Sesame Chicken

Sesame Chicken

Although I didn’t eat a lot of it in college, I’ve definitely made it up for lost time when it comes to my consumption of Chinese food. As much as I love the ease of ordering take-out, I’ve been trying to tackle some of my favorite menu items one at a time. So far, I’ve cooked up sweet and sour chicken, cashew chicken and General Tso’s Chicken, and I’ve loved each rendition. Next on my list was sesame chicken, but I was surprised that there weren’t more recipes available when I did some researching online. I absolutely adored the General Tso’s recipe I made last year, specifically how crunchy the fried chicken was and how the overarching flavors carried through all of the recipe components. I decided to use that recipe as a template, while changing up the flavors to make a sesame version. The end result was fabulous – thick-coated, crunchy chicken tossed a sesame-flavored sauce that had just the right amount of sweetness. Another homemade take-out success!

Sesame Chicken Recipe

This recipe isn’t exactly a 30-minute meal – it takes a little bit of time and preparation, but if you have a few extra minutes, this sesame chicken is 100% worth it. I love how crunchy the chicken is and that the sauce thickens beautifully to coat the chicken. It’s not too thin, but not gloopy either; just right. Toss the chicken on a bed of white rice and top with toasted sesame seeds and chopped scallions, and you’ll be in dinner heaven. Trust me, you’ll want to hoard the leftovers (if there are any!) all to yourself.

I have a long list of take-out favorites that I can’t wait to recreate; what are some of your favorites?

Sesame Chicken Recipe

One year ago: Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Sesame Chicken

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Sesame Chicken - Marinated, battered and fried, tossed in a sweet sesame sauce and served over white rice, sprinkled with sesame seeds and chopped scallions.


For the Marinade:
1 cup chicken stock
½ cup water
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup honey
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch chunks

For the Sauce:
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon chili paste (can substitute a couple pinches of red pepper flakes)

For Coating & Frying:
3 egg whites
1½ cups cornstarch
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda

6 cups vegetable oil, for frying
Sesame seeds, to garnish
Scallions, sliced, to garnish


1. To make the marinade, whisk the chicken stock, water, soy sauce, honey, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, cornstarch and sesame oil in a bowl. Of this mixture, place 6 tablespoons into a zip lock storage bag and add the chicken; seal and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Set aside the remaining marinade in the bowl.

2. While the chicken is chilling in the marinade, heat the 1 tablespoon of sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Sauté the garlic, ginger and chile paste until fragrant (about 2 minutes). Add 2 cups of the reserved marinade to the skillet and simmer, whisking constantly, until the mixture has become a darker brown and thickened. Remove from the heat and cover.

3. To prepare the chicken for coating and frying, whisk the egg whites in a shallow dish until foamy; set aside. Combine the cornstarch, flour, baking soda, and remaining marinade in a second shallow dish; mix using a fork until it resembles coarse meal.

4. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and from the marinade. Pat the marinated chicken dry with paper towels.

5. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat until the oil registers 350 degrees.

6. While the oil is heating, prepare the chicken for frying. Toss half the chicken into the foamy egg whites until well coated, then dredge the chicken in the cornstarch mixture, pressing to adhere. Transfer the coated chicken to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken.

7. Fry half the chicken until golden brown, about 3 minutes, turning each piece halfway through cooking. Transfer the cooked chicken onto a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Return the oil to 350 degrees. Repeat with the remaining chicken.

8. Warm the sauce over medium heat until simmering. Turn off the heat and add the fried chicken pieces. Toss to coat and serve, sprinkling with sesame seeds and chopped scallions.

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128 Responses to “Sesame Chicken”

Comment Pages 1 2
  1. Priya on February 27, 2013 at 3:11 am

    This sounds so good! Would love to try it out – although I probably would reduce the brown sugar a bit for my husband.


  2. teresa on February 27, 2013 at 4:03 am

    Mmmm! That looks Delicious!!!


  3. Little Kitchie on February 27, 2013 at 6:07 am

    Oh yum! Sesame chicken is my go to dish when we order Chinese. Never made it at home! Definitely going to try this out!


