Easy Empress Chicken (Delicious chinese chicken)

It can be so tempting to order takeout for the perfect Empress Chicken dish. Fortunately, this savory Chinese chicken can be made at home for less money than any takeout restaurant.

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With this quick and delicious recipe, you might leave the Chinese menu in the drawer. It’s that good!

Why You’ll Love This Empress Chicken Recipe

Versatility in Flavor Profile

Empress Chicken brings together a wide array of flavors—sweetness from honey, saltiness from soy sauce, tanginess from white vinegar, and umami from chicken broth. This complex mixture creates a sauce that appeals to multiple taste preferences, making it an excellent dish for a variety of palates. The addition of garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes adds depth and a mild kick of spice, giving the dish even more complexity.

Quick and Easy Prep

Time is of the essence in many home kitchens, and Empress Chicken delivers on convenience without compromising on flavor. Most of the ingredients are pantry staples, and the dish comes together in less than an hour. The preparation steps are straightforward: a simple batter for the chicken, a quick fry, and then a simmer in the luscious sauce. This makes Empress Chicken a fantastic option for weeknight dinners or last-minute dinner ideas.

Pairs Well with Various Sides

Empress Chicken is a flexible dish that can be paired with a wide range of sides to complete your meal. Whether you opt for steamed white rice, a vegetable stir-fry, or even a noodle dish, the flavors of Empress Chicken will complement them well. This makes it easy to tailor the meal to your liking or to accommodate different dietary needs and preferences. The dish’s balanced flavor profile means it can be the star of the show without overshadowing its accompaniments.

What You’ll Need for Empress Chicken

For Chicken

Empress Chicken consists of two parts: the chicken itself and the sauce. The chicken requires the following ingredients:

Chicken breast. Boneless, skinless chicken breast is the easiest to use for this recipe. It will be cut into bite-sized pieces, making the process take longer if you need to remove bones or skin. 

Eggs. In this recipe, the eggs act as the binding agent to coat the chicken. Without eggs, your coating will not stick to the chicken.

Cornstarch. Cornstarch adds an element of tenderness to the breading. While you could skip the cornstarch, using it in this recipe is highly recommended!

Flour. The breading on your chicken is an important component of its flavor and texture. Without breading, your chicken will miss the classic texture of this dish. 

Vegetable oil. It is possible to use a substitute for vegetable oil. But you must consider the heat point of the oil you choose. Peanut oil is another acceptable option. 

Garlic. Can you ever have too much garlic? Some fresh, minced garlic will add a little extra flavor to the chicken. 

Red pepper flakes. Just a little heat should be added to the chicken. If you prefer a spicier meal, you could increase the amount of red pepper flakes or add chili oil to the sauce. 

Green onions. Green onions bring additional color and taste to your meal! Aesthetics can be vital to a great dish, but flavor enhancement brings it all together.

For Sauce

To make the tasty sauce, you will want to use these ingredients:

Honey. Some recipes use honey, while others call for brown sugar. Either way, the sweetness adds a nice layer to the chicken’s spice.

Chicken broth. The chicken broth adds a bit of flavor to the Empress chicken sauce. It also helps with consistency! If you’re out of chicken broth, beef broth or veggie broth will also work.

White vinegar. White vinegar can be swapped out with rice vinegar, but rice vinegar has a slightly sweet flavor and less acidity.

Soy sauce. The many flavors in soy sauce make it an aspect you don’t want to skip in this recipe. It brings a touch of umami and a little bit of saltiness, sweetness, and bitterness to the sauce.

Ginger. Ginger brings a little kick to this dish.

Garlic. Garlic takes this sauce to a new level. Use fresh garlic for the best taste.

Cornstarch. Cornstarch is used to thicken the sauce. While the taste won’t change without it, the consistency will be too runny.

Sesame seeds. Sesame seeds add texture to the sauce you don’t want to miss out on. 

empress-chick-on-plate-with-white-rice

How to Make Empress Chicken

Making this Chinese chicken takes less than an hour. Get ready to create a delicious meal in your own kitchen quickly.

