Firecracker Chicken

Modeled after one of the most delicious and popular recipes housed on my site, this firecracker chicken was originally sent to me by my sister, Cerissa, as a sticky-finger type recipe for chicken. I loved the idea, but wanted to change it up to be prepared similar to my beloved sweet and sour. So I did.

And the result is lightly breaded and browned chicken pieces coated in a spicy, sweet sauce and baked to perfection, soaking up the sauce along the way. Be aware that this sauce packs a bit of a punch, thanks to the hot sauce, but the spiciness is offset by the brown sugar and in the end, I absolutely loved the contrast of sweet and spicy. The name? Well, it came about because my 8-year old declared he felt like there was a firecracker going off in his mouth when he took his first bite (which, incidentally, didn’t keep him from eating seconds and stealing three precious bites of tender, flavorful chicken from my plate, the little stinker). If you like the excitement of a little heat in your dinner, this meal’s for you.

What To ServeBaked Brown Rice
Summer Corn Salad or Grilled Corn Salad
Creamy 5-Cup Fruit Salad or fresh, seasonal fruit

One Year Ago: Baked Doughnuts
Two Years Ago: Perfect Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread
Three Years Ago: Strawberry Cream Puff Cake

Firecracker Chicken

Yield: Serves 4-6

Firecracker Chicken

Note: This dish packs a bit of a kick and depends mightily on what type of hot sauce you buy. Apparently (thought I haven't tried it), if you buy the buffalo flavor it's a bit more mild and less spicy. Also, I cut down on the sugar by 1/2 cup from the original recipe. If you really want to minimize the spiciness, you can consider adding that extra 1/2 cup back in (I just had trouble bringing myself to use 1 1/2 cups of sugar in a dinner recipe). Either way, the spicy/sweet combo is delicious!

Ingredients

    Chicken:
  • 2-4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • Sauce:
  • 1/3 cup hot sauce (like Frank's brand for hot wings, for instance)
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. While the oil is heating, cut the chicken breasts into 1-inch pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Place the cornstarch in a gallon-sized ziploc bag. Put the chicken into the bag with the cornstarch and seal, tossing to coat the chicken. Whisk the eggs together in a shallow pie plate. Dip the cornstarch-coated chicken pieces in the egg and place them carefully in a single layer in the hot skillet. Cook for 1-2 minutes and then flip each piece over to cook on the other side until nicely golden but not all the way cooked through. Place in a single layer in a 9X13-inch baking dish and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.
  3. Mix the sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl and pour over the chicken in the baking dish. Bake for one hour, turning the chicken once or twice while cooking to coat evenly with sauce. Serve over hot, steamed rice.
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/firecracker-chicken/

Recipe Source: adapted from a recipe my sister Cerissa sent me

99 Responses to Firecracker Chicken

  1. Kim in MD says:

    YUM! We are a family of hot sauce lovers and we love spicy food, so I know this chicken will be a huge hit in my house!

    • Susan says:

      Just made the Firecracker Chicken tonight. It was WONDERFUL!!! Thank you so much for a great recipe. Your website looks SO GOOD, problem is, I don’t know what to try next, everything looks so good! I used thighs instead of breasts since that is what I had and they were great, just cut them into smaller pieces, I also used Frank’s hot wing sauce and it was not too hot at all, may try a hotter sauce next time, but this is a keeper for sure! Thanks again!

  2. StephenC says:

    I would save time and toss the chicken bits with the sauce over low-medium heat on top of the stove for perhaps 10 min.

  3. Karly says:

    I am alllllll about the sweet and spicy combo. I think I need this in my life.

  4. Heather says:

    I bet these would be awesome with the chipotle hotsauce. So hungry now!

  5. Tara says:

    Could we make this the same way you make your Orange Chicken recipe ya think? I love the sauce idea but hate the mess/time of pan-frying before baking and your Orange Chicken tasted just as good without that step :)

  6. Sara says:

    Yum! I am excited to try this.