  4. courtney on February 27, 2013 at 7:10 am

    Yum! Do you deliver? haha Seriously gorgeous photos!


  5. Ellen @ The Baking Bluenoser on February 27, 2013 at 7:20 am

    Oh yummy! This looks awesome. I’m a sucker for good chinese food. I haven’t had it in ages so I could definitely go for some sesame chicken right about now!


  6. shelly (cookies and cups) on February 27, 2013 at 8:22 am

    Sesame Chicken is my husband’s favorite! I will totally make this one!


  7. Deauna on February 27, 2013 at 8:33 am

    This looks great! I also want to decrease my dependence on the local Asian restaurants. I’m definitely going to try this with chicken and shrimp.


  8. Tracey on February 27, 2013 at 8:37 am

    This looks amazing Michelle! Even though we just got Chinese take-out last night I’m totally itching to make this tonight :)


  9. nancy K on February 27, 2013 at 8:40 am

    This recipe looks yummy for sure. I would love for you to re-create a recipe for spicy green beans. Thet is a great Chinese place near my home that makes this delicious dish. The beans have a sticky sweet sauce that is also spicy and very garlicky. I have tried to make them but they just don’t seem quite right. Any help would be appreciated!!


    • Michelle on February 27th, 2013 at 1:12 pm

      Hi Nancy, I have never had that dish, but I’ll see what I can dig up!


    • Laura on February 27th, 2013 at 7:45 pm

      Me toooooo!! I keep tryin but not the same!! Please try! All the recipes I try are da BOMB!!


  10. natalie @ wee eats on February 27, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Sesame chicken is my favorite and I have yet to find a place out here (in Phoenix) that makes it the way I like! Your chicken looks like it is EXACTLY what I’m looking for. Even though I’m not a fan of deep-frying I might have to give in just once for this amazing-looking chicken! Thanks for the recipe and (as always) the gorgeous pictures!


  11. Kristie@SimplySavvyRecipes on February 27, 2013 at 10:28 am

    Wow! This looks AMAZING! Sesame Chicken tastes great at restaurants but yours looks WAY better!!


  12. Elaine @ Cooking to Perfection on February 27, 2013 at 10:59 am

    I love sesame chicken and always order it when I go out. But everyone knows that homemade is better than store bought or restaurant meals any day! I’m going to have to keep this recipe in mind the next time I have a sesame chicken craving!


  13. Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie on February 27, 2013 at 11:01 am

    I used to cook so many stir fries and Chinese food in general during undergrad. They were so easy and I just dumped in whatever meats or veggies I had available with some sauce. Sesame chicken is one of my favorite Chinese dishes, I’ll have to try this! I’ve done a slow cooker version but haven’t tried making it for real.


  14. Annie @ Annie's City Kitchen on February 27, 2013 at 11:17 am

    So impressive! There are some things that I just assume I could never replicate at home and Chinese food is totally one of those things. This looks doable though! And actually pretty dangerous since I would want it every single day.


  15. Jess on February 27, 2013 at 11:47 am

    OMG this makes my mouth water! Pinned it! :)


  16. Sandi on February 27, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    This looks so delicious! Chinese food is my absolute favorite cuisine! I have too many favorite Chinese dishes to choose just one. When we order Chinese takeout we order several different dishes and sample little bits of everything and then munch on leftovers for a few days. Szechuan dumplings (steamed dumplings in a spicy peanut sauce with fresh bean sprouts) is probably my favorite little bite if I had to choose one.


  17. Nancy on February 27, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    I have all the ingredients and will try this tonight. What I would like is a recipe for chicken lo mein ( like they make at Giant Eagle ) I just can’t get the sauce right. Thank you


    • Michelle on February 27th, 2013 at 1:13 pm

      Hi Nancy, I’ve never picked that up from Giant Eagle, I’ll have to try it and see if I can recreate it!


  18. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes on February 27, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    I love sesame chicken – I wish I had this in front of me right now! It’s always better homemade than at a restaurant so I’ll have to try this out!


