Love the rich flavor of bourbon chicken but prefer to skip the alcohol? You can still enjoy the juicy, sweet, and tangy glaze with this delicious bourbon chicken without bourbon recipe.
Made with familiar pantry staples, this version is perfect for families or gatherings where alcohol isn’t desired.
It’s also a great choice for anyone who loves the classic bourbon chicken taste but prefers to avoid alcoholic beverages.
The combination of soy sauce, apple juice, apple cider vinegar, and brown sugar not only provides a deliciously complex taste but also helps create that signature sticky, caramelized glaze that makes bourbon chicken so addictive.
To make it a complete meal, you can serve it over steamed rice or with a side of veggies.
Now, let’s dive into the recipe.
Bourbon Chicken Without Bourbon
This recipe gives you all the delicious flavors and texture of bourbon chicken but without any actual bourbon.
The glaze is still sweet, sticky, and tangy, and the chicken turns out tender and juicy. It’s perfect for a quick, family-friendly dinner.
The recipe uses boneless, skinless chicken thighs for the best results, but you can substitute with chicken breast, if desired.
One thing to note is that this recipe doesn’t have a marinating step. However, if you have the time, marinating the chicken in some of the sauce ingredients for 15-20 minutes can help enhance the flavor even more. Just remember to reserve the rest of the sauce for the actual cooking process.
The chicken is cooked in a skillet, making it easy and quick to prepare. And if you prefer a richer glaze, you can always double the glaze recipe and simmer the chicken for an extra couple of minutes.
Overall, it’s a simple, delicious chicken dish that can be easily adjusted to your taste preferences.
Here’s what you need for the chicken and the glaze:
- Chicken: Use boneless, skinless chicken thighs, which are juicy and full of flavor. But, you can use chicken breast as a substitute if you prefer it.
- Soy Sauce: Provides a savory, umami flavor to the dish.
- Apple Juice: Gives a natural sweetness and helps to thin down the sauce.
- Water: Helps to dilute the sauce, so the flavors aren’t overpowering.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Adds a slight tanginess to balance the sweetness.
- Light Brown Sugar: Gives the dish its characteristic sweet glaze.
- Grated Ginger and Minced Garlic: These two ingredients provide a delicious burst of flavor and aroma.
- Ground Black Pepper: Adds a bit of heat and enhances the other flavors.
For thickening the sauce, you’ll also need:
- Cornstarch: Helps to create that sticky, shiny glaze on the chicken.
And for garnishing, you can use:
- Sliced green onions or chives: These add a nice freshness to the dish.
Note: The complete list of ingredients with their measurements is listed in the recipe card below.
How to Make Bourbon Chicken Without Bourbon
Here’s a brief overview of the steps. Be sure to check the recipe card below for the complete instructions.
- Cook the chicken: First, brown the chicken pieces in a little oil until they’re no longer pink in the middle. Then, remove them from the skillet and set them aside.
- Prepare the glaze: Mix together the soy sauce, apple juice, water, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and black pepper in a bowl.
- Thicken the sauce: In the same skillet, add the cornstarch and then return the chicken and the glaze to the skillet. Cook everything together for a few minutes until the glaze has thickened and coats the chicken.
- Garnish and serve: Finally, sprinkle with some sliced green onions or chives for a fresh kick.
Note: This is just a summary. The full steps are in the recipe card below.
Tips for the Best Chicken
Here are a few tips to make your bourbon chicken the best it can be:
- Adjust the sweetness: The recipe calls for light brown sugar, which gives a nice balance of sweetness. However, If you prefer a sweeter glaze, you can add a little more sugar.
- Adjust the tanginess: Similarly, you can adjust the tanginess by adding more or less apple cider vinegar. Keep in mind that the tanginess will mellow out a bit as the glaze cooks and thickens.
- Marinate the chicken: Though not necessary, marinating the chicken in some of the glaze ingredients for 15-20 minutes will help infuse more flavor. Just make sure to reserve the rest of the sauce for cooking.
- Thicken the glaze to your liking: The cornstarch helps to thicken the glaze, but if you want a thicker, stickier glaze, you can add more cornstarch. If it becomes too thick, you can thin it down with a little water or apple juice.
- Garnish at the end: For best presentation and a fresh flavor burst, remember to garnish with fresh green onions or chives before serving.
- Make it spicy: Add some red pepper flakes or a dash of cayenne pepper if you like heat in your chicken.
- Add vegetables: You can turn this dish into a complete meal by adding vegetables like bell peppers, onions, or broccoli. Just stir-fry them along with the chicken until they’re tender-crisp, then continue with the glazing process.
- Use other meats or protein: This glaze works well with other meats like pork or shrimp. You can even use it with tofu or tempeh for a vegetarian version. Adjust the cooking times accordingly.
- Make it gluten-free: Use a gluten-free soy sauce or tamari sauce, and ensure the other ingredients you use are certified gluten-free as well.
What to Serve With Bourbon Chicken
Bourbon chicken is delicious on its own, but it also pairs well with various sides and can become a complete meal:
- Rice: Serve the chicken over steamed white or brown rice. It’s a great way to enjoy the extra glaze as well.
- Noodles: Bourbon chicken also goes well with Asian-style noodles like chow mein or lo mein.
- Vegetables: Pair it with a side of steamed or stir-fried vegetables for a healthier option.
- Salad: A fresh green salad with a light dressing complements the richness of the chicken nicely.
- Bread: If you prefer a Western-style meal, serve the chicken with some dinner rolls or a crusty baguette.
- Fried Rice: Toss the chicken with leftover rice and some veggies for a quick fried rice dish.
- Coleslaw: For a refreshing contrast, serve the chicken with some creamy coleslaw.
- Potatoes: Whether roasted, mashed, or in a salad, potatoes make a hearty side dish for the chicken.
- Fruit Salsa: A tropical fruit salsa made with pineapple, mango, and some lime juice would also be a delicious accompaniment.
You can also choose a combination of these sides to make it a more filling meal.
Bourbon Chicken Without Bourbon
- 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
- ½ cup apple juice
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- 2 tsp grated ginger
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into 1– inch chunks
- sliced green onions or chives to garnish
- In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Add the chicken chunks to the skillet and cook until browned on all sides and no longer pink in the middle. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, combine soy sauce, apple juice, water, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, grated ginger, minced garlic, and ground black pepper. Stir well until the sugar has dissolved.
- In the same skillet, pour the sauce mixture and bring it to a simmer over medium heat.
- In a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch in 1-2 tablespoons of water until smooth. Add the cornstarch mixture to the simmering sauce, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens.
- Return the cooked chicken to the skillet and toss it with the thickened sauce, ensuring every piece is well-coated.
- Simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together and the chicken to absorb the glaze.
- Remove from heat.
- Garnish with sliced green onions or chives, if desired.
- Serve the bourbon chicken without bourbon hot over steamed rice or with your choice of side dishes.