Chicken Addiction Bourbon Chicken

Hi, I’m Ms. Frau, and I have an addiction: Bourbon Chicken. How does a Northerner come to crave this Southern dish named after New Orleans’ famed Bourbon Steet? One taste at our local food chain and it happened, and before I knew it I went back for more, and then did it again, and maybe even again…I’m just going to shut up now and not say anymore.

Bourbon Chicken - delicious, sweet & smoky
Bourbon Chicken – delicious, sweet & smoky

Well, “ya’ll” know how I feel about fast food: expensive and not so good for you. I knew I could do better & did~and I kept it simple AND fast. Dinner is on the table in about the time it takes the rice to cook. And a full meal for four? About half the cost of take out for one! Seriously, no need for a crock pot, here!

This chicken is succulent, coated in a smoky, sweet sauce with just enough spice to add interest. The addition of onions and mushrooms helps the nutritional value (but if you want, leave them out and add a bit more chicken. Grandma Frau says to eat your veggies, though!) A beautiful side of vegetables gives some balance.

Bourbon Chicken - delicious, sweet & smoky. This was so much better than take out!
Bourbon Chicken – delicious, sweet & smoky. This was so much better than take out!

It me took more than a few tries to perfect: the recipes I found out there on the internet just weren’t quite right. I had to go back to LeeAnn’s and taste theirs, again. Then I tinkered a bit and tasted them side by side…and then tasted theirs again…and then tinkered some more. Finally, I was really almost there, but I decided I liked my Bourbon Chicken better! Why keep going?

One would think I wouldn’t want Bourbon Chicken again for awhile…But I DO! I want it NOW…it’s just that good! If you’ve got the same problem, satisfy yourself with the recipe, below!

It ran me about $2.50 for the chicken; the rice and steamed vegetables, another $1.70. A complete meal for four for the bargain price of $4.20…you can have this anytime and not worry about cost. Look for your chicken breast on sale for 99 cents a pound and you’ll save more. I like this dish so much I cut the extra chicken up and put it in a ziploc so it’s ready to go the next time I crave this. The other thing I realized is this dish makes much larger servings than one would get at a take place

Bourbon Chicken - delicious Sweet & Smoky
Bourbon Chicken – delicious Sweet & Smoky

Bourbon Chicken

  • Servings: 4 - 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound chicken, cut into chunks or slices, about 3/4 inches
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 small onion, sliced diagonally
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 green onions, sliced thinly diagonally, for garnish

Sauce ingredients:

  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes; more can be added
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (or freshly grated, but the ground tastes more like the restaurant version)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup of apple juice (may replace with just about any kind of juice)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon Bourbon or Whiskey (or 2 tablespoons of white wine, or a tablespoon lemon juice)
  • 2 tablespoons Plum Sauce (or substitute ketchup, but the Plum sauce was key in making this taste more like the restaurant version)
  • 2 tablespoons Rice vinegar (or one tablespoon apple cider vinegar, but the smoother taste of the Rice vinegar made a discernible difference)
  • 1/8 teaspoon of liquid smoke (this gave it a slight smoky taste – I missed it when I tried versions without)

Preheat a large saute pan to medium high with the two tablespoons of oil. Add onions and mushrooms. As the onions and mushrooms begin to cook, toss chicken pieces with cornstarch. Push the mushrooms and onions to the side, add the chicken, separating with a spatula as they begin to cook. Cook until chicken is opaque and turns white on all sides.

While the chicken is cooking, mix sauce ingredients in a small bowl with a whisk. (If using powdered ginger, whisk with a small amount of one of the liquids at the beginning so it doesn’t clump.)

When the chicken is opaque, add sauce to pan with the chicken and mushrooms and stir together. Bring to a boil, add a lid, an reduce to a good simmer. Cook for about five to ten minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken is well coated with sauce and no longer pink in the center.

If sauce seems to thin, remove the lid for a moment. If too thick, add water, a tablespoon at a time.

Sprinkle finished dish with green onion.