  19. Mandy on February 27, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    This looks delicious! I love the taste of Chinese food, but the Chinese restaurants around here have a reputation for being filthy so I never order take-out. Going to have to make this ASAP. Thanks for the recipe!


  20. Erin @ Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts on February 27, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Sesame chicken is one Chinese dish my whole family agrees on. This looks amazing, way better than take out!


  21. Rebekah on February 27, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    I love Sesame Chicken!! This looks absolutely divine. Thanks for sharing!


  22. Irina on February 27, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    Looks great! My kids aren’t big fans of Chinese food, but this seems like something that will please all of us. Thanks!


  23. Holiday Baker Man on February 27, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    Looking good!


  24. Grace on February 27, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    Oh my gosh… This looks amazing and truly authentic! Worthy of its own place… “The Sesame Chicken House!” lol… anyways, I think some good recipes would be orange chicken, mandarin chicken, mushroom and string bean chicken, and honey chicken…. That stuff is amazing.. Do you think you can recreate any of those?

    Also, I am not sure if you have ever tried these, but they are sort of Chinese sweet dessert thingies… Have you ever tried the mango and/or coconut pudding for dim sum places? Or the sweet tofu in ginger “soup”? And also, these sweet rice cakes–they are white and airy and fluffy–that they sell at most hot deli food places in Chinese markets… Have you tried any of those? If so, would you ever consider recreating them?

    I love your blog! :)
    -Grace :)
    P.S. I made your chocolate chip cookie dough brownies and they are absolutely amazing! Props to you on that! I wanted to devour the entire batch! Lol… but of course I didn’t 😛
    P.P.S. Would you ever consider making healthy recipes? Like low carb/sugar/calorie/sodium recipes? Or just recipes using whole and natural ingredients? Thanks :)


  25. Molly_Bakelette on February 27, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    I love when it is crunchy too! I would love a homemade chicken fried rice recipe!


  26. Stacey on February 27, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    I made this dish tonight. The hubs and the son loved it! I enjoyed it as well. However, the coating step was difficult, and my sauce never thickened. I am not sure what I did wrong with the sauce. Everything still tasted good. My son insists that I make it again, and I will. But would love if it you have any insight on why the sauce did not thicken or pointers for making the coating a little bit easier to use.
    Thank you for such a wonderful recipe. It is really, really hard to please my 12-year old!


    • Michelle on February 28th, 2013 at 7:54 pm

      Hi Stacey, Make sure that there isn’t any cornstarch left on the bottom of your bowl. I used a spatula to make sure I got every last drop of it. It takes a little bit of time, at least 5 minutes, for it to thicken up. It should be the consistency of syrup.


      • Stacey on February 28th, 2013 at 8:10 pm

        Thank you!


    • Letícia Batista on March 2nd, 2013 at 9:29 am

      I had no problems with the sauce. However, I agree with Stacey: it was a little hard to cover the chicken bites with the batter. But in the end everything was delicious! Thanks a lot for sharing this amazing recipe!


  27. Erika @ The Hopeless Housewife on February 27, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    This looks so wonderful!


  28. melissa d on February 28, 2013 at 10:24 am

    My favorite has got to be the orange chicken from panda express… this looks a lot like it. i didnt eat much chinese food in college either… that came much later for me


  29. Heather @ Sugar Dish Me on February 28, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    Oh! Sesame chicken totally tops my list. My kids call it sticky chicken. We never order take out because there honestly aren’t any restaurants here worth ordering from (boo.) BUT! I love making take out fake outs at home. This is gorgeous! My little boys will be sooooo thrilled.


  30. j.c on March 2, 2013 at 2:26 am

    hi, grate recipe! can I use tofu insted of chicken?


    • Michelle on March 2nd, 2013 at 5:09 pm

      I’ve never eaten or cooked with tofu so I honestly have no idea how it would hold up to the marinating, battering and frying. If it’s something you often use in place of chicken, then you can certainly try it, I just can’t guarantee how it’ll turn out.


