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!
If you’ve tried my firecracker salmon or firecracker meatballs, you know how seriously addictive that sauce can be. I recently experimented with tossing it through some crispy chicken pieces and let me say I have a new favorite.
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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 chicken breasts, leaving you with chicken that’s exploding with bold and irresistible flavors.
It tastes like takeout and is one of my favorite things to cook for my family. here are some reasons why you’ll love this recipe:
- Bold, irresistible flavors. Firecracker sauce is all about the spice. Just like Szechuan chicken, it has just the right amount of kick that leaves you wanting more. Serve it on the side with some veggies and rice to soak up that incredible sauce.
- 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. 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.
- 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!
This recipe is made up of two parts: the breaded chicken and the sauce. Even though it may look a little long, all the ingredeints are stock standard pantry staples. Here is what you’ll need:
- 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
Step 1- Coat the chicken. Season the chicken breast pieces, then coat them in the eggs and cornstarch.
Step 2- Sear the chicken. Pan fry the chicken bites in a skillet until they’re golden brown.
Step 4- Bake. Transfer the chicken to the baking dish with the firecracker sauce. Cover, then bake until it’s browned around the edges.
Step 5- serve. Serve the firecracker chicken over rice and enjoy!
Tips to make the best recipe
- 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.
Flavor and recipe variations
I’ve made this dish countless times for my family and I have a few sneaky tricks to change things up. Here are some of my favorite ways to do so:
- Make the sauce extra spice. 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.
- Cut out the processed sugar. Swap the brown sugar in the sauce for maple syrup, honey, agave, or coconut sugar.
- Use other cuts of chicken. My recipe works just as well with boneless chicken thighs and chicken tenders (tenderloins). Just like the breast meat, make sure you cut them into equal sized pieces.
- Use another protein. We’ve done chicken, shrimp, salmon, and meatballs, but you can also use turkey and beef, or tofu for a plant-based option.
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.
More quick and easy chicken dinners
You can always count on one-pan chicken dinners for something fast and healthy. Give these options a try for an easy weeknight dinner.
Frequently asked questions
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 well. Dredge chicken in eggs and then in cornstarch and 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 add chicken and mix well. Pour coated chicken into the skillet. Cover with aluminum foil and cook for 20 minutes.
- Remove the foil, stir the chicken, and cook for another 10 minutes until lightly browned on the edges.
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