Sesame Chicken


Sesame Chicken is one of those dishes that everyone should have in the ‘ole recipe file.  It is quick and easy, as well as deliciously saucy and tasty.  On busy nights (such as, oh, I don’t know . . . frantic Christmas gift wrapping evenings?) this can be on the table in 30 minutes, no takeout or delivery required. 🙂

What are we waiting for?  Let’s do this!

Sesame Chicken

Chicken Breading Ingredients:

1/4 cup tempura flour (you can substitute rice flour if you don’t have this)

1 tbsp. sesame oil

1/4 cup water

2 chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

Sauce Ingredients:

4 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 tbsp. honey

3 tbsp. brown sugar (if you prefer a less sweet sauce you can decrease sugar)

2 tbsp. ketchup

1 tbsp. rice vinegar

3 tbsp. duck sauce (about 3 little restaurant packets 🙂

4 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce

Pinch red pepper flakes (to your spice preference)

2 tbsp. cornstarch mixed with just enough water to make a milky liquid

Sesame seeds for garnishing, optional


Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat until a few drops of liquid sizzle and instantly disappear when added.  Drizzle just enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the skillet and allow oil to heat until it shimmers (this takes about a minute if the skillet is nice and hot). Meanwhile in a separate bowl, combine tempura flour, sesame oil, and water.  Stir into a paste and add chicken breast pieces, stirring to coat.  Add the coated pieces to the hot oil and allow to cook until golden brown on one side before flipping and allowing to become golden on the other side. You will probably have to cook the chicken pieces in 2 batches to avoid crowding and to make sure that each piece cooks to a golden brown.  As they finish, place the chicken pieces on a paper-towel lined plate to drain.

While the chicken is cooking, mix up your sauce ingredients (except for cornstarch and sesame seeds) in a separate bowl.  When the chicken is completely cooked and removed to the plate add your sauce ingredients to the skillet (no need to wash skillet first) and simmer for several minutes until it is slightly reduced.  Add the cornstarch/water mixture and stir for about 1 minute until mixture thickens.  Remove from heat and add chicken back in. Stir gently to coat.  Top with sesame seeds if desired, and serve.

This recipe is so easy!  It will be ready before you know it!  Let’s talk through the process in pictures 🙂

Sesame Chicken

Recently I found these gorgeous handmade ceramic dishes from VIB Ceramics.  The artist who creates them, Vered, is based in Israel, and I fell in love with her work from the first moment I laid eyes on it.  So I knew it had to have a very special recipe to show off these beautiful, sea-blue dishes.  Right away I thought about a rich, robust red sauce.  Isn’t it lovely?  🙂  Let’s talk about how to make it.  And if you have time, check out Vered’s work.  You’ll be amazed at the beauty she creates. 🙂

Sesame Chicken

Sesame chicken is so easy to make, that after you get the hang of it you can whip this out in 20-30 minutes.  In fact, it goes so quickly that I didn’t even have time to get progress photos.  But I’ll talk you through the process, and in no time you’ll have it down to a science. 😉

Sesame Chicken

To begin with, cast iron takes about 10 minutes to heat up completely.  So when I make this recipe I start the skillet heating first, then I prepare the other ingredients.  By the time I have all my vegetables and meat cut up, the skillet is hot and raring to go.  My favorite cast iron skillet is my deep Le Creuset.  I use it almost every day, and it’s never let me down.  🙂

Mix together your tempura flour, sesame oil, and water.  The mixture will look kind of like pancake batter.  Mix the chicken breast cubes into this paste.  You will think, “No way.  This won’t stick.  Why are you having me do this.  Why oh why oh whyyyyyy.”  But trust me.  Do it.  The batter won’t completely cover the chicken, but each piece will be kind of “battered,” even if you can see some of the bare chicken showing through.  Drizzle some olive oil into your hot skillet (not tons– just enough that you can rotate the pan and coat the bottom completely) and place the battered chicken pieces one by one into the hot oil, allowing them to get nice and toasty golden brown before flipping them.

Sesame Chicken

The secret to making this meal go quickly is having everything ready to go.  So while your chicken is cooking, start mixing up your sauce ingredients.  Bust out the leftover duck sauce and ketchup packets from takeout, and use them here.  I know I can’t be the only one who has handfuls of those things in the little drawer in the fridge.  Mix all of the sauce ingredients (except for cornstarch and sesame seeds) in a little bowl, ready to go when the chicken is finished cooking.

Sesame Chicken

I usually have to cook the chicken in 2 batches, flipping the chicken pieces as they get golden brown and then moving them to a plate lined with paper towels to soak up any remaining oil.  When all the chicken is finished cooking, add the sauce ingredients to your empty skillet.  Since the skillet is already hot the sauce will cook quickly.  In just a few minutes the garlic will soften and the sauce will reduce. When it smells fragrant and the garlic is soft, add your cornstarch/water mixture and stir. Like magic, in just a few minutes you have a perfect, thickened sauce.  Take the pan from the heat and add in the chicken.  Stir everything gently so that the chicken is coated in sauce.  Dust with sesame seeds and badda-bing badda-boom . . . it’s done!

Sesame Chicken

I keep frozen bags of steamable microwave broccoli and some minute rice on hand for busy days like this.  Whisk that together, and voila– dinner is served!  Now there is plenty of time for putting together those last minute Christmas gifts and wrapping the night away.

Yawn.  Goodness is it really 2 AM already?  And we still have the play kitchen to assemble.  Sheesh.  To all a good night.

You did it. And I’m just so proud of you.




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  1. Vered Israel-Bloom

    Thank you… for every thing!
    Happy holidays.

    1. Emilie (Post author)

      Thank YOU for the gorgeous ceramics! I smile every time I see them! 🙂 XO– Emilie

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