Sesame Chicken – Better Than Takeout! (VIDEO)

4.88 from 24 votes
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Sesame Chicken is one of your favorite Chinese takeout dishes – every time I share it on my Instagram or TikTok, my followers go wild! I love the crispy, juicy chicken pieces coated in the most addictive sticky, savory sauce. Once you see how easy it is to replicate at home, I guarantee you’ll be making Sesame Chicken every week!

Sesame Chicken in a bowl

Watch the Sesame Chicken Recipe Video Below!

Sesame chicken in a wok

Ingredients for Sesame Chicken Chicken

Making Sesame Chicken at home is simpler than you would think – the list of ingredients required may look long but most of the items are ones you already have in your pantry.

Chicken

  • 1 lb chicken breast – I like to use 1″ pieces of chicken breast for Sesame Chicken. You want to cut them into similar sized pieces so the chicken can cook evenly.
    • You can substitute with chicken thigh if you prefer.
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper – I love white pepper and it’s used very commonly in Chinese cooking (another “secret ingredient” for cooking restaurant quality Chinese food at home). It has an earthier flavor than black pepper. I recommend having some in your pantry but if you can’t find it, you can always substitute with black pepper.
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce – You will need “light” (not “low sodium”) or “all-purpose” soy sauce. Do NOT use dark soy sauce, as it is too intense for a fried rice recipe.
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine – This is one of my favorite Chinese pantry staples. It adds a depth of flavor and complexity to the sauce and truly one of my “secret ingredients” for making restaurant quality Chinese food. If you can’t find it, you can substitute with mirin, sherry, or even chicken broth.
  • 4 cloves garlic – grated
  • 1/2 tbsp ginger – grated
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

Seasoned Dredge

  • 1 cup flour + 1 cup cornstarch – Combining flour and cornstarch is how you get an addictively crispy and delicious batter. When mixed with the flour, the cornstarch makes the flour coating crispier and gives it that golden brown color! (It has to do with prevention of gluten development.) 
  • 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tbsp white pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder – Baking Powder is one of my favorite tricks in frying foods that still taste light and airy. The baking powder reacts with the oil and creates tiny air bubbles, which helps the outer layer get crispy while keeping it light and airy.

Sauce

  • 1/4 cup light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil

Other Ingredients

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp ginger
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • neutral oil – My favorite neutral oil is avocado oil, but you can also use canola or vegetable oil! I don’t use olive oil when cooking Chinese food for two reasons: 1. It has a low burning point and 2. The flavor profile does not work with the flavors of Chinese cooking.

Cornstarch Slurry

  • 1 tbsp cornstarch + 1/4 cup water – Cornstarch slurry is used in a lot of Asian cooking to thicken sauces and soups. A slurry means a mixture of liquid (usually water) and a thickening agent (in this case, cornstarch). TIP: Make sure to re-mix your cornstarch slurry right before using it.

Sesame Chicken: Recipe Instructions

1. Cut and Marinate the Chicken

The first step in making this recipe is cutting the chicken into 1″ pieces. Cut the chicken into uniform pieces so they cook evenly when we fry them. You can use either chicken breast or chicken thigh for this recipe!

Marinating the chicken with kosher salt, white pepper, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, grated garlic & ginger, and sesame oil is one of my keys to super flavorful chicken. But even more importantly, this marinade will act as a binder to stick to the dredge before frying!

2. Mix Your Sauce

Next, mix the Sesame Chicken sauce by combining chicken stock, light soy sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, honey, and sesame oil. Mix until well combined and set aside.

3. Dredge the chicken

Mix together flour, cornstarch, kosher salt, white pepper, and baking powder in a large bowl.

Before you begin coating the chicken pieces in the dry seasoning mix, give the chicken a final mix to redistribute the wet batter and let any drip off the chicken.

Individually coat the chicken pieces in the dry seasoning mix so that there are no dry spots.

Be sure to pack the dry mix in to the chicken with your hands (I like squeezing it in) to properly coat the chicken so the batter sticks.

4. Fry (and double fry) the chicken

Heat a few quarts of neutral oil over high heat until the temperature reaches 350F.

Carefully fry the chicken in batches for 3-4 minutes until golden brown. I highly recommend a thermometer to accurately measure your oil temperature, as you do not want the oil temperature to drop below 325F.

Remove the chicken; bring the oil temperature back up to 350F and fry a second time for an additional 1-2 minutes until the chicken is dark golden brown and crispy!

