Easy Soy Sauce Chicken Recipe: Savory Tips & Make-Ahead Instructions

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Written By Hot Thai Restaurant

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Imagine the rich, savory aroma of soy sauce chicken wafting through your kitchen. This classic dish, a staple in Chinese cuisine, has won hearts around the globe with its delightful balance of sweetness and saltiness, infused into tender, juicy chicken. Originating from the Cantonese region, soy sauce chicken is as much a treat for the taste buds as it is a piece of culinary artistry, perfect for both weeknight dinners and special occasions.

You’ll love how this recipe brings together simple ingredients to create a complex tapestry of flavors. The key lies in the marinade, a blend of soy sauce, spices, and a hint of sweetness, which transforms the chicken into a succulent masterpiece. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a curious novice, this dish promises a delicious adventure in your cooking repertoire. Ready to give it a try? Let’s dive into the world of soy sauce chicken, where each bite tells a story of tradition and taste.


To bring the traditional taste of soy sauce chicken to your kitchen, gather the following ingredients. Ensure you follow the list in order of use for a smoother cooking process.

  • 4 chicken thighs (about 1.5 pounds), skin-on and bone-in
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2-inch piece of ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce
  • 1/4 cup Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Fresh scallions and cilantro for garnish

Each ingredient contributes its unique flavor, ensuring that your soy sauce chicken is authentically savory and slightly sweet with a rich depth. Make sure to source fresh ginger and quality soy sauce, as these play crucial roles in achieving the perfect marinade and sauce blend.

Required Tools and Equipment

To prepare soy sauce chicken that mirrors the complexity and depth of flavor characteristic of this Cantonese classic, you’ll need a few essential tools and pieces of equipment. Ensuring you have the right implements on hand will make the cooking process smoother and more efficient.

Large Pot or Dutch Oven

A large pot or Dutch Oven is critical for simmering the chicken. Opt for one that’s spacious enough to comfortably fit the whole chicken or chicken pieces while being sufficiently deep to submerge them in the marinade.

Measuring Cups and Spoons

Accurate measurements are key to achieving the perfect balance of flavors in your soy sauce chicken. Use measuring cups and spoons to precisely measure out the soy sauce, spices, and other ingredients.

Heat-Resistant Tongs

You’ll need a pair of sturdy, heat-resistant tongs for safely turning and removing the chicken from the hot liquid. This tool helps ensure even cooking and prevents you from burning yourself.


An instant-read thermometer is invaluable for checking if your chicken has reached the optimal internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, which is safe for consumption.

Fine Mesh Strainer

A fine mesh strainer will come in handy to filter out the solids from the marinade, ensuring a smooth and clear sauce that can be served over your chicken or used as an additional side sauce.

Sharp Knife

A sharp knife is essential for carving your cooked chicken into neat, appetizing pieces. Make sure it is well-sharpened to handle both the delicate slicing and more robust chopping, if necessary.

Preparation Steps

Now that you’re familiar with the essentials of creating the perfect soy sauce chicken, let’s dive into the preparation steps to bring this dish to life.

Marinating the Chicken

Begin by preparing your chicken for marination. If you’re using a whole chicken, ensure it is properly cleaned and patted dry. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of high-quality soy sauce, 3 tablespoons of brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce, and a teaspoon of five-spice powder. This blend will infuse your chicken with those iconic sweet and savory notes. Submerge the chicken in this mixture, making sure it is evenly coated. For best results, let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, though marinating it overnight will deepen the flavors even more. Turn the chicken occasionally to ensure every part is marinated evenly.

Prepping Aromatics

While your chicken marinates, prepare the aromatics that will complement the cooking process. Peel and slice 10 grams of fresh ginger, and crush 5 cloves of garlic. These will be added to the pot and provide a fragrant base for your sauce. Additionally, prepare 2-3 stalks of green onions by cutting them into 2-inch lengths. These ingredients are essential in building a flavor profile that ties the savory notes of soy sauce to the subtle warmth of ginger and the piquant kick of garlic.

Cooking Directions

Now that your chicken is marinated and aromatics are prepared, it’s time to cook your soy sauce chicken. Follow these steps to ensure that the chicken is perfectly cooked with a deep, rich flavor.

Browning the Chicken

  1. Heat a large pot on medium-high. Add two tablespoons of vegetable oil to coat the bottom.
  2. Once the oil is hot, place your marinated chicken in the pot. You should hear a sizzle as the chicken makes contact with the hot oil.
  3. Brown the chicken on all sides, which should take about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Ensure each side gets a nice caramelized color without cooking the chicken through.
  1. After browning, lower the heat to medium. Add all the prepared aromatics – sliced ginger, minced garlic, and chopped green onions – around the chicken in the pot.
  2. Pour the remaining marinade over the chicken. Add enough water to barely cover the chicken, ensuring it does not dilute the marinade too much.
  3. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer, then cover the pot. Allow the chicken to cook for about 30 minutes, turning once halfway through to ensure even cooking.
  4. Check the chicken’s doneness with a thermometer – it should reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).
  5. Once cooked, remove the chicken from the pot and let it rest before slicing. This allows the juices to redistribute, making your soy sauce chicken moist and flavorful.
  6. Strain the cooking liquid and reduce it if desired to create a richer, more concentrated sauce to drizzle over the chicken when serving.

Serving Suggestions

After mastering the art of making delicious soy sauce chicken, next comes the fun part—serving it! This dish pairs wonderfully with a variety of sides that complement its rich, savory flavors.

Rice and Noodles

Serve your soy sauce chicken over a bed of steamed jasmine rice or alongside some hearty noodles. The rice soaks up the succulent sauce, making each bite a perfect blend of flavors. If you prefer noodles, opt for egg noodles or rice noodles, lightly tossed in sesame oil for an extra layer of taste.


To balance the richness of the chicken, include a side of steamed or stir-fried vegetables. Broccoli, bok choy, or a mix of bell peppers work beautifully. Simply sauté these with a bit of garlic and a splash of soy sauce to maintain the flavor harmony.

Pickled or Fresh Cucumbers

Adding a refreshing element, like pickled cucumbers, cuts through the richness and refreshes the palate. If you prefer a fresher approach, slice some cucumbers thinly, sprinkle a pinch of salt, and toss them with a little rice vinegar and sesame seeds.


Offer a small bowl of the reduced cooking sauce or some chili oil for those who enjoy a spicy kick. This allows everyone to customize their dish to their liking.

Make-Ahead Instructions

When preparing soy sauce chicken, advantageously, you can make portions of this dish ahead of time to ease your cooking process on the day you decide to serve it. Here’s how to efficiently manage your preparation to maximize flavor and convenience.

Preparing the Marinade and Chicken

Start by preparing the marinade for the chicken. Combine the soy sauce, spices, and sweetener in a large bowl. Add the chicken pieces, ensuring they are fully submerged in the mixture. You can marinate the chicken for up to 24 hours in your refrigerator, which will deepen the savory, umami flavors in the meat.

Browning the Chicken

Once the chicken has marinated, you might prefer to brown it before the day you plan to finish the dish. In a large skillet or sauté pan, heat a small amount of oil over medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade (reserve the marinade) and sear it until golden brown on all sides. This step not only enhances the flavor but also improves the texture of the chicken. Let it cool, then store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Simmering with Aromatics

The simmering step can also be prepared ahead. In a pot, combine the reserved marinade with additional spices and aromatics as described in the recipe. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then add the pre-browned chicken. Let it cook briefly, then cool down the entire mixture before refrigerating. This allows the chicken to continue absorbing the flavors from the sauce and spices.

Storing and Reheating

Store the pre-cooked chicken and sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. When ready to serve, gently reheat the chicken in a pan over low heat until it’s thoroughly warmed. This method ensures the chicken remains moist and tender.

By following these make-ahead instructions, you ensure a flavorful and stress-free meal that captures the essence of traditional soy sauce chicken while allowing for flexibility in your meal planning.


Ready to elevate your dinner game with a classic soy sauce chicken? With the right ingredients and a bit of patience, you’ll master this delightful dish that promises to impress. Whether you’re planning a cozy meal for your family or a special dinner for friends, this recipe fits perfectly into any menu. Remember the make-ahead tips to save time and enhance the flavors. So go ahead, give it a try and watch your loved ones relish each bite!

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