Soy Sauce Chicken

By: takestwoeggsPosted: 20/01/2024 Updated: 20/01/2024
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 50 minutes
Total 1 hour 10 minutes
This authentic soy sauce chicken recipe yields the juiciest and most tender chicken that is braised in a perfect blend of soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and other delicious seasonings.
Soy Sauce Chicken

Soy sauce chicken or “see yao gai” (豉油鸡) is a classic and flavorful Chinese dish. The glossy, dark brown, soy sauce chicken skin gives way to succulent and tender chicken pieces. You can also easily customize this recipe with chicken thighs, legs, and wings instead of the whole chicken if you prefer.

A carved soy sauce chicken presented on a platter surrounded by table settings.

Chinese soy sauce chicken is made with soy sauce, ginger, garlic, star anise, Chinese rice wine, brown sugar, and other seasonings for a rich and savory combination of flavors. The cooking process for this soy sauce chicken recipe is really easy with this comprehensive recipe filled with tips and tricks! All you need to do is make the soy sauce braising liquid, braise the chicken, and baste it with the sauce.

This easy soy sauce chicken recipe yields the most comforting and satisfying dish that is perfect for your next family meal or celebration. If you are looking for more Chinese recipes, check out our chicken and broccoli, clay pot rice, and egg drop soup.

A top down view of a plated soy sauce chicken surrounded by table settings.

What is Chinese Soy Sauce Chicken?

Chinese soy sauce chicken, or “see yao gai” (豉油鸡) is a classic comfort dish typically made with whole chicken, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, star anise, sugar, and Chinese rice wine. The whole chicken is slowly braised which allows the chicken to fully absorb the flavors of the soy sauce and aromatic spices.

The soy chicken is often found hanging under heat lamps in many Chinese restaurant windows. Different regions and households have their own variations of soy sauce chicken incorporating local spices and cooking techniques. My version includes adding shallots, green onions, dark soy sauce, for a richer dark brown color and a more aromatic fragrance.

A top down view of a carved soy sauce chicken with sides near by.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

If you love soy sauce and chicken you will 100% love this soy sauce chicken recipe. Here are 3 top reasons why you should make this chicken with soy sauce.

  1. Tender and Juicy. The slow-braising technique in cooking soy chicken results in super juicy and tender pieces that are incredibly delicious.
  2. Savory and Aromatic. The deep savory flavor profile from the soy sauce and the fragrant aromatics from the ginger, garlic, green onion, and shallots create the most irresistible and satisfying dish.
  3. Versatile: Chinese soy sauce chicken is versatile and can be enjoyed with rice, noodles, with vegetables, etc. You can also customize the recipe by using chicken thighs, drumsticks, or chicken wings as well.

Kitchen Equipment

You will need the following kitchen equipment items to make this soy sauce chicken recipe. I’ve linked everything that I used for you below.

  • Large heatproof bowl: you will need a large heatproof bowl that is large enough to fit your chicken to lightly blanch it with hot water.
  • Stock Pot with a lid: you will need a stock pot that is just large enough to hold the chicken. I used a 4-quart stock pot with a lid.
  • Skimmer: a skimmer will be useful to skim the scum off the top of the braising liquid.
  • Basting Brush: a basting brush is necessary to brush the soy sauce onto the chicken for the deep glossy brown color.
  • Cooking Thermometer: a cooking thermometer will allow you to check if the chicken is done cooking at 165ºF (75°C).

Ingredients

You will use the following ingredients to make this Chinese soy sauce chicken recipe. I have linked everything that I used for you below.

  • Whole free range chicken: the best chicken to use is a whole free range organic chicken that is about 3-4 lbs. Free range chicken will yield a more tender and better textured meat with also a tighter and less fatty skin.
  • Vegetable oil: vegetable oil is used to saute and release the fragrant flavors of the aromatics.
  • Ginger, garlic, shallots, green onion: these are the main aromatics for a fragrant soy sauce chicken.
  • Star anise: star anise adds a sweet, warm, spicy, and earthy flavor to the braising liquid.
  • Shaoxing rice wine: Shaoxing rice wine is a Chinese cooking wine that adds a slightly sweet and briny flavor.
  • Soy Sauce: regular soy sauce is the main flavoring agent.
  • Dark Soy Sauce: dark soy sauce has a thicker and sweeter consistency than regular soy sauce which adds more color to the soy sauce chicken.
  • Light Brown Sugar: light brown sugar sweetens the salty flavors of the soy sauce and it also aids in the caramelization of the deep golden brown chicken.
  • Salt: salt enhances the flavor of the chicken.
  • Sesame Oil: sesame oil adds a layer of nutty umami flavor to the sweet soy chicken.
  • Cornstarch: cornstarch is a thickening agent that will be used to thicken up the soy sauce braising liquid to baste the chicken for a richer, deeper brown, and glossier soy chicken.
All the ingredients for soy sauce chicken organized and labeled.