Ingredients

For the Chicken

  • 2 lbs chicken breast, diced into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¾ cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup green onions, diced

For the Sauce

  • ⅓ cup honey
  • 1 ¼ cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Instructions

  1. Whisk together the sauce ingredients, with the exception of the sesame seeds, in a medium-sized bowl. Ensure that the cornstarch dissolves and place it in the fridge.
  2. Add vegetable oil to a large skillet and set to medium-high heat. 
  3. Whisk the eggs in a large mixing bowl and add the bite-sized chicken cubes to coat. 
  4. In a shallow container, combine the cornstarch and flour and dredge the chicken.
  5. Add the coated chicken pieces to the frying pan and cook for about 4-5 minutes until cooked through. You may need to cook it in batches. Remove the chicken from the pan and place it on a paper towel-covered plate.
  6. Reduce to medium heat. You may need to add a small amount of oil. Add minced garlic and red pepper flakes to the frying pan and saute for approximately 20-30 seconds before returning the chicken to the pan. 
  7. Stir the sauce mixture once more and pour it over the chicken. Continue to stir and combine the chicken and the sauce until it thickens. 
  8. Remove from heat. Top with sesame seeds and stir, then garnish with the chopped green onions. Enjoy!

Empress Chicken Substitutions

Make it vegetarian or vegan. To make this Empress Chicken recipe vegetarian or vegan, you can substitute the chicken breast with tofu cubes or tempeh. Use the same weight (2 lbs) as the original recipe calls for chicken. Instead of eggs for the coating, use a flaxseed or chia seed egg mixture. Specifically, one flaxseed egg (1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed mixed with 2.5 tablespoons of water) can replace each chicken egg. For the sauce, swap out the chicken broth for vegetable broth and use maple syrup or agave nectar in place of honey. Follow the rest of the recipe as is, using these substitutions.

make it gluten-free. To make this recipe gluten-free, replace the regular flour with a gluten-free all-purpose flour. Make sure to also use a gluten-free soy sauce for the sauce. Cornstarch is already a gluten-free ingredient, so no need to change that. Just double-check that all your other ingredients like vegetable broth and soy sauce are certified gluten-free.

Make it low-carb. For a low-carb version of Empress Chicken, you can substitute the flour and cornstarch used for coating with almond flour or coconut flour. Note that coconut flour is much more absorbent, so you might need to use less. Replace the honey in the sauce with a low-carb sweetener like stevia or monk fruit. Also, consider using a low-carb vegetable like cauliflower or zucchini instead of chicken to make it even lower in carbs. For the sauce, you may opt for a low-carb broth. Follow the rest of the recipe as is, with these low-carb ingredients.

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Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Empress Chicken Recipe

Tender and juicy, this Empress Chicken recipe is fast and easy to make on any weeknight.
Prep Time50 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Asian
Keyword: Chinese chicken, Empress Chicken, Empress Chicken Recipe
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 281kcal

Ingredients

For the Chicken

  • 2 lbs chicken breast diced into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • ¾ cup flour
  • 1 tbs vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup green onions diced

For the Sauce

  • cup honey
  • cup  chicken broth
  • 2 tbs white vinegar
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tsp ginger minced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbs sesame seeds

Instructions

  • Whisk together the sauce ingredients, with the exception of the sesame seeds, in a medium-sized bowl. Ensure that the cornstarch dissolves and place it in the fridge.
  • Add vegetable oil to a large skillet and set to medium-high heat.
  • Whisk the eggs in a large mixing bowl and add the bite-sized chicken cubes to coat.
  • In a shallow container, combine the cornstarch and flour and dredge the chicken.
  • Add the coated chicken pieces to the frying pan and cook for about 4-5 minutes until cooked through. You may need to cook it in batches. Remove the chicken from the pan and place it on a paper towel-covered plate.
  • Reduce to medium heat. You may need to add a small amount of oil. Add minced garlic and red pepper flakes to the frying pan and saute for approximately 20-30 seconds before returning the chicken to the pan.
  • Stir the sauce mixture once more and pour it over the chicken. Continue to stir and combine the chicken and the sauce until it thickens.
  • Remove from heat. Top with sesame seeds and stir, then garnish with the chopped green onions. Enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 281kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 114mg | Sodium: 1098mg | Potassium: 524mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 194IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 37mg | Iron: 2mg

