Dinner doesn’t have to be complicated. I love to cook, but I also enjoy spending time with friends, playing cards with my children, and tinkering outside. I only have so many hours in the evening to get these things done.
With so much to do, it’s nice to have a few recipes in my back pocket that can be prepared ahead of time, cooked in one pot, and on the table in about 30 minutes. Chinese 5-Spice Skillet Chicken fits the bill!
Orange, fennel, and Chinese 5-spice blend come together in this dish for a flavorful one-skillet chicken dinner. I make it a complete meal by adding fresh green beans and strips of sweet bell pepper.
What Is Chinese 5-Spice?
Chinese 5-spice is a sweet and spicy blend of bold spices. A typical blend can include fennel, clove, cinnamon, peppers, and star anise. You can make your own blend or just purchase a blend at most grocery stores.
I use it in this one-skillet chicken dinner to amplify the sweetness of orange juice and kick of fennel.
The Best Chicken for This Recipe
For this recipe, it’s best to use boneless, skinless, thinly sliced chicken breasts, tenderloins, or tenders (depending on how your supermarket labels them). They cook faster than chicken breast halves, and more of every bite is coated with the marinade.
The Best Skillet to Use
When cooking everything in one pan, it’s a good idea to start with a big one. I use a 12-inch skillet (measured across the top) to make this meal.
Give the Beans a Little Extra Love
You may notice both the beans and the chicken cook for about 15 minutes, but I start the chicken 5 minutes early and let the beans cook with the peppers alone at the end.
The reason for this is the beans need a little extra seasoning. By removing the chicken and adding soy sauce and pepper to the beans in the pan, it allows me to properly season the beans and coat them in the pan juices without overdoing it on the chicken.
Swap Out the Veggies if You Like!
If you make this on a day when you don’t have the suggested vegetables on hand, don’t worry about it. Serve the chicken with a side salad, ginger and pineapple fried rice, or a vegetable of your choice.
Also, not everyone is into green beans. This meal would also work well with sliced cabbage, baby bok choy, or broccoli.
How to Make Ahead and Freeze
When chicken is on sale, I stock up and assemble several freezer bags of this recipe on a weekend and freeze them. When I need to make dinner in a hurry, I transfer a bag of marinated chicken from the freezer to the fridge in the morning. It’s thawed and ready to cook by the time my workday is done!
Here's what to do:
- Use a gallon-size freezer bag that you press to seal, rather than those with a zipper slide.
- Write the date, name of the recipe, and SimplyRecipes.com so you can easily find the recipe later.
- Add the chicken and marinade ingredients to the bag.
- Squeeze as much air as possible out of the bag and close it.
- Smoosh the chicken around until it's well coated in marinade.
- Lay flat to freeze.
This will keep in the freezer for up to 6 months, and up to 48 hours thawed in the refrigerator.
Not a planner? No biggie! You can also make this whole dish start to finish and have dinner ready in under an hour.
Looking for More Great Freezer Meals?
Chinese 5-Spice Skillet Chicken with Green Beans and Peppers
- For the marinade:
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken tenders, tenderloin, or thinly sliced chicken breasts
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
- 1 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice blend
- Zest from 1 orange
- 3 tablespoons orange juice
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- For the vegetables:
- 1 pound fresh green beans, washed and trimmed
- 1 large orange bell pepper
- 1/2 large onion
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 3 or 4 cracks of freshly ground pepper
- Orange zest for garnish (optional)
- Spice grinder
Grind the spices:
In a spice grinder, combine the fennel seeds, whole peppercorns, and 1 bay leaf. Run the grinder until the spices are finely ground.
Label the bag:
If you are planning to freeze your meal for later, use a Sharpie to write the title of the recipe on a gallon-sized zip top bag so you can easily find it on SimplyRecipes.com when you want to cook it. Alternatively, write the cooking instructions on the bag, and date it.
Combine the ingredients:
Roll down the opening of the bag a little, just so you don’t accidentally get raw chicken juices on the outside or the zip top. Add the chicken, spices, orange juice, and sesame oil.
Remove as much air as possible, and seal the bag. Smoosh the chicken around so it’s coated in the marinade.
Lay the chicken flat in the freezer and freeze for up to 6 months:
Alternatively, you could skip the freezer and let it marinade in the fridge for a couple of hours, or up to two days, and then cook it according to the directions below.
Thaw the chicken before cooking:
When ready to cook, take the chicken out of the freezer in the morning before you go to work, and it will be ready to cook by the end of the day.
To prepare the vegetables:
Trim the beans, slice the pepper into 1-inch strips, and dice the onion.
Cook the chicken and vegetables:
Set a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and any marinade left in the bag. If any chicken is folded up, unfold it so it lays flat in the pan.
After 2 minutes, flip the chicken, and add the green beans, sliced pepper, onion, and 3 tablespoons of water. Cover and cook for 10 more minutes.
Lift the lid and check the chicken by slicing open a piece. If the juices run clear, the chicken is done. Remove the chicken from the pan to a plate (leaving the vegetables in the pan) and tent with foil to keep warm.
Finish cooking the vegetables:
Add soy sauce and a few cracks of freshly ground pepper to the vegetables. Gently stir the vegetables.
Cover and cook until the peppers are tender, and the beans are bright green but firm tender, about 5 more minutes.
Nestle the chicken back into the pan and garnish with additional orange zest if you have it. Bring the skillet to the table and serve.