Sizzling Jalapeño Chicken (Chinese Buffet-Style)
Sizzling Jalapeno Chicken is sure to be a hit! Just like the stuff at the Chinese buffet, and it’s so quick and easy to make at home! Start by dusting the chicken and pan-frying it until it’s crispy, then toss it with fresh jalapenos in a brown sauce!
Jalapeno Chicken is one of my favorite things to order for Asian takeout.
Crispy coated chicken breast pieces that are fried and then tossed in a brown sugar and soy sauce-based sauce with a bit of heat from the jalapenos and the sweetness from sauteed onions? Yes, please, sign me up. I love the hint of garlic and the slight tang from the rice vinegar. It’s one of the first things I order at a Chinese restaurant if it’s on the menu.
Do you need anything but some freshly made jasmine rice to serve alongside this 30-minute dinner recipe? Nope. It’s just perfect as is. And if you’re not into chicken, I’ve made a shrimp version of this dish that we love just as much! It’s a bit lighter without soy but just as flavorful! But I love making Chinese take-out recipes at home because we’re saving on calories by not deep frying the chicken or shrimp, so it’s healthier. Plus, it saves time too. A total win-win!
Ingredients for Jalapeno Chicken:
- Chicken: Feel free to use boneless skinless chicken thighs, tenders, or skinless chicken breasts for this recipe. You want to ensure that all the chicken is cut into 1-inch pieces so that it all cooks up roughly the same amount of time.
- Baking soda: is an ingredient commonly used in Chinese cooking to velvet the chicken. The baking soda raises the pH of the chicken and causes it to become tender and moist.
- Sugar: A pinch of granulated sugar goes into the bowl with the chicken when we’re velveting the protein. You’ll also need some brown sugar to make the brown sauce for the dish.
- White Pepper: I like adding white pepper to this recipe to give it a hint of spice!
- Sesame Oil: Toasted sesame oil gives the chicken a deliciously juicy and slightly smoky flavor.
- Soy Sauce: You’ll need low-sodium soy sauce for marinating the chicken and for the brown sauce that we’ll toss everything in at the end.
- Rice Flour or Cornstarch: I typically use rice flour for this recipe. It gives the chicken pieces that perfect crunch. Cornstarch is an excellent substitute if rice flour isn’t something you typically have on hand.
- Rice vinegar: Adds just a hint of acid to the brown sauce mixture.
- Garlic: You’ll need tons of garlic for this recipe. We’ll saute the garlic with the onions and jalapenos at the end right before tossing the final dish.
- Onions: Chopped onions add more crunch to this recipe and some natural sweetness. Feel free to use a sweet onion or whatever you have on hand!
- Jalapeños: Use more or less based on the heat level you can handle. I typically add in 2 jalapenos because the sweetness in the brown sauce helps curb the heat. But feel free to use 1/2 a jalapeno if you aren’t a fan.
- Oil: You’ll need a high-heat oil to fry the chicken and then saute the peppers and onions. I like to use avocado oil for this recipe but use any high-heat oil you typically have on hand.
Instructions for the best jalapeno chicken:
- Start by velveting the chicken. You’ll want to add a splash of water, baking soda, a 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, white sugar, sesame oil, and a splash of soy sauce to a bowl and stir to combine until the baking soda dissolves. Let the chicken sit in this for 10-15 minutes. This is when the baking soda works its magic, and you’ll end up with the most tender bites of chicken! Then add the rice flour and toss to coat the chicken evenly.
- Fry off the chicken. Add a few tablespoons of oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add a batch of the chicken and cook on one side undisturbed for a few minutes. Then flip the chicken and continue cooking until the chicken is done. You’ll want to make sure the pan is perfectly hot and not crowded so that the batter doesn’t steam; you want it to cook thoroughly on one side before flipping it so that you don’t lose the coating. The cook time will depend on the size of the chicken so make sure you cut them all into equal size pieces. Fry off the chicken and remove it to a plate and continue frying in batches.
- Make the best brown sauce. Add the soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, and a glug of water to make the sauce in a bowl. You could swap the water for chicken broth here, but I typically find that it throws off the brown sugar balance for me, so water does work best.
- Saute the peppers and onions. With a little oil remaining in the pan, saute the onions and half of the jalapeños for a few minutes, then add the garlic and stir to combine. Pour the prepared sauce and stir to mix, then add the chicken when the sauce starts simmering.
- Finish and serve it up. The chicken will soak up all of that sauce and toss until the chicken is completely coated. Add the remaining jalapenos so that they remain fresh and serve this up over your favorite sides and sriracha if you like more heat!
FAQs about this recipe
Yes, toss the chicken pieces in an air fryer set to 375ºF for 4-6 minutes or until the chicken is cooked all the way through after step 1. You’ll want to do this in at least two batches to make sure that the chicken doesn’t end up steaming. Be sure to also spray the chicken with cooking spray.
I like sauteed or oven-roasted mushrooms, zucchini, carrots, or basically hibachi-style vegetables.
If you like this recipe, you might also like:
- Cantonese-Style Pan-Fried Noodles
- Super Tender Mongolian Beef
- The Best 15-Minute Fried Rice
- Sesame Ginger Tofu and Veggie Stir Fry
- Super Saucy Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken, 1-inch pieces
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 4 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce, divided
- ¼ cup rice flour or cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 5 cloves garlic, pressed
- ½ onion, diced
- 1-2 jalapeños, thinly sliced
- Oil, for cooking (avocado, etc.)
- VELVET THE CHICKEN: in a bowl add 1 tablespoon water, baking soda, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, granulated sugar, white pepper, sesame oil, and 1 tablespoon soy sauce. Stir well with a spoon until the baking soda dissolves. Add the chicken and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Then add the rice flour to the same bowl and stir to coat all of the chicken.
- FRY: Add 2-3 tablespoons of oil to a deep skillet. Add ⅓-½ of the chicken and cook on one side undisturbed for 2-3 minutes before flipping and cooking the other side for another 2-4 minutes. When the chicken is cooked, remove it to a plate. Add more oil as needed, and cook off the rest of the chicken.
- SAUCE: In a bowl, combine the remaining 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, with brown sugar, rice vinegar, and ¼ cup water; set aside.
- SAUTE: With 1 tablespoon of oil remaining in the pan, cook the onions and half of the jalapeños and stir to combine. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the garlic for 30 seconds. Pour in the prepared sauce and stir to mix.
- FINISH: When the sauce is simmering, add the chicken back to the pan along with the remaining jalapeños, and toss it together. Serve immediately with fluffy rice.
- Air Fryer: You can toss the chicken pieces in an air fryer set to 375ºF for 4-6 minutes or until the chicken is cooked all the way through after step 1. You’ll want to do this in at least two batches and be sure to spray the chicken with cooking spray.
- Gluten-Free: To make this recipe free, use GF tamari instead of the soy sauce.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 368Total Fat: 14gCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 35g
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