Sesame chicken frying in a wok

5. Sauté Aromatics, Add Sauce, Chicken, and Cornstarch Slurry

In the wok or pan over high heat, add 2 tablespoons of neutral oil and fry the garlic and ginger for 15 seconds. Immediately add the premixed sauce over high heat until the sauce starts to bubble (about 45-60 seconds). Add the cornstarch slurry and vinegar, and continue stirring until the sauce has thickened.

Next add in the crispy chicken and give the pieces a mix and toss in the sauce until each piece is nicely coated in the sauce. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve with some freshly steamed rice and enjoy your Sesame Chicken!

Sesame chicken in a wok

PRO TIPS

Expert Tips for the BEST Sesame Chicken That Rivals Takeout!

  • Cut the Chicken into Uniform Pieces
    • Whether you use chicken breast or thigh, make sure to cut your chicken into uniform pieces to ensure that your Sesame Chicken cooks evenly.
  • Coat Your Chicken Thoroughly
    • Individually coat the chicken pieces in the dry seasoning mix so that there are no dry spots. Be sure to pack the dry mix in to the chicken with your hands (I like squeezing it in) to properly coat the chicken so the batter sticks.
  • Monitor the Oil Temperature
    • Do not let your frying oil drop below 325F when frying! I highly recommend you use a thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature. If you see it dropping below 325F, fry your chicken in batches. Frying at a low temperature will result in too much moisture (AKA SOGGY!)
  • Rest After Dredging
    • Once the chicken is dredged in the seasoning mix, let them rest for 10-15 minutes. This helps the batter stick to the chicken when frying!
  • Pre-mix Your Sauce
    • The cooking process for the sauce is FAST so it’s a great idea to premix your sauce together, then add it straight into the pan! The corn starch will help thicken the sauce into that velvety texture that Chinese restaurants made so famous.
  • Success is in the Prep!
    • For a recipe that comes together extremely quickly, the key to pulling this recipe off successfully is having your ingredients prepped and in bowls right next to your wok or pan! Have your premixed sauce, chicken, and vegetables ready and easily accessible during the cooking process.

Storage and Reheating

You can store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

I like to reheat Sesame Chicken in the air fryer or oven! Reheat in the air fryer for 6-8 minutes at 350F or in the oven at 375F for 10-15 minutes until warmed through and crispy. I prefer these reheating methods over the microwave because I’m able to separate any chicken that stuck together, make sure each piece has been re-warmed, and also helps restore some of the texture to the chicken.

You won’t be able to get the crispiness back from reheating but the flavors will be even better the next day! If you don’t care about the texture and just need it reheated quickly, use a microwave.

What to Serve with Sesame Chicken

If you’re going to make better-than-takeout Sesame Chicken at home, I recommend you go all-out and recreate your perfect Chinese Take-Out meal!

You can’t have take-out without making my crispiest Egg Rolls! You’ll also need some kind of carb – I would make Chicken Fried Rice (if you want shrimp instead, try Shrimp Fried Rice)and Shrimp Lo Mein (if you need a chicken option, try Chicken Lo Mein) to go with Sesame Chicken. Take-out isn’t complete without a comforting bowl of soup -try my Egg Drop Soup or Hot and Sour Soup! If you want a second chicken dish, make General Tso’s Chicken!

Cooking With a Wok (Alternatives)

By now, you know that I LOVE cooking with my carbon steel wok! It is my #1 most recommended kitchen tool, as I believe it is perfect for high-heat cooking and results in restaurant quality Chinese food!

If it is your first time cooking with a wok, make sure to read my “How To Season a Wok” post. There is a video included that shows exactly how to season your brand new wok and how to maintain it so it lasts for years.

If you cannot or do not want to use a wok, you can use a large pan, cast iron, or even a dutch oven.

My KEY TIP would be to avoid crowding your pan – crowding can lead to your Sesame Chicken not cooking thoroughly and becoming mushy. If you think your dish will be crowded, use a larger pan, cast iron, or dutch oven, OR cook in batches.

If you tried this Sesame Chicken or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the comments below!

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4.88 from 24 votes

Sesame Chicken (Video)

Servings: 3
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Sesame chicken cooked in a wok.
This Sesame Chicken is so much better than takeout! The chicken actually STAYS crispy in that sweet and tangy sesame sauce!

