This easy Chilli Chicken recipe offers a lighter spin on your favourite Chinese takeout, with the perfect blend of sweet and spicy flavours!
Ingredients and substitutions
- Boneless chicken breasts – chicken thighs, turkey, pork or beef would also be great in this recipe.
- Cornstarch – arrowroot or potato starch could be used instead.
- Baking soda -you could also use baking powder, but it's a lot milder than the baking soda.
- Salt – to taste.
- Canola oil – or any other neutral oil like olive, grapeseed or avocado oil.
- Yellow onion – white or red onions would also work.
- Green pepper – you could also substitute for red pepper (or any other colour bell pepper).
- Green onions – chives or shallots can be used, or you can leave out the green onions.
- Dried chillis – you can use red chilli or green chilli here or leave them out altogether.
Stir fry sauce
- Soy sauce – tamari or coconut aminos are the next best alternatives.
- Sweet chilli sauce – if you don't have any on hand, hot sauce and honey can be used in a pinch.
- Sambal oelek (chili sauce) – Sriracha will still give you the right amount of heat.
- Garlic – you can use fresh or jarred minced garlic. I find that fresh minced garlic has the best flavour.
- Jasmine rice – use your favourite kind of rice, quinoa or rice noodles instead.
- Butter – you could also use a little bit of olive oil or margarine to make the rice moister.
- Salt – to taste.
How to make chilli chicken
Step 1: Season the chicken.
Toss the chicken with cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Meanwhile, make the sauce and cook the rice in a rice cooker or a pot on the stovetop.
Step 2: Brown the chicken.
Heat oil in a large frying pan or wok on the stove top. Add the chicken and sauté until browned.
Step 3: Add the veggies.
Add the onion and green pepper, and cook until softened.
Step 4: Make the stir fry sauce.
Step 5: Toss everything together.
Toss the chicken mixture with the sauce and dried chilies, then cook until the sauce thickens.
Step 6: Serve and enjoy!
Serve the chicken over rice and garnish with green onions.
Tips & tricks for chili chicken
Here are some tips and tricks to making the best spicy chilli chicken:
- Make your own sauce: Store-bought sauces are full of preservatives. Making your own sauce is super easy and uses pantry staples you likely already have on hand.
- Tenderize the chicken: Let the chicken sit in a mixture of cornstarch, baking soda and salt to tenderize the chicken.
- Don't overcook the chicken: Cook the chicken until browned, then add in the veggies and sauté. You don't want to overcook the chicken or it'll be super dry.
- Adjust the spice level: If you don't have a high spice tolerance, skip the dried chillis for a milder flavor.
- Add more veggies: Stir in some broccoli florets, corn kernels, water chestnuts, bok choy and more along with the bell peppers.
Frequently Asked Questions
I like serving this chili chicken recipe with jasmine rice, but you can use whatever kind of rice you have on hand like brown rice or even cauliflower fried rice. Rice noodles, hakka noodles, quinoa and cauliflower rice are also good options! The dish is super filling, so you won't need to serve it with anything else on the side, but if you want, it would be good with some steamed broccoli.
The first step of this recipe is to allow the chicken to sit in a mixture of cornstarch and baking soda for about ten minutes. Baking soda raises the pH level of the chicken, which jump starts the browning process. The chicken pieces will get browner and crisper after a quick baking soda soak then they normally would. You’ll have chicken with a crisper coating without using flour. While it ensures that the exterior will be crispy, it keeps the interior of the meat super moist.
This dish definitely has a bit of a kick to it! If you're not a big fan of spice, skip the dried chilis and reduce the amount of Sambal Oelek sauce you add.
You can use dried chillis from the grocery store, buy them online or just leave them out altogether.
Storing and reheating
This chilli chicken recipe is great for meal prep – you can store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days! You can reheat it in the microwave for a couple of minutes, but it will lose the crisp edges from pan frying the chicken. The best way to reheat this dish is to warm it in a pan with a little bit of oil, just like you cooked it.
If you love your new homemade stir fry sauce, you can make a larger batch of it and store it in the refrigerator for two weeks in a mason jar. Use it to spice up any meat or veggie you have on hand!
Freezing this recipe
This chili chicken recipe is definitely freezer-friendly. If you plan to use it as a freezer meal, undercook the veggies so they don’t get mushy in the freezer. You’ll want to freeze the chicken and rice separately. The chicken will last for 3 months in the freezer. Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
You can also freeze just the stir fry sauce. Store it in an airtight container or bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Let it thaw completely before tossing with your chilli chicken.
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Meal Prep Tools
- Order some dried chillies here.
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Restaurant-Style Chilli Chicken
- 1 lb chicken breasts diced
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 1 yellow onion chopped into chunks
- 1 green pepper chopped into chunks
- 4 green onions, sliced
- 1/2 cup dried chillis (optional)
Stir fry sauce
- 2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari if gluten-free
- 2 tbsp sweet chili sauce
- 1-2 tbsp sambal oelek (chili sauce) depends how spicy you like it
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 1 cup jasmine rice
- 1 tsp butter
- 1 pinch salt
- Toss chicken with cornstarch, baking soda and salt, setting aside for 5-10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine sauce ingredients in a bowl, and cook rice in a rice cooker or on the stovetop.
- Add canola oil to a large frying pan or wok over med-high heat. Saute chicken for 5 minutes or so until browned, then add onion and green pepper, cooking another 3-4 minutes until softened.
- Toss chicken mixture with stir fry sauce and dried chilies, cooking for another 2 minutes or so until sauce thickens. Remove from heat.
- Serve chicken overtop of cooked rice and garnish with green onions. Enjoy!