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A little sweet and a little spicy, this easy Honey Bourbon Chicken recipe is BIG on flavor and takes just minutes to throw in the crock pot. Or, you can make Instant Pot Honey Bourbon Chicken!
Reasons You’ll Love This Recipe
1. It’s a super easy recipe to make.
Simply dump the ingredients in the slow cooker and let it cook on low for a few hours. After it’s done, you can quickly thicken up the sauce using what’s called a cornstarch slurry but that’s optional yet quite easy.
2. Bourbon Chicken is complex in flavor.
Thanks to ingredients like fresh ginger (just keep some in my freezer to have on hand), soy sauce (or substitute coconut aminos), honey, green onions, and, of course, bourbon. (More on the bourbon in a minute.)
3. My kids love it!
It’s a little spicy, but you can always pull back on the spice if your family has a sensitive palate. Here are more kid-friendly recipe ideas if you’re on the hunt for some!
4. It’s been very well-tested.
Both of us, as well as our 500 person recipe-testing team for our cookbook! In fact, we spent nearly two years developing and refining the recipes in From Freezer to Cooker. It was quite a feat because every single recipe works in the slow cooker, the Instant Pot, and includes freezer meal instructions!
5. It’s naturally dairy-free and can be made gluten-free.
Here is what you will need to make this recipe:
- Low-sodium soy sauce (For Gluten-Free: use coconut aminos or GF tamari soy sauce.)
- Bourbon or other whiskey (For Gluten-Free: Omit or use chicken stock/broth instead.)
- Avocado oil or olive oil
- Fresh ginger
- Garlic cloves, minced
- Red pepper flakes
- Sliced green onions
- Boneless, skinless medium chicken breasts
How to Make Bourbon Chicken
In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, honey, ketchup, bourbon, oil, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, and green onions.
Slow Cook in the Crock Pot
Place the chicken and sauce in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on Low for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours or until cooked through. (The chicken is done when it is no longer pink inside and/or registers 165°F internally.)
Carefully transfer the chicken to a wooden cutting board, dice or shred the meat, and set aside.
Thicken the Sauce
In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of water until smooth.
Carefully pour the juices from the slow cooker into a medium saucepan. Add in the cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring, until the sauce has thickened, about 3 minutes.
Finish & Serve
Return the chicken and sauce to the slow cooker. Stir gently to combine. Serve over rice. Garnish with green onions and serve with stir-fried vegetables, if desired.
Note: There’s a lot of sauce to spare, so whip up a big pot of rice and a pan of stir-fried veggies to help soak up all that delicious sauce. To save time, make your brown rice in the Instant Pot or buy pre-made brown rice at the store and use the frozen stir-fry vegetable mix.
Freezer Tip: Freeze the Leftover Rice!
If you don’t end up using all the cooked rice in a recipe, you can freeze the leftovers. We’ve written an in depth post on how to freeze rice here.
Freezer Meal Instructions
Like most of our freezer meal recipes, this freezer-friendly chicken dish is one you can easily double, eat one for dinner tonight, and freeze the other for later. Here’s how easy it is to make ahead and freeze:
Freeze For Later: Make the sauce. Pour the sauce and chicken into a gallon-size freezer bag or container. Seal and freeze.
Prepare From Frozen: Note: Have cooked rice, cornstarch, and (optional) stir-fried veggies on hand to complete this meal. Thaw using one of our safe thawing methods. Cook as directed starting in step 2.
What should I know about cooking with bourbon?
I personally don’t drink or enjoy the taste of bourbon. However, when used in cooking, I’ve found that the bourbon lends a smoky caramel-like sweetness that’s hard to replicate with another ingredient.
If you have kids, don’t worry, the alcohol will almost entirely evaporate when the sauce is simmered at the end.
Look for small bottles by the liquor counter, if you don’t have some at home in your cabinet.
What can I substitute for bourbon in a chicken recipe?
