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Sesame oil chicken with ginger – easy Chinese recipe

Are you searching for a quick and easy way to cook chicken differently? I have an answer for you. I will share an easy Chinese-style braised sesame oil chicken in this article.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, sesame and ginger are highly beneficial for new mothers who have recently given birth. These ingredients are believed to aid in post-delivery recovery. As a result, it is a classic Chinese confinement dish for new moms.

This dish is incredibly easy to prepare and takes less than half an hour. It tastes amazing with steamed rice and is liked by the whole family, including kids, due to its universal flavor. It’s no wonder it has become a staple dish in many Chinese households, not just for recovering after childbirth.

This dish shares some similarities with another Taiwanese dish named “three-cup chicken.” Both dishes use plenty of sesame oil, but “three-cup chicken” also includes basil, giving it a distinct flavor that sets it apart from sesame oil chicken, which contains a generous amount of ginger.

Below is a detailed explanation of preparing braised chicken with sesame oil and ginger.

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1. The key ingredients

You likely have most of your needs if you have these three ingredients in your kitchen. Other ingredients are common in your kitchen pantry.

a. Sesame oil

It has a distinct taste and a strong earthy flavor commonly used in various Asian cuisines. This dish requires a significant amount of sesame oil, which is used for cooking and adds a delicious umami flavor to the chicken. Don’t be surprised that this recipe calls for 4 tablespoons of sesame oil to cook one pound of chicken, which is essential to achieve the desired taste. As a result, the recipe doesn’t require additional vegetable oil to cook.

I use black sesame oil (toasted sesame oil) in the recipe with a stronger flavor. It is made with toasted sesame seeds. 

b. Chicken

For best results, I recommended using bone-in and skin-on chicken when braising. The reason behind this is that the bone enhances the flavor of the chicken during the braising process. This is similar to boiling chicken carcasses in water to make stock. However, if you prefer boneless chicken, I suggest adding some chicken broth (store-bought or homemade) instead of water while braising to enhance its flavor.

Although the chicken will absorb the flavor of the sesame oil and seasoning during the braising process, it’s still best to marinate the chicken before cooking. Add sesame oil, light soy sauce, ground white pepper, and salt to the chicken and let it marinate for at least 2 hours before braising. By doing this, the chicken will be much more flavorful and delicious.

You may ask your chicken vendor to cut a whole chicken into large pieces. However, it’s best to use chicken thighs when braising chicken, as they are more tender and flavorful than skinless chicken breasts due to their higher fat content. They are also less likely to become tough even if overcooked. 

c. Ginger

The third essential ingredient for this recipe is ginger. Cut the ginger into fine julienne and fry it with sesame oil until it turns crispy and brown. This step helps infuse the ginger’s flavor into the sesame oil, which the chicken will absorb well during braising.

2. The seasonings used apart from sesame oil

The purpose of the seasonings used in this recipe is to act as supporting ingredients that highlight the flavor of sesame oil. 

  • The main seasoning ingredient is light soy sauce, which provides the flavor. However, you can add dark soy sauce if you prefer a darker color. 
  • Oyster sauce is optional but can be included in the recipe. 
  • Chinese rice wine goes well with sesame oil and ginger. Adding rice wine at the final cooking stage helps to ensure that its flavor is retained during braising. 
  • To balance the dish’s saltiness, add some brown sugar. However, if you use oyster sauce containing sugar, you can omit the additional sugar.

3. What other ingredients are required besides chicken?

You only need chicken and nothing else for a basic version of sesame oil chicken. However, to add some variation to this sesame oil chicken recipe, consider adding black fungus (木耳/wood ear fungus), goji berries, and mushrooms. Dry shitake mushrooms or canned button mushrooms are good options. 

To garnish, you can add green onions cut into short sections. Alternatively, pluck some fresh coriander leaves and place them on top as a garnish.

4. The complete cooking process of sesame oil chicken

Here’s a detailed explanation of how to prepare sesame oil chicken:

  1. Heat the quantity of sesame oil in a wok as stated in the recipe.
  2. Once the heat reaches medium, add the fine strips of ginger and fry.
  3. Add the marinated chicken once the ginger changes color and becomes slightly crispy.
  4. Continue to fry the chicken over medium-high heat until both sides turn golden brown.
  5. Mix all the liquid seasonings except the rice wine in a small bowl, then add to the chicken.
  6. Simultaneously, add water and mix well with the ingredients.
  7. Cover the wok and simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes.
  8. Remove the lid once the water in the wok has reduced and the chicken has cooked through.
  9. Thicken the sauce by adding the cornstarch slurry until it reaches the desired consistency.
  10. Add the rice wine.
  11. Taste the chicken before removing it from the wok to ensure all the flavors are well-balanced.
  12. Transfer the chicken to a serving plate and garnish with green onions. Sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds on top for additional sesame flavor.

The sesame oil chicken tastes even better the next day after the flavor of the sesame oil and the seasonings are fully absorbed by the chicken. As such, you can cook this chicken in advance and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4  days. 

5. Here are some dishes that go well with this easy sesame chicken recipe:

  • Yong chow fried rice: Sesame oil chicken is best served with some white rice or, even better, some Yong Chow fried rice.
  • Bok choy stir-fry: Prepare some stir-fried vegetables such as bok choy to serve along with the chicken for a complete meal.
  • Old cucumber soup: Soup is a popular dish that the Cantonese usually serve during every meal. Following this recipe, you can learn how to make authentic old cucumber soup.
sesame oil chicken image

Sesame oil chicken with ginger

Yield: 3 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 20 seconds
Total Time: 30 minutes 20 seconds

This is a quick and easy sesame oil chicken recipe for everyone. It has a universal flavor suitable for the whole family.


Ingredients A (marinate)

Ingredients B (seasonings)

Ingredients C

  • 4 tbsp sesame oil (more if you prefer)
  • 150g button mushrooms, cut into half
  • 50g ginger, peel, cut, and julienne (more if you prefer)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch (make a slurry with water)
  • Green onions to garnish


  1. Marinate the chicken with ingredients A for at least 2 hours.
  2. Cut the ginger into fine julienne
  3. Heat sesame oil in a wok. Once the heat reaches medium, add the fine strips of ginger and fry until they change color and become slightly crispy.
  4. Add the marinated chicken and fry it over medium-high heat until both sides turn golden brown.
  5. Add ingredients B except the rice wine to the chicken.
  6. Simultaneously, add water and cover to simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes or until the chicken has cooked through.
  7. Reduce the liquid by continuing to cook it if required.
  8. Add the mushrooms.
  9. Thicken the sauce by adding the cornstarch slurry until it reaches the desired consistency.
  10. Add the rice wine.
  11. Transfer the chicken to a serving plate and garnish with green onions. 
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 3 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 913Total Fat: 65gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 48gCholesterol: 387mgSodium: 2997mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 75g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 1/13/2024


Thursday 18th of January 2024

Hiya, This looks delicious and I'm planning to make it tonight. Quick question - when do the mushrooms go in? It's not mentioned in the recipe! Thanks!

KP Kwan

Saturday 20th of January 2024

Thank you for highlighting the mistake in the recipe. I have corrected it. Please add the mushroom after the chicken has fully cooked and before thickening the gravy with cornstarch slurry.

KP Kwan

Saturday 13th of January 2024

Hi, this is KP Kwan. Thank you for reading my recipe. Please feel free to ask any questions or leave comments. I’ll respond as soon as possible.

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