  7. This looks so tasty! Great recipe!!

  8. jackie Brown says:

    I can’t wait to try this as a freezer meal. I made your beef stroganoff into a freezer meal a few weeks ago! Looks so yummy. I love the Panda chicken

  9. I love hot sauce….my hubby is a wimp, though, when it comes to hot food. Oh well – more for me haha

  10. Rachel says:

    Yumm! I’m making these tonight! My husband will be excited, he loves anything hot!

  11. Sally says:

    I make something similar using this recipe as the basis for the chicken:
    http://www.thebittenword.com/thebittenword/2011/05/general-tsos-chicken.htmlk

    I do use skinless, boneless breasts and omit the sesame oil and soy sauce.

    I use this recipe for the sauce:
    http://www.sixsistersstuff.com/2011/12/wingers-sticky-fingers-copycat-recipe.html

    I put the chicken in the sauce and let it simmer for a few minutes.

    It’s very tasty and I’m sure yours is too!

  12. Cerissa says:

    I had to do a triple-take when I saw my name in your post, ha! Not very often I hear of someone else named Cerissa.
    The chicken looks delicious! Might have to give it a try!

  13. Cerissa says:

    My name…in the best food blog that ever was. I’m honored. Love you Mel.

  14. Mel says:

    Tara – sure, it’s worth a try although I haven’t done that myself so I can’t guarantee the results.

  15. Jackie says:

    Hi Mel

    I was wondering if I could use boneless chicken thighs in this recipe.

  16. Veronica says:

    What a cool name! Your son is a genius. Musta got it from his momma! Saving this one fo sho.

  17. Kerri says:

    Would think this would be good with some bell peppers added in!

  18. Mel says:

    Jackie – sure, it’s definitely worth a try!

  19. Cyndi L says:

    I made this tonight and it was absolutely delicious. It’s a keeper recipe. It’s just the perfect amount of spice. My daughter who does’t care for spicy loved it. I used Frank’s red hot buffalo wing sauce. I thought I had apple cider vinegar on hand only to find out I was completely out, so in a pinch I used red wine vinegar and it was still delicious! Thank you again Mel. You are my hero! I tell everyone about your site, so your getting quite a following in Canada. Incidentally, my husband is American and grew up in Wisconsin. He also has tons of relatives in Minnesota.

  20. Rachel says:

    Hey Mel, this looks great. Do you think Sriracha would be good to use too? I can’t wait to try this!

  21. Beth says:

    I made this today for the football game. My whole family loved it, we ate every bit. The sauce got a little too brown, maybe 40 minutes would be better for my oven. We ate them without the rice as sweet and spicy boneless wings. I had never used carnstarch this way, it made a great coating. Thank you so much! Tomorrow we’re having basil curry chicken with the other half of the big pack of chicken, another favorite!

  22. JoggingJeans says:

    Took your advice and made this with buffalo wing sauce last night. DELICIOUS!!
    (and the sugar reduction was great – certainly didn’t need that extra 1/2 cup of sugar)

  23. Eloise says:

    Think this would be good with pork? If so, how would i do it? Same as chicken?

  24. Mel says:

    Eloise, I would simply cut the pork into the same size pieces as the chicken and proceed with the recipe. I think the cooking time should be the same.

  25. Mel says:

    Rachel, you’d have to experiment with the sriracha. If you like things ultra spicy, I think it would be ok. I think it will pack more of a punch then the hot wing sauce.

  26. [...] So first the chicken. I LOVE spicy food, and this was SPICY! yum! It is so pretty with the spicy glaze once it comes out of the oven. Be advised that as the glaze dries, it hardens and is sticky! Here is the recipe (taken from ) http://www.melskitchencafe.com/2012/10/firecracker-chicken.html [...]

  27. Jennifer says:

    My family loved it! We are huge fans of your sweet n sour chicken so this was perfect.

  28. Brittany says:

    I made this last night and it was FANTASTIC!!! My husband declared it the best chicken ever and I could drink the sauce it’s so good. Another winner!

  29. Love the idea of using this sauce on chicken and serving over rice! This sauce is the Winger’s sticky buffalo sauce that we love to use on our version of their Chicken Sticky Salad. It is amazing and yes, I could pretty much drink it too!

