Better Than Takeout Sesame Chicken
This Sesame Chicken really is better than takeout! With the flavor of the sauce, the tenderness of the chicken and all of those crunchy little seeds makes it simply delicious.
I few weeks ago I shared two Chinese takeout-inspired dishes with you, today I’m back at it! Not only has my orange chicken and sweet and sour chicken been huge hits at our house, but they’ve been exploding on Pinterest too! I love that 🙂
The BEST Sesame Chicken
One of my all-time favorite Chinese “chicken” dishes is sesame chicken. I love the flavor of the sauce, the tenderness of the chicken and all of those crunchy little seeds. It’s similar to General Tso’s chicken but it is sweeter rather than being spicy and it isn’t as sweet as orange chicken – it’s just the best!
But I’ve always been really afraid to make it at home (like most Chinese food), fearing that I’d end up incredibly disappointed & with a sink full of dirty dishes.
After making this recipe I can honestly say there’s no reason not to make it at home. This recipe is so simple and tastes 100x better than takeout!
How to Make Sesame Chicken
First, preheat your oven to 325 degrees, lightly spray a 9×13 inch glass pan, set aside. We bake the chicken after it has been fried to help thicken the sauce and make the chicken extra tender.
Next, make the sauce– whisk together the chicken broth, honey, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, chili paste, garlic powder, and ground ginger. Yes, all of these ingredients are necessary, don’t omit any of them! Set to the side.
Chop your chicken into 1″cubes and then dip into the eggs, then place it into a ziplock bag along with 1 cup of cornstarch (taking care to remove any excess egg). **If you like tempura-style chicken, you can add a little bit of baking powder to the cornstarch to create extra pillowy little chicken nuggets- it’s totally optional.
Place in the chicken (in batches) into the hot vegetable oil (I used my Le Creuset dutch oven) and fry for about 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and place onto a paper towel-lined plate to drain. When all of your chicken has been fried, place it into the prepared baking dish.
Stir the 1 tbsp. of cornstarch and the 1 tbsp. of water together to create a “slurry” and add it to the sauce mixture. Pour over the chicken tossing gently to coat. Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 40-45 minutes, stirring every 15 or so to keep the chicken coated and to prevent sticking.
Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle with sesame seeds. I prefer mine sesame seeds toasted.
Cooking Tips + FAQ
Room temperature ingredients: It’s really important to make sure that both your chicken and eggs are at room temperature. Frying with cold ingredients is not only dangerous but can result in tough stringy meat.
Tapioca flour: Tapioca flour is a great gluten-free alternative and gives a crisp texture when frying. Its a good alternative to all-purpose flour, especially if you’re super into frying.
How to make it healthier? Use low sodium options, use lean meat options, and fry in coconut oil and remember to remove the excess oil on the chicken. Or you can use your air-fryer, but we do not recommend skipping the frying step because that is how you achieve the crispy outer coating we all have come to love!
Will the texture be ruined by the thickening process? The chicken will become tender over this process, so just make sure to fry the chicken well so that it doesn’t get completely soggy during the sauce thickening process.
What to serve with sesame chicken?
We served our chicken up with a side of rice and stir-fried vegetables.
How to Store + Make Ahead
This recipe is best fresh because the longer the chicken sits in the sauce the soggier it gets.
Any leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for 3-4 days. You can reheat in the microwave until fully warmed but it won’t be as crispy because the sauce will have soaked into the chicken at this point.
So I recommend reheating in your oven. Place your chicken in an oven-safe dish and cover with foil and then cook for 10-12 minutes at 325 degrees. Remove the foil for the last 4 minutes to help crisp the chicken!
I do not recommend freezing, but you can freeze raw chicken cubes and combine with the sauce in ziplock bags to freeze and bake later. It won’t have the normal texture but the flavors will still be there. Keep in the freezer for 4-6 months and let it defrost before baking.
The pictures don’t quite do it justice (Chinese food is incredibly difficult to photograph!!!) but that doesn’t mean it isn’t delicious. I hope you’ll give this better than takeout sesame chicken at try, you’re going to love it!!!
For more recipes, check out:
- 1¼ c. low-sodium chicken broth
- 3 tbsp. honey
- 3 tbsp. brown sugar
- 2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
- ¼ c. low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. sesame oil
- ½ tsp. red chili paste
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ tsp. ground ginger
- 1 tbsp. cornstarch or tapioca flour + 1 tbsp. water
- For the chicken:
- 1½ lbs boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, cut into 1" chunks
- 1 c. cornstarch or tapioca flour
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 c. vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp. raw or toasted sesame seeds
- 1 green onion, thinly sliced (optional)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees, lightly spray a 9x13 inch glass pan, set aside.
- In a medium size mixing bowl (or a 2 c. measuring cup), whisk together the chicken broth, honey, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, chili paste, garlic powder and ground ginger, set aside.
- Place the cubes of chicken into a bowl with the whisked eggs, toss the chicken (taking care to let the egg drip off it) into a large ziplock bag full of the cornstarch. Zip and shake until evenly coated.
- Heat vegetable oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven. Working in batches (3-4), add the chicken and fry until golden brown and cooked through, about 1-2 minutes, then transfer to a paper towel lined plate.
- Add the fried chicken to the prepared 9x13 pan. Whisk together a slurry of 1 tbsp. of cornstarch and 1 tbsp. of water, add to the sauce and then pour over the chicken. Place in the oven and bake uncovered for 40-45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so. Remove and sprinkle with sesame seeds, serve immediately. Garnish with slices of green onion if desired.
Recipe source: Life Made Simple