and spoon over the sticky honey chicken. Sprinkle sesame seeds and cilantro on top, then serve after resting for at least 10 minutes.
Important notes about using marinades
- How long to marinate chicken
Because the marinade for sticky chicken is only being used to add flavor, it isn’t necessary to marinate for longer than 1-4 hours. In fact, unlike beef, the acidic ingredients in a marinade start to break down the proteins in poultry after a couple of hours.
Some people prefer to marinate meats overnight, and you are welcome to do so. However, keep in mind that the longer you leave chicken exposed to the acidic marinade, the more likely it is to affect the texture and consistency of the baked honey sesame chicken.
Why you should NEVER reuse meat marinades
All meat, poultry and seafood contain harmful bacteria that can make you very sick. The bacteria is cooked out, but it remains in the marinade. For this reason, always discard marinade immediately after you remove the uncooked food.
What is sticky chicken made of?
This baked chicken dish is coated in a variety of Asian sauces and spices, including honey, soy sauce, dry sherry, and ginger. The “stickiness” comes from regular basting with a honey and soy sauce based sauce.
How do you cook sticky chicken?
It’s a slow roasting process that takes about 40 minutes, with regular basting at certain intervals in the process.
It starts, however, with a marinade that takes an additional hour. This step is crucial, as it adds moisture and flavor to the meat and tenderizes it all the while. You can marinate for up to 24 hours for an even stronger flavor!
Why is my sticky chicken not sticky?
Certain honeys are stickier than others. If you’re using a raw, organic honey, it likely doesn’t have the same clingy “stickiness” that many mass produced versions have.
It’s also possible that you did not baste often enough during the baking process. Basting regularly adds multiple layers of the honey sauce baked onto the meat, which is what makes it sticky.
This post, originally published on Silk Road Recipes November, 2021, was updated with new content, photos and/or video in June, 2022.
- 2 lbs bone-in chicken legs and thighs (See Note 1)
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- cilantro leaves chopped
- Preheat an oven to 375°F.
- Line 13×9” baking dish or rimmed baking pan with foil, or use a baking stone. Lightly coat with cooking spray or oil.
- In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup soy sauce, plus sherry, ginger paste, brown sugar and Chinese five spice. Set aside.
- Place chicken and marinade in a covered container or zip top storage bag. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
- In another small bowl, whisk together remaining 1/4 cup soy sauce, plus honey and both oils. Set aside.
- Arrange chicken in baking dish or on rimmed baking sheet; Use a pastry brush to baste chicken pieces with honey basting sauce.
- Baked chicken in preheated oven for 40 minutes, basting a couple of times during roasting (every 10 minutes, optional). The chicken will become sticky and tender. Remove from oven when golden brown and fully cooked through (internal temp of 165°F).
- Serve topped with any pan juices from baking pan, sesame seeds and chopped cilantro. (See Note 2)
- If desired, use boneless chicken thighs and reduce cooking time by 10 minutes.
- To prevent risk of serious illness from bacteria in uncooked chicken, never reuse or serve leftover chicken marinade or basting sauce.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.