Better Than Takeout Sesame Chicken Stir Fry

This sesame chicken stir fry is a sweet and spicy chicken stir fry recipe in which the chicken is stir-fried using less oil than the battered and fried (takeout) version. Make it juicy and saucy with a secret ingredient low-sugar sauce that has tons of flavor!

Closeup view of sesame chicken stir fry with rice in a white bowl.


5 stars

Thank you for a great recipe! I’m a huge fan of velveting and I’m glad you included that. I did add honey (in addition to the brown sugar) and ginger per your suggestions and the flavors were on point!


Affiliate disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link.

Is sesame chicken stir fry healthy?

Takeout sesame chicken is usually coated with batter and deep-fried, then mixed with a sweet sauce to get you addicted. With this recipe, you’ll learn how to make an easy marinated chicken stir fry.

It has the same (addictive) results with a few tricks I’ll be telling you in a few minutes. Once you learn that, you’ll never deep-fry your chicken again!

The only thing you’ll miss in this “better than takeout” sesame chicken stir fry is the crispiness (and the added calories). That’s more than compensated by soft and melt-in-your-mouth chicken. This recipe is as healthy as the breaded panko chicken.

That can be achieved by tenderizing and marinating the chicken before stir-frying. The simple chicken stir fry marinade is the secret to this delicious sweet and spicy chicken. I bet you’ll eventually find this low-calorie recipe more delicious than the fried one.

Watch how to make sweet and spicy chicken stirfry

Like the jeera chicken and chicken mince curry, this is another addition to my easy chicken recipes with a few basic ingredients. For a quick and easy dinner, serve this sesame chicken with plain boiled rice.

Make it a healthy Asian dinner recipe, by doubling the chicken marinade and using the other half to stir-fry vegetables. This is an absolute time-saving method that I recommended for my easy recipes like Asian tofu scramble and tofu basil stir fry, too.

How to tenderize chicken breast with baking soda

Velvetting is a very easy way to tenderize boneless chicken breasts, especially when you want to stir-fry. After a bit of research and trying various techniques from brining to soaking, I found this to be the most effective.

You will be blown away by the difference it makes to chicken breast!

Clean and chop the chicken breast into 1-1/2 inch cubes. For every 250 grams of chicken, add 1 teaspoon of baking soda.

Mix well and allow it to soak. After 20 to 30 minutes, rinse the chicken a couple of times.

That’s it! Your chicken is now tenderized and ready to be stir-fried, baked, sauteed, or whatever you want to do with it.

Boneless chicken cubes marinated in baking soda in a white bowl.

This not only works for stir-fries like the chicken in fried Bee hoon recipe or stir-fried chicken with red rice but also for other forms of cooking boneless, skinless chicken breasts like the easy baked chicken breasts.

Since the baked breasts are already tender and juicy, you may not find much of a difference, but it makes a WORLD of difference to marinated chicken stir-fry!

You can also use this tenderizing technique with Indian recipes like tandoori chicken tikka and hariyali chicken kebabs to get tender and juicy chicken.

Chicken stir fry marinade

(You can find the exact measurements and instructions in the printable recipe card at the end of this page.)

  • Oyster sauce: This is the secret ingredient that gives this sesame chicken its characteristic mouth-watering flavor, color and saucy consistency.
  • Soy sauce: One of the basic ingredients for Asian stir-fries. Low sodium soy sauce is better if you can find it. If not, use the regular one.
  • Rice vinegar: For a splash of tang.
  • Sesame oil: Gives the final glaze to the sauce.
  • Red chilli flakes: This is a moderately spicy sesame chicken recipe. Adjust the quantity according to taste.
  • Black pepper and salt: Though we use soy sauce, a dash of salt and pepper makes a difference to the flavor of the sauce.
  • Brown sugar: Just a little to balance the spices. You can replace brown sugar with honey to make this a honey sesame chicken stir-fry.

Other stir-fry ingredients

  • Peanut oil for frying.
  • Lots of Garlic for the aroma.
  • Sesame seeds for garnish. (after all, it is sesame chicken!)
  • Chinese parsley for garnishing. Green onions can be used instead.
Marinated chicken cubes with other labelled ingredients for stir fry.

Sweet and spicy chicken stir fry- Step by step instructions

Marinate tenderized chicken with the stir-fry sauce for about 15 minutes.

Heat peanut oil in a wok or deep pan. Stir-fry garlic for about 2 minutes until you get a pleasant aroma. Do not let it brown. Add marinated chicken cubes.

Stir-fry for 5 minutes on high heat. Now comes the important step: Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of water and stir-fry for 5 more minutes. Repeat with 2 more tablespoons of water and stir-fry for 5 more minutes.