      • j.c on March 5th, 2013 at 1:18 am

        so can you do some tofu recipes for us? I’m a big fan and would like to see what you gonna do with it.


        • Michelle on March 6th, 2013 at 4:42 pm

          I don’t eat tofu, so it’s not something I plan to incorporate in any recipes in the near future, but you never know, that could always change!


    • Sherry on March 2nd, 2013 at 11:20 pm

      Using an extra firm tofu with the water pressed out, the tofu should deep fried easily. Try this for a more authentic recipe:

      If you like the clinging sauce, it can always be thickened with a simple cornstarch slurry.


      • j.c on March 5th, 2013 at 1:21 am

        thank you!


  31. Lauri on March 2, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    This sounds yummy! Since we are gluten-free at my house I am going to try it with GF flour. I make my fried chicken with it so it should work!


  32. Sherry on March 2, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    I wish you would make a distinction between Americanized Chinese food and real Chinese food. To call this stuff “Chinese” seems almost wrong. I’m not even sure this stuff exists in other Westernized countries…

    Personally, my favorite dish to get at a Chinese restaurant is an enoki tofu hotpot. If I’m in a more carnivorous mood, I’ll get the goat with tofu skin sticks — also delicious. I just love the way they serve it over an open flame in a tiny wok. It’s so cute!


  33. Laura on March 3, 2013 at 3:43 am

    Just made this for dinner!! Delicious!! Thanks for another great recipe.


  34. Tracy {pale yellow} on March 3, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    Every Friday we order Chinese food for lunch and this is my go-to order. I try not to think about what I’m eating it always tastes so good. I look forward to making my own at home.


  35. Kt on March 3, 2013 at 10:01 pm

    I never comment of recipes but lord… knocked it out of the park with this one!!! Better than takeout for sure!! No problem with the sauce thickening at all. WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER!


  36. M on March 4, 2013 at 11:08 am

    We made this on the weekend. It was fabulous and everyone loved it, including my super fussy in-law.

    Any chance you will put a video up of this recipe, as the coating bit was a nightmare and I wanted to check how you made it.

    Thanks again :)


    • Marquita on March 7th, 2013 at 8:15 pm

      For the coating to make it easier, I did the egg white step as written then for the flour mixture I put it in a Ziploc bag and then just added my chicken to the bag to coat the chicken. I hope that that tip helps you out a little.


      • Emma on June 8th, 2013 at 4:42 am

        I had trouble with the consistency of the coating, instead of using a fork I rubbed it in-between my hands and it turned out great. Not sure if that was your problem, but thought I’d see if it helps anyway :)


  37. morri on March 7, 2013 at 5:57 am

    I don’t know what possessed me to make this on a weekday night! (there was chicken with a near best-before date and some egg whites in the fridge, but still). This is probably the best chicken main dish on the whole blog, hands down. Everybody in the family loved it and wouldn’t stop praising it, but… it just takes so much work! When I put the last batch of chicken into the hot oil, I looked around my messy kitchen and I was about ready to cry. I could definitely try this again, but on weekend, when I can rope some more people into helping me 😀 I don’t make Chinese often and I don’t have much experience with deep fried dishes, but I think it came out perfectly. I loved the crunch of the chicken bits and the sticky sauce coating. It goes perfectly with some raw vegetables, like rocket and lemon-garlic tomatoes.


    • Skye on December 2nd, 2014 at 12:37 pm

      “rocket and lemon-garlic tomatoes?”

      I’m stumped with the “rocket” and would love the lemon-garlic tomato recipe. How is it prepared?


  38. Marquita on March 7, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    I the sesame chicken yesterday and it was so good. It was the first recipe of yours I have ever tried, I am excited about trying more.


  39. Dalaina May on March 8, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Made this last night and it was a huge hit! I was a little confused about 1 step. Was I supposed to re-batter it before re-frying or just re-fry it? What is the purpose of re-frying? I did it, but tasted before and after and didn’t notice a difference in it.
    Thanks for your awesome recipes. I have been making 1 or 2 new ones every week!


