This bourbon chicken recipe is a remake of the food court classic. The chicken is coated in an irresistible sweet and sticky sauce and is sure to become a family favorite!

I’m all about making my favorite restaurant meals at home. My family loves when I cook chicken scallopini, chicken riggies, beef and broccoli stir fry, homemade egg rolls, and this easy bourbon chicken.

Bourbon chicken in a skillet coated in sauce and topped with green onions.

Bourbon chicken is one of those dishes that always seems to pop up in the mall food courts. It actually originated in New Orleans and is named both for Bourbon Street and for the bourbon in the sauce, even though it has a decidedly Asian flavor. Whatever the origins, it’s totally delicious and super easy to make at home!

Bourbon Chicken Ingredients

To make this recipe, you will need boneless skinless chicken thighs, olive oil, salt, black pepper, garlic, bourbon, brown sugar, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, water, soy sauce, cornstarch and green onions.

How Do You Make Bourbon Chicken?

Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then cook it in a large skillet with a little oil until it is golden brown. Add the garlic to the pan and cook for 30 seconds. While the chicken is cooking, whisk together bourbon, brown sugar, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, water, soy sauce and cornstarch. Pour the sauce mixture over the chicken, bring to a boil and let it simmer for a few minutes until the sauce is thick. Sprinkle with green onions as a garnish, then serve and enjoy.

A pan of bourbon chicken with a serving spoon in it.

Tips For The Perfect Dish

  • Cut your chicken into bite sized pieces to make it easier to eat. I often use kitchen shears to make this job go a little smoother.
  • I recommend using low sodium soy sauce so that you can control the overall salt level of the dish.
  • Be sure not to overcrowd the pan when you sear your chicken. If the chicken pieces are touching, they may steam and you won’t get that great golden brown crust.
  • Bourbon chicken is great when served with rice or noodles and a vegetable. Try my vegetable stir fry for an easy and delicious side dish!
  • Leftovers will stay fresh in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can also put this dish in the freezer for 2 months.

Quick Tip

No chicken thighs on hand? Boneless skinless chicken breasts will also work well.

Sweet and savory chicken served over a bowl of rice.

Recipe FAQs

Does bourbon chicken contain bourbon?

This recipe does call for bourbon, hence the name. The alcohol evaporates as the sauce simmers, but if you prefer not to use alcohol, you can substitute apple juice and it’ll still be delicious. I’ve made it both ways and they’re honestly both great.

What is bourbon chicken sauce made of?

Bourbon chicken sauce is made with bourbon, brown sugar, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, water, soy sauce and cornstarch.

What does bourbon chicken taste like?

Bourbon chicken has a sweet and savory flavor profile. It has sweetness from the brown sugar, a savory flavor from the soy sauce, and a little tang from the vinegar.

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Flavor Variations

This recipe is delicious as written, but you can add other ingredients to customize the flavors to your tastes.

  • Protein: Swap out the chicken thighs for other types of protein such as chicken breast, ground chicken, shrimp, pork tenderloin or flank steak.
  • Vegetables: You can add some veggies to the pan after you cook your chicken and before you add the garlic. Great options include thinly sliced carrots, cauliflower, broccoli florets, zucchini or mushrooms.
  • Flavorings: Feel free to add other ingredients to the sauce to amp up the flavor. Some great options include ginger, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds or a bit of toasted sesame oil.

My kids even love this chicken, there’s just something about that sweet and sticky sauce that’s totally irresistible!

More Great Chicken Recipes

Bourbon Chicken Video

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Please leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating in the recipe card below & a review in the comments section further down the page.

4.79 from 37 votes

Bourbon Chicken

AuthorSara Welch
This bourbon chicken recipe is a remake of the food court classic. The chicken is coated in an irresistible sweet and sticky sauce and is sure to become a family favorite!
This bourbon chicken recipe is a remake of the food court classic. The chicken is coated in an irresistible sweet and sticky sauce and is sure to become a family favorite!
Time
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine Asian
Serves 5

Ingredients 

  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons sliced green onions optional

Instructions 

  • Heat the oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Place the chicken in the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cooked through. Add the garlic to the pan and cook for 30 seconds.
  • While the chicken is cooking. In a medium bowl whisk together the bourbon, brown sugar, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, water, soy sauce and cornstarch.
  • Pour the sauce mixture over the chicken and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 3-5 minutes or until sauce has thickened.
  • Sprinkle with green onions and serve immediately, over rice if desired.

