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 🙂

Better Than Takeout Sesame Chicken

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

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.

Better Than Takeout Sesame Chicken

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. 

Sesame chicken recipe

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:

  • Mongolian Beef Stir-Fry
  • Better Than Takeout Cashew Chicken
  • Sticky Asian Meatballs
  •  Szechuan Beef
    Better Than Takeout Sesame Chicken

    Better Than Takeout Sesame Chicken Recipe

    There's no need to order out! This better than takeout sesame chicken is ready to go in a little over an hour!
    4.91 from 10 votes
    Pin Rate
    Course: Main Course
    Cuisine: Chinese
    Prep Time: 15 mins
    Cook Time: 50 mins
    Total Time: 1 hr 5 mins
    Servings: 4 servings
    Calories: 647kcal
    Print Recipe

    Ingredients

    • 1 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
    • 3 tbsp honey
    • 3 tbsp brown sugar
    • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
    • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
    • 1 tbsp sesame oil
    • 1/2 tsp red chili paste
    • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/4 cup ground ginger
    • 1 tbsp cornstarch + 1 tbsp water - or tapioca flour
    For the Chicken
    • 1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts - cut into 1" chunks
    • 1 cup cornstarch - or tapioca flour
    • 2 large eggs - lightly beaten
    • 2 cup vegetable oil
    Garnish
    • 1 tbsp raw or toasted sesame seeds
    • 1 green onion - thinly sliced (optional)

    Instructions

    • 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.

    Notes

    -This dish is best baked to help develop the flavor of the sauce, to thicken it and to make the chicken nice and tender. If you're in a time crunch, you can fry the chicken and heat the sauce (with the cornstarch and water) in a small saucepan until thick, then pour over the chicken and eat immediately.

    Nutrition

    Serving: 4g | Calories: 647kcal | Carbohydrates: 67g | Protein: 43g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 191mg | Sodium: 793mg | Potassium: 968mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 200IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 70mg | Iron: 5mg

    Like this Recipe?

    Pin it now!

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About the Author

Natalie

Wife, mother, baker and photographer. Recipe developer & author of Life Made Simple. A self-professed peanut butter lover and fond of anything that involves pumpkin, cookie dough, or sprinkles

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Comments:

  1. Natalie, this looks delish! I pinned your orange chicken recipe the other day and have been meaning to try it. Adding this one on the list too!

  2. Mmm this looks so delicious! I’ve never tried homemade sesame chicken, but now I need to! (PS. What widget do you use for your related posts?)

  3. Whoa!!! All I can say is, wow! Made this tonight, and it made a lot I thought when putting it in the oven. Boy, with my two kiddos and hubby we almost licked the pan clean. Can’t wait to try your other Asian dishes, I’m sure they’ll be just as awesome!!

  4. Is there a way that I can avoiding the frying all together? My family and I don’t eat fried food at all.

    1. Sure, there are a few options… do you mean that you don’t want to fry it in oil, or want to avoid the breading all together?

      1. I love your recipe, but I try my best to not eat a lot of fried foods. This is the best recipe I have found on Pinterest, so I would really like to try it, so can you tell me another way to cook the chicken without frying?

        Thanks so much!

        1. You could definitely skip the breading and just grill the cubed chicken and then bake it according to the directions, it would be a lot healthier that way 🙂 I would suggest baking it though, as it will tenderize the chicken and cook/thicken the sauce. Please let me know how it turns out!

  5. I made this the other night and I was skeptical at first because I tried making a general tsos chicken and it turned out horrible so when I told my family I was trying another dish like that they weren’t happy. so I had a lot on my shoulders for this meal…and oh my it turned out DELICIOUS!!! My family loved it and wished I made more of it!! I doubled the sauce recipe so I was able to pour extra on my rice and chicken!!! I was wondering do you have an orange chicken recipe that I could try? THANKS for sharing your recipe I know my family and I loved it =)

  6. Made this tonight and am sad to say I was disappointed. I love Sesame chicken, I order it whenever I go out for Chinese but the sauce tasted nothing like any Sesame I have had before. The chicken itself was really good, crispy but tender so I’ll probably make the chicken again and use a different sauce.

