Firecracker Chicken

DinnerChineseChicken

Sweet and spicy Firecracker Chicken is a Chinese takeout staple! Make it at home in less time it takes to order and have it delivered.

Photography Credit: Nick Evans

I’m not sure that you’ll find anything exactly like this Firecracker Chicken if you actually travel to China. No, this is definitely an Americanized version of Chinese stir-fry!

It’s common on some popular Chinese take-out menus—and with good reason, because it’s delicious.

WHAT IS FIRECRACKER CHICKEN?

Firecracker chicken is lightly fried on the stovetop and then baked with a simple spicy sauce, which is typically made with a mix of buffalo sauce, brown sugar, and apple cider vinegar. (My favorite buffalo sauce? Frank’s or Sweet Baby Ray’s.)

The sauce bakes down into a glaze, and the resulting dish is a little crispy and a little sticky, a litte spicy and a little sweet. It’s in the same family as a sweet and sour chicken, but with more of a kick to it, thanks to the buffalo sauce.

Firecracker chicken recipe baked firecracker chicken

MAKING THE PERFECT STICKY GLAZE

If you cook a lot, it might seem odd to bread the chicken in cornstarch and egg, and then add it straight to the skillet with no outer breading layer on the chicken. But this mix of egg and cornstarch makes a crust on the chicken that will both thicken the sauce and help it stick to the chicken.

AN EASY TAKE-OUT MEAL AT HOME

Once you lightly fry the chicken pieces in your skillet, the rest of the recipe is as easy as tossing the chicken pieces in the sauce and baking them until they are cooked through and the sauce is beautifully thickened.

You can use either chicken breasts or chicken thighs for this dish. Serve it over cooked rice or salad greens.

It’s a winner for sure and about as easy as Chinese take-out can get at home. Enjoy!

Firecracker chicken recipe

MORE EASY CHINESE RECIPES TO TRY

Firecracker Chicken Recipe

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  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup buffalo sauce, like Frank's
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

For the chicken:

  • 2/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

To serve:

  • Cooked rice
  • Fresh scallions, just the green ends, chopped

Method

1 Preheat the oven to 400°F and prep the sauce. Stir together the sauce ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.

Firecracker Chicken Recipe

2 Prep the chicken: In a bowl or large plastic bag, combine the cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Add chicken and toss to coat well.

Whisk together the eggs in a medium mixing bowl. Line a plate with paper towels. Arrange everything near your stove.

3 Fry the chicken on the stovetop: In a large, deep skillet or wok, warm the vegetable oil over medium-high heat until a flick of water sizzles on contact.

As soon as the oil is hot, transfer the coated chicken to the bowl with the eggs and toss to coat well. Scoop out the chicken pieces with a slotted spoon, allowing any excess egg to drain off, and transfer the chicken to the skillet in an even layer.

Cook for about 3 minutes per side until a crust forms and the chicken is a light tan color. The chicken will not be cooked through at this point.

How to Make Firecracker Chicken

4 Sauce the chicken: When chicken is done, remove it from the skillet with a slotted spoon and transfer it to the plate lined with paper towels to drain off any excess oil.

Transfer to a 9x13 baking dish. Add sauce and toss to combine.

Firecracker Chicken Recipe toss the chicken in sauce

5 Bake the chicken: Bake chicken for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring halfway through to ensure even cooking. When the chicken is done, it should be cooked through and the sauce will thicken and turn into a glaze coating the chicken.

6 Serve: Serve chicken with cooked rice garnished with scallions.

Firecracker chicken recipe baked firecracker chicken

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Nick Evans

Nick has been writing delicious recipes for the home cook for almost a decade. He lives in Denver, CO and embraces a delicate balance of diaper changing, trail running and beer drinking. His website is Macheesmo and his first book is Love Your Leftovers.

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8 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Donna Mexicotte

    It was easy to make and the sauce was so tasty. Better than the restaurant version. Also being gluten-free was a huge plus! Loved it and will make it a part of my permanent go to recipe file! Thanks for sharing this amazing dish!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Debbie

    Tried this on Monday night and OMG, a keeper for sure! Stayed true to the recipe this time. I used a combination of Crystal Louisiana hot sauce and Sweet Baby Rays Buffalo Sauce. It took a tad longer than the stated 45 minutes, but oh well, totally worth it. Served it with Jasmine Rice and there were no leftovers between 3 people.The only thing I will do different next time is make 1-1/2 batches of the sauce as 1 batch was not enough for 1-1/2 pounds of chicken pieces, and will most definitely bump up the heat!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Sandy

    Is there something to replace the buffalo sauce? I cannot find it at the market. What might work instead?

  • Greg

    If you have the urge to go to Panda Express, don’t do it. Stay home and make this instead. It’s better.

    And very simple. One tip, line your baking dish with foil. I waited till the next day to cleanup and it wasn’t easy.

    Thank you for posting this excellent recipe

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Sally

    I’ve been making something similar to this for years — who knew it was Firecracker Chicken? It’s great, one of my favorite meals. The biggest thing I do differently is with the rice. For each cup of rice I add a clove of garlic, minced; half of an onion, diced; half cup each of diced carrots and red bell peppers and cook as usual. When the rice is done cooking I add half a cup of frozen peas and let it set for at least 5 minutes.

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