Easy Sesame Chicken

$5.74 recipe / $1.44 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.56 from 422 votes
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This Easy Sesame Chicken is seriously so easy that you’ll be tempted to toss those take-out menus. The delicious sauce takes only a few ingredients, all of which you can keep on hand indefinitely (keep your ginger in the freezer). You know, just in case you need some sesame chicken like, now. Oh, and this take-out fake-out sesame chicken works great for your weekly meal prep, too!

Originally posted 8-4-13, updated 7-24-18. 

Three bowls of easy sesame chicken on a bamboo mat with ginger and green onion next to the bowls.

It’s been almost five years to the day since I first posted this Easy Sesame Chicken, and I felt it was about time for me to pay it a visit. I’ve learned a lot since 2013, like a lot a lot, so I tweaked this classic recipe to make it even better. First, I doubled the sauce because the reviews almost unanimously agreed that it needed to be saucier. Second, I rebalanced the flavors in the sauce. They’re the same ingredients, just a little more in balance. And lastly, I reduced the cornstarch in the sauce so that the texture of the finished sauce is a bit more smooth and doesn’t seize up quite as much. I hope you love the new version as much as I do! 

What is Sesame Chicken?

If you’re unfamiliar with this Chinese-American fast food classic, it’s small pieces of tender chicken that have been coated in an egg and cornstarch, deep-fried until crispy, and then coated in a deliciously sweet, salty, and tangy sauce. The sauce also has a light but toasty flavor thanks to sesame seeds. You’ll find this dish at most Chinese-inspired takeout restaurants across America. 

No Deep Frying Required

I specifically wrote this recipe for those of you out there who hate deep frying as much as I do. This recipe uses a very small amount of oil to cook the chicken Because of that, you don’t get super crispy edges as you would with a deep fry, but the trade-off is well worth it in my opinion. No leftover oil to deal with, no cooking oil smell filling your house, and no splattering oil trying to kill you. So worth sacrificing crispy edges.

Use Chicken Thighs or Breasts

I used chicken thighs below because they are inexpensive and tender, which makes them perfect for this recipe. You can use chicken breast cut into small pieces if you prefer, but it definitely won’t have quite the same texture as thighs. And if you use breast, make sure to cut the chicken into small pieces as the eggwash will not stick to larger pieces of chicken.

What to Serve with Sesame Chicken

I like to pair my Easy Sesame Chicken with jasmine rice and a little steamed broccoli. It’s a super simple meal that is very satisfying, and stores well for meal prep! It also goes great with Crunchy Cabbage Salad, Sesame Cucumber Salad, Easy Egg Drop Soup, Savory Coconut Rice.

A skillet full of easy sesame chicken with a wooden spatula on a bamboo mat.

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Easy Sesame Chicken

4.56 from 422 votes
This incredibly Easy Sesame Chicken is faster and tastier than take out. You control the ingredients, you control the flavor. 
This incredibly Easy Sesame Chicken is faster and tastier than take out. You control the ingredients, you control the flavor. Budgetbytes.com
Servings 4
Prep 15 mins
Cook 15 mins
Total 25 mins

Ingredients

Chicken

  • 1 large egg ($0.23)
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch ($0.06)
  • 1 pinch each salt and pepper ($0.05)
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs ($3.23)
  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil ($0.08)

Sauce

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce ($0.24)
  • 2 Tbsp water ($0.00)
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil ($0.33)
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar ($0.12)
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar ($0.12)
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger ($0.10)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced ($0.16)
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds ($0.8)
  • 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch ($0.02)

For Serving

  • 4 cups cooked jasmine rice ($0.70)
  • 2 whole green onions ($0.22)

Instructions 

  • First, 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. (Grate the ginger with a small-holed cheese grater). Set the sauce aside.
  • 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.
  • Add the cooking oil to a large skillet and heat it over medium flame. Wait until the skillet is very hot, then swirl the skillet to make sure the oil coats the entire surface. Add the batter coated chicken and spread it out into a single layer over the surface of the skillet. 
  • Allow the chicken pieces to cook, undisturbed, until golden brown on the bottom. Then, carefully flip the chicken, breaking up the pieces into smaller clumps as you flip. Continue to cook the chicken until golden brown on the other side. Stir the chicken as little as possible to avoid breaking the egg coating from the surface of the chicken.
  • Once the chicken is cooked through and golden brown on all sides, pour the sauce over top. Toss the chicken to coat in the sauce. As the sauce comes up to a simmer, it will begin to thicken. Continue to gently stir the chicken in the sauce until it has thickened, then turn off the heat.
  • Serve the chicken over a bed of rice and sprinkle the sliced green onions over top.

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Nutrition

Serving: 1ServingCalories: 551.83kcalCarbohydrates: 60.38gProtein: 26.75gFat: 23.3gSodium: 1518.4mgFiber: 1.5g
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How to Make Sesame Chicken – Step by Step Photos

Easy Sesame Chicken Sauce

Make the sauce first, so it’s ready to go when you need it. In a bowl, stir together 1/4 cup soy sauce, 2 Tbsp water, 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil, 3 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 Tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp grated fresh ginger, 2 minced cloves of garlic, ½ Tbsp cornstarch, and 1 Tbsp sesame seeds.

