Level up a take-out favorite by making this crispy sesame chicken in easy sticky sauce at home. Add rice or noodles for a delicious family dinner.
What is sesame chicken
Sesame chicken is a dish very popular in the United States, often found in Chinese restaurants. Sesame chicken consists of chicken breast coated in egg and cornstarch before frying until golden and crisp. The crispy chicken is then coated in a sticky sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds. It’s delicious served with noodles or rice.
Full recipe + amounts can be found in the recipe card below.
- Chicken. I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts but boneless thighs will also work.
- Soy sauce. Use Tamari or coconut aminos if required.
- Cornstarch / Cornflour.
- Rice vinegar / Lemon juice.
- Sesame oil.
- Sesame seeds.
- Brown sugar.
- Oil, for frying. I like frying in canola oil but you can use any neutral vegetable oil.
How to make sesame chicken
- Prepare the chicken: Slice the chicken into bite-size cubes and place in a large bowl. Add the egg and soy sauce then stir, make sure the chicken is well coated. I do this step by hand to really massage the chicken. Allow to stand for a few minutes while you prepare the sauce.
- Make the sauce: Heat canola or vegetable oil in a large pan then add the garlic. Cook for a few seconds then add the soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, vinegar and water. Bring to a simmer then stir in the cornstarch slurry and reduce the heat. Simmer for a few minutes until the sauce is smooth and has thickened slightly. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Coat and fry the chicken: Heat enough oil to fry the chicken in a deep pan or pot. Set a wire rack inside a sheetpan (you’ll be placing the chicken on the wire rack once it comes out of the oil). Add the flour and cornstarch to a bowl and mix well. Add the chicken to the flour mix, coating each piece well. Carefully add to the hot oil in batches and fry for 4-5 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and allow to drain on the wire rack while you continue to fry the remaining the chicken.
- Combine and serve: Place the pan with the sauce over high heat then add the chicken. Scatter over the sesame seeds and toss to coat the chicken in the sauce. Serve hot over noodles or rice.
Can I make it ahead?
The chicken can be marinated in the egg and soy and kept in the fridge for up to a day in advance. Once fried, the chicken won’t stay crispy for very long, although the taste will still be delicious. If you want to make this an hour or so ahead, fry the chicken and keep it warm in the oven. Only toss in the sauce before serving. The sauce can be made and kept in the fridge for up to 5 days.
How to reheat sesame chicken
Reheat in a large pan set over medium-high heat until the chicken is hot throughout. You might need to add a splash of water to allow the sauce to thin out a little after being chilled.
Better than take out recipes
- Honey soy crispy beef and noodles
- General Tso’s chicken
- Easy rotisserie chicken fried rice
- Butter chicken curry
Crispy sesame chicken
For the chicken
- 500 g (1lb) chicken breasts cubed into bite-size pieces
- 1 egg beaten
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 cup flour
- ½ cup cornstarch / cornflour
- oil for frying
For the sauce
- 1 tbsp canola / vegetable oil
- 3 garlic cloves crushed
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 1/3 cup water
- ¼ cup brown sugar You could add up to one third cup sugar if you prefer the sauce to be sweeter.
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar / lemon juice
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp cornstarch / cornflour mixed with 2 tbsp water
- Place the chicken in a bowl then add the egg and soy sauce. Massage the egg and soy into the chicken well then allow to sit for a few minutes while you make the sauce.
- To make the sauce, heat the oil in a large pan then cook for garlic for 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Pour in the soy sauce, water, sugar, vinegar and sesame oil. Bring to a simmer then pour in the cornstarch slurry. Reduce the heat then simmer until the sauce is thick and glossy. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Heat enough oil to fry the chicken in a deep pan or pot. Place a wire rack over a sheetpan.
- Combine the flour and cornstarch in a separate bowl then coat the chicken in the flour mixture, making sure each piece is completely covered.
- Carefully add the chicken to the hot oil, cooking in batches to avoid over-crowding the pan, until the chicken is golden brown and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and allow to drain on the wire rack while you cook the remaining chicken.
- Place the pan with the sauce back on the heat and bring to a simmer. Add the fried chicken and sesame seeds to the pan then toss to coat the chicken in the sauce. Season to taste with more soy, vinegar or sesame oil as necessary then serve over rice or noodles.