Bourbon Chicken..Yes, Like at the Mall

April 10, 2012Katie

Bourbon Chicken.  This is my  meal of choice when my kids make me go to the mall with them.  Have I mentioned my aversion to the mall?  I mean, I am just appalled that to go to a movie nowadays, you have to park 1000 miles away in a parking lot of a million cars, and then walk through the mall, past all that temptation,  just to get to a movie!  What’s up with that?

Dangerous things happen in the mall…like expensive things.

Anyway, when presented with a food court at the mall, I typically order Bourbon Chicken.

And I love it.

Here is my experiment with making it at home.  It’s pretty close, I must say….

Take 1/2 cup of soy sauce.  Dump it into a small saucepan.  I always use the Light Soy Sauce.  If I don’t, my fingers swell up like sausages.

Add 1/2 cup of brown sugar to this and 3 chopped cloves of garlic.  Also grate up 1 tablespoon of ginger and toss it in as well.  You could use powdered if you want, it’ll work, but dry spices are more powerful so use maybe 2 teaspoons.

Chop up one-half cup of shallots.

If you don’t have shallots, just use onions.  I found these at my local Asian market dirt cheap this week!  Usually, I have to buy them 2 or 3 at a time in a little mesh bag for an unreasonable amount of money at my grocery store.

Enter the Bourbon.

I sauntered, and by sauntered, I mean I looked both ways while slinking deeply into my seat for anyone I knew around, into my local liquor store.  I mean, I thought about taping a sign onto the back of my car saying “I’m buying hard liquor for cooking, I swear it!”  I squeakily asked for a small bottle of bourbon.  Seeing as we aren’t big drinkers, when the man handed me this little bottle of Jim Beam Whiskey, I blankly looked at him and said, “isn’t this whiskey?” and he politely explained to me that they are basically one and the same.

Silly me.   **Mental note to self….bourbon =whiskey.

Anyway, dump in 1/2 cup of bourbon into your saucepan mix.

If you don’t drink, don’t worry! The alcohol cooks right out of it and you won’t be in danger.  You just need it for the correct flavor – Bourbon Chicken.

Get it?

Also stir in 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes and  1 tablespoon of vinegar.  I used rice wine vinegar.  (sorry, no picture!).

Mix this all up in the saucepan, cooking over medium heat – just enough to allow the sugar to dissolve.

While that’s heating up, cut up 7or 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I get a huge pack at Sams) into bite-size pieces. You can use chicken breasts if you don’t like dark meat, but the real stuff is dark at the mall!  Toss it into a 9 x 13 pan.

By now the sugar in your sauce should be dissolved and your sauce should be nice and warm.  Pour it right over all your chicken and mix it up with a large spoon so all your chicken is coated.

Cover it with tin foil or plastic wrap and put it in your refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight to allow the yummy marinade to do its work.

Remove your pan and open it up.

Bake uncovered for one hour at 350º.

While it’s baking, make yourself some lovely jasmine rice.

It’s the only way to go baby.

Remove your chicken from the oven after an hour.

Spoon some jasmine rice onto a plate.

Spoon some Bourbon Chicken over top.

And enjoy some good ol’ Bourbon Chicken…like at the mall.

Without the expensive price tags driving you crazy.


2.0 from 3 reviews
Bourbon Chicken..Yes, Like at the Mall
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 6
  • ½ c. soy sauce
  • ½ c. brown sugar
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 T. freshly grated ginger
  • ½ c. chopped shallot or onion
  • 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into small cubes
  • ½ c. Bourbon Whiskey
  • 1 T. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 t. red chili flakes
  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, onion,bourbon, vinegar, and chili flakes; stir jjust until sugar has dissolved, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Pour over chicken in a 9 x 13 baking dish and stir to coat.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
  4. Bake in a preheated 350°F. oven for 1 hour, basting every 20 minutes with pan juices..
  5. Serve immediately with pan juices over cooked rice.



