I love everything about this Firecracker Chicken ~ the vivid peppers, the tender chunks of chicken, and the fiery sweet and spicy sauce ~ it’s so much better than takeout!
This Firecracker Chicken is one of my take out from scratch recipes.
I’ve already recreated a bunch of my favorite take out foods and each one has been spot on:
- Pad Thai
- Dan Dan Noodles
- Japanese Chicken Katsu Curry
- Japanese Dumplings
- Cashew Chicken
- Tikka Masala
But I’m not stopping till I’ve mastered every one of my favorite take out dishes. Why? Because when I make it myself I know I’m getting quality fresh ingredients and I can get it just the way I like it. Delivery’s great, but homemade’s better.
the secret to great take out at home
You know the only thing your favorite Chinese restaurants have that you don’t have? Authentic spices and condiments. They’re waiting for you right in the regular grocery store, just take a minute to scan the Asian food section. Things like plum sauce, hoisin sauce, and sesame oil really make this recipe, and if you stock them in a little section of your refrigerator, these awesome flavors can be at your fingertips. I’ve reserved the bottom row in my fridge door for all my Asian condiments so I’m always prepared for a great take-out-from-home night.
what you’ll need for firecracker chicken
- boneless skinless chicken breast ~ if you prefer thighs, that’s fine.
- vegetable oil
- salt and pepper
- bell peppers ~ the vivid colors of the peppers make this dish so inviting. You can use assorted varieties from a farmers market, or standard bells from the produce aisle, just make sure they’re colorful.
- hot peppers ~ of course this is firecracker chicken and that means you’ll need to heat things up with a few hot peppers, too. You can use standard jalapeños or serranos, or go for tiny cayenne or Thai peppers if you can find them. If they’re hot, they’ll work.
- grapefruit, orange, or pineapple juice
- Tamari sauce
- hoisin sauce
- plum sauce
- rice wine vinegar
- toasted sesame oil
- sriracha sauce
Everything in this dish gets flash cooked, stir fry style, so the only time consuming part is the prep: chopping the veggies and chicken, and mixing the sauce.
Tip for cooking peppers
With peppers of all kinds, it’s all about the CRUNCH. I only cook them briefly, just long enough to take the raw edge off, I want to preserve that bright color and crisp texture, which is what makes this meal so much fun.
make firecracker chicken ahead
Admittedly this meal takes some time, but luckily you can do most of it ahead of time. Prep the different components and store them separately in the fridge.
- whisk together the sauce ingredients
- prep the onion garlic, and ginger
- chop the peppers
- chop the raw chicken
You have to make this, it’s amazing. And then we have to think about what’s next on our list of take-out favorites to conquer. I’m open to suggestions…
*Want to take your Firecracker Chicken to go? You can find take out boxes here.
tvfgi recommends: a sturdy wok
A wok is important for stir frying because its wide surface area and sloped slides help the food cook quickly and evenly. You can go for a traditional steel pan, above, but there are also nonstick pans like the hard anodized Calphalon wok that I use in this post. Some people prefer a cast iron wok. They all work, it’s just a matter of personal preference.
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, or tenders
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour (more cornstarch for gluten free)
- salt and freshly cracked pepper
- vegetable oil, peanut oil works well
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and minced
- 4 cups chopped multi-colored bell peppers
- 1-2 hot peppers, thinly sliced (use the seeds for more heat, and leave them out for less)
for the sauce
- 1/2 cup fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, substitute orange or pineapple
- 1 Tbsp Tamari soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp hoisin sauce
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1 Tbsp plum sauce
- 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp sriracha sauce
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 5 green onions, thinly sliced
- sesame seeds
- Mix the sauce in a measuring cup --- whisk together all the ingredients. Add water to bring the mixture up to a cup. Set aside.
- Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces.
- Whisk the egg, cornstarch and flour together with a tablespoon of water. Season with a little salt and pepper.
- Pour oil into a wok or frying pan to a depth of about 1/2 inch. Heat the oil to about 340F. Working in batches, drop the chicken into the egg and cornstarch mixture, coating it completely, and then into the oil and fry until golden, about 2 minutes or until the chicken is completely cooked. Flip the chicken halfway through cooking. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
- Wipe out the pan, and heat 2 tablespoons of oil. Saute the onion, garlic, and ginger for about 5 minutes, until the onion is softened.
- Add the peppers, both sweet and hot, to the pan and stir fry over high heat for another few minutes, just until the peppers have lost their 'raw' edge. They should still be bright and crunchy.
- Add the chicken back to the pan and heat through.
- Shove the food to one side of the wok and pour the sauce into the pan. Tilt the pan so the sauce can come to a boil and thicken. Once the sauce has come to a boil it will become instantly thick and glossy. Stir everything together to coat with the sauce and heat through.
- Serve hot over rice, garnished with sliced green onion and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
Try it with shrimp in place of chicken.
Lower the fat by sautéing the chicken instead of frying.
Questions and Reviews
Amazing. I did not have juice – substituted strawberry lemonade, left out hoisin and plum sauce – still reached my goal of making a dish that was extremely close to Ruby Thai’s Bang Bang Chicken. Awesome and thank you so much!
Oh yes! I could fall in love with this dish! All that color and flavor is literally begging me to go to the store right now so I can make it for dinner. LOVE this and the photos are gorgeous. Pinning 🙂
It’s interesting, Tricia, this particular way of cooking the chicken really gives it that authentic ‘take-out’ vibe. Hope you enjoy it!
Yum! Who needs takeout!? And a wonderful way to eat the rainbow of gorgeous veggie colors!
The peppers are the most colorful section of the supermarket these days!
This seems to be lower sodium than the restaurant version. It’s amazing the sodium that’s out there!
Oh absolutely, Bob, people don’t have any idea how much sodium goes into commercially prepared foods!
Great recipe and gorgeous pictures….
Thanks so much, Norma, aren’t peppers fun?
Yes this is the best kind of food to make extra batches of.
For the next day and for cold morning leftovers.
Yes, I would totally eat this cold for brekkie!!!
This dish looks so colorful and delicious! I love it.