Honey Sesame Chicken Recipe


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This delicious and easy-to-make honey sesame chicken recipe is the perfect homemade takeout dinner. The combination of sweet honey, savory soy sauce, and nutty sesame seeds creates a mouthwatering dish that the whole family will enjoy. 

Honey Sesame Chicken

This Honey Sesame Chicken recipe is a perfect blend of sweet and spicy, with the nutty flavor of sesame seeds and the freshness of green onions. It’s an easy, quick, and flavorful meal that’s sure to satisfy those Chinese takeout cravings. Not only is it a homemade, restaurant-quality meal, but it’s also a healthier alternative to deep fried takeout options.

This dish has all the elements of a great dinner – it’s quick to prepare, packed with flavor, and made with easy-to-find ingredients. It’s a meal that’s sure to impress, whether you’re serving it up for a weeknight dinner or a special occasion. 

I love the versatility of this recipe. It works beautifully with both chicken breasts and chicken thighs. You can even switch it up and use extra firm tofu for a vegetarian version. And while it’s traditionally served with white or brown rice, feel free to experiment with your favorite grains, like quinoa or even egg fried rice.

What truly sets this Honey Sesame Chicken apart is the sauce. The combination of honey, soy sauce, ketchup, and rice vinegar creates a well-balanced and flavorful sauce that perfectly complements the chicken.


All-Purpose Flour: This is used to lightly coat the chicken pieces, giving them a crispy, golden brown exterior when cooked.

Salt and Black Pepper: Salt enhances the flavors of this dish. Pepper adds a nice contrast to the sweetness of the honey and the nuttiness of the sesame.

Vegetable Oil: This is used for frying the chicken pieces. You can also use canola or sunflower oil.

Honey: Honey creates a thick sweet glaze that gives this dish its signature flavor.

Soy Sauce: This adds a savory, umami flavor to the sauce. That flavor balances out the sweetness of the honey really nicely.

Ketchup: The ketchup is included in this honey sesame chicken recipe to add a touch of tanginess and sweetness to the sauce. It also helps to create a thicker, richer consistency that coats the chicken pieces well. The combination of ketchup with honey, soy sauce, and rice vinegar creates a well-balanced and flavorful sauce that complements the chicken and sesame seeds.

Rice Vinegar: This infuses a subtle acidity into the sauce, balancing out the sweetness. Apple cider vinegar is a good alternative.

Cornstarch: This is used to thicken the sauce. I prefer the texture of the sauce made with cornstarch, but you can use flour in a pinch.

Garlic: Garlic adds a delicious savory and aromatic flavor that balances out the other flavors in this dish.

Crushed Red Pepper Flakes: This is optional and can be adjusted to your spice preference.

Sesame Seeds: These add a delightful crunch and nutty flavor to the dish. Toast them lightly for a more pronounced flavor.

Green Onions: These are used as a garnish, adding a pop of color and freshness to the dish.

Cooked White or Brown Rice: This is used as a base to serve the chicken on. Quinoa or noodles can also be used for a change.

The labeled ingredients for honey sesame chicken.

Alternative Ingredients

Feel free to throw in some broccoli, bell peppers, or snap peas. These can be stir-fried along with the chicken or served on the side.

How To Make Honey Sesame Chicken

Prepare the Chicken: Begin by placing the chicken pieces in a bag with the flour, salt, and pepper. Shake the bag to ensure each piece is evenly coated. (See the recipe card below for the full printable instructions.)

Adding flour, salt, and pepper to a zip lock back then adding cubed chicken and shaking until fully coated.

Heat the Skillet: Next, pour the vegetable oil into a large skillet and heat it over medium-high heat.

Cook the Chicken: Add the flour-coated chicken pieces to the hot skillet. Cook until each piece is a crispy, golden brown. Once cooked, remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside.

Adding the fully coated chicken to a hot skillet with oil and cooking until browned.

Prepare the Sauce: In a separate bowl, whisk together the honey, soy sauce, ketchup, rice vinegar, cornstarch, and water. This will be your sweet and tangy sauce.

Adding soy sauce, honey and cornstarch to a medium mixing bowl and whisking together.

Cook the Garlic and add the Sauce: Using the same skillet, add the garlic and cook until it’s aromatic. Pour the prepared sauce into the skillet with the garlic

Sauteing garlic until aromatic then adding in the soy sauce mixture.

Simmer the Sauce: Let the mixture come to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow it to simmer until it has thickened.

Simmering the sauce until it thickens in a sauce pan then adding back in the chicken.

Coat the Chicken: Add the cooked chicken pieces back into the skillet. Toss the chicken in the sauce to ensure each piece is well coated.

Tossing the chicken in the sauce mixture then mixing in sesame seeds and chili flakes.

Add the Final Touches: Stir in the sesame seeds and crushed red pepper flakes (if using).

Mixing sesame seeds and red pepper flakes on the fully cooked saucy chicken and then serving over rice.

