Easy Sesame Chicken

$5.15 recipe / $1.29 serving

I didn’t know sesame chicken was so easy to make. Did you know sesame chicken was so easy to make? Well, now we both know, and have no excuse not to make it on the regular.

I mean, seriously, this is plate lickin’ good stuff here and you can probably make it in about the same amount of time that it takes for the take out guy to get to your door. Serve this up with something veggi-licious on the side, like steamed broccoli or Crunchy Asian Salad, for a well rounded meal and you will have dinner owned.

I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs here because that was the best buy at the store this week, but you could certainly use chicken breast if you’d like. I got four portions out of this recipe, but be aware that these are no take-out sized portions (because those huge, ammiright?). The portions are exactly as pictured here. One cup of cooked rice and 1/4th of the cooked sesame chicken. It’s not huge, but it will fill you up and if you’ve got a side too, you’re good to go.

Easy Sesame Chicken

Easy Sesame Chicken

4.6 from 97 reviews
Easy Sesame Chicken
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Total Cost: $5.15
Cost Per Serving: $1.29
Serves: 4
Ingredients
Chicken
  • 1 large egg $0.17
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch $0.08
  • 1 pinch each salt & pepper $0.05
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs $2.14
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil (for frying) $0.04
Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce $0.20
  • 1 Tbsp water $0.00
  • ½ Tbsp toasted sesame oil $0.85
  • 1½ Tbsp brown sugar $0.02
  • 1½ Tbsp rice vinegar $0.17
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, grated $0.11
  • 1 clove garlic, minced $0.08
  • 2 Tbsp sesame seeds $0.29
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch $0.04
For Serving
  • 4 cups cooked jasmine rice $0.69
  • 2 whole green onions $0.22
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, 2 Tbsp cornstarch, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Trim any excess fat from the chicken thighs, then cut them into small 1 inch pieces. Toss the chicken in the egg and cornstarch mixture.
  2. Heat a large skillet with 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot (it should look wavy on the surface), add the chicken and all of the egg mixture. Cook the chicken, stirring only occasionally, until it is golden brown and cooked through (about 7-10 minutes). Drain off the excess oil, if desired.
  3. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the sauce. In a small bowl stir together the soy sauce, water, sesame oil, brown sugar, rice vinegar, fresh ginger, minced garlic, cornstarch, and sesame seeds. (You can grate the ginger with a small-holed cheese grater).
  4. Once the chicken is cooked through and golden brown, pour the sauce over top. Toss the chicken to coat in the sauce. The sauce will begin to thicken as soon as it hits the hot skillet. Once the chicken is coated and the sauce thickened, turn off the heat.
  5. Serve the chicken over a bed of rice and sprinkle the sliced green onions over top.

 

Easy Sesame Chicken

Step by Step Photos

Egg and CornstarchTo make the faux breading, whisk together the egg, cornstarch, and a pinch of salt and pepper. It may seem thick at first, but keep whisking and it will thin out a bit.

BatterThis batter will coat the chicken and kind of give it a fried texture, even though we’re only “shallow frying” instead of “deep frying.”

Chicken ThighsI used half of this pack and froze the rest. you could use chicken breasts if you’d like.

Chicken ChunksTrim off any large pieces of fat (don’t kill yourself trying to get every last bit, just the big pieces) and then cut it into small one inch or so pieces. Remember, the smaller the pieces, the more surface area there will be to get coated in sauce. Yummm.

Coat ChickenToss the chicken in the batter.

Fry ChickenAdd 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Wait until the oil gets very hot and then add the chicken. You can test to see if the oil is hot enough by dropping a little bit (just one drop) of the batter into the oil. It should puff up and sizzle a lot. 

Browned ChickenCook the chicken until the outside is golden brown. Don’t stir too often, or it won’t have a chance to brown and the “breading” may come off. Just stir every few minutes or so. At this point I drained off the extra oil (I used a lid to hold back the chicken while I poured it into a bowl).

Sesame SauceWhile the chicken is cooking, you can prepare the sauce. Stir together the soy sauce, water, sesame oil, brown sugar, rice vinegar, ginger, garlic, sesame seeds, and cornstarch.