    Here is the salad recipe:

    http://dealstomeals.blogspot.com/2010/06/wingers-sticky-chicken-salad-make-it-at.html

  30. Pedro says:

    Fireckracker Chicken is terrible — how do you saute 1″ chicken parts and then put them in the oven for an hour without killing it !!!!

  31. Mel says:

    Yo, Pedro, you just have to try it to believe it. (Did you try it??) The idea is to only briefly brown (we’re talking seconds in hot oil) the chicken in the skillet (not cook it through fully) and then bake in the oven. The sauce needs the hour, or close to it, to thicken and the chicken basks in the sauce and doesn’t dry out. Anyway, it works, I promise. However, if you really did try it and hate it, my apologies! My family will eat enough to compensate!

  32. kjasus says:

    making this now. i found it odd to dip in cornstarch first then egg….but i trust you! :)
    smells amazing already.

  33. Eloise says:

    Made with pork tonight, because hubby is allergic to chicken. (its a travesty i tell ya!)
    He loved it!! So did my middle son. You did it again Mel! You made me look good:) thank you!

  34. rachelle cooper says:

    Mel, this was so yummy! my husband declared it his new favorite meal ever!! He loves franks hot sauce so it was right up his alley, i dont like hot sauce very much so i increased the sugar a little and rinsed off the chicken for my littles ones so it wasnt so spicy.
    Love it, will for sure make again! wish there was an easier way to cook the chicken before hand but oh well, worth it!
    Thanks again, always have the best recipes!

  35. Tara says:

    This was fantastic!! Even my pickiest eater loved it and was scrounging for seconds.

  36. Kimberley says:

    Mel-
    Thank you so much for this recipe! I’ve lost count of the number of your recipes that have become regulars in my house, I’m a teacher and having a source of yummy and easy recipes at my fingertips is amazing! My hubby is one who will eat dinner and then make ‘suggestions’ over the next few days with ways to ‘improve’ a dish. I’m elated to say that for once he had no suggestion other than to ask later in the week if he could run to the store to get the ingredients we needed to make this again!
    Thank you for making me a dinner hero!!!

  37. Holly says:

    I made this for dinner tonight and it was great! I love it when my lips and tongue tingle a bit!

  38. Stephanie says:

    Mel-
    Just found your site a few days ago and LOVE it!! Tried this recipe today and it is fabulous! Next time I will cut the vinegar just a bit, but regardless of that, it is wonderful!! I get most of my recipes from allrecipes.com, but stumbled upon your site and I am glad I did!!! I have never written a review, and I do mean never! This is worth a review and more!! And on a side note, had the beaten eggs on the stove ready to go and totally forgot!!! It still turned out amazing! Thanks mel! I am going to use more of your recipes!

  39. Stephanie says:

    Sorry Mel, was showing this recipe to a friend, the review/comment was on the sweet and sour chicken. BTW, my husband said it was better than a restaurant!! Win-Win!!

  40. Annette says:

    WOW!!! This was fabulous. This is a keeper and will make time and time again. Great job!

  41. BONNIE says:

    found had just enough bite. family really enjoyed the chicken and will make agai

  42. OMG, this is AMAZING!! I just made this, and it is SOOOO good! Two thumbs up!!

  43. Michelle Watabe says:

    Winner, winner, chicken dinner! This was really yummy. I didn’t give myself enough time, so I started the sauce on the stove top and let it simmer and thicken while I did the chicken. Then I cut the bake time in half. It was great! Thanks for another great one, Mel!

  44. Sara says:

    I made this recipe tonight. It was AMAZING!! I am always looking for new recipes to try and my husband I both loved this!

  45. Janet B says:

    So Easy and Delicious!! Made for dinner and was a Huge Hit!! I just used the Louisiana Hot Sauce that everyone probably already has in their kitchen! Your son was right just like a Firecracker! I think I’ll add some Red Pepper Flakes to kick it up a notch on the next batch! Already craving it again! Wish I’d known to make chicken nuggets this way years ago! So Easy!! Thanks for the delicious recipe!!

  46. Janet B says:

    Oh and I cooked the chicken in the saute pan and never baked it. Just topped it off with the sauce and tossed it a little. Then had extra on the side for dipping. I’m sure would be even better to bake a little but we couldn’t wait.
    We all wanted to lick the plates! Delicious!

  47. Casey Hodge says:

    DELICIOUS!!!!! We loved it. Too hot with the Frank’s we used, but it was still good.

  48. donna says:

    I made this last night and thought it was delish! I used 2# of chicken and thought there wasn’t quite enough sauce so next time I will try 1.5# …. I wouldn’t want to add any more hot sauce! I saw my sauce was blackening a little at the edges so I only cooked for 40 min but that could have been because I used my lower oven. I will definitely make this again.

  49. OMG!!! This dish ROCKED. We all loved it…will be making it again.

    Can you please tell me the nutritional information. So I can figure out what the Weight Watchers points would be for this the next time I made this.

    Thanks!!

  50. Mel says:

    Hi Michele – there are several free nutrition calculators online but I don’t provide the nutritional information for each recipe. Sorry!

  51. Christina says:

    Hi Mel,

    This recipe looks awesome! My friends LOVE hot stuff, but I’m more of a medium person myself, so I don’t really know much about hot sauce. Which brand did you use? I’d love to make it super spicy like you, and blow their socks off :D

    • Mel says:

      Christina, mine wasn’t over the top spicy but if you want a really spicy version, look for a hot sauce that indicates spicy or very hot.

  52. First time at your blog today and I had to make this one.

    Insane…crazy good insane. Absolutely love this recipe. I used Texas Pete and it is perfectly spicy for my crew. Now, to go peruse your blog and find some more yum!

  53. Brenda Pierce says:

    Just finished making this one. It is AWESOME!!! Love it. No need to add the extra sugar as it is just the perfect mix of sweet and spicy. Added it to my top recipe list. Thanks!

  54. Mel says:

    I came across this recipe and made it for dinner tonight….YUM! The frying is kind of a pain but worth it. Next time I’m going to grill my chicken and finish it off in the oven should be good!

  55. kerri says:

    Just finished stuffing my face with this! I was nervous about making it, as I messed up your sweet and sour chicken, but this was delicious! Hubby said it’s a make again meal. He’s a bit of a wimp, so next time I might add a bit more sugar, but I thought it was perfect- – thank you! :)

  56. Donna says:

    This is a family favorite, my teenage son begs me to make it! I double the sauce and reduce the baking time to 40-45min, and serve it over rice, which is fantastic with the extra sauce. Thanks for this incredible recipe!

  57. Kim says:

    Just wondering why you would coat chicken in cornstarch and THEN into eggs and fry? I just did this and now the chicken is coated in scrambled eggs. Yuck! the sauce does taste good though. Surely you mean to do eggs first and then put into cornstarch.

    • Mel says:

      Hi Kim – the recipe is written correctly (it’s the same method as the sweet and sour chicken). I’ve never gotten the scrambled egg effect and I’ve made this recipe and the sweet and sour probably 50 times combined. My guess is that your oil might not have been hot enough. It should be rippling and hot enough to brown the chicken within a short amount of time on both sides. I can see if the temperature wasn’t high enough it could cook the chicken slowly and get a scrambled egg effect.

  58. Greg says:

    Great recipe! Made this yesterday with boneless skinless thighs. When putting the sauce together I decided instantly that it wasn’t hot enough for my tastes though (with just the Frank’s), so I poured some Heartbreaking Dawn’s 1498 Trinidad Scorpion Pepper Sauce into the mix. :) Perfect!

    I did find it a tad too sweet (maybe my sweet and spicy taste buds are off), so I’m going to try and notch the sugar down to 3/4 cup next time.

  59. Kate says:

    Made this today and it was awesome! I definitely thought it ranked up there with take out Chinese except better. I actually only used a half cup of brown sugar and a little extra hot sauce and it was the perfect heat! My eggs somewhat scrambled a bit on my chicken when I pan fried it but once baked it was fine so I definitely want to make this again to work on my technique. Thanks for a great recipe!

