Learn how to make empress chicken, a fusion of savory, sweet and spicy flavors. Inspired by the popular takeout dish, this homemade recipe takes seconds to prep!
If you are like me, you love Chinese takeout. Luckily, there are tons of homemade recipes that taste just as good as the original.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Quick and easy. This recipe will be ready in minutes and the instructions are easy to follow.
- Flavorful. Chinese takeout is famous for hitting all the senses and this is no different- your taste buds will be dancing.
- Better than takeout. If you love restaurant-style empress chicken, you’ll love this homemade version- it skips out on all the nasty ingredients!
What we love about this recipe is just how fast it is to make! Sure, you can pick up the phone and order this from your local Chinese restaurant, but honestly, this takes less time and tastes even better.
It’s easy to assume that to replicate a restaurant dish it will have a laundry list of ingredients, but not this one- If you don’t already have everything in your pantry, you can easily find everything in at your local grocery store. Here is what you’ll need:
For the chicken
- Chicken breasts. We recommend using skinless and boneless breast fillets. Chop them into equal, bite-sized pieces.
- Eggs. For binding the coating.
- Flour and cornstarch. To act as a ‘breading’ for the chicken. The cornstarch gives it that extra tenderness.
- Oil. For frying. Choose oi with a high smoke point like vegetable, safflower, or peanut oil.
- Sesame seeds and green onions. To garnish.
For the sauce
- Honey. Adds a sticky sweetness that complements the salty and umami flavors.
- Soy sauce. Use tamari or gluten free soy sauce if you like.
- Ketchup. Adds a subtle and sweet tang.
- White sugar. You can also use powdered sugar.
- Rice vinegar. A popular ingredient in Asian recipes. You can find this at any grocery store in the Asian aisle.
- Sesame oil. A must for stir-fries. A little goes a very long way.
- Cornstarch. Thickens the sauce.
- Chilli oil. Adds a touch of heat. You can omit this if you have a low spice tolerance.
- Garlic. Always use freshly minced garlic, not the powdered stuff!
How to make empress chicken?
This recipe is very simple and works in two parts- cooking the chicken then the sauce. We recommend having everything ready to go so that it is a seamless process.
Ready to satisfy your takeout cravings?
Step 1- Batter the chicken
Start by taking two bowls- one for the eggs and the other for the cornstarch and flour mixture. First, dip the chicken pieces in the egg mix, then add a coating of flour mix. Be sure to shake off excess flour (we don’t want random bits of batter frying up!).
Step 2- Cook the chicken
Next, add at least 3 inches of oil to a deep pot and heat it until the oil reaches a temperature is 350F. Then, add a piece of chicken and cook it for 4-5 minutes or until golden. Repeat this process until all the chicken is cooked. To cut down on the fat, place the fried chicken pieces on a paper towel to soak up the excess oil.
Step 3- Prepare the sauce
Now, while your chicken cooks, mix all the sauce ingredients except garlic and chilli. Take a large pan, add the chilli oil, and place it over medium heat. Once hot, add garlic and saute it for 30 seconds. Then, add the sauce mix to the pot, and cook for 3-4 minutes or until it has thickened.
Step 4- Sauce the chicken
Finally, add the chicken to the pan and mix into the sauce until completely coated. Remove the the pan off the heat, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve immediately.
What is the difference between this and General Tso’s chicken?
The primary difference between these two is flavor. Empress chicken has a spicy taste, but general Tso’s chicken has a tangy and spicy flavor.
Tips to make the best recipe
- Don’t overcrowd the pot of oil when frying. Add chicken to the pan in batches to ensure they cook evenly and quickly.
- Check that the oil temperature is 350 degrees Fahrenheit before adding chicken to it. If the oil is too hot, you risk the chicken burning quickly and not cooking inside. If the oil isn’t hot enough, the batter will become brittle and the chicken gummy.
- If your sauce isn’t thick enough, slowly add more cornstarch until the desired consistency is reached.
Wondering what is the best way to store leftovers? Here are best practices for stir-fry storage:
To store: Store in an airtight container and place in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
To freeze: Place the cooked and cooled chicken in a shallow container and store it in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Reheating: Either microwave for 30-40 seconds or in a non-stick skillet until hot.
More fast chicken recipes to try
Frequently Asked Questions
There are 254 calories per serving. This is the dish and extra rice or sides are not included.
Chicken breast is the best for making this recipe; however, skinless thigh fillets also work.
Instead of frying it. Omit the oil and bake at 200C/400F for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
For the chicken
- Add the beaten eggs in one bowl and the flour and cornstarch in a second bowl.
- Dip the chicken pieces in the egg, followed by the flour mix, until combined. Shake off excess flour.
- Heat at least 3 inches of oil in a deep pot. Once it reaches 350F, add pieces of the chicken to it and cook for 4-5 minutes until golden. Repeat the process with all the chicken. Place the fried chicken on a paper towel to soak up excess oil.
- While the chicken is cooking, add all the sauce ingredients, except for the chili oil and garlic.
- Add the chili oil to a large pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the sauce mixture and cook for 3-4 minutes, until it has thickened. Add the chicken to the pan and coat with the sauce.
- Transfer the chicken to a bowl, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve immediately.
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