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Easy Sesame Chicken

Welcome to the world of homemade Chinese cuisine, where the aromas of your kitchen can transport you to a bustling street in Beijing. Today, we’re diving into a classic favorite – Easy Sesame Chicken.

This dish is not just a treat for your taste buds but also a testament to the simplicity and joy of cooking at home.

In just 30 minutes, you can whip up a meal that rivals the best of takeout, with the added satisfaction of having made it yourself.

Sesame Chicken, a dish known for its crispy, tender chicken coated in a sweet and tangy sauce, garnished with sesame seeds, has its roots in Chinese cuisine but has been widely adapted in Western countries, particularly in American Chinese restaurants.

This dish has gained immense popularity due to its delightful combination of flavors and textures. By preparing it at home, you not only get to control the quality of ingredients but also tweak it to suit your palate, making it a healthier and more personalized option.


Creating this culinary masterpiece begins with understanding and assembling the right ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs (2 pounds): Trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces, chicken thighs are preferred for their juiciness and flavor.
  • Water (¼ cup): Used in marinating the chicken to keep it moist.
  • Kosher Salt (½ teaspoon): Enhances the flavor; use less if opting for fine salt.
  • Baking Soda (½ teaspoon): A tenderizing agent for the chicken.
  • Eggs (2 large): They help bind the cornstarch to the chicken, ensuring a crispy coating.
  • Cornstarch (½ cup): The secret to the perfect crispy texture.
  • Neutral Oil (1 tablespoon): For mixing in the batter and frying; any neutral oil works well.
  • Toasted Sesame Seeds: For garnishing and adding that authentic touch.

For the sesame sauce:

  • Ketchup (½ cup): Forms the base of the sauce, offering a tangy flavor.
  • Water (½ cup) & Granulated Sugar (½ cup): Balances the tanginess of the ketchup.
  • White Vinegar (2 tablespoons): Adds a zesty tang to the sauce.
  • Cornstarch (1 tablespoon): Thickens the sauce to coat the chicken evenly.
  • Light Sodium Soy Sauce (1 tablespoon): Brings a savory depth to the sauce.
  • Dark Soy Sauce (½ teaspoon, optional): For a richer color and deeper flavor.
  • Green Onion (1 stalk): Sliced for a mild, crunchy addition.

Each ingredient plays a pivotal role in creating the harmony of flavors and textures that define Easy Sesame Chicken.

Stay tuned as we delve into the step-by-step cooking guide, where we’ll explore the art of transforming these simple ingredients into a dish that’s sure to impress.

A Step-by-Step Cooking Guide:

  1. Marinating the Chicken: Begin by placing the trimmed and cut chicken thighs in a large mixing bowl. Add ¼ cup of water, ½ teaspoon of kosher salt, and ½ teaspoon of baking soda to the bowl. Mix vigorously until the chicken has absorbed most of the water. This process not only flavors the chicken but also ensures it stays juicy during cooking.
  2. Preparing the Batter: To the same bowl, add two large eggs. Stir until the chicken pieces are well-coated. This step is crucial as the egg acts as a binding agent for the cornstarch, which is next on the list. Gradually sprinkle in ½ cup of cornstarch, ensuring an even coat over each piece of chicken. The cornstarch is the key to achieving that desirable crispy texture. Finally, mix in a tablespoon of neutral oil, which helps in frying the chicken to golden perfection.
  3. Frying the Chicken: Heat a wok or a deep pan and pour in oil to a depth of about 2 to 3 inches. Heat the oil to 375°F – a critical temperature to ensure the chicken cooks through while achieving a crispy exterior without being greasy. Once the oil is hot, carefully place the chicken pieces into the oil one by one. Avoid overcrowding the pan; fry in batches if necessary. Fry each batch for about 4 to 5 minutes, then remove and let them drain for 2 to 3 minutes. This initial fry is to set the coating and start the cooking process.
  4. The Second Fry: Return the chicken to the hot oil for a second fry. This step is the secret to that extra crunch! Fry for an additional 5 to 6 minutes or until each piece is golden brown and irresistibly crispy. Drain the chicken on paper towels or a rack.

Making the Sesame Sauce:

  1. Sauce Preparation: While your chicken is resting post-fry, it’s time to prepare the sesame sauce. In a separate bowl, whisk together ½ cup ketchup, ½ cup water, ½ cup granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons white vinegar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 1 tablespoon light sodium soy sauce, and ½ teaspoon dark soy sauce (if using). This combination creates a beautifully balanced sauce – sweet, tangy, and rich.
  2. Cooking the Sauce: Heat a small amount of oil in a wok or large pan over medium heat. Add the white parts of the green onion and stir-fry for about 10 to 15 seconds until fragrant. This step infuses the oil with a subtle onion flavor. Pour the prepared sauce into the pan, turning the heat up to medium-high. Stir continuously as the sauce heats and thickens. This should take a few minutes. The sauce is ready when it’s hot, bubbly, and has a glossy sheen.
  3. Combining Chicken and Sauce: Add the crispy chicken pieces into the sauce. Toss gently to ensure each piece is evenly coated with the glossy sesame sauce. The heat from the sauce will also help re-crisp the chicken’s exterior.

Cooking Tips and Tricks

  • Uniformity is Key: Try to cut the chicken into evenly sized pieces to ensure uniform cooking.
  • Oil Temperature: Maintaining the oil temperature at around 375°F is crucial. If the oil is too cool, the chicken will absorb it and become greasy. Too hot, and the chicken might burn or dry out.
  • Batch Frying: Don’t rush the process by overcrowding the pan. Frying in batches allows each piece of chicken to cook evenly and become perfectly crispy.
  • Marination Time: If time allows, marinate the chicken overnight. This not only enhances the flavor but also ensures the batter adheres better to the chicken.
  • Safety First: Always be cautious when working with hot oil to prevent splatters and burns.

Next, we’ll explore how to create the signature sesame sauce that coats this crispy chicken, along with serving suggestions and storage tips. Stay tuned to bring this delightful dish to its delicious conclusion!

Serving Suggestions:

Serve your Easy Sesame Chicken hot, ideally over a bed of fluffy white rice or alongside some savory fried rice.

The rice not only complements the flavors but also absorbs the extra sauce, making every bite a delightful experience.

Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and the green parts of the green onion for a pop of color and a hint of freshness.

Consider pairing with steamed broccoli or a light salad to add a healthy, crunchy contrast to the meal.

Storing and Reheating:

If you have leftovers, allow the chicken to cool completely before storing it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will stay good for 3 to 4 days.

To reheat, gently warm in the microwave. While the chicken won’t be as crispy as when freshly made, it will still be delicious.

For any extra fried chicken pieces, consider freezing them. Lay them out on a tray, freeze, and then transfer to freezer bags. They can be reheated in an oven or air fryer for a quick snack or meal addition.

Creating Easy Sesame Chicken at home is not just about enjoying a delicious meal; it’s about the joy of cooking and the satisfaction of recreating a takeout favorite with your own hands.

This dish, with its crispy chicken and flavorful sauce, is sure to become a staple in your culinary repertoire.


If your sauce isn’t thickening, ensure your cornstarch was properly mixed with the cold ingredients before heating.

For a gluten-free version, replace soy sauce with a gluten-free alternative or simply increase the salt slightly.

Happy cooking!