    1. Sorry to hear that! I know sesame chicken is different just about everywhere you go! I hope you find a sauce you’ll enjoy 🙂

  7. I’ve made this twice in 2 weeks now because I made it for just me and my brother but it was so good that I had to make it again for my mom. I’ve never had take out sesame chicken before so I didn’t really know what to expect but this is definitely one of my main go to recipes now.

  8. I was confused when I first read through the post. At first I thought you had to coat the fried chicken with the cornstarch/water mixture and bake. After reading through the actual recipe, I felt much better! lol you add the cornstarch thickener to the sauce, THEN coat the chicken! Whew! Anxious to try this! Thanks!

  9. Made this tonight, it was very delicious! The only thing is, my chicken was perfectly crispy but after baking it, it got soggy from the sauce.

    1. Sorry to hear that! You can always make the sauce on the stovetop and heat until the cornstarch thickens it, then pour it over the crisp chicken.

  10. I just bought a slow cooker and I’m really enjoying using it. Would it be OK to fry the chicken then throw everything in the slow cooker for a couple hours? Or is fried meat not good in the slow cooker?

    Looking forward to trying your recipe!

    1. I’m not exactly sure what it would do to the texture of the breading. I’d say as soon as you notice that the sauce is thick you’d want to take it out, otherwise you might end up with mush if it cooks for too long!

  11. I was a little skeptical about baking the chicken in the unthickened sauce, but it totally worked! My husband, two sons, & I all had seconds and thirds and this recipe has been pronounced a “keeper.” I can’t wait to try your orange chicken recipe!

  12. I made this today . My hubby daughter and son -in-law, and myself loved it. I made it with fried rice. Wow amazing thank you for this recipe.

  13. I made this last night and it was great! I’d make it again, for sure, but think I’ll try the orange chicken recipe next. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Hi. I’ve made this few times, and my kids love it! I started making it to save money! Question, is it ok to double down on ingredients? 1 1/2 pounds not enough for whole family, so I double the amount of chicken and sauce. It is in the oven now-will it still come out well? And do I need to cook it in oven longer, to thicken?

    1. Are you using the same size dish? It make take a few minutes longer, I’d just check it at the given time and then do 10 minute increments from there 🙂

  15. I made this recipe last night and my family absolutely loved it!! Probably our favourite chicken recipe we have ever tried!! I’m going to make the orange chicken next and can’t wait to fall in love with that recipe as well. Thank you for this delicious recipe!!!!!

  16. I made this tonight and it was too salty, yet I didn’t directly put any salt in it. Any idea what I did wrong. I double checked and made sure I put garlic powder, not garlic salt, so that wasn’t my problem. I made beef and broccoli a few nights ago and had the same problem.

  17. This looks delicious, which means any dinner plan I had for tonight just went out the window! What brand of red chili paste do you use? I already have a red chili garlic sauce in my pantry by Huy Fong Foods who also make Sriracha, would that be acceptable?

  18. Is stock the same as broth? And do you have the measurements in ml or fluid oz? I don’t know how much a cup is! Thanks!

  19. Wow this is sooooo good!! I used chicken thighs instead of the breasts. It was a bit harder to prep because all I had were bone in, but the thighs kept it so tender and juicy I highly recommend it! I used fresh garlic rather than the powder and that’s the only changes I made. It was absolutely perfect and I can’t wait to try your other recipes!! Thank you! Served with homemade fried rice and egg rolls. Yum!

  20. Made it twice already!  Love the sauce and surprised that it thickened perfectly. I fried my chicken in coconut oil for a “healthier” fry. 

  21. Just made this for my boyfriend and his buddy and I was told it was my best meal made yet and thought it was takeout. I would double the sauce recipe if you like it saucy! I used boneless skinless chicken thighs and it was a great choice. I had no chilli paste so I used sirracha 

  22. 5 stars
    You were right, this was so much better than my local takeout place! The flavor was excellent and the chicken was nice and crispy!

  23. 5 stars
    I just love sesame chicken and this recipe is an especially awesome one! I just made it for dinner and I loved the kick that red chili paste adds. Even my kid loved it and he doesn’t like anything! Thanks a ton for the great recipe.

  24. 5 stars
    So easy! Tastes just like take out! My kids adore sesame chicken. Thrilled to have this delicious recipe to replicate take out over & over!

  25. 5 stars
    This really is better than takeout!! I absolutely love this recipe! I could eat Chinese food everyday, so this recipe will need a permanent place in my kitchen!