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Bourbon Chicken Recipe with healthy marinade and without bourbon whiskey. | ifoodreal.com
A healthy version of so popular Chinese takeout dish – Bourbon Chicken. It is a hybrid of Chinese and Southern US cuisines and is named after Bourbon Street in New Orleans. As the name suggests, original recipe contains bourbon whiskey, but chances are you are like me and don’t have it in your bar. I could easily make Red Wine Chicken though.:)

I found this recipe on Food.com and with some adjustments created a light version of juicy, sweet, spicy and salty Bourbon Chicken Recipe. To thicken the sauce, I used chia seeds and the result was great! I was thinking next time try not to use any thickener at all and let the sauce simmer down. So, if you don’t have chia seeds, that’s fine.

Bourbon Chicken Recipe with healthy marinade and without bourbon whiskey. | ifoodreal.com

Cornstarch…after much deliberation and research, I came to a conclusion you could use cornstarch to thicken the sauce. It won’t kill you but FYI cornstarch is derived from GMO corn by a heavy duty processing. Maybe buy organic cornstarch or an arrowroot powder. I’m quite happy using whole wheat flour and now chia seeds as sauce thickeners in my kitchen. For a few months, I kept thinking if chia would absorb liquid in a sauce and finally my dream came true. Yes, I know, I have weird dreams – chia thickening a Chinese sauce.

I used Trader Joe’s organic ketchup and reduced sodium soy sauce. I browned chicken in coconut oil spray to save on fat. Feel free to use chicken breast meat instead of thighs. In that case, reduce simmering chicken to 5 minutes to avoid the tough chicken. I like dark meat and occasionally cook with it for a change. But breast meat would work great in this recipe because of the sauce presence.

Bourbon Chicken Recipe with healthy marinade and without bourbon whiskey. | ifoodreal.com

Also a word on a cooking spray. PAM is canola oil – highly processed GMO plant named after “Canadian oil, low acid”. From now on I use coconut or olive oil spray, which luckily are widely available in all grocery stores these days.

Use what you have on hand. Dry ginger instead of fresh or garlic powder in place of garlic. I didn’t have apple juice, so I diluted a bit of apple sauce with water. Those skills came with Ukrainian heritage.:) Serve warm, on a bed of brown rice or brown rice vermicelli (pictured). Garnish with your favourite toppings – green onions, toasted sesame seeds, red pepper flakes for more spice kick.

Looking for more healthy chicken recipes? Check out my collection of 50 clean eating chicken recipes, and for quick stovetop dinners I recommend chicken with artichokeschicken quinoa bowls with mango and black beans, and soba noodle stir fry.

Bourbon Chicken Recipe

Bourbon Chicken Recipe


  • 1/4 cup apple juice, unsweetened
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce, low sodium
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp ketchup (organic)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp ginger, grated
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes or to taste
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 lbs chicken thighs, skinless & boneless, cut into 1" pieces
  • Cooking spray (I use coconut)


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients except chicken and cooking spray and set aside. In the meanwhile, cut chicken into 1" size pieces.
  2. Preheat medium skillet (large enough to fit the chicken tight but not too large) on high, spray with cooking spray, add chicken and cook until golden brown, stirring occasionally. For about 10 minutes (5 minutes if using chicken breast). Add sauce from step 1, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes (5 minutes if using chicken breast). Serve warm, over bed of brown rice or brown rice vermicelli. Garnish with sesame seeds, green onions and red pepper flakes.
  3. Storage Instructions: Refrigerate covered for up to 2 days. Freeze in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

Nutritional Info

Servings Per Recipe: 6

Amount Per Serving = 3/4 cup:
Calories: 212.1
Total Fat: 6.7 g
Cholesterol: 118.7 mg
Sodium: 498.2 mg
Total Carbs: 6.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.8 g
Sugars: 4.1 g
Protein: 29.8 g
WW Points+: 5

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  1. nusrat2010

    Are those gold nuggets sitting on top of a snow covered mine? 🙂 – Yes, your vivacious, golden chicken curry and snow-white rice noodles look THAT fabulous, yummy, tempting, inviting and beautiful 🙂
    Lovely photography.

    • Olena (iFOODreal)

      Oh gosh, it took me a second to process.:) No, that’s chicken pieces, not potatoes.:) Thank you for the compliment.

  2. Nicole Sollitt

    Hi Olena, I had some chicken thighs and had no idea what to do them. Tried this recipe and it was amazing. The kids just loved it. So easy. . . I made two batches so dinner is ready tomorrow night too 🙂 Thanks Ifood real!

    • Olena (iFOODreal)

      Hi Nicole. That’s so awesome you and your kids enjoyed chicken thighs and leftovers.:) That’s the way to operate clean eating – leftovers.

  3. Stephanie

    This is a keeper in our house-tasty and easy. I’ve made it twice and both times my sauce didn’t thicken from the chia seeds. I still use them since they are super healthy and I usually have them on hand but I stir a bit of arrow root in to thicken (prefer consistency of this over cornstarch). I also sometimes use liquid amino acids instead of soy sauce-tastes very similar but without the sodium.

    • Olena (iFOODreal)

      Ha, interesting. Thanks for sharing. Did you let it sit for 15-20 minutes for chia seeds to soak up the liquid? Have you tried to use a bit more of chia seeds? You totally can do what you did. Perfect! I always wanted to try the arrowroot powder. I will go and buy some. Also organic cornstarch is good enough.:)

  4. Paige

    Hi! I’m making this right now and my sauce doesn’t seem to be thickening at all /:



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