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.
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!
More Easy Chinese Recipes to Try
- 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
Preheat the oven to 400°F and prep the sauce:
Stir together the sauce ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Serve chicken with cooked rice garnished with scallions.