  • I found the best flavor from using the ingredients listed first over the substitutions, but don’t sweat it – it tastes great even if substitutions are made.
  • Serve with rice and steamed vegetables, below.
  • This easy skillet recipe cooks in moments, so start the rice first, which will take about 20 minutes, and once the mushrooms and onions are in the pan, start cooking the vegetables.

From the kitchen of


Rice: 1 cup raw equals 2 cups, cooked; I like leftover rice for fried rice, so I usually make a little extra. Place in pan, use double the amount of water as rice and a pinch of salt, bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat. Cook at a bare simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to steam for five minutes, then remove lid & fluff with a fork.

Steamed Vegetables:

Side vegetables: Steamed Broccoli and Diagonally Sliced Carrots, about 3/4 pound of broccoli (a head at the store) and about 3 medium sized carrots. Cut into bite sized pieces. Place about an inch of water in a pan, add carrots and broccoli stems first and top with the broccoli heads. Bring to a boil, reduce to a hard simmer and steam for eight minute. Drain.

Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Read {Strategies Applied} for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving money/time and managing yhis recipe.
  • Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.


per serving estimate, for chicken and sauce: Cal 382; fat 11g; chol 83mg; carb 44g; sod 695. prot 34g; sug 25g


This freezes pretty well, just double or triple – with one caveat: dishes thickened with cornstarch may be thinner upon thawing. If so, mix a little bit of cornstarch with a bit of water and add it to the Bourbon Chicken once it is brought up to a simmer. Add the slurry bit by bit until desired thickness is reached.

It’s so quick to make that I often just cut up uncooked chicken and bag in appropriate amounts and freeze.

Put Your own Spin on It:

  • Method: The vegetables may simply be mixed together with the chicken and sauce.
  • Pineapple: This dish would be fantastic with pineapple chunks in the sauce instead of mushrooms and onions…
  • Vegetable Options: If you don’t want to serve vegetables on the side, thinly sliced, colorful peppers would be wonderful incorporated into this dish…add them with the onion. An easy option would be to microwave some frozen Asian style vegetables, or add them right into the pan. I picked up a package recently to try, a store brand for $1,79 for a one pound package. The frozen packages also include mushrooms and onions, so they could be omitted.
  • Sugar and Red Pepper: It seems many versions of this recipe are much sweeter; if that is your preference, feel free to add more sugar. As far as the heat level, use anywhere from 1/4 teaspoon up to 3/4. I was aiming for a taste similar to LeeAnn Chins, which isn’t spicy. Bourbon Chicken from Cajun places may very well have more heat.
  • Alcohol: Many of the recipes I saw called for a little wine at the end of the cooking process; I used bourbon. Some recipes use a little lemon instead…use whatever you’re comfortable…but I did find some alcohol rounded the recipe out and gave it a depth of flavor.

A few variations:

  • Cooking options: Grilled: the chicken can be grilled, the sauce made in a pan, then the chicken sliced and combined. Marinade four hours to overnight in the sauce ingredients. Baked: the ingredients can all be placed in a nonreactive baking dish, marinated for four hours to over night, then taken out and baked right in the same pan for 45 minutes to an hour at 350 degrees, basting every 10 minutes. Of course, a marinade for the recipe as written above would be great, too. Just make sure the sauce ingredients come to a good boil.
  • Chicken Wings: Dust your wings with any kind of Cajun rub, then baste with the sauce as they cook, or toss with the sauce when done.
  • Lettuce Cups: Try making the chicken pieces very small and serve in lettuce cups with sticky rice or rice noodles….save some of the sauce out for dipping sauce as you won’t want the chicken too wet, anyway…this is a wonderful way to rework the meal as leftovers, especially if you don’t have a lot left. Served in lettuce cups, it’s amazing how far a bit of this will go for a light lunch.


LeeAnn Chin's Bourbon Chicken, photo from Yelp
LeeAnn Chin’s Bourbon Chicken, photo from Yelp

Recipe made January 2014

Comments and discussion always welcome - tell me what you think.

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