Food Court Bourbon Chicken – This is an exact replica of the sweet and tender bourbon chicken you love from the food court at the mall. Ready in under 30 minutes!
When I was growing up, we spent so much time at the mall. Whether it was to hang with friends, go to the movies, or shop with my mom, the mall was the place to be. As a result, I am well-versed in the cuisines that populated the food court: chinese food, Sbarro, fast food, Dairy Queen, you name it!
One of my favorite things to order was the Bourbon Chicken. I think it was from a Cajun chicken restaurant or something? I can’t quite remember. All I remember is that I would order it with white rice and corn and request extra sauce to pour over the rice. It was glorious!
My days at the mall have long passed but it doesn’t mean my cravings for the Bourbon Chicken have. Whenever I make a trip to the mall, I try to get my fix. But ever since the global pandemic began, I haven’t been visiting the mall at all and thus, my Bourbon Chicken cravings have gone unanswered.
I stumbled upon this recipe on Pinterest and it was an EXACT replica of the Bourbon Chicken I know and love. Not only that, but it was incredibly easy to make – no crazy ingredients or appliances required!
Therefore, I thought it was absolutely necessary that I share this recipe with you all so you can get your Bourbon Chicken fix too or maybe even try it for the first time if you weren’t a mall rat like me.
What is Bourbon Chicken?
Bourbon chicken is a dish made with chopped dark meat chicken and a sticky, sweet bourbon sauce. I believe it originated in New Orleans, but as far as I’m concerned, it hails from the glorious mall food courts across America.
How is this bourbon chicken made?
This dish is one of the easiest you’ll make because everything is cooked in one pot. Don’t you love when you can cut out the amount of dishes you clean after an incredible meal?!
First the chicken is browned in the pan. This takes time since dark meat takes a little longer to cook through – about 8 minutes. Then, a sauce made with brown sugar, soy sauce, bourbon, and spices is added to the chicken. It’s all cooked together until thick. It’ll start out runny but eventually turn into a syrupy, sticky, fantastic sauce.
Finally, the sauce is finished off with a cornstarch slurry to get it to its final thick consistency. It’s removed from heat and then served over rice. That’s all there is to it!
Tips & Tricks
- To prevent the chicken from breaking apart in the cooking process, let it cook for about 5 minutes before stirring it around. This will allow a crust to build on the bottom and it will unstick itself from the pan naturally.
- The alcohol in the bourbon is completely cooked out in this recipe but the flavor remains. However, if you are worried about using it, you can substitute apple juice. I haven’t tried this myself, but have read that the substitution is still really good.
- You can use white meat chicken in place of the dark meat but just remember that the cook time will be less since white meat chicken cooks faster.
Food Court Bourbon Chicken
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt divided
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper divided
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup water
- ⅓ cup low-sodium soy sauce
- ⅓ cup bourbon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 3 tablespoons water
- Trim extra fat from the chicken thighs and then cut into 1-inch cubes. Season with ¼ teaspoon of salt and ⅛ teaspoon of pepper. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add chicken and cook until browned, about 8-10 minutes.
- While the chicken cooks, make the sauce by adding the remaining salt, pepper, brown sugar, water, soy sauce, water, bourbon, ginger, garlic powder, and rice vinegar together in a medium bowl. Whisk together.
- Once the chicken has cooked, add the sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium heat and cook until the mixture begins to thicken up, about 15 minutes. Add in the cornstarch/water mixture and stir together until the mixture thickens even more. Turn off heat and serve over rice.