Toasted Sesame Oil

Let’s just talk about this toasted sesame oil for a second. You must get the kind that is toasted to get the super vibrant nutty flavor that you want in your sesame chicken. Not all brands actually say “toasted” on the bottle, but you can recognize the toasted variety by its deep brown color. Regular sesame oil will be the color of straw, like vegetable oil. You want the brown stuff. ;) It’s usually in the international foods aisle, instead of the baking aisle with the other oils.

Cubed Chicken Thighs

Next, trim any extra fat off of one pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, then cut them into small one inch cubes. One pound for me was about three chicken thighs.

Egg and Cornstarch

Add 1 large egg, 2 Tbsp cornstarch, and a pinch of salt and pepper to a medium bowl.

Egg and cornstarch whisked until smooth in a bowl

Whisk the egg and cornstarch together until it is light and frothy. It may seem thick at first, but as the cornstarch dissolves in the egg, it will thin out and get nice and frothy.

Chicken Thighs Coated in Egg and Cornstarch

Add the cubed chicken thighs and stir them to coat in the egg mixture.

chicken being fried in the skillet

Add 2 Tbsp cooking oil to a large skillet and heat it over medium. Wait until it is very hot. This is VERY important. The skillet must be very hot! Once very hot, swirl the skillet to make sure the oil coats the entire surface, add the chicken, and make sure it’s spread out into a single layer. Let the chicken cook, undisturbed, until golden brown on the bottom. It will kind of cook into a single round pancake, but don’t worry, we’ll break up the pieces next.

cooked chicken in skillet with light egg and cornstarch coating.

Then carefully flip the chicken pieces, breaking up them up slightly into smaller pieces as you flip. Cook on the other side until browned and cooked through. Make sure to not stir them too much, or you can cause the egg to come off the chicken. You can see that some of the chicken pieces are still kind of stuck together at this point. That’s okay. Just do not over stir.

Sesame Sauce Added to Chicken

Finally, add the prepared sauce and stir to coat. Continue to carefully stir the chicken as the sauce beings to simmer and thicken. Once it’s thickened, turn off the heat.

Finished easy sesame chicken in a skillet with a wooden spatula on a bamboo mat with green onion and ginger near by.

Sprinkle some sliced green onions over top and serve with warm rice. :) Doesn’t get better than this.

Three bowls of easy sesame chicken with rice on a bamboo mat

Easy Sesame Chicken – done in about 30 minutes, and NO DELIVERY FEE! :D

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  1. A favorite for this family. My 5 yr asked for this specifically when it was his turn to choose and prep a meal! The only change we make is to bump the sauce by 1.5 since it’s so good to have the extra on veggies and rice.

  2. This is a wonderful and easy recipe to make. It was delicious! I didn’t have any sesame oil and used grape oil instead. While the rice was cooking, and I was browning the chicken,I blanched some broccoli. After I added the sauce to the chicken I added the broccoli to the mix. Every thing was done in less than a half hour! Excellent recipe and I will make it again

  3. The recipe is perfect as-is. My favorite tweak is browning pineapple chunks with the chicken before you pour over the sauce. Thanks so much for your wonderful website! :)

  4. I’ve made this a few times and it is always excellent. I made it again tonight using tofu and soy curls because I don’t eat meat anymore. It is absolutely fantastic.

  5. This cheats way of crispy chicken didn’t work for me it just turned into a massive omelette then broke up and left loads of egg pieces in my dish. Lovely flavours but next time I will spend a bit longer making my chicken the longer way

  6. Great recipe! I needed to whip the egg/cornstarch a bit more, and I needed to use a bigger pan, but SO delish! Really was about 1/2 hour start to finish, and it was gone faster than I could have hoped.

    Thank you so much for this recipe, SO much easier than the bazillion other complicated recipes out there, and the flavors are great! Thank you so much!

  7. Actually super impressed by this recipe! I found it on a whim while looking for last minute dinner ideas. Relatively simple process and ingredients and turned out great. Was glad I happened to print this one out because I will be keeping it around to use again and again!

  8. Absolutely delicious homemade version of sesame chicken, packed with awesome flavors! I loved making this and smelling all the fragrances. I will definitely make this again, and also wanted to note that it took me an hour to make this! Between cutting raw meat and battering/browning thoroughly, definitely a lot more than 25 mins for the amateur chef! =)

  9. You don’t realize how much I love you for this recipe alone. I somehow managed to stumble upon the seemingly ONLY sesame chicken recipe which does not involve deep frying and it is FREAKING PERFECTION IN MY MOUTH! AND it’s healthy??? THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU A MILLION GAZILLION TIMES! I’ve prepared this for both of my parents, my sister and her hubs, and some of my friends… EVERYBODY LOVES IT!

  10. Finally made this tonight, it was delicious.
    I lessened the sugar, used dried ginger since I don’t keep fresh on hand, and made extra sauce since I make a boatload of stir fried veggies.
    The family and I really enjoyed it!

  11. Great sauce. Great idea in terms of cooking the egg and corn starch all at once.

    Execution? Not so great I think.

    I somehow ended up with scrambled egg coated chicken lol. Maybe I didn’t leave the chicken to cook long enough before flipping around? That’s my best guess. Followed the rest of the instructions exactly.

    I’ll tweak the egg and cornstarch part probably. But everything else is great! Thanks for the recipe!