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15 Minute Honey Garlic Chicken is an addictively delicious weeknight meal made with both breasts and thighs and a quick crave worthy sauce!
All images and text ©Jenny DeRemer for Not Entirely Average, LLC
A Wok is a great tool for the kitchen if you plan to use it, but most households don’t necessarily need to make the investment, at least not IF you own a good-sized non-stick skillet! I own both and there is not much that I can create in my wok that I cannot also create in my biggest non-stick skillet.
To keep your non-stick skillet performing at its best, use only wooden or plastic or rubber-ended utensils in the skillet when preparing food. Metal utensils make short work of a non-stick surface, resulting in a ‘not so non-stick’ situation in a hurry.
Also, I hand wash my non-stick versus popping it into the dishwasher. It’s dishwasher safe, yes, however I want to preserve that coating for as long as I plan to own the pan (which is hopefully forever!), so use only soft, non-abrasive sponges and a squirt of basic dish detergent every time.
This recipe is neither Chinese nor Indian, rather somewhere unexpectedly delicious in between. Dare I say this recipe for 15 Minute Honey Garlic Chicken is better than takeout? I think I just did…
This recipe for 15 Minute Honey Garlic Chicken is a sticky glazed masterpiece that falls on the flavor scale somewhere between the authentic Chinese dish Kung Pao and the American-originated dish we call General Tso.
The easy honey garlic sauce is both sweet and spicy. It’s quick to throw together, and works well with beef, shrimp, and tofu as much as it works with chicken thighs and boneless skinless chicken breasts.
Tonight, I am serving this zesty glazed chicken atop a mixture of two different types of rice; a coconut-infused brown rice and an equal amount of Basmati. I love the flavor of the coconut rice and appreciate the light texture Basmati adds to the brown rice when combined.
Despite this method requiring a full tablespoon of sambal oelek chili garlic sauce, the honey softens that sting to where I even have this dish kid-approved. Dare I say this recipe for 15 Minute Honey Garlic Chicken is better than takeout?
Do You Have What’s Needed To Make 15 Minute Honey Garlic Chicken? Check The List!
skinless and boneless chicken breasts and thighs
soy sauce, preferably low sodium
sambal oelek or other chili garlic sauce
fresh garlic cloves
ground black pepper
How This Recipe Came About…
While it was not initially a tradition per se, my family annually enjoys Chinese takeout on Christmas Day for a late-night supper. It goes back to being snowed in for Christmas one year.
A major nor’easter swept the northeast and snow fell for three days and nights straight. To put it in the words of a then ten-year-old (me :-)), it was a real doozie…
Because we’d celebrated the Christmas meal at my grandparents’ house traditionally, and because the storm caught everyone off guard, the only food my mom had in our refrigerator was some leftover Chinese takeout.
My dad told us a story of how when he and my mom were first married, they’d often celebrate holidays with takeout. And so, our humble dinner that Christmas became a 40-year tradition.
Over the years, and as I developed this interest I have in cooking, I got pretty good at replicating dishes. Admittedly, Chinese food was the last thing I ever thought I’d be able to master. Yet here I am today, sharing an easy method with you that I make as part of our Christmas Day supper after everybody has gone, a 15 Minute Honey Garlic Chicken…
Why Are Chinese Restaurants So Busy During The Holidays?
The combination of ‘Christmas and Chinese food’ is iconic. The tradition was popularized within non-Christian immigrant communities and originated in New York City as far back as the late 1800s.
Each year, millions of Americans gather at Chinese restaurants on Christmas day. In fact, Christmas and Christmas Eve are the busiest day of the year for most American Chinese restaurants.
Among the most popular items on Chinese-American restaurant menus include General Tso’s chicken, Crab Rangoon, Egg Rolls, Sesame Chicken, Wonton Soup, Fried Rice, Kung Pao Chicken, Orange Chicken, Hot and Sour Soup, and Pot Stickers to name just a few.
What Does 15 Minute Honey Garlic Chicken Taste Like?
If you’ve ever experienced the authentic Chinese dish Kung Pao Chicken or the Chinese American-originated dish General Tso’s Chicken, 15 Minute Honey Garlic Chicken will not seem at all foreign to your taste buds! This 15 Minute Honey Garlic Chicken recipe is a convergence of both of these dishes in my opinion.
The addition of honey to sambal makes what would otherwise be a VERY SPICY SAUCE sweet and sticky and even slightly smoky in terms of flavor. The sambal (or oelek or other favorite chili garlic sauce) is necessary to develop the deep, deep profile only found with this hot and spicy Indonesian relish.
How To Make 15 Minute Honey Garlic Chicken?
To say this is an easy chicken dinner that runs away from being ordinary would be an understatement. With all of the sheet pan, instant pot, crock pot, and slow cooker chicken recipes out there, it’s kind of refreshing to have a simple and delicious and HEALTHY one pot chicken dinner in the old recipe arsenal.
So this is where I tell you that there is no special honey garlic chicken marinade to have to prep ahead. This is also where I tell you that the days of slow cooker honey garlic chicken are only for when you plan on letting dinner “do itself” while you’re away from the kitchen.
This honey garlic chicken and rice dish is done in not so many minutes, leaving you free and unincumbered for the remainder of your night. If you are looking for low carb, consider serving over cauliflower rice or alone with a side of fresh steamed broccoli.
