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Is there a more classic Chinese take-out dish than sesame chicken? I think not, and you can make it even better at home! This delicious dish combines tender pieces of chicken with crisp vegetables, all tossed in a sweet and savory sauce made with soy sauce and sesame oil. The best part? This recipe is NOT deep fried! With its bold flavors and satisfying texture, sesame chicken stir-fry is sure to become a new favorite in your recipe repertoire. So grab your wok and let’s get cooking!
This recipe is inspired by the sesame chicken recipe in J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s book, “The Wok.”
It’s wok time! If you haven’t already, read this post about caring for your new carbon steel wok, and this one about how to cook with a wok before you begin.
I have this wok and this wok spatula, and I’ve been very happy with them. Be sure you’ve laid down at least one layer of seasoning on your wok before you try your first cook. This post explains how to season a new wok.
Also, the wok spatula I recommend is carbon steel, so only use soap if you absolutely have to, and rub a little bit of neutral oil on the spatula end after cleaning to keep it from rusting.
Can I Make This Recipe If I Don’t Have A Wok?
Yes! This recipe was designed for a wok, but you could also use a 12 inch stainless steel skillet. Just be sure to give the chicken enough time to sear and release from the pan before you try and move it around. I would use medium-high heat if I was cooking this sesame chicken in a skillet, as opposed to high heat.
Additionally, you could use either a cast iron or enameled cast iron skillet, just give it ample time to heat up. I would go between medium and medium high with the heat setting. Also, a wok spatula is not necessary if you are using a skillet, as it won’t get as hot as a wok. Just use whichever spatula or spoon you normally use.
I do not recommend a nonstick skillet for this stir-fry because most nonstick pans have a coating which breaks down and releases harmful fumes at high heat.
- Light and dark soy sauces– I use regular Kikkoman soy sauce as my light sauce, and Lee Kum Kee dark soy sauce for the dark. You can use all light soy sauce if you’d like, you will just miss out on a darker color and a little more umami flavor.
- Sesame oil – this can be found at your local grocery store. Keep it in the fridge after opening.
- Shaoxing wine – I go to my local Asian market for this, but you can also find it on Amazon. Don’t skip this. It adds a savory and tangy flavor that you can’t really replicate with anything else.
- Baking soda – this acts as a tenderizer in the chicken marinade.
How to Make Sesame Chicken Stir-Fry With Vegetables
- Marinate the chicken
- Prep everything before you start. Have all your ingredients handy.
- Heat the wok or skillet over medium-high to high heat.
- Stir fry the onions and peppers. Set aside.
- Stir-fry the chicken. Set aside.
- Stir-fry the garlic. Add the sauce.
- Bring the sauce to a boil, stirring until it thickens and gets glossy.
- Add the chicken and vegetables back to the wok. Stir to combine.
- Garnish with sesame seeds and sliced green onions.
- Serve over rice.
More detail about the stir-frying process is given in the recipe card below and in this post about how to stir-fry.
Stir-fries are flexible. Feel free to change up the veggies, just make sure that vegetables that will be cooked together are cut to the same size, and cook at the same rate. For example, you wouldn’t want to cook carrots and sugar snap peas together, but you can stir-fry them separately if you wish.
If you are going to substitute the protein, you could use sliced steak, baked tofu, or shrimp.
If you use substitutions, keep them simple. Adding too many ingredients to a stir-fry can take away from its straightforward deliciousness.
Share This Post On Social Media
Everyone needs this goodness in their life, so please share this post with all of your friends! I have included a ready-made Pinterest pin at the top of this post, and here is another one:
What is your favorite Chinese or Chinese-American dish? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you have any questions about the recipe, drop me a line. I’d be happy to help.
Go forth and stretch your stir-frying wings, my friends!