Serve the Dish: This delicious honey sesame chicken is best served over a bed of cooked rice, garnished with a sprinkle of green onions. See the recipe card below for the full written instructions, including ingredient amounts, and helpful tips, etc.

A single white plate of a chicken dinner with a napkin underneath.

Pro Tips

  • Always Pat Your Chicken Dry: Before coating your chicken in flour, make sure to pat it dry with a paper towel. This will help the flour adhere better and result in a crispier texture.
  • Don’t Overcrowd Your Pan: When pan frying the chicken, avoid putting too many pieces in the pan at once. Overcrowding can lead to soggy, rather than crispy, chicken. Sear in batches if necessary.
  • Toast Your Sesame Seeds: For an extra flavor boost, toast your sesame seeds before adding them to the dish. Just be careful not to burn them, as they toast quickly!
  • Adjust the Sauce to Your Liking: Feel free to tweak the sauce to suit your taste buds. If you prefer a sweeter sauce, add a bit more honey. If you like it tangier, add an extra splash of rice vinegar.
  • Use Fresh Garlic: While garlic powder can be used in a pinch, nothing beats the flavor of fresh garlic. It adds a depth of flavor that really takes this dish to the next level.

What Is Honey Sesame Chicken Made Of?

Honey Sesame Chicken is made of bite-sized pieces of chicken that are lightly coated in flour, and pan fried until they are golden brown. These crispy pieces are then tossed in a sweet and tangy sauce, made of honey, soy sauce, ketchup, and rice vinegar. The dish is finished off with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and a garnish of freshly sliced green onions.

A partial pan and plate full of garnished honey sesame chicken.

What Does Honey Sesame Chicken Taste Like?

Honey Sesame Chicken is a wonderful balance of sweet, savory, and slightly tangy flavors. The chicken is crispy on the outside, but tender and juicy on the inside. The sauce is rich, with the sweetness of honey, the savory depth of soy sauce, and a tangy kick from the ketchup and rice vinegar. The sesame seeds add a delightful nutty crunch, making every bite a treat.

Is Sesame Chicken Sweet Or Spicy?

Sesame Chicken is more on the sweet side, with a lovely tang from the vinegar. The crushed red pepper flakes do add a hint of spice, but it’s not overwhelmingly spicy. The great thing about making it at home is that you can adjust the spice level to your liking!

A close up of saucy honey coated chicken garnished with fresh green onions.

What Can I Serve With Honey Sesame Chicken?

Honey Sesame Chicken is quite versatile and pairs well with a variety of sides. Some of my favorites include steamed broccoli, stir-fried bell peppers, or a fresh salad. It also goes great with noodles or any type of rice – white, brown, or even fried rice for an extra treat!

Can I Use Chicken Thighs Instead of Chicken Breasts?

Absolutely! You can definitely use chicken thighs instead of breasts. They tend to be juicier and have more flavor. Just make sure to adjust the cooking time as needed, since thighs may take a bit longer to cook thoroughly.

A plate of honey sticky chicken with a bowl of rice to the side and a pan in the background.

How Do I Store Leftover Honey Sesame Chicken?

Leftover Honey Sesame Chicken can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When ready to eat, reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop until it’s hot. I recommend stirring occasionally while reheating to keep the chicken moist and evenly heated.

Keep In Touch

I’d love to hear what you thought of this recipe in the comments or on Instagram! @KeyToMyLime #KeyToMyLime

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A Pinterest pin image with a picture of honey sesame chicken, with title text at the top.

Chicken Recipes

If you like this recipe, be sure to check out all of our other chicken recipes. Some reader favorites are:

Yield: 4 servings

BEST Honey Sesame Chicken (Panda Express Copycat)

The best honey sesame chicken recipe.

Honey sesame chicken is the best homemade takeout. The combination of honey, soy sauce, and sesame makes a dish the whole family will enjoy.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes


  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • Cooked white or brown rice, for serving


  1. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the flour, salt, and black pepper. Add the chicken pieces and shake well to coat evenly.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the coated chicken pieces and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside on a plate.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, soy sauce, ketchup, rice vinegar, cornstarch, and water until smooth.
  4. In the same skillet, add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant. Pour in the honey sauce mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.
  5. Add the cooked chicken back into the skillet and toss to coat with the sauce. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until the chicken is heated through.
  6. Stir in the sesame seeds and crushed red pepper flakes (if using). Remove from heat.
  7. Serve the honey sesame chicken over cooked rice, garnished with sliced green onions.


You can cook the rice in chicken broth to add extra flavor.

Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Reheating: To reheat, microwave on medium power for 2-3 minutes, or until heated through. Alternatively, reheat in a skillet over low heat, stirring occasionally, until warmed.

Nutrition Information:

Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 413Total Fat: 13.6gCarbohydrates: 30.3gFiber: 1.3gSugar: 19.4gProtein: 42g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.


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Honey Sesame Chicken is perfect for a quick lunch, a family dinner, or even meal prep for the week ahead.

The best honey sesame chicken recipe.

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