Sesame Chicken

Sesame Chicken (sometimes called Chinese sesame seed chicken) is a dish commonly found in Chinese restaurants throughout the English-speaking world. The dish is similar to General Tso’s chicken but the taste of the Chinese-based chicken is sweet rather than spicy.

The dish involves chicken (usually thigh) pieces that are de-boned, battered, and deep-fried, then dressed with a translucent, reddish-brown, semi-thick, somewhat sweet sauce made from cornflour, vinegar, wine or sake, chicken broth, and sugar, the last of which is a major contributor to sesame chicken’s relative sweetness. After these preparations, the unfinished dish is topped with sesame seeds, which may or may not be toasted, hence the name sesame chicken. It is sometimes, but not always, served with vegetables such as broccoli and baby corn.


Chinese Sesame shrimp is also a popular variation of Chinese Sesame Chicken. Shrimp is simply substituted for chicken. Preparation of this Chinese dish is the same, with the exception of the degree and length of heating of the meat. Another potential difference is that chopped almonds may be substituted for the sesame seeds, hence the name almond shrimp. In some areas of the United States, Chinese sesame chicken is incorrectly referred to as Chinese chicken with sesame seeds.


Sesame Chicken
Cuisine: American-Chinese
Recipe type: Chicken
Serves: 4
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 700 g chicken thigh fillets
For marinade
  • 1½ tablespoons light soy sauce
  • ¾ tablespoon cooking wine or dry sherry
  • a few drops of sesame oil
  • 1½ tablespoons flour
  • 1½ tablespoons cornflour
  • 1½ tablespoons water
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
For sauce
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1½ tablespoons vinegar
  • ¼ cup cornflour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1½ tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoons chilli paste, or more if desired
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  1. Toast the sesame seeds and set aside.
  2. Cut the chicken into 2cm cubes. Mix the marinade ingredients together and marinate the chicken for 20 minutes.
  3. To prepare the sauce: Mix all of the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring continuously. Turn the heat down to low and keep warm while you are deep-frying the chicken.
  4. To deep-fry the chicken: add the marinated chicken pieces a few at a time, and deep-fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remainder of the chicken.
  5. Just before you are finished deep-frying, bring the sauce back up to a boil.
  6. Place the chicken on a large platter and pour the sauce over. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve with rice.


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