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Drunken chicken rolls – How to make (Easy Chinese recipe)

The flavor of this chilled drunken chicken coupled with the heavy alcoholic content is so intense that it blew me away from the first bite.

You might have been served the drunken chicken rolls (醉雞/ 醉鸡) during any Chinese banquet that you attended. It is boneless chicken meat rolled up and cut into slices and has a strong alcohol flavor.

The flavor is heavenly, especially if you use dong guai and red dates to prepare the soaking liquid. After the flavor of wine, stock, and herbs absorbed into the meat on the next day, you can anticipate that intense flavor while you take a bite with the accompanying gravy.

Is it complicated to make it? Not really. But it does take time because you need to soak the chicken in the stock and wine concoction overnight. So it is best to make it a day in advance, leave it in the refrigerator and consume the next day.

It is worth the wait for sure!

I spent the last few days fine-tuning this recipe, which I want to share with you the result in this post. 

Delicious drunken chicken rolls (Chinese style). An easy recipe with incredible flavor. Best to serve cold as an appetizer. Simple steps to follow.

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How to prepare the drunken chicken roll

The preparation involves steaming the chicken and soak it in a concoction of chicken broth and wine. 

Here is a detailed explanation. 

1. Use whole chicken legs, not breast meat.

There are few advantages with deboned chicken whole legs over chicken breast. The chicken leg is more flavorful since it is dark meat. Its shape is also suitable to form a rectangle for rolling up. 

Besides that, the skin adds a smooth texture to the drunken chicken roll and visually appealing texture on the surface.  

2. Flatten the chicken leg 

After removing the bone from the chicken leg, put the chicken leg skin side down, and then make a few cuts on the thick part of the meat. This step helps to flatten the chicken so that it is easier to roll up.

Flatten the chicken leg with the blade of the clever to get the even thickness. 

Rub in some salt and season with Shaoxing wine. Marinate for at least an hour before proceeding to the next step. 

3. Roll up the chicken leg tightly. 

After an hour, remove the chicken from the marinade. Drain off the excess marinade and pat dry. There are two different ways to wrap up the chicken leg. 

Wrap with aluminum foil

  • Cut a piece of aluminum foil, about one-foot long. 
  • Place the chicken on the foil, skin side down. Adjust its shape to form a rectangle. Roll up the aluminum foil like making a Swiss roll. Try to roll it tightly so that the chicken roll is packed tightly. It may open up after cooking if it is not rolled up tightly. 
  • Twist both ends of the foil to form a candy-like shape.

Tie with kitchen twine

The second method is to use kitchen twine to tie up the chicken roll. it is a good option if you are concern about using aluminum foil, but it may roll up as tight as using the foil

4. Steam the chicken

Place it on the steamer and steam over medium heat for twenty minutes. The actual duration depends on whether the chicken is at room temperature or just removed from the refrigerator. 

Check the doneness after twenty minutes. Pierce a sharp object (e.g., wooden skewer) deep into the center of the chicken roll through the aluminum foil. The chicken is cooked if there is no blood oozing out. Another way is to insert a kitchen thermometer into the chicken. The chicken is done when the temperature reaches 70°C.

5. Shock the chicken with an ice bath

Next, prepare a pot of ice water. Shock the foil-wrapped chicken (or the twine-tied chicken) by transferring it into an ice bath. The ice reduces the temperature immediately and prevents it from overcooking. It also helps to retain its juiciness and tighten up the chicken roll. 

Remove the chicken from the ice bath when it is cold. Unwrap the chicken carefully and transfer the chicken essence inside the foil to the soaking liquid, which will make it in the following step. If you are using the twine, collect the essence in the steaming plate released by the chicken.

6. Prepare the soaking liquid with wine an stock

The flavor of the drunken chicken depends mostly on the soaking liquid. You can request the chicken vendor to debone the chicken leg and pack the bones separately. The bone is perfect for preparing stock to make the soaking liquid. You can also use the store-bought chicken stock as the base of the soaking liquid.

  • Fill a small pot with water. Cut the chicken bones into smaller chunks. 
  • Add the dong guai, red dates, ginger, bay leaf, star anise to a boil. Season the stock with salt and sugar. 
  • Simmer and covered to extract the flavor from the ingredients for thirty minutes. 
  • After 30 minutes, remove the liquid from heat. The amount should have been reduced substantially. Filter the liquid through a cloth bag or a wire mesh strainer. You can reduce the amount of the stock further if it is too much. The goal is to have a concentrated stock just enough to submerge the chicken later. Keep in mind that you will need to add an equal part of Shaoxing wine to the stock. 
  • Keep the filtered stock in the refrigerator or until it is cold before use. 

What if I am unable to get all the herbs required?

You may not be able to get all the ingredients if you are living outside of Asia. While red dates and goji berries are easier to get from the Asian grocery, dong guai may only be available in the Chinese medical halls (Chinese herbal shop). Don’t worry if you are unable to get the complete set of ingredients. The bear basic is the well-seasoned chicken stock and the wine that mixed in subsequently. Dong guai, red dates, and goji berries are good to have, but not mandatory.

7. To soak the chicken 

Add an equal portion of Shaoxing wine to the stock to become the soaking liquid. The amount of wine can be according to your preference. You may want to have a stronger alcohol taste, or a milder variation suitable for everyone in the family. 

I started by simmering the chicken bones and herbs with 300ml water. Since there was still more than 200ml left after 30 minutes, I reduced the amount further by heating it again until it reduced to 150ml. 

Shaoxing wine is the choice of wine. Chinese yellow wine 黄酒 is the alternative that you can use. 

