Craving Chinese takeout, but want a home cooked meal? Try these sticky Asian chicken thighs. The homemade sticky and sweet sauce is finger lickin' good and is so simple and quick to make! You'll have gooey fingers, but who's going to mind?
How do you sear chicken thighs?
- Pat the thighs dry with paper towel.
- Heat oil or butter in a pan until it shimmers.
- Sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
- When the meat hits the hot pan, the Maillard reaction occurs. See below.
- Lower the heat to prevent oil splatters.
- Turn the meat over when a crust has formed.
- Cook until an inserted meat thermometer reads 165 F, or juices run clear when poked with a knife.
What is the Maillard reaction?
- It is one of the most important flavor-producing chemical reactions in cooking.
- It occurs when the surface temperature is more than 300 F.
- It's a chemical reaction that happens when heat changes the amino acids (proteins) and sugar (carbs) in a food like meat.
- It's different from caramelization because caramelization only involves sugars (carbs).
- It produces a color change to the food (browning) and hundreds of flavor compounds which will add an intense savory flavor.
What are the calories for one serving?
For a serving size of one skinless chicken thigh, the calories are 291 with 16.7g of carbs. For more nutritional information, scroll past the recipe card.
- Jasmine rice
- Cauliflower rice
- Asian noodles
- Cooked vegetables
- Asian salad.
How to Make
Gather all the ingredients. Mince the garlic and grate the ginger for the sticky Asian sauce.
Whisk together the ingredients.
Pat dry the boneless skinless thighs. Cut slits in the meat with a sharp knife to help it absorb the sauce.
If you want, you can sprinkle a little salt and pepper on both sides while the oil heats up. Once the oil is shimmering, add the thighs smooth side down. Sear the meat for 7 to 8 minutes on one side.
When it is the color you want, turn the thighs over with tongs and cook until it has an internal temperature of 165 F with a meat thermometer. This should take about 7 to 8 minutes.
Once cooked, remove the meat and set aside on a plate.
Remove the skillet from the heat and pour the chicken fat into a small bowl. Scrap the little bits of cooked meat off the pan with a flipper.
Wipe the skillet with a thick piece of paper towel to remove most of the fat. Be careful not to burn yourself, as the skillet will still be hot.
Pour the sticky Asian sauce into the skillet and turn the heat to medium high. Cover for one minute to bring it to a boil.
Remove the lid and stir constantly until it is the desired thickness, roughly two minutes.
Add the cooked thighs back into the skillet and spoon the sauce over each piece.
Garnish the thighs with a sprinkle sesame seeds.
As a finishing touch, slice some green onion and sprinkle on top to add color and crunch. Serve hot with a side of Jasmine rice, cauliflower rice, Asian noodles, cooked vegetables, or an Asian salad.
This one pan weeknight meal is family friendly, and can be on the table in less than 45 minutes. What's stopping you from making this tonight?
- Don't want rice? Try serving it with bok choy, steamed broccoli, or snap peas.
- Looking for another sweetener? Try raw honey instead of the dark brown sugar.
- If you want it spicier, add chopped red chilies.
- Don't have chicken thighs? Try our sticky Asian sauce on cubed chicken or drumsticks.
- Make sure you pat dry the thighs as browning won't happen until the surface moisture evaporates.
- Like sauce on your rice? Double the sauce recipe and you'll have plenty.
- Lower the heat when searing the meat to reduce oil splatters.
- If you just want to make the sticky Asian sauce, double it and store in the fridge in an airtight container like a mason jar.
These other Asian or Polynesian recipes make a great dinner idea.
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Sticky Asian Chicken Thighs
For the Chicken
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 ½ to 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, 5 pieces
- sprinkle of salt and pepper, optional
For the Sauce
- ½ cup low sodium soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon Thai-style sweet chili sauce
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger root, grated
For the Garnish
- 2 green onions, sliced
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- Blot the chicken with paper towel and pierce them with the tip of a sharp knife. This helps the sauce absorb into the meat, and speeds up the cooking process.
- Heat the oil in a 12 inch skillet set over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, place the thighs in the skillet smooth side down. Be careful to avoid overcrowding. Sear the meat for 7 ½ minutes each side, until the meat is crispy, golden, and has an internal temperature of 165 F on a meat thermometer. After a couple minutes of cooking, turn the heat down to medium to prevent over-browning.
- Remove the meat from the skillet and place on a large plate. Drain the fat and scrape off any browned bits from the skillet, then use a paper towel to wipe out the extra fat.
- Whisk the sauce ingredients in a bowl, then pour into the skillet and set over medium high heat. Cover and bring the sauce to a boil, 1-2 minutes. Uncover and lower the heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce is the desired thickness, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add the thighs back into the skillet one piece at a time and coat the meat with the sauce. Garnish with sesame seeds and sliced green onion. Serve hot over rice.
- If you want extra sauce for your rice or for leftover chicken, double the sauce recipe. Leftover chicken will need additional sauce, since the meat soaks up the liquid as it sits.
- Try our sticky Asian sauce on cubed chicken or drumsticks if there isn't any thighs in your freezer.
- Browning won't happen until the surface moisture evaporates, so make sure to pat them dry.
- Reduce oil splatters by lowering the heat when searing the meat.
- Make the sauce ahead of time, and while you're at it double it. Store in the fridge in an airtight container like a mason jar.