  60. [...] Firecracker Chicken (adapted from Mel’s Kitchen) [...]

  61. Traci says:

    Made this tonight and it was so good! Not as spicy as I thought it would be, but so tasty. And like others, I burnt a bit of the sauce so I’ll have to watch that next time.

  62. Angi Johnson says:

    Phenomenal! Better than any “Chinese” food that we have found since moving to New Hampshire! I doubled the sauce and served over brown rice and a side of steamed broccoli.

  63. Neli says:

    Amazing!!! I’m a college student working on campus for the summer. I’m not an experienced cook at all but really wanted to try something new that would be inexpensive and relatively easy. My friend and I only had to buy one ingredient that we didn’t already have in our kitchen cabinet. We followed the directions exactly as written and it came out deliciously!!! I can’t wait to go home to cook it for my family! I will definitely try out some of your other recipes. Thanks so much, Mel (:

  64. cris says:

    Can this be made in a slow cooker?

  65. Mel says:

    Cris – I haven’t tried this in a slow cooker. Good luck if you decide to experiment!

  66. Mike says:

    Fantastic recipe! Almost like sweet-n-sour chicken in a way, but oh the flavor… !!! We used Cholula hot sauce, our favorite. Definitely a winner! Thanks for posting.

    Mike

  67. Jessica says:

    Just made this tonight!!! So good:) my husband loved it too. Definitely need to try the sweet and sour chicken too. Was wondering if the chicken pieces would dry out with an hour bake time but they were very moist and so flavorful!! Loved it and found many more recipes I will be trying soon. Thanks for a great website!

  68. Jessica says:

    Made this tonight and family loved it. We have food restrictions so I used garbanzo bean flour and no eggs. Thank you for the yummy recipe.

  69. Tina says:

    I tried this, and it is SO good, I did make extra sauce though because I wanted to pour it over the rice.

  70. Glenda Ardoin says:

    I read all the previous comments and took ideas from the others and made a crock pot version! Lightly browned cut up boneless, skinless chic thighs ( they have soooo much more flavor than breasts ) threw em in the crock pot with onion and green bell pepper cut in pretty nice size chunks. I doubled the sauce recipe to have extra for the rice and turned it on low for 4 hours. It was AWESOME! And I didn’t have to heat up my kitchen using the oven for an hour : ))

    • Nancy says:

      Did you do any breading on the chicken? Thanks for working out a slow cooker version! Loved your post and your name. I’m a Soileau.

  71. Lella says:

    I finally tried this tonight and it was fantastic! I only had 1lb of chicken, so I also added 1lb of shrimp, dark brown sugar instead of light brown (ran out while baking!) and white wine vinegar instead of ACV. I have had many attempts at making homemade Chinese takeout food and none has ever been quite right. When I taste tested the sauce while making this recipe, I knew you were definitely on to something! It was a hit with my family; even my 20 month old ate an entire bowl. Thank you!

  72. mary says:

    is there any way to make this only spicy, instead of spicy-sweet? i’m not really a big fan of spicy-sweet so could i reduce the sugar in half?

  73. Brittany says:

    This was soooo good! Definitely restaurant quality! I did find it a little sweet for my taste but I’m not big on sweet in the first place. I will probably reduce the sugar to 1/2-3/4 cup next time. I did find it kind of weird that you dip it in egg after the cornstarch but trust me it works! I didn’t get a scrambled egg effect like a couple people had described. The sautéing was kind of a pain but we’ll worth it! Thanks for amazing recipe!

  74. Courtney says:

    So, I’m always trying to make recipes healthier, and I made this without frying it…DELICIOUS! Just cut up chicken breast into small pieces, put in a baking dish with the sauce/glaze mixture, and baked for about an hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Served over white rice, and boy, was this a hit! Thanks for the inspiration.

  75. […] (Recipe adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe.) […]

  76. Deb says:

    Loved, loved, loved this! Servedwith homemade fried rice and everyone gobbled it up. I was skeptical about the 1 hour cooking time, but the meat didn’t dry out and was super flavorful. Thanks Mel!