This process first browns chicken on the outside then adding water steams and cooks the chicken thoroughly, while making it soft and juicy. This is the secret to juicy sweet and spicy chicken stir fry!

Garnish with sesame seeds and Chinese parsley. Enjoy with a bowl of rice.

Additions and substitutions

  • A teaspoon of finely chopped ginger can be added with garlic.
  • Green onions can be substituted for Chinese parsley for garnishing.
  • For greater “umami” (a glamorous word for meaty!) flavor, add a teaspoon of ground dry mushrooms. I’ve explained how to make it in Singapore street noodles recipe.
  • My favorite hack to turn this into a spicy chicken stir fry with vegetables: (This is what I recommended for Thai chicken mince stir fry too.)
    • Double the amount of sauce and add vegetables like bok choy, carrots, bell peppers and baby corn. Marinate chicken as above with half the sauce.
    • After cooking the marinated chicken for 5 to 10 minutes, add vegetables and fry for 5 minutes.
    • Finally, add the other half of the sauce and stir-fry for 5 more minutes until everything comes together. Garnish and serve.

Make this a gluten-free sesame chicken stir fry

To make this recipe gluten-free, all you have to do is to look for gluten-free soy sauce (or tamari sauce) and gluten-free oyster sauce. They are easily available in supermarkets.

Spicy chicken stir fry with rice in a white bowl with chopsticks.

Tips to make the best spicy chicken stir fry

  1. Do not skip the tenderizing step. That’s what makes this a great chicken stir-fry recipe.
  2. The entire stir-frying process should be done on high flame. If you feel that chicken is getting burnt, sprinkle water or feel free to add a little oil.
  3. A pinch of salt and pepper enhances the flavor. (I used to think that soy sauce can replace salt, but salt does make a difference!)

Love Chinese-inspired recipes? You may want to try the sesame garlic tofu for an unforgettable tofu experience!

If you’re looking for minced chicken recipes, you may like chicken mince kebabs, chicken kofta curry or keema chicken-stuffed eggs.

If you’re looking for easy pan-seared chicken recipes, balsamic chicken with rosemary sauce or lemon coriander chicken might suit your taste.

Common questions

What is the healthiest oil for stir-fry?

Peanut oil is one of the oils that have a high smoking point. This makes it suitable not only for stir-frying but also for deep-frying. It also has a delicious nutty flavor that goes well with Asian flavors. Sesame oil has a lower smoking point. It is used either to marinate or towards the end of cooking. It is used to give a glaze to stir-fries rather than for frying.

How to make sesame chicken easy?

The easiest and healthiest way to make sesame chicken is to marinate the chicken in the sauce and then stir-fry with aromatics and optionally with vegetables. It gives the same saucy consistency as fried chicken but without the crispiness and all the calories that come with it.

How can I make stir fry more exciting?

This chicken stir fry is already bursting with flavor. You can add more flavor by adding 1/2 teaspoon of hoisin sauce. Sprinkle some roasted peanuts or other nuts like almonds and cashews for added crunch. Herbs like cilantro and spices like cumin or coriander can also add a delicious twist to the stir-fry. Use apple cider vinegar instead of rice vinegar for a fruity taste.

How can I make sesame chicken keto-friendly?

Leave out brown sugar in the marinade and serve this healthy sesame chicken with cauliflower rice.

What to serve with sesame chicken stir fry

Closeup view of sweet and spicy chicken stir fry with rice in a white bowl.

Sweet and spicy sesame chicken stir fry recipe

This sesame chicken is a sweet and spicy chicken stir fry recipe in which the chicken is stir-fried using less oil than the battered and fried (takeout) version. Make it juicy and saucy with a secret ingredient low-sugar sauce that has tons of flavor!
Author: Sheeba
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Tenderizing time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course dinner, LUNCH, Main Course
Cuisine Asian, Chinese
Servings 3
Calories 348.8 kcal


To tenderize

  • 500 grams Boneless chicken (1.1 pounds)
  • 2 teaspoons Baking soda

For the marinade

  • 1-1/2 tablespoons Soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon Oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon Chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • A pinch of salt

To stir-fry

  • 2 tablespoons Peanut oil
  • 4 Garlic cloves finely chopped

To garnish

  • 2 tablespoons Sesame seeds toasted
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese parsley or green onions


Scroll back to find detailed recipe photos!


Tenderize chicken

  • Clean and chop the chicken breasts into 1-1/2 inch cubes. Add baking soda and mix well. Let it soak for 20 minutes.
    500 grams Boneless chicken, 2 teaspoons Baking soda
  • After 20 to 30 minutes, rinse the chicken cubes a couple of times and pat them dry with kitchen towels.

