Easy Sweet Chili Chicken

overhead image of sweet chili chicken in a baking dish with a serving spoon

sweet chili chicken on a blue plate with rice and a fork

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.

You need:

A whole lotta garlic
 Also a ton of crushed red pepper
 Sriracha (yes!!)
Rice vinegar
Honey
Cornstarch to thicken
None of the weird sketchy stuff you find in the store-bought kind.

… and that’s about it.

sweet chili sauce in a green bowl with a spoon

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.

spreading sweet chili sauce onto pieces of chicken in a baking dish

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.

sweet chili chicken in a baking dish with a serving spoon

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 is 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.

sweet chili chicken on a blue plate with rice and a fork

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sweet chili chicken in a baking dish with a serving spoon

Easy Sweet Chili Chicken

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: Asian

Description

Easy sweet chili chicken is your answer to a quick weeknight dinner. Makes incredible leftovers and the homemade sweet chili sauce is so versatile!


Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Notes

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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

And here’s that baked teriyaki chicken I love too!

baked pineapple teriyaki chicken in a baking dish after baking

124 Comments

Comments are closed.

  1. I love love love spicy food so that sauce sounds delish. Bookmarking the recipe to make next time I have friends over. Thanks Sally!

  2. Hi Sally,

    I am going to make this recipe. Can I use apple cider vinegar instead of rice vinegar? BTW can you ask your friend for pickle chicken recipe?

    1. Oh yes

    2. Apple cider vinegar should be just fine. And for the pickle chicken– all he did was marinate chicken breasts and thighs in pickle juice all day. Then he threw them on the grill with lots of chicken seasoning rubbed on each piece (I think it was McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Chicken Seasoning). SO EASY!

      1. HI SALLY. LOVE YOUR WEBSITE AND I HAVE A WHOLE NOTEBOOK FULL OF YOUR RECIPES. I HAVE COOKED SINCE A YOUNG CHILD BUT HAVE ALWAYS STAYED CLEAR OF RECIPES USING YEAST THAT REQUIRED ANY KNEADING BECAUSE OF BAD EXPERIENCE BUT YOUR EXPLANATIONS FOR MAKING YOUR PIZZA DOUGH HELPED AND ENCOURAGED ME AND IT TURNED OUR GREAT. THANK YOU, MY QUESTION IS SIMPLE-WITH THE PICKLE CHICKEN ,IS IT SWEET OR DILL PICKLE JUICE? THANKS AND I LOOK FORWARD TO NEW RECIPES,

      2. Either works! I’ve had it both ways. Use what you like best.

  3. Laura @ The Bluenose Baker says:

    Homemade sweet chili sauce has been on my “to try” list forever! I think I have all of the ingredients – it might be dinner tonight! I may try it out in the crockpot, maybe with chicken thighs to keep it from drying out.

    1. Yeah! Let me know if you try it that way.

  4. Laura ~ Raise Your Garden says:

    I gotta be honest Sally…..I think I’d be scared to cook for you!!! haha.

    Anyhow, I grow my own garlic, have over 25 big cloves. Just plucked them and I’ll take the biggest individual cloves to plant for next year. But I put garlic in everything, fresh garlic even straight from the garden is the most wonderful ever! It’s totally different than grocery store garlic – even if fresh! I can’t wait to try this. 

    1. Oh stop! I’d be thrilled to have you cook for me!! And I bet your home-grown garlic is unreal.

  5. patricia @Sweet and Strong says:

    I try not to use refined sugars when cooking as well.  I LOVE spicy food and chili sauce, and always ‘try’ to make my own without actually measuring anything, so I can’t wait to try this!

  6. Leah @ Grain Changer says:

    I’ve never thought of making sweet chili sauce at home, and am in love with how easy it seems! Adding this to our dinner rotation, for sure 🙂 Also – pickle chicken is AMAZING, right? Our friends introduced it to us last year, and I’m obsessed! (Evidently that’s Chick-fil-a’s secret to tender chicken, too!)

    1. Leah you’ll LOVE this! And I can’t believe that’s the secret behind chick-fil-a’s chicken!!!??

  7. I LOVE pickle brined chicken! I make a kind of ‘faux’ Chick-Fil-A by brining in dill pickle juice, then breading with rice flour/egg/rice chex and baking for GF “fried” chicken. SO. GOOD. Can’t wait to try your homemade sweet chili chicken, too!

    1. That sounds awesome Leslie! I’ve never breaded chicken with rice chex before. I’ve done cornflakes, but now I’m curious!

      1. I’ve made your chicken breaded with cornflakes and it’s incredible! I think you’d really love the rice chex, too! 

  8. This looks so good! Sweet or sweet & sour sauces are my favourite kinds. Definitely healthier than the bottled stuff too – after a long week’s vacation (full of indulging in waaay too much dessert) – I need this! Another way this would be fantastic is, since it gets so thick, as a spread on bread for shrimp or salmon sandwiches. A great restaurant near me has a sandwich like that and it is fantastic 😉 

    1. You’re so right; this stuff would be awesome on sandwiches!

  9. Do you have a recipe for pickle chicken you can share with us please? It sounds out of this world delish! 🙂

    1. All he did was marinate chicken breasts and thighs in pickle juice all day long. Then threw them on the grill with lots of chicken seasoning (I think it was McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Chicken Seasoning). SO EASY!

  10. I have a copycat Chick-Fil-A recipe that requires marinating chicken in pickle juice. It’s delicious!! I can’t wait to try your recipe – I have all the ingredients on hand and it sounds like supper tomorrow night to me! I’m struggling with fixing the same ol’ thing right now. In a rut. Hate when this happens, haha….Thanks for sharing an easy recipe!