What to Serve with Empress Chicken

Crab Rangoon

Crab Rangoon, a crowd-pleaser in American Chinese cuisine, consists of a crisp wonton wrapper enveloping a creamy mixture of crab meat and cream cheese. The rich, creamy filling contrasts beautifully with the tangy and slightly sweet sauce of Empress Chicken. Additionally, the smooth texture of Crab Rangoon is a nice counterpoint to the meaty bite of the chicken, making them a well-balanced pair.

Egg Rolls

Egg Rolls are a quintessential Chinese-American appetizer, offering a delightful mix of savory ingredients like cabbage, carrots, and sometimes protein like pork or chicken, all encased in a crispy, golden wrapper. Their crunchy exterior and flavorful interior make them an ideal companion to Empress Chicken. The dense, saucy nature of Empress Chicken pairs well with the lighter, crunchy texture of egg rolls, and the subtle spiciness of the chicken is complemented by the milder flavor profile of the egg rolls.

Frozen Egg Rolls In Air Fryer sliced diagonally

Fried Rice

Fried rice is the epitome of versatility, often incorporating a medley of vegetables, eggs, and sometimes meat or seafood. Its relatively neutral flavor serves as a wonderful base to absorb the rich, complex sauce of the Empress Chicken. The rice grains soak up the extra sauce, ensuring that none of that deliciousness goes to waste. Also, the textural contrast between the soft rice and the crisply coated chicken adds another layer of satisfaction to your meal.

Sauces for Rice

Various sauces like soy sauce, hoisin, and sweet and sour sauce can elevate your rice and make it an even better accompaniment to Empress Chicken. These sauces offer different layers of flavor – salty, sweet, tangy, or umami – that can either complement or contrast with the rich sauce of the chicken. Whether you like to douse your rice in sauce or just add a drizzle, these options allow you to tailor each bite according to your preference, creating a fuller, more customized dining experience.

Empress Chicken FAQs

What’s the difference between General Tso and Empress chicken?

Many people compare empress chicken to General Tso’s chicken. However, where general Tso has a tangy and spicy flavor, empress chicken is mainly about spice. 

Do you have to use white meat in an Empress Chicken recipe?

Yes, Empress Chicken is traditionally made using white meat, particularly chicken breast, which is diced into bite-sized pieces. The reason for using white meat is that it has a lighter, less gamey flavor than dark meat, allowing the sauce and seasonings to shine. The texture of chicken breast also complements the overall dish, providing a firm yet tender bite that soaks up the sauce beautifully.

Do you have to fry Empress Chicken?

Empress chicken is traditionally fried, but it can also be baked. If you prefer baking, cook for 20 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a meat thermometer to ensure it reaches 165 degrees

What does emperor chicken taste like?

Empress chicken boasts a crunchy breading with spicy, savory, and sweet flavors. Its standout feature is the crunchy breading, which provides a satisfying texture that contrasts beautifully with the tender, juicy chicken inside. But the true magic lies in the sauce.

More Asian-Inspired Recipes

Miso Salmon Cheesecake Factory

P.F. Chang’s Lettuce Wrap

Spicy Peanut Chili Noodles

Teriyaki Sauce

Teriyaki Turkey Burger

Mongolian Beef Stir Fry

Korean Strawberry Milk

15-Minute Korean Beef

Have questions or suggestions about Empress Chicken? Leave them in the comments below.

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