Marinate the chicken

  • Whisk all ingredients for the marinade until the solids dissolve.
    1-1/2 tablespoons Soy sauce, 1/2 tablespoon Oyster sauce, 1 tablespoon Rice vinegar, 2 teaspoons Sesame oil, 1 teaspoon Chilli flakes, 1 teaspoon Brown sugar, A pinch of salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Add to the chicken, mix well and let it marinate for 10 minutes or longer, while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Sweet and spicy chicken stir-fry

  • Heat peanut oil in a wok or wok pan. Stir-fry the finely chopped garlic until you get a nice aroma, but not browned.
    2 tablespoons Peanut oil, 4 Garlic cloves
  • Add the marinated chicken (and all of the marinade) and stir fry for 5 minutes on high flame.
  • Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of water and fry for 5 more minutes.
    Repeat with 2 more tablespoons of water and stir-fry for 5 more minutes.
    Turn off the flame.
  • Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds and parsley. Serve on a bed of hot boiled brown/white rice.
    2 tablespoons Sesame seeds, 2 tablespoons Chinese parsley



Additions and substitutions
  • Add finely chopped ginger when you fry garlic.
  • Substitute honey for brown sugar to make this a honey sesame chicken stir fry recipe.
  • Roasted peanuts or cashews can be sprinkled for added crunch.
  • Green onions can also be used for garnishing.
How to make spicy chicken stir fry with vegetables
Double all the ingredients for the marinade. Marinate chicken with one half and reserve the other half. Choose stir-fry vegetables like bok choy, bell peppers, carrots, string beans and baby corn. Slice them into thin strips. They should make roughly about 2 cups. 
After stir-frying the chicken for 5 minutes, add hard vegetables like beans and carrots and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Then add softer vegetables that cook faster, like peppers and bok choy. After stir-frying for 3 more minutes add the reserved sauce and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the sauce thickens and adds a glaze.
A quick tip: In this case, you may not have to sprinkle water, since the vegetables add moisture to the dish. Depending on the vegetables you use, the water content may differ. Sprinkle water only if the sauce gets dried up while cooking.
Nutrition Facts
Sweet and spicy sesame chicken stir fry recipe
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Trans Fat
Polyunsaturated Fat
Monounsaturated Fat
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

★★★★★Did you try this recipe? Please give a star rating in the comments below ★★★★★

HUNGRY FOR MORE? Join over 1000 home cooks like you who subscribe to my weekly newsletter to get all the latest recipes right in your inbox. Or follow me on your favorite social media: Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube. Thank you and happy cooking!

Author profile photo

Hi! I’m Sheeba, welcome to Go Healthy ever after!

I have a passion for cooking delicious nourishing food that’s easy to cook with fresh natural ingredients free from additives or preservatives. The easy healthy recipes you find here will inspire you to cook with creativity.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2021-2023

10 thoughts on “Better Than Takeout Sesame Chicken Stir Fry”

  1. 5 stars
    Thank you for a great recipe! I’m a huge fan of velveting and I’m glad you included that. I did add honey (in addition to the brown sugar) and ginger per your suggestions and the flavors were on point!

  2. 5 stars
    I followed this recipe exactly, and while the end result was delicious it did not have the reddish colour and was not sticky! I don’t know what may have gone wrong, are you able to advise?
    One thing I did notice is that it says to stir fry the garlic for 2 minutes, do not let it brown, but I found it was browning within seconds.
    I used a wok, on a high gas heat (wok burner ring on Range cocker)

    1. Hi Steve, thank you for the rating and taking the time to comment!
      The reddish color depends on the brand of sauce (soy sauce and oyster sauce). You can try to add 1/2 a teaspoon more oil to brown the chicken so you are satisfied with the color!
      This recipe is not sticky because we use less sugar! I like my sesame chicken to be more spicy than sweet. If you like it sweet, feel free to add 1/2 or 1 teaspoon more sugar.
      It is ok fry the garlic for a minute less if it starts browning too early. The hint to stop frying garlic is when you get a nice (and not burnt) aroma!

      1. Hi Sheeba, thanks for the reply! I was happy with the colour, nicely browned, but was expecting red so just wondered if i’d done something wrong. We really liked the dish, the only thing i’d like is more sauce with the chicken. Could you recommend how to adjust the recipe for this at all?

        1. Of course! For the same quantity of chicken you can double or even triple all the ingredients including water (except peanut oil). Use the portion of the sauce to marinate as mentioned in the recipe, reserving the additional sauce. Add it after you stir-fry the chicken for 10 minutes. Bring it to a boil and let it thicken for about 3 to 5 minutes. Turn off the flame. Garnish and enjoy!

5 from 4 votes

Leave a Comment

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

Rate this recipe

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.