Soy Sauce Chicken. Juicy chicken thighs simmered in a sweet, savory brown sauce made of simple ingredients. Ready in 30 minutes or less!
Serve this over some hot rice with your favorite vegetables and you have yourself a delicious meal.
This is one of my best chicken recipes to date! I love this dish because it's bursting with taste, and it is really easy to make at home. This is the perfect chicken dish that works well with white rice or brown rice as it comes with extra sauce to pour over it! In addition, the ingredients are pretty minimal for a Chinese recipe and the cooking process is so simple. It's a recipe that I have on rotation because it's so good, convenient and easy.
In fact, when I was young, my mother would make her variation of this dish for her kids and husband. We loved it because the meat was so tender and flavorful. When we poured the sauce over our rice, it was like another dish in itself because the sauce is packed with flavor! She could also multiply the quantity and make large batches of it so we can have some for school or for leftovers.
What is Soy Sauce Chicken (See Yao Gai)?
Soy Sauce Chicken is a classic Cantonese dish made of simple ingredients. The Chinese pronunciation is 'See yao gai'. 'See yao' mean 'soy sauce' and 'gai' means chicken in English translation. Soy Sauce Chicken is made of juicy chicken thighs cooked in a savory, sweet, dark brown sauce. My version of this sauce is made of regular soy sauce, dark soy sauce, honey, garlic, ginger, water, rice vinegar with green onions to garnish. My version does not include star anise, nor Chinese rose wine and is darker in color.
If you purchase this meat dish at the Chinese deli, you'll see whole roast chicken with crispy skin hanging from the window. Depending on how much you'd like, you can order it in pounds. The butcher will slice up a whole chicken into manageable chicken pieces or into chicken leg quarters. They will serve the sliced chicken at room temperature with some of its poaching liquid or cooking liquid as a serving sauce. If you purchase this dish as a meal, the chicken will come with cooked jasmine rice and leafy greens.
Nowadays there are many versions of soy sauce chicken online. From versions that include oyster sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, red pepper flakes and more. All in all, it's one tasty recipe that is loved by many!
Easy Weeknight Dinner
This easy recipe is the perfect meal when you don't have a lot of time. Soy Sauce Chicken comes together in 30 minutes or less. It's a great recipe that works well for busy weeknights because the ingredients are minimal and simple. The cooking process is very easy and doesn't require too much monitoring as you'll only need to flip the chicken a few times over low heat. If it's your first time making this dish, don't worry, I share visuals with step-by-step instructions and a video to make the best soy sauce chicken recipe!
You’ll need the below ingredient list for Soy Sauce Chicken. Please scroll down to below recipe card for exact measurements.
Note: Most Asian grocers will carry these ingredients. You may find some at your select grocery store or online, like on Amazon.
- Chicken thighs: bone-in thighs with skin on are highly recommended for that juicy dark meat. This is the key ingredient to this dish so make sure you're using fresh, quality chicken for this delicious recipe.
- You may substitute with skinless chicken thighs or boneless thighs. But please reduce the cooking time to 12-13 minutes until the chicken thighs reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F with a kitchen thermometer.
- Chicken breasts, chicken drumsticks, chicken legs or chicken wings will also work. But cook time may vary as per each cut. I would recommend starting with a total base cooking time of 12 minutes. If needed, add more time as needed until you reach 165 degrees F or until juices run clear. The best way to know when your chicken is done is using an instant read thermometer. If you don't own an instant read thermometer, chicken is cooked when the meat is white, and the juices run clear (not red).
- I would not recommend using a whole chicken for my recipe unless you cut the raw chicken into parts.
- Green onion: a colorful garnish to our soy sauce chicken recipe.
- Neutral oil: like avocado oil, sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil or canola oil. Avoid olive oil, coconut oil or any heavy scented oils. A little oil helps prevent dry chicken during the cooking process.