Sesame Chicken Stir-Fry With Vegetables
- 1 wok preferably carbon steel
- 1 wok spatula
- 1 serving bowl
- 4 medium sized prep bowls
- white rice for serving
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 Tablespoon light soy sauce like regular Kikkoman soy sauce
- 2 Tablespoons Shaoxing wine
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 and 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast you can also use thighs
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 1 medium red bell pepper
- 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger the jar is fine too
- 1 Tablespoon corn starch
- 2 Tablespoons light soy sauce
- 2 Tablespoons dark soy sauce I use the Lee Kum Kee brand
- 2 Tablespoons Shaoxing wine
- 2 Tablespoons distilled white vinegar or rice vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons water or chicken stock
- 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
- 6 Tablespoons white sugar
- 4 cloves medium chopped garlic 2-3 teaspoons
- a neutral oil (vegetable, grapeseed, canola, avocado) for stir-frying
- 2 Tablespoons white sesame seeds for garnish
- 3-4 sliced scallions, greens only for garnish
Start your rice
- Before you start prepping anything, don't forget the rice! Cook white or brown rice according to your favorite method.
For the Marinade
- In a medium bowl, mix together the cornstarch, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, and baking soda.
- Slice the chicken breasts into thin strips against the grain. This means that you want your knife to go perpendicular to the visible muscle fibers. I usually cut the chicken breasts into three equal pieces the short way, and then slice against the grain. This is important for the texture of the chicken.
- Add the sliced chicken to the marinade, and mix together well. Set aside.
For the Vegetables and Aromatics
- Clean your cutting board and slice the onion in half through the root end, then slice the root and stem end off of each half and then slice them thinly from pole to pole. This means slice the onion so that your knife runs the same direction as the lines you can see on the onion.
- Slice the red bell pepper so that the slices are the same size as the onion slices.
- Place the onions and peppers in a medium prep bowl. Set aside.
- Chop the garlic and place in a small prep bowl. Set aside.
- Grate your ginger into the medium bowl for your sauce.
For the Sesame Chicken Sauce
- In to the same bowl that has the ginger, add the cornstarch, light and dark soy sauces, Shaoxing wine, vinegar, water, sesame oil, and sugar. Whisk to combine and work out any lumps in the corn starch. Set aside.
- Before you start, arrange all of your bowls so that they are easy to reach. Also, make sure your wok spatula is handy. Place your serving bowl next to the stove.
- Put your seasoned wok on your burner and turn it up to high. If you find that this is too hot, or you feel out of control, turn the heat down to medium-high.
- When you see small tendrils of smoke coming from the wok, add about 2 Tablespoons of oil around the sides of the wok. Carefully add the sliced onion and pepper and stir-fry, tossing and moving with your spatula, until the veggies are done to your liking, probably 2-3 minutes. Keep the food moving. Transfer the peppers and onions to your serving bowl.
- Put the wok back on the stove, wait for smoke tendrils again, and add another 2 Tablespoons of oil. Carefully add half of your chicken. The chicken should ideally be done in 2 batches. Let the chicken sear on the bottom of the wok for about 20 seconds, then start stir-frying, constantly moving the chicken so it doesn't burn. Cook until cooked through, about 4 minutes. Transfer the cooked chicken to the serving bowl with the veggies. Repeat with the other half of the chicken.
- If chicken sticks to your wok, very carefully remove the chicken and pour about a cup of water around the sides of the wok. Let this water boil. While it boils, carefully scrape up the stuck on bits with your wok spatula. While not burning yourself, dump this water in the sink, rinse the wok, heat, and continue.
- Add one more Tablespoon of oil to the wok, and add the garlic. Stir-fry for about 20 seconds.
- Give your sauce a whisk to re-combine and add it around the sides of the wok. Stir the sauce while it comes to a boil, making sure you don't get sauce burning to the bottom. Let the sauce boil until it becomes translucent instead of cloudy and thickens. It will also darken in color. Add the vegetables and chicken back in and stir to coat. Transfer your sesame chicken to your serving bowl and garnish with sesame seeds and sliced green onions, if desired.
- Serve over white rice and pat yourself on the back!