This sweet chili chicken is a quick and consistently delicious meal. Tender bites of chicken are smothered in a homemade sweet chili sauce and baked to perfection – each savory mouthful explodes with sweet, spicy, and garlic-packed flavors.
For this recipe, I channeled my pineapple teriyaki chicken – they’re essentially the same recipe but with different homemade sauces. I also switch the oven to broil for the last few minutes to give it all a little more color. You will LOVE this one.
Tell Me About this Sweet Chili Chicken
- Texture: You have tender, juicy pieces of chicken baked in a smooth sauce. A garnish of sesame adds an element of crunch.
- Flavor: This chicken is sweet and spicy with hits of garlic throughout.
- Ease: I consider this an easy dinner recipe. You make the sweet chili sauce on the stove, pour it over the chicken, then bake.
- Time: This simple dish requires about 40 minutes to prepare from start to finish. Like creamy garlic chicken and this cilantro lime chicken recipe, today’s meal is a quick dinner solution when you’re short on time.
I’m a fan of store-bought sweet chili sauce, which I often use as an accompaniment to coconut shrimp. But it’s really easy to make at home. You need water, honey, rice vinegar, cornstarch, garlic, crushed red pepper, Sriracha, and salt.
Best Ingredients in Homemade Sweet Chili Sauce
- Honey. Traditional sweet chili sauce is made with granulated sugar, but honey is an unrefined sugar and tastes wonderful with garlic and spice. As an alternative, you can use agave or pure maple syrup (or just granulated sugar) if you’d like.
- Rice vinegar adds a little sharpness.
- Cornstarch thickens the sauce for that perfect consistency.
- Garlic. Fragrant and aromatic, you’ll need a lot of it in this sauce.
- Crushed red pepper brings heat to the sauce. You can adjust the amount to your desired taste. Add more if you want it super spicy.
- Sriracha gives you heat and zing at once! It’s a wonderful cooking ingredient for a stocked kitchen.
Overview: How to Make Sweet Chili Chicken
The full printable recipe is below, but let’s walk through it so you understand each step before you get started.
- Make the sauce. In a small saucepan, combine all the sauce ingredients and simmer until thickened. Turn off the heat and set it aside.
- Pour over chicken. Place chicken in a greased casserole dish. You can leave the chicken breasts whole, but cutting them up reduces the cooking time. Plus, it helps infuse the sweet chili sauce into every bite. Pour the sauce over the chicken.
- Bake. Bake uncovered until chicken is cooked through. For extra color, you can change the oven setting to broil for the last few minutes.
- Optional while it bakes: The chicken takes about 30 minutes in the oven, so you can use this time to prepare side dishes such as wild rice and a side salad.
Instead of sides, you can add some fresh broccoli in the pan with the chicken and bake everything together in the sauce. There’s a TON of sauce, so make sure you have some good stuff to soak it all up.
More Dinner Recipes
- Cilantro Lime Chicken – we love serving this with corn black bean & avocado salsa as a side salad
- Slow Cooker Chicken Chili
- Pesto Shrimp
- Honey Garlic Soy Salmon
- Lemon Thyme Chicken
Easy Sweet Chili Chicken
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: serves 4
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Cooking
- Cuisine: Asian
Easy sweet chili chicken is your answer to a quick weeknight dinner. Makes incredible leftovers and the homemade sweet chili sauce is so versatile!
- 1/2 cup (120ml) warm water
- 1/2 cup (170g) 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 Instructions: 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.
- Slow Cooker: 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!
- Spiciness: 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.
Keywords: sweet chili chicken
Reader Comments & Reviews
for the rice vinegar, seasoned rice vinegar or plain?
Hi Barbara, we typically use plain, but feel free to use either.
Loved it! The only thing I did different is partially precook the cut chicken pieces in a skillet to release some of the natural moisture in the meat. I then drained off the watery liquid before putting the chicken in the baking dish so the sauce wouldn’t be watery. Worked great!
If i use sweet chilli sauce from.a bottle how much should i use?
Hi Angie, we’re unsure of the exact amount. Use enough to spread sauce on top of the chicken, then turn the chicken over to make sure every inch is coated in the sauce.
Can you use bottled sweet chilli sauce? I know it is cheating, so asking for a friend, lol.
Hi Elaine, That should be fine!
This was absolutely delicious! Served it over sticky rice. Very easy & quick as promised. I’m gluten, dairy, & soy free so was so happy to find a recipe for homemade sweet chili sauce. Just the right amount of heat.
I loved this recipe, but as other commenters said, the sauce got watery. My friend and I made the sauce as directed. Any thoughts?
Hi Amanda! It thickens up as it cools. You can always strain some of the sauce, re-heat it on the stove and add a little cornstarch. Thanks for giving this one a try!
Hi Sally, the recipe sounds delicious and can’t wait to try it this week! I was wondering if you think this would work with chicken Thighs instead of breasts? Do you think the flavors would go okay with the deeper flavors of thighs?
Hi Susan, chicken thighs should work perfectly here. Let us know if you give it a try!