  • Suzie

    August 28, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    I to am a fan of bourbon chicken. thanks for the recipe. Any thoughts on seseme chicken?
  • Taylor

    July 23, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    Just put this in the fridge to marinate overnight. Lets see how this turns out.
  • danielle

    December 19, 2014 at 11:07 pm

    How'd it turn out?
  • Rebecca

    January 6, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    Have you ever tried this in the crockpot? Or have you frozen it and then cooked it before?
    1. Katie

      January 6, 2015 at 7:19 pm

      Rebecca - I have not...I think you'd need to partially brown the chicken first, or else it would be pale and not the same?
      1. Meg

        October 15, 2017 at 3:37 pm

        Hi guys! I made the recipe today in my crockpot, it came out great. Rich, dark color! I didn't use bourbon, because the mall food court restaurant doesn't. I asked one of the girls who was serving up my order one day. I substituted 1/2 c. teriyaki for the bourbon. My family devoured it! I will definitely be making this again and passing along the recipe! Thanks!
  • Heather

    February 25, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    This is my 2nd time making this recipe. I added a lil more brown sugar cuz my family prefers it sweeter. Just put two pans in the fridge to marinate. Hopefully this time around it turns out perfect
    1. Katie

      February 26, 2015 at 10:51 am

      Heather - thanks for the comment as those who read and like sweeter may opt as you did! I've found in my 40's that my sweet tooth has diminished greatly!
  • jennifer

    March 6, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    Real bourbon chicken doesn't actually have bourbon whiskey in it. it was named for where it was made (bourbon street in new orleans)

  • Kara

    May 27, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    This was terrible. It tasted like straight soy sauce even with all of the other ingredients in it. I expected a different taste which I did not get. I had high hopes for this. It wasn't worth the price of the ingredients, including the bourbon. Not making again.

    1. Kim

      February 15, 2016 at 7:24 am

      I agree, until I added honey to mine to try to make it palatable, then it did taste very close to the mall product. If we play with this, we'll get to that mall taste.
  • Brenda

    October 20, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    would like to have sauce more carmelized. Any suggestions? Otherwise Perfect!
  • Brenda

    October 20, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    i maed the bourbon chicken was wonderful! Would like it to be more carmelized ?? And stick to chicken better. Any ideas?
    1. Tim Vandergriff

      May 24, 2016 at 7:55 pm

      add some cornstarch while it simmers just before you take it off the heat. The sauce will thicken up.
  • Terri

    November 4, 2015 at 3:27 pm

    I made this tonight and it was great. I read the comments first and wanted the sauce to be thick and sticky so I wished in about a tablespoon or cornstarch while it was simmering. It came out great, loved the flavor!
  • CoachTMBSC

    January 25, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    Bourbon chicken (traditional standard recipe) does indeed commonly include bourbon whiskey as an ingredient. "Bourbon Street Chicken" (standard "cajun" recipe) need not but often does. Take-out very often doesn't, Bourbon is expensive. Whether one wishes to make it this way or "Bourbon Street" depends entirely on what outcome you're looking for. The origin of the dish and the many variations is obscure but we can be fairly certain a dish with this much sugar originated in the USA, not in China. It may well hail from Kentucky. I made it as written with the exception that my soy sauce is an imported full ferment and not the light called for. As one comment noted, it will thicken with a touch of cornstarch. I found it a touch over-salted with this proportion of soy sauce (using the variety I have) and will cut back next time. It reduced on the stovetop very well and coated the chicken adequately enough that it presented at the table as a high-end take-out version. I particularly like the simplicity - no need to make a recipe complex when it needn't be. Served over white rice, it beats anything at the local food court. Thanks.

    1. Katie

      January 25, 2016 at 3:36 pm

      CoachTMBSC So glad you liked it and thanks for the suggestions :)
  • Jenna

    February 13, 2016 at 1:12 pm

    Made this with high hopes...and it was just OK. Way, way too much heat (1/2 tsp red pepper flakes would have been better) and the chicken needed to be velveted (tossed in a corn starch, rice wine and soy sauce mixture), in addition to 1tablespoon cornstarch whisked into the sauce, in order for it to be thicker and more caramelized. The dish also would benefit from 5 minutes under the broiler to finish and further caramelize.
  • Jared

    June 13, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    Want to try something a bit different?? I promise this will work and you're gonna be amazed. Follow your recipe to a tee until you get to where you're going to put the marinating chicken in the fridge. Massage the chicken vigorously. Bring it out of the fridge and massage it a few times. Marinate all day or overnight. When ready, take the chicken and put it in a stand mixer with a dough hook and mix it for 30 minutes on low. It will look like slop. Slap it on an oiled griddle pan and pretend you're a Japanese hibachi chef.. Seriously. Try it.
    1. Katie

      June 28, 2016 at 9:23 am

      Jared - interesting!
  • Mai

    August 25, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    Can you show or send me a picture of the rice wine vinegar?
  • Mai