Sesame ChickenPour the sauce into the hot skillet and toss the chicken to coat in the sauce. As soon as the sauce hits the hot skillet, it will begin to thicken into this nice, glossy sauce. Once it’s all coated and thick, turn the heat off.

Sesame ChickenOh. My. Serve with sliced green onions sprinkled on top and over a bed of warm jasmine rice.

Easy Sesame Chicken

226 Comments

  1. Erin says:

    Amazing! I followed the recipe to a tee and it came out perfectly. I served it with rice and green beans dressed with more soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, and a bit of sugar. Yum!

  2. Raquel says:

    This was so DELICIOUS!! It literally took me about 20 min from start to finish! It was a great meal and I really enjoyed that it wasn’t the typical overly greasy & fried chinese food.

    Some of my coating fell off also when I added the sauce. I think next time I’m just going to coat each chicken piece in flour & egg and then drop it in the pan to cook, rather than throwing the entire egg mixture.

    Thank you for the amazing recipes!!

  3. Dominique says:

    Another super tasty and easy recipe. Thank you so much for all the great chicken thigh recipes. I was able to get some organic thighs on mega sale (1.99/lb vs 10.99/lb) and stocked up. Now I can’t wait to go through the other recipes on your site.

  4. Tammy says:

    First saw this recipe posted on Pinterest, where it is tagged as “gluten-free.” So tired of over-eager bloggers tagging their recipes GF when the posted recipe is, in fact, NOT gluten-free. Soy sauce is brewed from wheat. Depending on brewing method, etc., many (if not most) commercially available soy sauces can and do contain gluten. If you’re going to tag the recipe as GF, you should indicate that the recipe calls for Gluten-Free Soy Sauce (which is derived from rice).

    • Yes, I need to contact Pinterest about that… their system automatically “tags” recipes as gluten free or vegetarian and it’s often wrong. :( I didn’t tag it as gluten free myself.

  5. PseudoShea says:

    I had some trouble with the chicken coating, I’m not sure exactly how thick it is supposed to be but I felt like most of mine ended up falling off. :( Could this be due to my oil not being hot enough? I also think I might have stirred it a little too much. I liked the flavor though. Does anyone know if there is a good substitute for toasted sesame oil?

    • The coating does tend to slide off if the skillet is not hot enough. Toasted sesame oil is a pretty unique flavor, so there isn’t really anything that I can think of that could be a good substitute.

  6. Another great recipe from Budget Bytes! Reminded us of the sesame chicken from Pei Wei. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Lisa says:

    Yummo!!!!

  8. Lacy says:

    Easy, cheap and delicious recipe. I was able to shave off a dollar by butchering a couple chicken myself. I was really intimidated by cutting up a whole chicken but it wasn’t that bad. Nothing like a couple of YouTube videos to get you through the process. If I can do it, anyone can.

  9. Jericho says:

    Not sure if you still see the comments on these old pages but I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate the site. As a young adult male who has never cooked much before and doesn’t have the largest budget to work with, I really love how doable these recipes are.

    In my first week of starting to cook for myself, I’ve made black bean quesadillas and this sesame chicken recipe. Despite not being anything close to a great cook, the quesadillas turned out ok and the sesame chicken turned out fantastic. I’m sure I made a few rookie mistakes, but WOW, thank you so much! The sesame chicken I made thanks to you is so amazing. I’m going to enjoy it for the next few days! And in the more distant future of course.

    • Awesome! That’s what I always hope to hear. :)

      • Lauren says:

        I also just want to say thanks.
        I love cooking, but on a college budget it can be very challenging. I make this on a weekly basis, I can’t thank you enough :)

  10. Annie says:

    I made this last week and it was delicious! We ate all of it and my son was still asking for more of the “yummy chicken” the next day. I’m all about prepping my meals in advance since my husband and I both work. I didn’t see it anywhere else in the comments, so I wanted to share that it works fine to prep the sauce and egg mix a few days in advance (separate bowls of course) to save some time. I was worried that the texture of the egg mix would get funky but after a few whisks it turned out just fine. I think the sauce was even better because the flavors had a chance to blend together. We’re making this again tonight – thank you for the great recipe!

  11. Kate McLean says:

    Hi Beth,

    Because I only cook for two (and often just for one) I was wondering if this recipe is freezable? At what point would you stop the cooking and freeze, I’m assuming you make the sauce the day of eating.