Substitutions and Additions

You can customize this easy chicken with soy sauce recipe with the following substitutions and additions that I listed for you below.

Substitutions

  • Chicken cuts: instead of a whole chicken, you can use drumsticks, chicken thighs, or chicken wings instead. But note if you are using these cuts, you will need to use different cooking times for chicken wings: 25 mins, drumsticks: 35 mins, thighs: 40 mins, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).
  • Soy sauce varieties: you can experiment with different varieties of soy sauce such as light soy sauce, tamari, liquid aminos, etc.
  • Sweeteners: instead of brown sugar, you can use regular granulated sugar, honey, or maple syrup instead.

Additions

  • Spices: for a more spiced flavor, you can add a cinnamon stick, cloves, or Sichuan peppercorns.
  • Chilis: for an extra kick, add fresh chilis, chili flakes, or chili oil.
  • Vegetables: for a one-pot meal, you can add bok choy, mushrooms, or bell peppers to the braising liquid.

How to Make Soy Sauce Chicken

Here are the step-by-step instructions on how to make this soy sauce chicken recipe. Remember to let the chicken come to room temperature for a more even cook, and for the juiciest results!

  1. Prepare the chicken. In a large bowl, place the chicken inside. Pour boiling water onto the chicken to blanch the chicken and tighten up the skin. Remove from the bowl and pat to dry.
  1. Saute aromatics. In a pot just large enough to fit your chicken, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Then add the ginger and saute for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Then add the garlic and shallots and cook for another 30 seconds. Add the star anise and green onion and saute for an additional 20 seconds.
Aromatics being sautéed in a large stock pot.
  1. Add the sauce. Add the Shaoxing rice wine and bring to a simmer for 30 seconds. Then add the soy sauce, dark soy sauce, water, sugar, and salt. Bring to a simmer then reduce to low heat and cook for 5 minutes.
Aromatics and sauce being simmered in a large stock pot.
  1. Cook the chicken. Place the chicken into the pot. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to medium-low heat to a gentle simmer. Skim the scum from the surface and discard it. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Every 5 minutes or so baste the chicken. After 25 minutes, turn off the heat, flip the chicken, add the sesame oil, cover the pot, and let the chicken sit in the pot for 15 minutes. The internal temperature should reach 165ºF (75°C). Transfer to a cutting board.
  1. Baste the chicken. Scoop out one cup of the basting liquid. Heat the basting liquid in a small saucepan over medium heat until it begins to simmer. In a small mixing bowl, mix the cornstarch and water. Pour the cornstarch slurry into the simmering basting liquid and mix until thickened. Then baste the chicken with the thickened sauce as it cools for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Serve. Carve the chicken into slices, baste with more sauce, and serve with rice and enjoy!
A carved soy sauce chicken presented on a platter surrounded by table settings.

Tips for the Best Soy Sauce Chicken

  • Fresh high-quality chicken. For the best flavor and tender chicken, use a whole free-range organic chicken that is between 3-4 lbs. Make sure the chicken is at room temperature when you begin cooking for an even cook.
  • Maintain low steady heat. During the cooking process, you want the chicken to be cooking at a gentle simmer with soft bubbles when covered with a lid.
  • Baste the chicken every 5-7 minutes. Every 5-7 minutes, I gently baste the top of the chicken with the braising liquid for even coloring.
  • Check the temperature! Before removing the chicken, you will need to check if the internal temperature of the thickest part of the chicken is at 165ºF (75°C).
  • Rest the chicken. Before slicing the chicken, you must let the chicken rest for at least 15 minutes! This will give the chicken time to redistribute the juices for a moist and tender result.
  • For deep brown color: While the chicken is hot and resting, continuously baste the chicken with the thickened basting liquid
  • Use a sharp knife to carve the chicken. For clean cuts, make sure to carve the chicken with a newly sharpened knife.

Storage Instructions

You can store the Chinese soy sauce chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

Reheat: you can either steam or microwave the chicken covered until warm.

