Easy Sesame Chicken Recipe

5 from 4 votes
Jump to RecipeJump to Video

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

Make restaurant-quality Asian sesame chicken at home, combining super crispy battered chicken with a sweet and savory sesame sauce. It’s ready in under 30 minutes and is even better than takeout!

A serving of sesame chicken and rice topped with chopped scallions

I’ve made it a mission to re-create several of my coffee shop and takeout favorites at home, and I haven’t stopped. It turns out that making fakeout dishes like beef and broccoli, vegetable lo mein, and this sesame chicken at home is often really simple, costs less, is easily adaptable to your flavor and dietary requirements, and tastes even better than takeout!

Honey sesame chicken is simple to prepare, made with simple kitchen and pantry-friendly ingredients, and can even be meal prepped in advance.

Want to save this recipe?

Just enter your email and get it sent to your inbox! Plus you’ll get new recipes from me every week!

What Is Sesame Chicken?

Like Chinese orange chicken, sesame chicken is a popular Chinese-American dish inspired by General Tso’s chicken and popularly sold at P.F. Changs and Panda Express.

Sesame chicken topped with chopped scallions

However, while these dishes combine crispy battered chicken tossed in a delicious sweet and savory, semi-thick, brownish sauce/glaze made up of similar ingredients, it’s the overall flavor profile that changes.

While General Tso’s chicken has a tangier, spicier sauce, Chinese orange chicken adds orange juice and zest for a brighter, fruitier profile. In comparison, sesame sauce chicken contains minimal spice, focusing on sweetness and sesame flavor. Best of all, the sauce takes just minutes to prepare and can even be made in advance.

Sesame Chicken Ingredients

Prepare this Asian chicken recipe with simple ingredients, many of which may already be in your kitchen/pantry.

  • Chicken: I used boneless skinless chicken breast, though chicken thighs will also work. You can buy the chicken whole or pre-chopped.
  • Chicken marinade: A simple combination of egg white, soy sauce, white vinegar, baking soda, and corn starch will help to flavor and tenderize the chicken.
  • Dry chicken coating: All you need for the light and crispy coating is all-purpose flour (or gluten-free A.P. flour), cornstarch, paprika, kosher salt, and baking powder.
  • Vegetable oil: Or another neutral, high-heat cooking oil like grapeseed or canola oil.

The Sesame Sauce

  • Sesame oil: For a slightly nutty, toasty depth in this easy sesame chicken sauce.
  • Sesame seeds: To enhance the sesame flavor. Toast the seeds first for even more flavor.
  • Vinegar: You can use general white vinegar, rice vinegar, or white wine vinegar.
  • Sweeteners: I’ve used a combination of brown sugar and honey for a sticky, sweet, caramelized flavor. Use only one if preferred.
  • Soy sauce: For extra depth, use a combination of dark soy sauce and light or low-sodium soy, though you can use all low-sodium soy if preferred. If gluten-free, use tamari or coconut aminos.
  • Aromatics: This sauce uses both ginger and garlic. Fresh is best, though puree will work in a pinch.
  • Chili sauce: Alternatively, you can use red pepper flakes.
  • Water: Or, for more flavor, use low-sodium chicken broth.
  • Cornstarch: To thicken the sauce into a tasty sesame glaze. Arrowroot flour or tapioca starch would also work.
Ingredients for sesame chicken

You can also make sesame shrimp by swapping the chicken for large shrimp and reducing the cooking time accordingly.

How to Make Sesame Chicken

You can make the best sesame chicken recipe in just a few foolproof steps: marinating, battering, and frying the chicken, preparing the sauce, and combining the crispy fried chicken and sauce to serve!

Prepare the Chicken

First, cut the chicken into ½-¾-inch bite-size pieces.

Then, in a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites into a foam, add the soy sauce and vinegar, and whisk to combine. Add the baking soda and cornstarch, and whisk once more.

Steps for marinating chicken

Toss the chicken into the marinade, ensuring it’s thoroughly coated. Then set it aside – 15 minutes is enough, but you could leave it to marinate overnight in the fridge.

Then, mix well and prepare the dry coating by mixing the flour, cornstarch, paprika, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

A bowl with dry flour coating for chicken

Make the Sesame Sauce

First, combine the cornstarch and soy sauce and whisk/mix until lump-free. Then add the vinegar, water, sugar, honey, chili sauce, and sesame oil. Stir and set aside.

A bowl with a sauce mixture

Next, mince the garlic and ginger while heating a large pan (skillet) over medium heat. Once hot, add the vegetable oil, garlic, and ginger, and sauté for 2 minutes.

Stir the sauce once more and pour it into the skillet, using a silicone spatula or spoon to scrape the cornstarch and sugar from the bottom of the bowl if needed.

Cook the sauce, stirring often, until the sauce boils, reduces, and thickens. This will take about 1 minute.

Finally, stir in the sesame seeds and remove the pan from the heat.

Steps for preparing sesame sauce

You can taste the sauce at this point and adjust any of the ingredients to your liking: chili sauce, sesame oil, sugar, etc.

Fry the Chicken

In a large, high-sided skillet, add at least 1 ½ inches of oil and heat over high heat until it reaches 350ºF/175ºC.

If you don’t have a thermometer, dip a wooden skewer into the oil. It should bubble immediately. If it smokes, it’s too hot.

Transfer the chicken from the marinade to the dry coating and coat each piece well, pressing the coating into the chicken and then shaking off any excess.

Coating marinated chicken with flour mixture

Next, carefully transfer the coated chicken pieces to the hot oil and cook until cooked through with a golden brown crispy outer shell (about 4 minutes).

