These Chili Peppa Chicken Tenders are an ode to the famous Hawaiian Chili Peppa Chicken- a spicy staple lunch food in the islands. Crispy bites of chicken marinated, fried, and bathed in a sauce so good you will want to drizzle(more like pour) it on everything!
Nothing is quite like lunch on Kauai. (If you didn’t know, there are 7 islands in the Hawaiian island chain, and I grew up on one of the smaller ones, nicknamed the Garden Island for all its lush greenery).
Sitting on the beach with bowls of fresh ahi poke, watching the sunset with an open bento box of musubi, and digging in at a local owned place to some big juicy pieces of chicken and mac salad. Basically a food lovers dream- that’s Hawaii!
Hawaiian Chili Peppa Chicken is one of those loved foods you start dreaming about on your way home from the beach. Traditionally made with massive pieces of chicken breast, and served with two scoops white rice and Mac salad, this one is sure to fill you up big time. Although great as it is, summer is here and that means countless hours with the kids and bbq’s and finger food. So, I gave this chicken a little summer upgrade!
I switched up the breasts for chicken tenders- perfect for finger food and snacking while out chilling in the yard. Also, we are scratching that super spicy Hawaiian Chili pepper for a bit milder dash of chili pepper flakes- this chicken still has a kick but the kids will love it too!
The process is pretty simple but involves a couple steps to get us the juiciest chicken ever, while still getting a crisp crunch and all da ono flava!
Chili Peppa Chicken Marinade
Before cooking, the chicken gets to sit in this simple marinade- which gives it flavour down to the core and also tenderises the chicken for the juiciest bite!
Soy sauce– this salty condiment stars in countless Hawaiian recipes, including our all star Shoyu Chicken Recipe! My favourite brand to use is Kikkoman soy sauce.
Cornstarch– besides binding ingredients together, this starchy flour actually tenderises the chicken as it marinates, so don’t skip or switch it!
How to Make Chili Peppa Chicken
As we said before, the chicken sits in a marinade first. For how long should you marinate? Minimum 30 minutes, up to overnight! Just pop the chicken in a container with a lid and the marinade, and stick it in the fridge while you prep everything else.
While the chicken is chilling, make the sauce. This stuff is hands down amazing I’m warning you, it’s also RED which gives this chicken the most delectable EAT ME NOW look. (you know the one where half the chicken disappears before getting to the table).
a note on the sauce. The Chili Peppa chicken calls for three spicy ingredients- chili pepper flakes, sriracha hot sauce, and a dash of cayenne. We like our food spicy, and my kids don’t mind as well BUT if you do(mind spiciness that is), just leave out the dash of cayenne, and go light on the chili flakes! Don’t skip the sriracha because that just adds so much!
NOTE ON MINCING GINGER- to get the finest mince, I like to first peel the ginger- a one inch piece will be about the perfect amount. Thinly slice it(as shown above), then slice it lengthwise to little sticks, and then dice.
When you are ready to eat, you’ll dip the chicken straight from the marinade and into some flour whisked with cornstarch(no seasonings necessary).
Then into hot oil for a nice crispy fry. Remove with kitchen tongs to a paper towel to soak up any extra oil.
Lastly, toss the tenders in that beautiful sauce! You must serve Chili Peppa Chicken with rice to soak up all the great sauce, and you could add some Mac salad or coleslaw as well!
You should also try these Hawaiian classics:
Honey Garlic Chicken Katsu– I make this on repeat, it is really so addictive!
Shoyu Chicken– This is an easier, one-pot option perfect for dinner!
Nori Wrapped Mochiko Chicken– If you’re down for a little fun in the kitchen, you’ll love these bite sized chicken flavour bombs!
I hope you love this Island Style Chili Peppa Chicken like we do! Remember to leave a review or a nice thought in the comment section below- I love hearing what recipes are your favourites and what is the “matzav” in your kitchen! For fun and behind-the-scenes, come and join the fam on Instagram!
Lots of love, Estee
Island Style Chili Peppa Chicken Tenders
- 1-2 packages chicken breast, cleaned
- salt and pepper to season
- 1/8 cup soy sauce
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tbs mirin(Japanese rice wine) can be substituted with sherry
- 1 Tbs cornstarch
- 1 cup flour
- 2 Tbs cornstarch
Chili Peppa Sauce
- 3/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup mirin(Japanese rice wine)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 TBS fresh ginger, minced
- 1 TBS sriracha hot sauce
- 1 TBS honey
- 1/8-1/4 tsp chili pepper flakes
- dash of cayenne pepper(optional)
- Clean chicken and slice into tenders- strips about the length of a finger. Lay out in an even layer and season both sides with salt and pepper.
- Place marinade ingredients in a container, whisk to dissolve the cornstarch, and add the chicken tenders..Toss to coat, cover and place in the fridge to marinate 30 minutes or up to overnight.
- While the chicken is marinating, place all sauce ingredients in a frying pan or small short pot over medium flame. Bring to a boil and mix to dissolve the sugar. Continue cooking for 5-7 minutes, until the sauce thickens. It will still be thin, but you can tell on the sides of the frying pan that it has reduced. Set aside.
- Heat oil for frying in a frying pan. In a bowl, whisk together the flour and cornstarch for the dry mix. Take out the chicken, remove from marinade, and dip chicken tenders into the dry mix, tossing till coated. Fry until nice and golden and fully cooked through. Place on a paper towel to drain the extra oil. When all the chicken is fried, heat up the sauce and one by one dip the tenders in to fully coat them.
- Serve with rice, garnish with green onions. enjoy!