Frequently Asked Q’s and A’s

How do I carve the chicken?

The easiest way to carve the chicken is to first remove the wings. Then cut along the thighs and remove the drumsticks. Last, cut the breast in half at the breast bone and then slightly pull the breast with your fingers and use the knife to cut along the bone. Thinly slice each breast and plate.

Can I use different cuts of chicken?

Yes! You can also use drumsticks or thighs for this soy chicken recipe.

Can I use different types of soy sauce?

Yes, you can use different types of soy sauce such as light soy sauce, tamari, and liquid aminos instead of regular soy sauce.

How do I achieve a glossy dark brown finish on the chicken?

To achieve the dark glossy finish, baste the chicken with the thickened basting liquid continuously as the chicken rests.

Additional Chinese Recipes to Try

Did you make this Soy Sauce Chicken?

If you made this dish and loved it, please leave a review and comment below. We would greatly appreciate it!

Share your dish with us on Instagram, and tag us @takestwoeggs—we’d love to see and share your delicious creation!

Hungry for more? Follow us on Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Pinterest, and Facebook for more tasty creations and updates 🍜

Recipe

A whole soy sauce chicken on a platter surrounded by table settings.

Soy Sauce Chicken

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Rest Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
This authentic soy sauce chicken recipe yields the juiciest and most tender chicken that is braised in a perfect blend of soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and other delicious seasonings.
Servings: 4 servings
Print Recipe

Ingredients

Basting Sauce

  • 1 cup basting liquid
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 3 teaspoons water

Instructions

  • Prepare the chicken. In a large bowl, place the chicken inside. Pour boiling water onto the chicken to blanch the chicken and tighten up the skin. Remove from the bowl and pat to dry.
  • Saute aromatics. In a pot just large enough to fit your chicken, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Then add the ginger and saute for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Then add the garlic and shallots and cook for another 30 seconds. Add the star anise and green onion and saute for an additional 20 seconds.
  • Add the sauce. Add the Shaoxing rice wine and bring to a simmer for 30 seconds. Then add the soy sauce, dark soy sauce, water, sugar, and salt. Bring to a simmer then reduce to low heat and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Cook the chicken. Place the chicken into the pot. It is okay if the top of the chicken is not completely covered. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to medium-low heat to a gentle simmer. Skim the scum from the surface and discard it. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Every 5 minutes or so baste the area of the chicken that is not submerged. After 25 minutes, turn off the heat, flip the chicken, add the sesame oil, cover the pot, and let the chicken sit in the pot for an additional 15 minutes. The internal temperature of the chicken should reach 165ºF (75°C). Once the chicken is cooked through, carefully transfer the chicken to a cutting board.
  • Baste the chicken. Scoop out one cup of the basting liquid. Heat the basting liquid in a small saucepan over medium heat until it begins to simmer. In a small mixing bowl, mix the cornstarch and water until combined. Pour the cornstarch slurry into the simmering basting liquid and mix until thickened. Then baste the chicken with the thickened sauce as it cools for at least 15 minutes.
  • Serve. Carve the chicken into slices, baste with more sauce, and serve with rice and enjoy!

Notes

  • Fresh high-quality chicken. For the best flavor and tender chicken, use a whole free-range organic chicken that is between 3-4 lbs. Make sure the chicken is at room temperature when you begin cooking for an even cook.
  • Maintain low steady heat. During the cooking process, you want the chicken to be cooking at a gentle simmer with soft bubbles when covered with a lid.
  • Baste the chicken every 5-7 minutes. Every 5-7 minutes, I gently baste the top of the chicken with the braising liquid for even coloring.
  • Check the temperature! Before removing the chicken, you will need to check if the internal temperature of the thickest part of the chicken is at 165ºF (75°C).
  • Rest the chicken. Before slicing the chicken, you must let the chicken rest for at least 15 minutes! This will give the chicken time to redistribute the juices for a moist and tender result.
  • For deep brown color: While the chicken is hot and resting, continuously baste the chicken with the thickened basting liquid
  • Use a sharp knife to carve the chicken. For clean cuts, make sure to carve the chicken with a newly sharpened knife.
  • Storage Instructions: You can store the Chinese soy sauce chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

Nutrition:

Calories: 522kcal | Carbohydrates: 72g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 22mg | Sodium: 8080mg | Potassium: 533mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 60g | Vitamin A: 163IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 111mg | Iron: 4mg

Rate & Review What did you think of this recipe?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating