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Simple Asian Glazed Chicken

Juicy chicken is bathed in a sweet, spicy Asian sauce and makes a budget-friendly weeknight dinner.


sticky Asian glaze on four boneless chicken thighs topped with green onion and sesame seeds
Simple Asian Glazed Chicken Thighs

Have you seen chicken prices lately? Let’s just say they’re nothing to crow about.


In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that wholesale prices for boneless, skinless breast meat averaged about $3.50 per pound in May 2022, an all-time high. While prices at the store have crept down since then, I recently priced boneless, skinless chicken breasts, and the per pound online cost at Walmart ranged from $2.97 to $4.48.


And remember when we ran around like chickens without heads this fall to find our Thanksgiving turkeys?


Labor shortages, fuel costs, avian flu, and the global grain shortage all combined to shake up the poultry world, and the resulting price increases were passed on. But Americans love their chicken; in fact, in 2021, the average person ate more than 95 pounds of their beloved poultry. Our consumption is expected to top 100 pounds per person by 2031, according to statista.com.

So, the question seems to be how to balance our taste for chicken without busting the food budget. I think we look for meals that utilize less expensive cuts and find recipes that stretch the protein. Simple Glazed Asian Chicken checks both boxes because chicken thighs are used instead of white meat, and you can stretch the recipe by creating a bowl with rice and economical vegetables (both of which are better for us.)


To make Simple Glazed Asian Chicken, which yields four servings, you’ll need these ingredients:

  • 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil (or other neutral oil)

  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

  • ¾ cup brown sugar

  • ¼ soy sauce (low sodium)

  • ¼ cup chicken stock or water

  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

  • 1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce

  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste

  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

  • Salt and pepper

  • Sesame seeds and chopped green onion for garnish


Another plus to this recipe is it’s a “pantry pull,” meaning a lot of the ingredients are pantry staples. But if you don’t have something, substitutions are simple to do. For instance, I didn’t have sweet chili sauce, so I swapped out sriracha. Red pepper jelly might also be another option. I didn’t have hoisin, so I used a stir fry sauce from the refrigerator. If you don’t have the ginger paste that’s in a handy tube, use grated ginger or even ginger powder. The point is you’re creating a sweet and spicy combo for the tasty, sticky glaze using flavors common to a lot of Asian cooking: garlic, ginger, peppers, soy sauce.


Let’s get cooking!


four chicken thighs brown in cast iron pan
Brown seasoned chicken thighs in oil. Add toasted sesame oil for extra flavor.

First, bring a large skillet or braiser pan to medium-high temperature. Add the oil. I like the mix of a neutral with the flavor of toasted sesame, but if you don’t have the latter, just use the tablespoon of vegetable oil or whatever you have.


Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper and place in the pan. Cook chicken about 5 minutes per side until it’s browned. Set aside.


In the pan, stir together brown sugar, soy sauce, hoisin and chili sauces, ginger, garlic, and vinegar. Bring to a boil and cook until it starts to thicken. For me, this took about 8–10 minutes.


Add chicken back to the sauce, coating each side. Continue cooking until chicken reaches 165 degrees F internal temperature.


To plate, sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onion. I served a chicken thigh over a bed of rice mixed with frozen carrots and peas. This is a quick dinner with deep flavor.


Question: I don’t like dark meat. Can I make this with chicken breasts?

Absolutely. But because white meat is more expensive, consider stretching the protein servings by cutting each breast horizontally from the thicker end to the thinner tail. This recipe also would be good with chicken tender strips.


I usually prefer white over dark meat, too, but the sweet and spicy glaze is the star in this dish. I thought the sauce tamed the chicken thighs’ flavor very well. You might still want to consider using the thighs given their price range is $2.86 to $3.34 per pound.


Here’s another budget-stretching tip for you

Cut the cooked chicken into chunks and use about half a thigh in an economical rice bowl. This will stretch the chicken into more servings and create a vessel for nutritious and tasty stir-fry vegetables of your choice.


One bite of Simple Glazed Asian Chicken brought me back to my first visit to see my godmother Merle and her family in San Diego. I was about 12 or 13 years old, and we went to the most exotic restaurant I’d ever seen. It was called Bali Hai . I had some type of sweet & spicy chicken dish and a virgin Mai Tai in a tiki mug. The restaurant is still going strong, but the dish is no longer on their menu. However, I still have the mug and the memories.


Give this glazed chicken recipe a try. It’s ready in about 30 minutes and packs a huge amount of flavor in each juicy bite.

 


 

Looking for more chicken recipes?

40 Clove Garlic Chicken calls for drumsticks and thighs. If you want to go the oven route for baking this classic casserole, the New York Times site has a great recipe or follow my slow-cooker method.


Stews, soups and chili are wonderful ways to stretch protein in a recipe. Chicken Chili can use either ground chicken or turkey.


If you want to try my daughter’s favorite dish, Caper Chicken, remember to slice the breasts in half horizontally. It’s a more economical (and healthier) serving portion.


About the blog

Three Women in the Kitchen is an award-winning food blog offering today’s home cooks comforting, hearty recipes with a personal touch. The website also pays tribute to Deborah’s mother, Katie Reinhardt, and paternal grandmother, Dorothy Reinhardt (the “three women” in the kitchen). Whether you’re an experienced or a novice cook, you’ll find inspiration here to feed your families and warm your heart. Subscribe today so you won’t miss a single delicious detail.







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