Notes

  1. Cut your chicken into bite sized pieces to make it easier to eat. I often use kitchen shears to make this job go a little smoother.
  2. Be sure not to overcrowd the pan when you sear your chicken. If the chicken pieces are touching, they may steam and you won’t get that great golden brown crust.
  3. Apple juice can be substituted for the bourbon. 

Nutrition

Calories: 332kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 172mg | Sodium: 787mg | Potassium: 508mg | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 75IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 1.9mg

Hello! I’m Sara!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Reminds me of being a teenager at the mall!!! I love it. This dish was just as good as I remember. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  2. 5 stars
    This was so delicious – the sauce was amazing! I am going to use the sauce for an all veggie version as well

  3. 5 stars
    This Bourbon Chicken recipe is the perfect blend of sweet and savory flavors. The brown sugar bourbon sauce is amazing! Another great recipe from Dinner at the Zoo.

  4. 5 stars
    Excellent. Just made it again tonight. I make the sauce recipe double, so it it saucy, not sticky. Either way, it gets eaten up quickly. I served with fried rice.

  5. 5 stars
    Fantastic! Delicious! This was a very simple but delicious recipe. I can see many addition if wanted but we loved it just the way it was and it came together quickly.

    Thank you!
    Cheryl

  6. 5 stars
    Fantastic! Made it with apple juice instead of bourbon. My 8-year-old said it was better than China Max (the place at the mall that she likes)!! I have to agree! I served it on white rice, which was great, but next time I’ll do fried rice instead, and maybe egg rolls. Either way, this recipe is a KEEPER!!

  7. 5 stars
    Made this earlier, really easy recipe and tasty, didn’t have bourbon so used whisky rye. Served over white rice.

  8. 5 stars
    Delicious! Will definitely make again! I substituted used chicken breasts, apple juice and wine. Thought I had apple cider vinegar but didn’t so I used white wine. Thank you for the recipe!

  9. I made this recently and am going to make it again for dinner. The only problem I have is cleaning the chicken thighs. They have SO much fat and other undesirable gristle and takes me forever to cut into pieces that we like. (NO FAT). I’m tempted to use chicken breasts next time, but unsure if they will fall apart once cooked. The thighs stay together and I love the cooked texture. Any ideas how to clean and cut up boneless, skinless chicken thighs easily???

    1. You can use breasts if you prefer, they won’t fall apart. I use kitchen shears to cut the fat away from the chicken!

  10. I made this for dinner and my wife and I ate it up. She orders this at restaurants and likes this one the same.

  11. 5 stars
    Loved it. Thanks for the great recipe. Used vegetable broth instead of water as I needed to use it up. Just the right seasoning. Will definitely make again.

  12. Hi Sara can I make this dish with chicken breast instead and also your sweet n sour with chick breasts? Thank you

  13. 5 stars
    Delicious! Just made this today and made fried rice to serve it on. I used apple juice and the sweetness was just right. Our food court still has this dish, so it was very nice to replicate it at home, too! Thank you.

  14. I have just made this chicken, I found it a little too sweet for my liking, but loved how easy it was to make so will do it again with less brown sugar.

  15. I was going to make this for a wedding buffet. have you ever made it in advance and frozen it? Or how long can it stay in the fridge?

    1. It can stay in the fridge for up to 3 days before you plan to serve it! I think it would be fine to freeze too, although the sauce will be thinner upon thawing so you may need to add some cornstarch to thicken it up a bit.

  16. Hi, I’ve been wanting to make this dish for some time. Amazing!! The bourbon was a great accent! This dish is easy and Delicious. Will be making this often. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

  17. 5 stars
    First time making Bourbon Chicken. It was amazing. I didn’t have bourbon or apple juice. I used unsweetened applesauce instead. Also used breasts instead of thighs. Will definitely be making this again. Thank you for sharing the recipe.