Bourbon is often used in recipes to add a sweet, smoky flavor to the dish. If you don’t have bourbon or prefer not to use it, there are a few substitutes you can try:
- Whiskey: Like bourbon, whiskey has a smoky, oaky flavor that can add depth to your chicken dish.
- Brandy: Brandy is a type of spirit that’s made from distilled wine. It has a sweet, fruity flavor that can add complexity to your chicken dish. Use a dark, aged brandy for the best results.
- Chicken Broth: If you don’t want to use an alcohol, a good bet is using low sodium or unsalted chicken broth to replace the liquid and add a little extra flavor.
- Apple juice or cider: Another non-alcoholic option is trying apple juice or cider in place of bourbon. The sweet, fruity flavor will work well with chicken and give your dish a unique twist.
Remember, when substituting ingredients in a recipe, it’s important to taste as you go and adjust the seasonings as needed.
How long does Bourbon Chicken cook in the crock pot?
Now here’s the key to delicious Bourbon Chicken: Do not overcook your chicken in the crock pot! If you follow our recipe (only 2 1/2 – 3 1/2 hours), you’re good to go. That’s right..any longer and your chicken will get dried out.
If you really want to get into the weeds, here is an article about How Long to Cook Chicken in the Slow Cooker.
Make 6 Dump-and-Go Freezer Meals in 1 Hour!
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- 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce (For Gluten-Free: use coconut aminos or GF tamari soy sauce.)
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/4 cup organic or all-natural ketchup
- 1/4 cup bourbon or other whiskey (For Gluten-Free: Omit or use chicken stock/broth instead.)
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil or olive oil
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (decrease to 1/8 teaspoon, if sensitive to heat)
- 1/2 cup sliced green onions, plus more for garnish
- 1 1/2 – 2 pounds boneless, skinless medium chicken breasts or thighs (trimmed of fat)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Cooked basmati rice or brown rice, for serving
- Stir-fried vegetables, for serving
Before You Begin! If you make this, please leave a review and rating letting us know how you liked this recipe! This helps our business thrive & continue providing free recipes.
Make It Now:
- Make Sauce: In the slow cooker, whisk together the soy sauce, honey, ketchup, bourbon, oil, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, and green onions. Add the chicken and turn to coat.
- Slow Cook: Cover and cook the chicken and sauce on Low for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours or until cooked through. (The chicken is done when it is no longer pink inside and/or registers 165°F internally.) Carefully transfer the chicken to a wooden cutting board, dice or shred the meat, and set aside.
- Thicken the Sauce: Turn the crock pot on High. (You may want to use a small strainer or slotted spoon to remove any random chicken pieces in the leftover juices.) In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of water until smooth. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the juices and put the lid on. Let it cook for about 30 minutes, or until thickened into a glaze-like sauce. (Alternately, you can pour the juices into a pot on the stovetop, stir in the cornstarch mixture, and boil for 3 minutes.)
- Finish & Serve: Return the chicken to the sauce, and stir gently to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper, as needed. Serve over rice. Garnish with green onions and serve with stir-fried vegetables, if desired.
Freeze For Later: Follow step 1, placing all the sauce ingredients into a gallon-size freezer bag instead of the slow cooker. Seal the bag, gently toss and massage to combine, and freeze.
Prepare From Frozen: Note: Have cooked rice, cornstarch, and (optional) stir-fried veggies on hand to complete this meal. Thaw completely using one of these safe thawing methods. Follow steps 2 through 4.
Where We Get Our Chicken: We get our meat from ButcherBox. The chicken is organic and curated from small, trusted farms. We highly recommend this service to source healthy meat–like uncured bacon, wild salmon, and grass-fed beef–and have used it for years ourselves.
Instant Pot Instructions: You can make this meal in the Instant Pot using these instructions.
How to Replace the Bourbon: One of our readers tested this recipe without the bourbon and reported that their family thought it was still delicious. Another tester said it worked with chicken broth instead.