- Fresh garlic cloves: to add a garlicky flavor to the sauce.
- Fresh ginger: this helps remove any gamey flavor from the boneless chicken thighs.
- Honey: or brown sugar, rock sugar, or cane sugar will work. As a last resort, you may use white granulated sugar. Honey works the best as it creates a sticky glaze and adds much flavor to help balance the saltiness in the soy sauce.
- Water: this will help dilute the sauce and help cook the chicken.
- Regular soy sauce: aka all-purpose soy sauce. The label will simply say "soy sauce". This is different from dark soy sauce, which is darker in color and thicker in viscosity. You may also substitute with light soy sauce or low sodium soy sauce.
- Dark soy sauce: this is thicker than regular soy sauce and helps to add a dark brown color to our honey soy chicken.
- Rice vinegar: or substitute with white vinegar, or Shaoxing wine (sometimes aka Shaoxing rice wine). Shaoxing wine is a Chinese cooking wine used in Chinese cooking, especially when cooking meats.
How to Make Soy Sauce Chicken
Please scroll down to below recipe card for detailed instructions:
In a small bowl, combine sauce ingredients and mix until honey is dissolved.
In a large pan or large skillet on medium high heat (level 7 on the dial), add vegetable oil. Once oil is hot, add in chicken thighs skin side down and allow them to sear on each side for 2 minutes.
Pour in the sauce. It will bubble. Cover and simmer for 7 minutes. Reduce to low-medium heat (level 3 on the dial) or a rolling simmer.
Flip chicken over. Cover and simmer for another 7 minutes.
Flip chicken over so it’s skin side up. Baste the sauce over the chicken skin. Remove off heat. Note: Cooked chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165 F inserted at the thickest part of the chicken with an instant-read thermometer.
Garnish with green onions and enjoy with extra sauce served on the side.
This soy sauce chicken will last up to 4 days stored in the fridge in an airtight container.
Can I substitute with other cuts of chicken?
Yes, the following cuts of chicken will work for this recipe:
- boneless chicken thighs
- skinless chicken thighs
- boneless skinless chicken thighs
- chicken wings
- chicken breast
- chicken legs
- chicken drumsticks
Can I substitute the chicken with another type of protein?
Unfortunately, I wouldn't recommend that as I find that chicken meat works best in complimenting the salty flavors of the sauce.
May I substitute the soy sauce to make it gluten-free?
Yes, substitute both the soy sauce and dark soy sauce with tamari sauce, coconut aminos or any gluten-free soy sauce that you like.
Can I make these in the air fryer?
Yes, in that case please follow my recipe for Air Fryer Soy Sauce Chicken.
Other Chicken recipes you may enjoy!
If you loved this easy chicken recipe, you may enjoy these other recipes:
- Air Fryer Soy Sauce Chicken
- Soy Hoisin Chicken Thighs
- Chicken Adobo
- Chinese Five Spice Chicken Thighs
- Soy Maple Glazed Chicken Thighs
Easy Soy Sauce Chicken
- 1.50 lb bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
- 1 green onion finely chopped
- 2 teaspoon vegetable oil or any neutral oil
- In a small bowl, combine sauce ingredients and mix until honey is dissolved.
- In a large pan on medium high heat (level 7 on the dial), add vegetable oil.
- Once oil is hot, add in chicken thighs skin side down and allow them to sear on each side for 2 minutes.
- Pour in the sauce (don't panic if it bubbles). Cover and simmer for 7 minutes. Reduce to low-medium heat (level 3 on the dial) or a rolling simmer.
- Flip chicken over. Cover and simmer for another 7 minutes.
- Flip chicken over so it’s skin side up. Baste the sauce over the chicken skin. Remove off heat. Note: Cooked chicken should have clear juices or should reach an internal temperature of 165 F inserted at the thickest part of the chicken with an instant-read thermometer.
- Garnish with green onions and enjoy with extra sauce served on the side.
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