It’s important not to overcrowd the pan. Otherwise, the temperature of the oil will be affected. Fry the chicken in batches if necessary.

Steps for frying chicken pieces

Once cooked, transfer the chicken from the oil to layers of paper towel to drain any excess oil.

Finally, toss the fried chicken with the sesame sauce until thoroughly coated and serve. Enjoy!

Mixing fried chicken with sesame sauce

What To Serve with Sesame Chicken?

My favorite way to enjoy this homemade sesame chicken is to garnish it with scallions (green onions) and more sesame seeds and serve it alongside:

A serving of sesame chicken and rice

More Asian Food Recipes

If you try this sesame chicken recipe, let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!

Easy Sesame Chicken Recipe

5 from 4 votes
By: Samira
Make restaurant-quality Asian sesame chicken at home, combining super crispy battered chicken with a sweet and savory sesame sauce. It's ready in under 30 minutes and is even better than takeout!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6

Equipment

Ingredients 
 

  • 24 oz chicken breasts 3 medium-sized; or chicken thighs
  • 8 cups vegetable oil or other oil for frying the chicken (more or less depending on pan size)

Marinade

  • 1 egg large, only the white
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot/tapioca starch
  • 3 Tbsp vinegar white, rice vinegar, or white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce regular or reduced-sodium; use tamari/coconut aminos if gluten-free
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

Dry Coating

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour or a gluten-free AP flour blend
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Sauce

  • 2 Tbsp sesame seeds toasted
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar white, rice vinegar, or white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water or low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp sweet chili sauce or sriracha/red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 0.3 oz ginger
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil or other for pan-frying

Instructions 

Prepare the Chicken

  • Cut the chicken into ½-¾-inch bite-size pieces.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites into a foam, add the soy sauce and vinegar, and whisk to combine. Add the baking soda and cornstarch, and whisk once more.
  • Toss the chicken into the marinade, ensuring it's thoroughly coated. Set it aside – 15 minutes is enough, but you could leave it to marinate overnight in the fridge.
  • Mix well and prepare the dry coating by mixing the flour, cornstarch, paprika, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

Make the Sauce

  • Combine the cornstarch and soy sauce and whisk/mix until lump-free. Then add the vinegar, water, sugar, honey, chili sauce, and sesame oil. Stir and set aside.
    Also, mince the garlic and ginger.
  • Heating a large pan (skillet) over medium heat. Once hot, add the vegetable oil, garlic, and ginger, and sauté for 2 minutes.
  • Stir the sauce once more and pour it into the skillet, using a silicone spatula or spoon to scrape the cornstarch and sugar from the bottom of the bowl if needed.
  • Cook the sauce, stirring often, until the sauce boils, reduces, and thickens. This will take about 1 minute.
  • Stir in the sesame seeds and remove the pan from the heat.
    You can taste the sauce at this point and adjust any of the ingredients to your liking: chili sauce, sesame oil, sugar, etc.

Fry the Chicken and Assemble

  • In a large, high-sided skillet, add at least 1 ½ inches of oil and heat over high heat until it reaches 350ºF/175ºC.
    If you don't have a thermometer, dip a wooden skewer into the oil. It should bubble immediately. If it smokes, it's too hot.
  • Transfer the chicken from the marinade to the dry coating and coat each well, pressing the coating into the chicken and shaking off any excess.
  • Carefully transfer the coated chicken pieces to the hot oil and cook until it's cooked through with a golden brown crispy outer shell (about 4 minutes).
    It’s important not to overcrowd the pan; otherwise, the temperature of the oil will be affected. Fry the chicken in batches if necessary.
  • Once cooked, transfer the chicken from the oil to layers of paper towel to drain any excess oil.
    Toss the fried chicken with the sesame sauce until thoroughly coated and serve. Enjoy!

Video

Notes

  • The oil must be the correct temperature: Too cold, and the chicken will soak up excess oil and not cook properly. Too hot, and it can burn your food or even begin to smoke and become a hazard. When possible, use a thermometer.
  • Adjust the sauce flavor: Tweak any ingredients to customize the flavor.
  • For a thicker/thinner sauce: Add more cornstarch slurry for a thicker glaze or more water for a thinner one.
  • For healthier sesame chicken: Ditch the batter/deep-frying. Instead, stir-fry the chicken with the garlic and ginger, then pour in the sauce ingredients and cook until thickened and reduced.
Make Ahead and Storage Instructions
You can meal prep both the sauce and chicken 2-3 days in advance and store them separately. When reheating, cook the chicken in a little oil so it’s crispy before tossing it with the sauce.
If you prefer crispy chicken, it’s best to enjoy the honey sesame chicken immediately. However, leftovers will store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
You can also freeze the leftovers in airtight containers or freezer bags for up to 3 months. Allow it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
How to reheat sesame chicken? I prefer using a skillet over low heat, adding a splash of water to loosen up the sauce. You can use a microwave if preferred, but there’s a higher risk of overcooking the chicken, so I usually avoid it. Note, either way, the chicken won’t be crispy anymore.
Check the blog post for serving recommendations!
Course: Main
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese
Freezer friendly: 3 Months
Shelf life: 2-3 Days

Nutrition

Calories: 406kcal, Carbohydrates: 38g, Protein: 28g, Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 100mg, Sodium: 1141mg, Potassium: 338mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 13g, Vitamin A: 301IU, Vitamin C: 0.4mg, Calcium: 75mg, Iron: 2mg

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

5 from 4 votes (4 ratings without comment)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating