Sticky, nutty Sesame Chicken coming in for din! A healthy spin on the Chinese-American takeout favorite, this is a 30-minute dinner that’s here for you tonight. You’ll love any surviving leftovers tomorrow too!

A plate of sesame chicken with rice

Pin this recipe on Pinterest to save for later

Pin It!

Stir fry recipes have been a key to meal sanity around here since Ben and I were married more than a decade ago (!).

From Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry to Sweet and Sour Chicken, the fact that stir fries are fast and that the leftovers give us something fast and filling to reheat the next day for lunch means it’s easier to eat healthy more often.

Of the different varieties of stir fries I cook (of which there are many), the one “genre” that never fails to hit the spot is anything involving juicy pieces of chicken coated in a thick, sticky, sweet-and-savory sauce.

We’re talking General Tso Chicken, Bourbon Chicken, Healthy Orange Chicken—the mall takeout standbys we loved as kids.

Easy sesame chicken and rice on a plate

Sesame chicken is most similar to General Tso chicken but with a few key differences:

  • General Tso’s is sweet and spicy, whereas sesame chicken is sweet with deeply nutty umami notes from the sesame oil.
  • General Tso chicken can use breasts, thighs, or a mix, whereas sesame chicken typically calls for chicken thighs.
  • Both chicken stir fries feature green onions for bite and sesame seeds for crunch.
A skillet of sesame chicken

How to Make Sesame Chicken

Traditionally, sesame chicken sauce contains soy sauce, brown sugar, and its signature ingredient, sesame oil.

To make this a healthy stir fry recipe, I’ve cut down on the sugar, replacing it with a modest amount of honey.

Most authentic sesame chicken recipes don’t include other vegetables, but you can certainly add any you like. We mixed ours with Roasted Broccoli.


The Ingredients

  • Chicken. Mild in flavor and protein-packed, chicken works famously in stir fry recipes. It makes the dish filling, keeps it nutritious, and becomes tender and flavorful in the sauce.

Substitution Tip

Both boneless, skinless chicken thighs and breasts will work for this recipe.

  • Sesame Oil. An essential ingredient, it adds delicious nuttiness and savoriness.
  • Scallions. For onion flavor, color, and bite.
  • Ginger + Garlic. The classic flavor building blocks of a stir fry dish. Using fresh is worth it here.
  • Red Pepper Flakes. While this dish isn’t spicy, red pepper flakes give it a little heat.
  • Sesame Seeds. For nuttiness and texture.
  • Fresh Basil. Fresh herbs are a scrumptious way to finish this dish. Cilantro would also work well here.
  • Sesame Chicken Sauce. Soy sauce adds umami, honey adds sweetness, rice wine vinegar brings acidity, and cornstarch helps make it thick.

Adding Veggies

Easily add veggies to your meal by serving a side of Homemade Fried Rice with this dish.

You can also serve sesame chicken with a side of Oven Roasted Vegetables, Roasted Carrots, Air Fryer Broccoli, Roasted Frozen Broccoli, or any of your other favorite frozen veggies.

The Directions

Meat being coated in cornstarch
  1. Stir the chicken, salt, and pepper together in a bowl. Add the cornstarch.
Marinade being whisked in a glass measuring cup
  1. Stir the sesame chicken sauce ingredients together.
Green onions, ginger, and red pepper flakes in a skillet
  1. Stir fry the green onions and aromatics.
Chicken being added to a pan of sauce
  1. Stir in more sesame oil and the chicken. Pour the sauce into the skillet. Let simmer.
Sesame seeds being added to a skillet of chicken
  1. Stir in the sesame seeds and herbs. ENJOY!

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Refrigerate leftover chicken fries in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
  • To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
  • To Freeze. Freeze chicken stir fry in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Meal Prep Tip

Up to 1 day in advance, cut the chicken, scallions, ginger, and garlic. Refrigerate each ingredient in a separate airtight storage container until you’re ready to finish the recipe.

Chopsticks holding up a piece of sesame chicken

What to Serve with Sesame Chicken

Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe

The Best Cast Iron Skillet

This skillet is worth the investment. It will last a lifetime, cleans up easily, and transfer seamlessly from stovetop to oven to tabletop.

A plate of sesame chicken with rice

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know what you thought!

