Spicy lovers this one is for you! We’re talking juicy white meat chicken with a light and crispy crunch, salted, fried, and dipped in a beautiful spicy red sauce. Try it for yourself because this really is the Best Chili Chicken Recipe!
My love for spicy chicken comes from the underdog of the hawaiian cooking scene- Island Style Chili Peppa Chicken.
There is just something to love about spicy red food that makes your mouth water!
But don’t worry- I made this chicken recipe with my family in mind. We added sweet honey and sugar in the sauce to mellow out the spice and give this chicken a glossy finishing glaze that you’ll love even if you weren’t one for chilis! Warning- it’s still pretty spicy though. lol!
Juicy Tender Chicken
To start we want the juiciest chicken possible. You can use chicken thighs, bone-in breasts, or even wings for this recipe. I personally love skin-on thighs because crispy skin?! If you are using boneless chicken you can slice it and serve like this:
First we’ll soak the chicken in a salty brine to penetrate the meat and tenderize it. While the chicken is soaking, make the Chili Glaze.
Homemade Chili Glaze for Chili Chicken
The star of this chili chicken is the sauce-a sticky and spicy glaze that is truly the cherry on top. We are going at it from scratch because the best, spiciest things are fresh.
I wanted a dish that has depth of flavor and I am going to assume you might not have a jar of Homemade Harissa chili paste or Sambal Oelek lying around. Hey, I certainly don’t!
What you will need are bag of easily accessible spicy dried chilies- these are cheap to buy at the spice market and last for months in the pantry. Get yourself a sack of these babies and let’s get started!
First is the Chili Paste
First we re-hydrate the chilies by soaking them in hot water for 15-20 minutes. Drain the water but SAVE IT!!!! That is our chili water and we’ll use it to get the paste to the perfect consistency.
Place the chilies with some of the soaking liquid into a food processor along with the garlic cloves, salt, and rice vinegar. Blend that until smooth- it doesn’t need to be perfectly smooth but you don’t want any big chunks of chili!
Next is the Chili Glaze
To make the glaze you will simply add a couple Tablespoons of the concentrated chili paste to a pot along with soy sauce, sugar, honey, and ginger. Let that start bubbling to dissolve the sugar and our sauce is ready!
Crispy Fried Chilli Chicken
To fry the chicken we want to first remove it from the wet brine and pat each piece dry with a paper towel- any extra moisture will result in less-than-crispy fried chicken!
Dip the chicken pieces in egg and then into our seasoned flour mix.
Fry until golden- I found this to be 6-8 minutes on each side- for the perfect flaky skin and crispy bite.
Lastly dip in our hot red chili glaze! You can add each piece of chicken to the glaze in a bowl and toss to coat or simply brush the glaze on with a pastry brush.
White rice or fried rice is always the best accompaniment for saucy chicken, if you ask me!
If you are using chicken thighs or skin-on breast for this chili chicken recipe, you have the option of slicing the chicken on the diagonal into strips. This makes for a very pretty presentation! If you are going for more of a lunch feel or using bone-in chicken, simply serve whole on a plate with two scoops of white rice per person.
Garnish with sliced green onion, and enjoy hot!
I hope you love this Spicy Chili Chicken like we do! If you make this recipe please review it below and come say hi on Instagram to share your food photos- they always make my day!
Best Chili Chicken Recipe
- 4-6 chicken thighs,skin on or your choice of bone-in chicken
- 1 cup water
- 1/8 cup salt
- 2 TBSP white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup white or spelt flour, sifted
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 5-7 dried hot red peppers with seeds
- water to cover
- 4 1/2 TBSP rice vinegar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 garlic cloves
- 7-9 TBSP chili water
Spicy Chili Glaze
- 1/8 cup honey
- 5 TBSP white sugar
- 2 TBSP soy sauce
- 2 heaping TBSP chili paste
- 2 tsp fresh grated ginger sub 1 tsp dried ginger
- 2-3 TBSP chili water
- Add water, sugar, and salt to a large bowl and whisk to dissolve the sugar. Add chicken pieces and submerge in the brine. Cover and place in the fridge for one hour. (in the meantine make the chili glaze).
- Crack eggs in a bowl and whisk to combine.
- In a third bowl, add flour, cornstarch and seasonings( 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp garlic powder, and 1 tsp onion powder).Whisk to combine.
- Remove the chicken from brine and pat dry with a paper towel. Dip each piece in egg and then in seasoned flour mix, making sure to coat all the edges and nooks.
- Heat oil in a frying pan/pot until it shimmers. You will know it is hot enough to fry in when you place the end of a wooden spatula into the oil and bubbles appear on the wood.
- Taking care not to crowd the oil, add chicken pieces and fry for 6-8 minutes on each side, until golden and crispy. Remove to a plate or metal cooling rack, if you have one.
- Do this step while the chicken is brining.
- Re-hydrate peppers by adding them to a measuring cup and covering with hot water. Let steep for. 10-15 minutes, or until softened. Remove stems and discard. Transfer chilies to a food processor fitted with the "S" blade. RESERVE THE CHILI WATER. Add 7 Tablespoons of the chili water to the food processor along with rice vinegar, salt, and garlic cloves. Process until smooth. If you are using more chilies, you may need to add 1-2 Tablespoons of the chili water to achive a paste consistency. It should be thick but blend easily.
- Get out a small- medium sized pot. Add 2 heaping Tablespons of the homemade chili paste, along with the honey, sugar, soy sauce, ginger and chili water. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the glaze starts to bubble. Stir to comine with a spoon.
- Dip each piece of crispy fried chicken in the chili glaze by adding it to the pot and tossing or brushing the glaze on with a pastry brush. Serve hot and garnish with sliced green onion.