    • This one probably wouldn’t be very good for freezing. Cornstarch thickened sauces separate after freezing and the texture of the “breading” would change. You can make the sauce ahead of time and keep it in the fridge for about a week, but overall the recipe is super fast so it’s best to just make it fresh.

  12. Valerie Kimball says:

    Beth do you think cut up rotisserie chicken would work for this, provided I cook in skillet at high temp to brown?

    • Hmmm, it might work! I’ve never tried the velveting technique (cornstarch and egg) with chicken that is already cooked, but since it’s such a fast cooking process, it might work! If you try it out, let me know how it turns out.

  13. Made this tonight. I’m an ijit, and didn’t read all the directions…so, it took longer than it should have, b/c I was browning only a bit of chicken at a time, taking it out, blah blah blah. And, since I double every recipe known to man (7 ppl in the family) that took a bit.

    But…oh, but.

    Phenominal. Husband hoovered it, kids loved it, and even the not quite one year old needed more!

  14. Melanie says:

    This was seriously PHENOMENAL. My husband and I were so amazed with how good this was. Honestly, better than take-out and most asian restaurants I have been to (yes, even PF Changs, which I love!) Okay, now on to the tips.

    I did double the sauce per the previous comments suggestions. I added a smidge more soy sauce and a less sesame seeds because 2 tbsp was PLENTY for the sauce even when doubled. I also did not pour the chicken into the pan with all the batter. I simply coated it like you would any other fried chicken, placed each piece in the veggie oil and turned them over after about 3 minutes. They did stick together a little (what I am assuming everyone is calling the “omelet” problem) but they broke into individual pieces just fine if you separated them with a spatula. SO. GOOD.

    • Melanie says:

      Whoops, forgot one thing! I also omitted the ginger since I simply didn’t have any, and it didn’t detriment the taste in the slightest. (I’m also not a huge fan of ginger in the first place!)

      :)

  15. Delicious! Didn’t have a single issue. Used a wok, coconut oil for frying. Added a smidge of crushed red pepper. Awesome. No “omelet” problems.

  16. Cheri says:

    After reading some of the reviews (which is sometimes helpful to see where others went wrong) I noticed a big problem people had was the temperature of the oil. Keeping this in mind, I got the oil just right and mine turned out amazing!!! Just like the pictures. Next time, I will add some sauted onions to the rice, maybe even mushrooms. I may also make some extra sauce without the cornstarch to drizzle over the dish at the end. All in all, it was GREAT! Better than the Chinese place my husband said :)

  17. Angie says:

    I made this recipe once and screwed up the texture because I didn’t follow the directions properly. Nonetheless, it was delicious, but I didn’t feel it had enough sauce. So, this time, I’m going to do it again, and follow the instructions correctly, and double the sauce. I am expecting this to be amazing!

  18. Dorothy says:

    I kind of messed this one up because I had so much chicken and I tried to brown it all together in one skillet instead of batches. Also, I may have had too much batter so it kind of got “omelet-y” I finally started up a second burner and transferred almost half of the chicken to a second skillet. BTW, It took me forever to trim the fat (but then again I had a lot of chicken). And I wish I had minced the garlic and ginger first. I waited too long to do that and I ended up scrambling to get my all my ingredients in. The second skillet came out better but I haven’t attempted this recipe again because I hate the fat trimming and cutting into bite sizes.

    • Lesley says:

      You could just use skinless chicken breasts next time.. I love the flavor of thighs but detest the fat trimming too

  19. Mackenzie says:

    Finally tried this for the first time a couple weeks ago! I made it in my wok with 3 chicken thighs and ended up with a bit of the “scrambled egg bottoms” other people saw but it tasted delicious. This time I’m using a regular pan and less of the egg mixture and the chicken pieces are looking much better.

  20. Christine says:

    Your slow cooker chicken burrito bowls have become like a religion for me, so I tried this for something new. Aside from the fact that I clearly need new sesame seeds and oil (tasted off…just don’t use them enough!) I had a similar “chicken sticking” and “not enough sauce” issue. I didn’t use a nonstick pan, but it looks like you did? Maybe that would help on my next attempt! I liked the taste, though, even with the slightly “off” sesame!

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