    1. I had no idea that Chick-Fil-A made their chicken this way until everyone began commenting about it! So cool!

  11. Catherine Smith says:

    People totally need to jump on the pickle chicken train!! I make it all the time as a way to copy the deliciousness of Chick Fil A! And obviously it’s a nice way to maximize use of the jars of pickles after you’ve eaten them.

    TAlso, did i hear on Snapchat you’re having an herb garden? Check out www.rareseeds.com for some awesome heirloom seeds! Talk about photogenic vegetables!!

    1. THANK YOU for the link! I’ve been perusing the site all day. 🙂

  12. I am going to try this in the crock pot? Too hot for the oven these days. Also will try the pickle chicken; sounds good!

    1. Let me know how it is in the crockpot!

      1. Crock pot watered down the sauce, so I made more sauce before serving. ( I ran out of honey and subbed orange marmalade). It worked out great. I like the original sauce better but won’t make in crock pot again.

  13. I loved your pineapple teriyaki chicken, I have not doubts this will be just as tasty. So easy! That sweet chili sauce sounds perfect too, is the taste similar to Sweet Baby Ray’s Chili sauce? I love that sauce but as I have learned homemade is so much better for you. Will definitely be trying this soon.

    1. VERY similar!

  14. Irina @ Zesty Delights says:

    I am ashamed to admit, I never tried a sweet chili sauce.  But I am going to now, especially since it has garlic.  This chicken practically spells out TRY ME.  And that’s what I am going to do for Friday night dinner.

    1. It’s PACKED with flavor– and lots of garlic! You’ll love it.

  15. Gongrats for the RANK 1 on feedspot dear Sally 

  16. This sounds amazing. I never would have thought of a sweet chili sauce. Definitely going to make. I may even double the sauce to use with other dishes. Thank you.

    1. I definitely recommend making extra sauce! It works with absolutely everything.

  17. I fell in love with sweet chili chicken kebabs when I was studying abroad in London; they sold them at the hot food counter in Sainsbury’s! I forgot how much I loved them, but now I cannot WAIT to make this! Thank you so much for the reminder!

    1. Kebabs! Such a great idea Liz. I’ll be trying that now too!

  18. I made Thai Chili Pepper Vinegar in the winter to give away as gifts keeping a couple of jars for myself. I have no idea what to do with it – it just looks pretty in the jars!! I’m thinking I’ll use it for this in place of the rice vinegar and chili flakes….and maybe the sriracha too depending how hot it is. What do you think?

    1. I’d maybe leave the Sriracha out too and then taste it– you can always add a splash if you think it needs it!

  19. This looks so yummy! I am on my own for dinner-hubby has his last cooking class-and I already have dinner planned for tomorrow-Cornish meat pasties-but this is dinner Thursday night!! 

    1. I love hearing about what he’s learning to make in cooking class! Let me know when you give this a try though. 🙂

      1. Well…I made it tonight! Hubby and both think that it is not only tasty but also a very pretty dish! it’s a tad bit too spicy, so I might use a bit less Sriracha next time…but I will be making this again! 

      2. Fabulous. Thanks for letting me know Amy!

  20. Sweet chili is so fantastic on chicken! I’ve never heard of pickle chicken but I might have to check that out too!

  21. Love pickle brined chicken!  We do a Chik fil a copycat on New Year’s Eve when we fry everything under the sun.  I never thought of grilling it — that is brilliant!!!  Love this recipe too – can’t wait to try it.  Love all of your stuff!! 

    1. You win for the most delicious new years eve!

  22. thanks for the idea about pickle chicken! I just found a recipe and pinned it. That sounds really good.

    1. Let me know how you like pickle chicken!

  23. Hey Sally! I’m making this for dinner tonight and I think you might have an error in the ingredients – I think 1/2 cup of honey is actually about 168g, not 85g. Which measurement is correct? 

    1. Oh goodness, my apologies! It is 1/2 cup.

  24. Ok – made this tonight and it is definitely 1/2 cup of honey! Verdict – quick, easy, really delicious, but definitely too spicy. Would probably do only 1 tsp of red pepper flakes next time. Thanks for another winning recipe! 

    1. Ok awesome. Thanks for reporting back Melissa!

  25. I made this for dinner tonight it sooo good!!!! Thanks for posting this recipe!!!!

    1. Glad you loved it!

  26. The sauce looks so so tasty! I’m glad it doesn’t share any ingredients with the store-bought sweet chili sauces which taste like chemicals! Saved this recipe for later 😉

  27. Michelle @ Modern Acupuncture says:

    Sincerely cannot wait to try this! Looks super easy, right up my alley. Love when you post dinner recipes, Sally!

    1. Thanks Michelle! I appreciate that because I’m trying to get more creative with dinners!

  28. Shelby @ Go Eat and Repeat says:

    That chili sauce looks delish! And pickle chicken definitely sounds…interesting. But, I’m always up for trying something at least once, so now I’ll have to try it!

    1. It’s definitely interesting. But VERY good!

  29. Tried this last night last minute. I happened to have all the ingredients on hand. It was delicious and super easy. I highly recommend throwing in the vegetables as you suggested. So much flavor, healthy and easy. Trifecta!!!

    1. Thanks Claudia!

  30. The pickle chicken thing is so cool and after reading comments I can totally see chick fil a doing that! I think there may be a typo in your writing- it says quinoa and brown side, maybe you meant brown rice? Anyways, this looks delish!

    1. Yes I just fixed that typo! Sorry about that!

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