First thing’s first: our friends came over this weekend to dog-sit while we were at the family reunion all day. Kevin and I got back right as they were finishing up preparing dinner for us all. Best of friends!
Guess what they made? Pickle chicken. Now before you click the X at the top of your screen to leave my blog permanently because pickle chicken sounds absolutely atrocious, let me tell you one thing: pickle-brined chicken does not taste like pickles. It’s wildly moist and tender, salty and delicious. It’s chicken marinated in pickle juice all day. They prepared it on the grill and it was honestly one of the best dinners I’ve had all summer.
Today’s sweet chili chicken has nothing to do with pickle chicken, but it’s just as simple and also one of the best dinners I’ve had all summer. No pickle juice required, promise!
I’m a huge fan of sweet chili sauce from the store and often buy it to serve with coconut shrimp. I’ve never thought to just make it myself, but the flavors were all ingredients I had on hand one night so I went for it and crossed my fingers. Major success. Kevin loved this too. Definitely had to share with you.
√ A whole lotta garlic
√ Also a ton of crushed red pepper
√ Sriracha (yes!!)
√ Rice vinegar
√ Cornstarch to thicken
√ None of the weird sketchy stuff you find in the store-bought kind.
… and that’s about it.
Traditionally sweet chili sauce is made with granulated sugar but I try to reserve all my refined sugar for baking purposes– and for cooking, try to use unrefined when I can. Balance. Honey is SO GOOD with garlic and spice– and definitely works here. As an alternative, you can use agave or pure maple syrup (or just granulated sugar) instead if you’d like.
I actually made the sweet chili sauce again last week because we both loved it so much. I added it to veggie and rice stir-fry one night and smothered it over warm grilled zucchini the next. It’s been so convenient to have on hand because not only is it exploding with sweet, spicy, and garlic-packed flavor– it’s extremely versatile. So many uses for this stuff! You’ll want to serve it with everything and I mean everything. Up next I’ll try salmon and then maybe shrimp. Keep ya posted.
But today– basically what you’re going to do is make the sweet chili sauce on the stove, pour it over chicken, then bake the whole darn thing for about 30 minutes. It doesn’t get any easier. I channeled my baked pineapple teriyaki chicken; they’re essentially the same exact recipe but with different homemade sauces. So simple.
You can leave the chicken breasts whole, but I find that cutting them up not only cuts down on cook time but infuses the sweet chili sauce flavor deep into each smaller piece. I also switched the oven to broil for the last few minutes to give it all a little more color.
While it’s baking, you can prep some side dishes. I simply served this with wild rice and a side salad, but you can throw some broccoli or sliced zucchini in the pan and let it bake with the chicken directly in the sauce. There’s a ton of sauce, so make sure you have some good stuff to soak it all up! Quinoa or brown rice would be fantastic alongside too.
As leftovers? This stuff is unreal. It’s even better the next day after the chicken has absorbed more of the sauce. And if you combine rice in the same tupperware as all the leftover sauce, you’ll easily have one of the best lunches ever to look forward to. It tastes like pure comfort food when in reality it’s kinda sorta healthy-ish AND you made it from scratch.
AND you’ll lick the plate clean. Probably in front of people.
But seriously, who has made pickle-brined chicken before? Isn’t it so good??
Easy Sweet Chili Chicken
- 1/2 cup (120ml) warm water
- 1/2 cup (180g) honey
- 1/4 cup (60ml) rice vinegar
- 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons (12g) cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into 2 inch pieces
- sesame seeds and green onion for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Lightly spray a baking pan with nonstick spray-- I use a 10-inch casserole dish. Anything around this size works.
- Combine the water, honey, rice vinegar, cornstarch, garlic, crushed red pepper, Sriracha, and salt together in a small saucepan over low heat. Bring to a simmer while whisking occasionally. Allow to simmer for 3 minutes. It will begin to rapidly thicken. Turn off the heat and set aside.
- Arrange chicken in the prepared baking pan. Spread sauce on top, then turn the chicken over to make sure every inch is coated in the sauce.
- Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes or until the chicken is completely cooked through. For extra color, I switch the oven to broil for the last few minutes. That is optional.
- Sprinkle sesame seeds and green onion on top and serve the chicken with sauce from the pan. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Make ahead tip: The sweet chili sauce, prepared in step 2, can be made up to 5 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator. You can even prepare the dish through step 3, cover the pan with aluminum foil or plastic wrap, and keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 day. Then bake as directed.
I imagine you can prepare this in the slow cooker, but I haven't attempted it yet. Let me know if you give it a try!
This is a spicy dish! If you don't like tons of heat, feel free to leave out the Sriracha or reduce to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper.
The sweet chili sauce gets super thick after being stored in the fridge for a few days, but melts right down when spooned over warm food. Or heat it up if using it as a dip.
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And here’s that baked teriyaki chicken I love too!