  77. Katie Brooks says:

    We had this last night and LOVED it! I used pork instead of chicken because that is what I had on hand and it turned out great. I am such a fan of the cornstarch/egg/frying technique, it makes the perfect crust/coating.

  78. Janice says:

    Thanks for the recipe. I made it tonight for supper and we really enjoyed it. A bit spicy but not overly so. I used Frank’s Red Hot Wings Buffalo Sauce and added a little more than 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes.

  79. Asha says:

    Made this tonight and it was amazing! I made it exactly as written using Frank’s hot sauce and it came out perfectly. Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful recipes with us!

  80. Wanda Pucci says:

    I thank you for all of your recipes,but this one even had our picky grandchildren coming back for seconds and my grandson and husband had thirds. My husband says to make this one of our regular dishes!

  81. Jane says:

    Oh boy! We made this with sriracha sauce….HOT, HOT, HOT…we like spicy, but we started sweating, our noses were running and we had to steel ourselves to get in the last bites! Our lips are burning, but it was really good, just a little less spice would do.

  82. Debbie says:

    made this and LOVED it, reminded me of a spicy sweet and sour chicken, i added a bit more sugar as i was afriad it would be too spicy. My husband who loves spicy food however, thought it tasted fishy….i will be making it again, even if its just for me!

  83. Mike says:

    I decided to tear myself away from my tried and true Tiny Spicy Chicken recipe (which is prepared exactly as above except for a different sauce) and try this Firecracker Chicken. It’s in the oven now and it smells wonderful, I can hardly wait.

    If anyone would like to change it up a bit, here is an alternative sauce recipe that I normally use. It is to die for! You can prepare the chicken same as above.

    Tiny Spicy Chicken
    Sauce:
    2 t. Sambal chili paste
    1 c. ketchup
    dash salt
    8 T. brown sugar
    2 c. sugar
    4 t. soy sauce
    1 c. chicken broth
    1 c. white vinegar
    Simmer the sauce until it begins to thicken then add to chicken and place in oven as above.

  84. Sharma says:

    Do you think this would be good with Tapatio hot sauce?

    • Mel says:

      Sharma – It wouldn’t have the same level of flavor/sweetness (might be much more spicy, too) but it’s worth a try if you are willing to experiment. Good luck if you try it!

  85. Leslie says:

    Seriously delicious. Restaurant quality dish (or maybe I’m just that good?!) Nah! Your recipe made me look like a star in the kitchen! :)

  86. Shellice M says:

    I need to apologize for being such a stalker. ;]
    I made your skillet spaghetti the night before last and I am going to be making this one tonight. I made your sweet and sour chicken recipe (it was the first thing I tried from your blog and the reason I can’t stop myself from visiting your site) and we all loved it. I just know this is going to be amazing. As for the doubters regarding dipping in the egg mixture AFTER you coat the chicken, don’t fret. This is how I have made my breaded chicken for years. In fact, you can use flour if you don’t have cornstarch on hand. My only suggestion is to not let the chicken swim in the egg. Literally just give it a dip.
    Thanks again Mel for all of your recipes. I haven’t been disappointed yet!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Shellice – thanks for your comment! I hope you like this recipe as much as the sweet and sour (thanks for the tips on dipping)!

  87. Vanessa says:

    The whole family loved it! Especially the boys. Hubby did say it was too hot so the next time I make it I will try the buffalo sauce.

  88. Marietta says:

    Thought I would mention this since you weren’t a big fan of the full amount of sugar…. I’ve been making this sauce for a while (it’s the closest thing to wingers sauce), but we do equal parts hot sauce (we use franks) and sugar. I let it simmer for a bit checking the flavor but you can cut the sugar back even more than you are! It’s still so yummy! We use the chicken in a salad with homemade ranch, cranberries, red onion, and cheese, it’s so good!

  89. Sarah says:

    I just made this! It was deeelicious, except for my family’s taste I halved the brown sugar (it was still slightly too sweet) but nevertheless wonderful and I made vegetable stir fry to go along with it! Thank you Mel!

  90. Jenny says:

    I have made this twice in the past two weeks and love it! Thanks for posting such yummy and simple recipes, Mel!

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