Transfer the soaking liquid to a glass container or a ziplock bag. Add some goji berries. The soaking liquid will taste bitter if you boil the goji berries along with other spices, and therefore should be added only at this moment. 

The size of the container must be small enough to ensure the chicken roll is fully submerged in the soaking liquid.

Now place the unwrapped drunken chicken roll in the liquid. Keep it refrigerated overnight to let the chicken thoroughly absorb the flavor from the chicken stock.

To serve 

Cut the drunken chicken roll into half cm thick. Arrange the chicken slices on a plate and drizzle some soaking liquid on it as gravy. Garnish with some goji berries, and serve as an appetizer. 

Delicious drunken chicken rolls (Chinese style). An easy recipe with incredible flavor. Best to serve cold as an appetizer. Simple steps to follow.

Drunken chicken

Yield: 20 slices
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Soaking Time: 12 hours
Total Time: 13 hours

You might have been served the drunken chicken rolls during any Chinese banquet that you attended. It is boneless chicken meat rolled up and cut into slices and has a strong alcohol flavor.
The flavor is heavenly, especially if you use dong guai and red dates to prepare the soaking liquid. After the flavor of wine, stock, and herbs absorbed into the meat on the next day, you can anticipate that intense flavor while you take a bite with the accompanying gravy.


Ingredients A

Ingredients B

Others C


To cook the chicken 

  1. Debone the whole chicken leg (get the help from the chicken vendor). Make a few slits at the thicker part of the chicken legs, then flatten it with the cleaver blade. Seasons with salt and wine. Drunken chicken - chicken leg
  2. Marinate for one hour. Drunken chicken - marinate
  3. Roll up the chicken legs like a Swiss roll, skin side down, with an aluminum foil. Alternatively, tie up the rolled meat with twine. 
  4. Steam for 25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.  Shock the chicken in ice water to stop cooking immediately. Remove the foil after the chicken is cold. 

To soak the chicken 

  1. Simmer all the ingredients in B (except goji berries and wine) for thirty minutes. Strain. 
  2. Mix with the wine and goji berries after it is cold. Drunken chicken - add wine to the stock
  3. Place the liquid and the chicken in a container. Let it steep overnight to absorb the flavor in the refrigerator. 

To serve 

  1. Cut the chicken into 1/4 inch thick. Drizzle some soaking liquid on it and serve cold. Drunken chicken - slice the chicken
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 20 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 70Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 134mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 5g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 5/17/2020

Other similar recipes to drunken chicken

If you like this drunken chicken, you may want to try other similar recipes on this blog. Here are some of my suggestions:

Soy sauce chicken – You can make o it without alcohol, and is a quick and easy dish that required minimum effort. It is full of the flavor of soy sauce and a myriad of Chinese herbs. Best to serve with steamed rice.

Bang Bang chicken – This is another appetizer that you may want to try. It is prepared with boneless shredded chicken.

Lemongrass chicken – A Vietnamese style dish prepared with lemongrass and debone chicken thigh. Try this if you are bored with only using salt and pepper for seasoning the meat always.

Kevin Chen

Thursday 23rd of July 2020

Hi KP, Since it took so long to prepare this wonderful dish , may I know if it can be done, say 6 rolls in one go and keep them for latter use. What is the best way to keep the rolls for later consumption? Freezing it?

KP Kwan

Friday 24th of July 2020

Hi Kevin, I have never try to freeze it before, but if I do, I will attempt by the following way: - Prepare the chicken until the step of wrapping up with aluminum foil. - Keep them in the freezer. - when I want to consume it, remove it in advance until it returns to room temperature, then steam as usual and continue the other steps.

I don't think the cooked chicken is suitable to freeze, so I will stop short of freezing the raw chicken. Thanks, KP Kwan


Wednesday 20th of May 2020

Hi KP Kwan, if I use yellow wine to cook this, do I need to boil the wine or can I use it direct from the bottle?

Also, do I have to remove the aluminium foil before soaking into the ice water? I’m worried that if I soak with the foil , the chicken essence will be diluted or lost.

KP Kwan

Wednesday 20th of May 2020

Hi May, 1. I suggest using yellow wine without boiling to get a better flavor, which means direct from the bottle. 2. It is very hot to remove the aluminum foil after steaming. If you can handle the heat, remove the foil first is safer so that you will not lose the chicken essence. Otherwise, use a larger foil like me, and roll the chicken more than a layer. I work for me so far without leaking. KP Kwan

richard edwards

Wednesday 20th of May 2020

I must be missing something... the photos seem to show some "edible" wrapping about the rool of chicken... there was a brief mention of the skin earlier, but it does not seem to compute nor balance with the quantities... all of the other preparation is clear, concise, and I am sure we can accomplish it (eventually if not the first time).... we could wrap it in corn husks like a tamale and thereby have individual servinings, but that is not your concept or presentation... HELP... we are anxiously wanting to add this to our Asian Collection of Favorites... sincerely

KP Kwan

Wednesday 20th of May 2020

Hi Richard, I hope I am getting it right of what you are unsure of. The chicken is rolled up, with the skin facing the outside of the roll. The image shows the skin is on the surface of the chicken slices, which is a bit shining due to the reflection. To get that, I use skin-on boneless chicken thigh meat. Since there is some fat in the chicken stock while boiling with other herbs, the fat will congeal after chilling in the refrigerator, and you will expect it is a bit jelly-like texture sticking on the surface after removing from the fridge. I hope this information is useful :) Cheers! KP Kwan

KP Kwan

Tuesday 19th of May 2020

Hi, this is KP Kwan. I am happy to see you in this comment area, as you have read through my recipe. I am pleased to reply to any questions and comments as soon as possible.

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