Honey-garlic chicken begins and ends in one pan. I begin by chopping both boneless and skinless chicken breasts and thighs into varying sized hunks. Have both light and dark meat means ensuring seriously tender chicken in every bite, as thighs will seemingly never dry out.
I begin by whisking together a sauce of ketchup, honey, soy sauce, sambal oelek, and minced garlic with a little tap water. I place it to the side while I bring a non-stick or wok to medium high temperature with some canola oil.
The chicken thighs cook first for about 5 minutes or until they begin to brown. I use a slotted plastic spoon to remove the thigh pieces from the pan leaving their juices behind. In go the pieces of chicken breast. They too, will sauté until golden, about 5 minutes.
I return the thigh pieces back to the pan along with the sauce. Everything comes to a boil over medium high heat before being lowered to a bubbling simmer. It takes only 3 to 5 minutes for the chicken to become well coated and sticky, the sauce thick and viscous.
The rice? I cheat. And I’m honest about it because there are some darn perfect rice pouches that are microwavable and hot in as few as 90 seconds nowadays. I heat what I know my eaters will enjoy, here a combination of Basmati stirred together with brown coconut rices, and serve the finished chicken and sauce atop.
What Can I Use As A Substitute For Sambal Oelek?
Chili garlic sauce is the best substitute for sambal oelek. You can easily exchange them in almost every recipe. Harissa is a chili paste from North Africa and could be an easy substitute for sambal oelek though its profile is less Asian than other possible substitutes.
In a pinch, sriracha may be used as a substitute for sambal oelek. Like sambal oelek, sriracha is also a chili garlic sauce. While it contains many of the same ingredients as sambal oelek, there are a few key differences, the addition of sugar being the biggie.
Modifying The Norm To Make It Not Entirely Average…
Oh my, so many ingredients come to mind to add interest to this dish. Lightly toasted sesame seeds or chopped scallions for starters. But too, if you needed some interest within the dish itself, my mind goes instantly to cashews, chopped onion or bell pepper, pineapple chunks, or even a combination dish with chicken, shrimp, and scallops or pork.
How Long Does 15 Minute Honey Garlic Chicken Take To Make?
15 MINUTES! YES!!! This does not take into account any prep you need to do with the chicken you’ll be working with. I am able to ask my butcher to cube a package of chicken thighs and a package of chicken breasts for me while I continue to shop.
He makes the cuts, re-packages the entire shebang, and I instantly cut a big corner off dinner prep. Ask for this service if it’s available at your grocer. Otherwise, look for packages of chicken already prepared this way. It’s a huge time saver.
What To Serve With 15 Minute Honey Garlic Chicken?
A recipe for a chicken dish isn’t complete without some healthy carbohydrates and maybe a small starch. It’s why I advocate for steamed broccoli and either rice or cauliflower rice. Both are simple and perfect served with this 15 Minute Honey Garlic Chicken.
What To Drink With 15 Minute Honey Garlic Chicken?
I’m pretty specific about wines I prefer to enjoy with spicy food. And because today’s dish isn’t necessarily ‘spicy’ as much as it is balanced, the sambal oelek definitely dictates what she be decanted for enjoying with this dish.
There is a certain chenin blanc made from grapes grown on schist soils and that is fermented in large neutral casks that I specifically recommend here. Domaine de la Bergerie Les Pierres Girard Anjou Blanc is a BIG WINE from the Loire Valley. It boasts notes of white peach, apricot, honeysuckle and a stony minerality which immediately softens the sambal oelek in the dish.
A very, very close second is bottled right here in the United States in Columbia Valley, Washington. Delille Cellars Chaleur Estate Blanc boasts aromas of pineapple, melon, a hint of dried herbs, and white flower. This is also a great pairing with this dish.
Yavira Crafted Basmati Pilsner (India) and Bira 91 White (India) are two fabulous brews that pair beautifully with spicy grub. Neither will disappoint you if enjoyed with this dish.
15 Minute Honey Garlic Chicken
- wok or large non-stick skillet
- wooden spoon or plastic spatula
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- ¼ cup ketchup
- 4 tablespoons honey
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce I use low sodium in this recipe
- 1 tablespoon sambal oelek or other chili garlic sauce
- 5 cloves garlic fresh, minced
- ¾ pound boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into 1-inch pieces
- ¾ pound boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- Kosher salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- hot cooked rice, cauliflower rice, or steamed broccoli
- In a small bowl, whisk water and cornstarch to a slurry. Stir in ketchup, honey, soy sauce, sambal oelek (or other garlic chili sauce), and minced garlic. Set aside.
- In a large nonstick skillet or wok, heat oil over medium-high. Add the pieces of chicken thighs first, seasoning liberally with Kosher salt and black pepper. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until browned all over. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate and keep warm.
- If needed, add another tablespoon oil to pan. Cook chicken breast pieces, seasoned with Kosher salt and black pepper, 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until browned all over. Return the chicken thigh meat to pan along with the sauce.
- Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 2 to 3 minutes or until sauce is thick and coats chicken.
- To serve, plate rice on a large serving platter. Top rice with chicken and sauce.
The nutrition value can vary depending on what product(s) you use. The information below is an estimate. Always use a calorie counter you are familiar with.
Please note that table salt and iodized salt are NOT substitutions for Kosher salt. Do not deviate unless otherwise specified.