Equipment

Ingredients 

Chicken

Seasoned Dredge

Sauce

Other Ingredients

Cornstarch Slurry

Instructions 

  • Slice chicken breast into 1" pieces and place in a bowl with kosher salt, white pepper, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, garlic, ginger, and sesame oil. Marinate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight for best results.
  • In a separate bowl, create your sauce by combining light soy sauce, ketchup, chicken stock, sugar, honey, and sesame oil. Mix until well combined and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, kosher salt, white pepper, and baking powder. Dredge your marinated chicken in the flour & cornstarch mixture (shake off excess). Pack in the dredge to ensure there are no dry spots. Let rest on a rack for 10-15 minutes while you heat your oil.
  • In a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven, heat oil to 350F and fry the chicken in batches for 2-3 minutes until lightly golden. Remove, then fry a second time at 350F for 1-2 minute until golden and extra crispy. Season with salt to taste.
  • In a pan or wok over high heat, add 2 tbsp of neutral oil and fry your garlic and ginger for 15 seconds or until fragrant. Immediately add your sauce until it starts to bubble (about 45-60 seconds). Add your cornstarch slurry and your vinegar, and continue stirring until the sauce has thickened. Add your chicken and coat in the sauce and finish with sesame seeds and sesame oil. Enjoy!

Notes

KEY TIPS:
Cut the Chicken into Uniform Pieces: Whether you use chicken breast or thigh, make sure to cut your chicken into uniform pieces to ensure that your Sesame Chicken cooks evenly.
Coat Your Chicken Thoroughly: Individually coat the chicken pieces in the dry seasoning mix so that there are no dry spots. Be sure to pack the dry mix in to the chicken with your hands (I like squeezing it in) to properly coat the chicken so the batter sticks.
Monitor the Oil Temperature: Do not let your frying oil drop below 325F when frying! I highly recommend you use a thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature. If you see it dropping below 325F, fry your chicken in batches. Frying at a low temperature will result in too much moisture (AKA SOGGY!)
Rest After Dredging: Once the chicken is dredged in the seasoning mix, let them rest for 10-15 minutes. This helps the batter stick to the chicken when frying!
Pre-mix Your Sauce: The cooking process for the sauce is FAST so it’s a great idea to premix your sauce together, then add it straight into the pan! The corn starch will help thicken the sauce into that velvety texture that Chinese restaurants made so famous.
Success is in the Prep: For a recipe that comes together extremely quickly, the key to pulling this recipe off successfully is having your ingredients prepped and in bowls right next to your wok or pan! Have your premixed sauce, chicken, and vegetables ready and easily accessible during the cooking process.

Storage and Reheating

You can store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
Reheat in the air fryer for 6-8 minutes at 350F or in the oven at 375F for 10-15 minutes until warmed through and crispy.

Nutrition

Calories: 751kcalCarbohydrates: 104gProtein: 42gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 98mgSodium: 867mgPotassium: 822mgFiber: 3gSugar: 23gVitamin A: 99IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 196mgIron: 5mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Tried this recipe?Mention @cj.eats_ or tag #cjeatsrecipes!

About CJ

I’m a third generation Chinese-American home cook who has always loved cooking & eating! Welcome to my food blog, where you can find trusted, tested, easy & approachable recipes for the everyday home cook that taste delicious! I am so glad you're here!

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Recipe Rating




15 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    The sauce is delicious! We used GF 1-1 flour to make this gluten free as it’s very hard to find GF Chinese food. Kids loved it.

  2. 5 stars
    Made this recipe today, was so good. My new go-to Sesame Chicken recipe. The sauce would go well pork as well.

  3. 5 stars
    Wow. Delicious. Way better than takeout and the directions were super easy to follow. I especially appreciate the way you organized the ingredients into categories. I don’t normally deep fry on a weeknight but I think this was worth it! Wondering if anyone has tried this method with an air fryer?

    1. Check out the air fryer orange chicken or air fryer general tso’s chicken recipe! You can use the same method and swap the sauces!

  4. 4 stars
    Great recipe! Crispy chicken with a flavorful sauce ( I added some chopped fresh red chilies for some added heat).

    Might cut back on the white pepper next time, as this seemed like to dominant flavor in the recipe.

  5. What kind of vinegar are you supposed to use? I just made this and used regular white vinegar. It came out good but I want to make sure I got the flavor right.
    Thank you