    August 28, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    Hi. Can you show a picture of the rice wine vinegar you used?
    1. Katie

      August 29, 2016 at 1:24 pm

      Mai -the brand I use is Marakun.
  • Lisa

    November 11, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    I tried it and didn't quite like it. The bourbon was a bit too strong for my liking.
    1. Katie

      November 14, 2016 at 9:41 am

      Lisa - you could reduce the amount to your liking!
  • Cara

    November 30, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    I made this and it came out great ,I added a lot more spices such as garlic,onion,ginger,brown sugar & soy sauce.....corn starch to make it tho k I let it marinade overnight & u u aka I added sesame seeds with a pinch pf olive oil & it came out great,my family is very picky eater & u served it with egg roll,crab Rangoon & over jasmine rice,it was scrumptious considering my family is very,very picky eater......ab amazing change from the norm
  • Leigh Maupin

    December 1, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    You are obviously not from Kentucky, lol. Bourbon and whiskey are the same thing... that's blasphemy.
    1. Katie

      December 2, 2016 at 10:39 am

      Leigh Maupin - I am NOT! Haha did you mean they are or aren't?
  • Terri

    January 17, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    At the mall they use a huge wok type pan and stir it all around. They do not wrap in foil and keep overnight. I watched thru the little window last time (because they were out and making it). That and some lo mein noodles and I am in heaven.
  • Debbie Christian

    May 31, 2017 at 9:43 am

    I tried this recipe and I am hooked. It was wonderful. I thickened my sauce in a sauce pan with a little water and corn starch so it would stick to my noodles,( I made that instead of rice). I'm making it again tonight for my sister whose visiting. You go girl! Oh yeah, loved your story with the recipe.
    1. Katie

      June 30, 2017 at 11:12 am

      Debbie - I am so happy you liked it!
  • Gavin

    June 10, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    I follow the sauce recipe to the T, but leave the boneless thighs whole while they marinade. Then I grill them on the BBQ while recooking the sauce (since it's had raw chicken in it). The grill gives it that extra flavor and also caramelizes the marinade on the chicken. After they're cooked, I cut them in strips and toss in the cooked sauce. Always a favorite for dinner guests.
  • Jordie

    March 12, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    I’ve made this a number of times now. My kids request it regularly and I love how simple it is to throw together. It’s a family favorite. Thanks!
    1. Katie

      March 27, 2018 at 11:34 am

      Jordie - I'm so glad you love it!
  • Bethany

    April 25, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    I made this and my son and husband loved it. My husband said I have to make it now for every family get-together. I did make more sauce for it, as we like it alittle soupy over rice. Turned out delicious!!!
    1. Katie

      May 7, 2018 at 9:36 am

      Bethany - so glad! Extra sauce is always a plus in our family as well!
  • Justin Aguirre

    August 16, 2018 at 12:16 am

    I'd give this recipe 5 stars. If you actually READ and FOLLOW Katie's instructions you will create the best version of this recipe. Most large scale establishments will doctor the ingredients, but she uses the actual core ingredients...only in the pure form. I know this because I've been making the dish for years. The only thing that separates her recipe from the major chains is they use MSG as a flavor enhancer and powdered ginger. Search all you want on Google, I know what she knows...this is the real one. I hope you are patient and do exactly as she does, because you will have a remarkable dish at the end. - Chef J
    1. Katie

      August 16, 2018 at 10:25 am

      Wow thanks Justin Aguirre! I'm glad it met your approval! I'm flattered!
  • Debra Christian

    January 4, 2019 at 6:03 pm

    You go girl! I'm like you, I love the bourban chicken at the mall, and have tried to make it myself with several different recipes, but to no avail. This one was perfect. Girl you rock. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Debbie Christian P.S. I loved the story also!
    1. Katie

      January 11, 2019 at 11:55 am

      You are so welcome! Hope you enjoy it!
  • Jeff

    January 31, 2019 at 6:22 pm

    Worked at a place in high school- Kelly’s Cajun Grill. Recipe was a big jar (not sure how big- 5 or 10 lb) oyster sauce, 5 lb bag of sugar and a gallon of white wine vinegar. I got pretty close back then to nailing down smaller recipe but if you like to tinker, you can get it
    1. Katie

      February 4, 2019 at 10:08 am

      Jeff - interesting! I'll have to play around! No Bourbon?

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