    • Michelle on March 11th, 2013 at 12:31 am

      Hi Dalaina, I’m sorry if you were confused, but you aren’t supposed to fry the chicken twice. The instructions are for you to fry half of the chicken, then let the oil come back to temperature before frying the second half of the chicken. I’ll try to re-word the instructions so they are more clear.


      • Dalaina May on March 11th, 2013 at 9:55 am

        hilarious. well, it was still awesome. Twice fried and all!


  40. Kellie on March 12, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Oh yum! My favorite is Hunan Chicken. I love all the veggies in it!


  41. Amber on March 12, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    Made this tonight and it was soooo good! Just a bit of a process and messy too. Will make again!! Love your recipes!


  42. Nikki on March 24, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    OMG this looks delicious!! I don’t think I have ever had sesame chicken before. I’m going to try it out though :) You should try and make Szechuan chicken or mongolian beff mmmh yummy!!!! Okai now i’m going to stalk your site since this is the first recipe of yours I have seen.


  43. Noreen on March 25, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    Hi Michelle! SCRUMPTIOUS!! EVERY recipe of yours is so yummy! Question, can you suggest as to how I could make this into Sesame Orange Chicken? Thank you so much!


    • Michelle on March 28th, 2013 at 2:28 pm

      Hi Noreen, So glad you enjoyed it! I am actually planning on making Orange Chicken, so keep an eye out!


  44. T.R. on March 26, 2013 at 2:07 am

    FINALLY! Made this tonight and it was delish. I didn’t have any marinade left to put in the flour, etc. I used water and a little marinade from the chicken. Regardless it came out wonderful. Question: What’s the purposed of making the coating into coarse meal? Mine just clumped together. LOL but it all turned out okay. Thanks again for a great recipe. I will be making it again.


    • Michelle on March 28th, 2013 at 2:37 pm

      The coarse meal texture is to give the chicken that crunchy texture.


  45. Lindsay on April 25, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    This looks AMAZING. Question though… I don’t have a deep fryer. Think there’s any way to cook it in the oven, or in a heavy skillet?


    • Michelle on April 25th, 2013 at 7:13 pm

      Hi Lindsay, I don’t have a deep fryer either; I use my large Dutch oven for all of my frying. You can use any large, heavy pot at your disposal, preferably one that is at least 5 quarts or larger.


    • Emma on June 8th, 2013 at 4:45 am

      I used a wok, with only 2 cups of oil and it worked perfectly!


  46. Amanda on April 27, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    Could I substitute the cornstarch for arrowroot? I’m allergic to corn but love this recipe.


    • Michelle on April 28th, 2013 at 11:33 pm

      Hi Amanda, I think you could do that without a problem. Enjoy!


  47. Jennifer Marshall on April 28, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    I made this last night for my Chinese take out loving boyfriend and 10 year old son-it was perfection! Mine looked just like your photos and tasted far and away better than any Chinese restaurant I’ve ever had. Although it was several steps, it was actually pretty easy. The coating was perfect-my boyfriend actually made the comment that he had never seen something that was homemade and fried where the breading didn’t fall off, and he wanted to know what the secret was. I love to cook and have loved to since I was a kid, and I get so much inspiration from this website, and I wanted to thank you for that. You cook the way I love to! It’s so nice to know we can make homemade versions of foods we’re fond of and make them even better than their restaurant counterpart.


  48. Nat Blair on April 28, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    made this tonight- it’s absolutely delicious!


  49. Sarah on May 13, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    Is there a substitute I can use instead of sesame oil? I know that sounds silly seeing as its sesame chicken but would veg oil work?


    • Michelle on May 15th, 2013 at 11:39 am

      Hi Sarah, You can use vegetable oil, but obviously you lose the sesame taste.


  50. BrittanyJoH on May 20, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    This turned out really good! My hubby loved it & said it tasted like Authentic Chinese. I used a deep-fat fryer to fry to chicken…turned out crispy, just the way I like it!…Thank you! :)


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