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Overhead shot of gluten free sesame chicken over rice on a plate.
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Gluten Free Sesame Chicken

There's something irresistible about sesame chicken. This version is even better than takeout, with ultra tender morsels of chicken in a lightly sweet and savory glaze. The sauce is less cloying than most recipes, using only a touch of honey to sweeten. Think of the recipe as three steps: first you make a simple marinade for the chicken; then you make the sauce; and finally, you fry the chicken and toss it with the sauce. Frying the chicken creates a supremely tender, juicy texture, but you can skip that step (and the flouring step) and sauté the chicken in a large skillet, if you prefer (but I urge to try frying!). For those of you who can’t eat gluten, the recipe can be made gluten-free by using wheat-free tamari and a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend.
Prep Time35 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: gluten free sesame chicken recipe, how to make sesame chicken, sesame chicken
Servings: 6 people

Ingredients

Marinade

  • 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless thighs, cut into ¾-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha
  • 1 ½ cups low sodium chicken broth
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 2 large garlic cloves , grated

To Finish

  • 2 quarts neutral vegetable oil for frying
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • ½ cup gluten-free all purpose flour blend (or regular AP flour)
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
  • Cooked rice, for serving

Instructions

Marinate the chicken

  • First, marinate the chicken. Combine the chicken, salt, tamari, sesame oil and cornstarch. Stir to coat. Let sit while you make the sauce.

Make the sauce

  • In a bowl, whisk together the tamari, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sriracha, chicken broth, honey and cornstarch.
  • In a medium saucepan, add the vegetable oil, ginger and garlic. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until fragrant and softened, about 1 minute. Whisk in the sauce mixture and bring to a boil, stirring. Boil, whisking occasionally, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Cover to keep warm and set aside.

Fry the chicken and finish

  • To finish, heat the 2 quarts of vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium-high heat to 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with paper towels
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, flour and baking powder. Season with salt. Transfer the chicken to the bowl with the flour mixture and toss well, making sure that all the pieces are evenly coated.
  • Using tongs or a spider, shake off the excess flour and carefully lower the chicken into the hot oil. Once all the chicken is added, stir gently. Cook until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain the oil temperature, about 3 minutes. Transfer the chicken to the paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain briefly, then transfer it to the pot with the sauce. Toss gently to coat.
  • Spoon the chicken over rice and sprinkle with the sesame seeds and scallions. Serve immediately.

Notes

Do Ahead: The sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days before using. Reheat until warmed through before using.
Tips:
  • When frying, you’ll want use a large heavy pot (such as a Dutch oven). Heat the oil to 350°F, then add your battered chicken. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can test to see if the oil is hot enough by adding a small piece of chicken. It should start bubbling and fizzing immediately. Since the chicken is cut into small pieces, it only takes about three minutes to cook through.
  • A spider is a fantastic tool for pulling foods out of frying oil or boiling water (I also use mine for blanching vegetables and cooking pasta).
  • Drain the fried chicken on paper towels quickly, then immediately toss it with the sauce.
  • You can skip the flouring and frying steps and sauté the marinated chicken instead in a large skillet or wok. The chicken won't be as tender and juicy, but it will still be tasty (more like a stir-fry).