Crispy chicken bites are drenched in a fiery, yet sweet and tangy sauce in this baked firecracker chicken recipe. Serve the saucy chicken over rice and veggies for an addictive dinner tonight!
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Why you’ll love this firecracker chicken recipe
- Bold, irresistible flavors. Firecracker sauce is all about the spice. Just like buffalo cauliflower bites, it has just the right amount of kick, as well as layers of savory, smoky, and subtly sweet flavors. It’s a completely addictive sauce you’ll want to use on fish, tofu, veggies, and more.
- Crispy chicken (without deep frying). Pan-searing and baking leads to golden-on-the-outside, juicy-on-the-inside chicken every time. No messy deep frying or excess oil included!
- Quick and easy. Like firecracker salmon, this is a foolproof recipe with just a smidge of hands-on work. Any beginner home cook will have an easy time with it! After the chicken is breaded and seared, it’s left to do its thing in the oven, giving you time to focus on the sides (may we suggest some roasted potatoes and carrots or smoked mac and cheese?).
- Versatile! Serve the firecracker chicken bites with ranch dressing for a fun snack or appetizer, pile them on top of a bed of rice for dinner, or wrap them in a tortilla. There are endless ways to serve this recipe!
What is firecracker chicken?
You can’t have firecracker chicken without firecracker sauce. The true star of this recipe, firecracker sauce is spicy, buttery, luscious, sweet, and tangy. It coats the breaded, pan-fried, and baked chicken breasts, leaving you with chicken that’s exploding with bold and irresistible flavors.
- Chicken breasts. Boneless skinless chicken breasts are cut into bite-size pieces for this recipe. They’re breaded, pan-fried, and baked until they’re crispy and delicious.
- Salt and pepper. Use a generous amount of salt and pepper to season the chicken.
- Eggs. The eggs are beaten and used to coat the chicken.
- Cornstarch. Used to coat the chicken bites. Once cooked, it forms a crispy, golden crust around each piece.
- Oil. Use a high-heat oil, like olive oil or avocado oil.
For the firecracker sauce:
- Buffalo sauce. This is where firecracker sauce gets its signature buttery, spicy, and rich flavor and consistency. Use any store-bought buffalo sauce you like.
- Brown sugar. The sweetness helps balance the fiery flavors, so the sauce doesn’t set your mouth on fire.
- Soy sauce. Or use tamari if you’re gluten-free.
- Olive oil. To help emulsify the sauce.
- Ginger root. Try not to replace this with ground ginger! Fresh ginger is much more punchy and flavorful.
- Garlic. Fresh garlic cloves are best.
- Black pepper. To round out the other savory, spicy flavors.
- Paprika. This adds a hint of sweet smokiness.
- Rice vinegar. Or you can use apple cider vinegar.
How to make firecracker chicken
- Coat the chicken. Season the chicken breast pieces, then coat them in the eggs and cornstarch.
- Sear the chicken. Pan fry the chicken bites in a skillet until they’re golden brown.
- Make the sauce. Stir the sauce ingredients together in a mixing bowl, then pour it into a baking dish.
- Bake. Transfer the chicken to the baking dish with the firecracker sauce. Cover, then bake until it’s browned around the edges.
- Serve. Serve the firecracker chicken over rice and enjoy!
Flavor and recipe variations
- Extra spicy sauce. Make the firecracker sauce with a spicier hot sauce, like sriracha, harissa, or chili garlic sauce. You can even add red chili flakes or cayenne pepper to the sauce for extra heat.
- Refined sugar free alternative. Swap the brown sugar in the sauce for maple syrup, honey, agave, coconut sugar, or my keto honey.
- Instead of chicken breasts. This recipe works just as well with boneless chicken thighs.
- Use another protein. Enjoy the explosive flavors of firecracker sauce with all of your favorite proteins! It’s one of my favorite sauces to serve with salmon filets, as well as tofu, shrimp, fish, and more.
What to serve with this dish
Hosting a party? Pour the bites onto a serving platter paired with ranch dressing for dipping. Leave them out for your guests and try to grab some before they’re gone!
If you do happen to end up with leftover chicken, stuff them in tortillas or lettuce cups with ranch, lettuce, shredded carrots, and red onion to make firecracker chicken wraps. Pack the wraps into airtight containers with sauteed broccolini for an easy meal prep idea.
To store. Transfer the leftover chicken to an airtight container and store in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
To reheat: Warm the chicken bites in a lightly oiled skillet over medium heat until they’re heated through and slightly crisp again. You can also reheat the leftovers in a microwave but the chicken won’t be as crispy.
Recipe tips and tricks
- Cut into even pieces. Slice the chicken breasts into even bite-sized pieces. The more consistent the shape, the more evenly they’ll cook.
- Pat dry. Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels before adding the seasonings. This way, the salt, pepper, and cornstarch will have an easier time sticking to the meat.
- Make it in a cast iron skillet. Cut down on cleanup by searing AND baking the chicken in a cast iron or oven-safe skillet.
- Garnish. Once it’s ready, garnish the firecracker chicken with dried chili flakes, sesame seeds, scallions, or fresh parsley.
Frequently asked questions
Firecracker sauce is nicely balanced, with well-rounded spicy, smoky, and sweet flavors. It’s practically addictive!
Firecracker sauce has a mild to medium amount of heat. The spice is noticeable, but not overwhelming.
Yes, you can easily stir the sauce together up to 1 week ahead of making this recipe. Just keep it in a sealed jar in the fridge until it’s time to cook.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper and mix well.
- Beat eggs with cornstarch and add chicken to the mixture and coat well.
- Heat the oil in a skillet and add chicken. Cook until golden from all sides.
- Combine sauce ingredients in a bowl and pour into a baking dish.
- Place chicken in the baking dish and mix well. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and cook for 20 minutes.
- Remove the foil, stir the chicken, and cook for another 20 minutes until lightly browned on the edges.
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