Leave a rating below in the comments and let me know how you liked the recipe.

What are the meals that your family comes back to again and again?

I hope this sesame chicken recipe joins that illustrious list!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Make Sesame Chicken without Soy?

Yes, you can make this recipe soy-free by swapping the soy sauce for coconut aminos. Coconut aminos are usually less salty, so add more to taste. This swap will also make the recipe gluten free.

How Can I Use Leftover Sesame Chicken?

Wrap leftover sesame chicken in a lettuce leaf for a delicious spin on my reader-favorite Asian Lettuce Wraps. Or add it to fried rice for a short-cut take on Chicken Fried Rice.

What if I Don’t Have Rice Wine Vinegar?

If you enjoy making stir fry recipes at home, I highly recommend grabbing a bottle of rice wine vinegar. I haven’t tried a swap for it myself, but I think apple cider vinegar would work best. However, there will be a slight flavor difference between the two. Also, apple cider vinegar is stronger, so use less.

A plate of sesame chicken with rice

Sesame Chicken

5 from 1 vote
Sesame chicken features juicy stir-fried chicken pieces in a sweet, sticky sesame sauce. A healthy version of the Chinese American favorite!

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 30 mins

Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients
  

FOR THE CHICKEN:

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts cut into bite-sized pieces (thighs will be more tender)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch

FOR THE STIR FRY:

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil divided
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil or grapeseed oil or another neutral cooking oil
  • 1 bunch scallions about 5 or 6, cut diagonally into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic about 6 cloves
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil or cilantro
  • Cooked Instant Pot Brown Rice quinoa, or Cauliflower Fried Rice, for serving

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Instructions
 

  • Place the chicken in a bowl and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. With a large spoon, stir to coat. Sprinkle the cornstarch over the top, then stir once more, ensuring the pieces are evenly coated.
  • Stir together the sauce: in a liquid measuring cup with a spout, stir together the soy sauce, honey, water, vinegar, and cornstarch. Keep near the stove. Make sure your ginger and garlic are minced and ready to go and that you have all of the ingredients and measuring spoons you will need close to the stove (stir fries move fast).
  • Heat a heavy-duty 12-inch skillet (well-seasoned cast iron or nonstick both work well) or a wok over high heat, until it is very hot, 2 to 4 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil and the canola oil and swirl to coat the pan. Let the oil heat for about 15 seconds, then add the green onions, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Stir in the garlic and cook 30 seconds.
  • Add the remaining tablespoon of sesame oil and the chicken, and cook, stirring periodically, 4 to 5 minutes. Give the sauce a quick stir, then pour into the skillet. Simmer until the sauce thickens and the chicken cooks through, 2 to 4 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the sesame seeds and basil or cilantro. Taste and adjust for seasoning as desired. Serve warm with rice.

Notes

  • TO STORE: Refrigerate chicken in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
  • TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
  • TO FREEZE: Freeze chicken in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 4), without riceCalories: 402kcalCarbohydrates: 20gProtein: 36gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0.04gCholesterol: 162mgPotassium: 557mgFiber: 1gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 297IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 79mgIron: 3mg

Join today and start saving your favorite recipes

Create an account to easily save your favorite projects and tutorials.

Register

More Takeout-Inspired Favorites

Did you try this recipe?

I want to see!

Follow @wellplated on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag it #wellplated. I love to know what you are making!

Share this Article

Pin

This post contains some affiliate links, which means that I make a small commission off items you purchase at no additional cost to you.

You May Also Like

Free Email Series
5 Secrets for Cooking Tasty and Healthy
My secrets for making wholesome meals you'll WANT to eat.

Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

Learn more about Erin

Leave a Comment

Did you make this recipe?

Don't forget to leave a review!

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating




2 Comments

Leave a comment

  1. I made this tonight and my only wish is that I doubled it so my husband and I could have even more leftovers this week! The sesame sauce was scrumptiously sticky with the perfect amount of sweetness and made with only 2 tbsp of honey as apposed to loads of brown sugar! We went with the recommended boneless chicken thighs and although I didn’t enjoy cleaning the meat, it was well worth the mess! Tender and full of flavor! Erin – The only chef I know who consistently creates dishes we love, while also allowing us to feel healthy eating them!! 👏5 stars