This sweet spicy sticky chicken is incredible! It has definite sweet and sour vibes with a bit of heat (which you can dial up or down). So yummy!

My family would like you to know this is the best thing I’ve made all year. In fact, they declared it even better than our beloved sweet and sour chicken, which is kind of earth shattering news, to be honest. It really is amazingly delicious!

Gray plate with rice and saucy chicken tenders.

The Sweet and Spicy Sauce

The sauce for this recipe calls for mostly every day pantry ingredients, save maybe one.

  • broth
  • vinegar
  • ketchup
  • granulated + brown sugar
  • soy sauce
  • chili garlic sauce

The chili garlic sauce is essential for the recipe. It adds depth and complexity which is essential for the flavors of the sauce. It also lends the “spice” factor to the sweet, spicy, sticky chicken.

As written, the sauce is mildly spicy. You can easily dial the chili garlic sauce up or down depending on how spicy you want the sauce.

Where to Buy Chili Garlic Sauce

Most well-stocked grocery stores will carry chili garlic sauce in the Asian foods aisle. You can also buy it from Asian food markets, if you have one near you. And it’s available on Amazon, as well.

I usually end up with the Huy Fong brand, because it seems to be the most common brand when I’m shopping for it.

The sauce needs to be simmered prior to being baked with the chicken. Why? Doing so, allows the sauce to thicken more quickly in the oven…which also means the chicken won’t over cook.

Easier Baked Chicken Tenders

In this crazy popular sweet and sour chicken recipe, the chicken pieces are dipped in cornstarch, egg, pan-fried and then added to the baking dish. It’s delicious.

But I wanted an easier method for this sweet spicy sticky chicken. So I came up with a new-and-improved-but-just-as-tasty-breading-and-cooking-system.

  1. Pat the chicken tenders dry and season lightly with salt and pepper
  2. Dredge the chicken lightly in flour (shake off excess)
  3. Place the chicken in buttered pan and bake for 10 minutes
  4. Pour simmered sauce over the top
  5. Bake for another 15 minutes

While the “breading” on the chicken is not as thick as in the sweet and sour chicken recipe, we actually love it this way (and it greatly minimizes the mess and prep time!). In fact, I will definitely be making the chicken portion of the sweet and sour chicken recipe like this from now on.

Glass baking dish with chicken tenders and chili garlic sauce.

Sweet, Spicy, Sticky = The Most Delicious Chicken

The sauce will bubble and thicken while baking in the oven…and it continues to thicken as it cools slightly out of the oven.

The chicken is tender. The sauce is gloriously glaze-y. And the flavors are fantastic. Sweet, tangy, spicy, salty. All the things. YUM.

This has quickly become an all-time favorite for my family. Our family of seven can obliterate a shocking amount of this chicken. That might be due, in part, to the five teenagers (more or less) in the family, but still, A SHOCKING AMOUNT.

Please meet your new, must-make chicken dinner. I hope you love it as much as we do!

Chicken cut in pieces with chili garlic sauce and rice.

What to Serve With This

One Year AgoCreamy Avocado Roasted Veggie Flatbread
Two Years Ago: Loaded BBQ Chicken Totchos 
Three Years AgoLemon White Chocolate Cream Bars
Four Years AgoRhubarb Custard Cake
Five Years AgoSuper Easy Focaccia Bread (No Mixer Needed!)
Six Years AgoLemon Truffle Shortbread Bars 
Seven Years AgoMake-Ahead Refrigerator Bran Muffins
Eight Years AgoDelicious No-Bake Cookie Dough Bites 
Nine Years AgoWhole Grain Pumpkin Blueberry Muffins 
Ten Years Ago: Easy Brazilian Cheese Bread {Pao de Queijo}

Plate with broccoli, rice and saucy chicken tenders.

Sweet Spicy Sticky Chicken

4.91 stars (22 ratings)


  • 3 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 ½ pounds chicken tenders
  • Salt and pepper
  • cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup chicken broth
  • ¼ cup white or apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
  • Hot, cooked rice, for serving


  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place butter in glass 9X13-pan. Place in oven so the butter can melt. (Don't let it burn!) Remove from the oven when butter is melted. Alternately, you can melt the butter and spread in the pan (but where's the fun in that?).
  • Pat the chicken tenders dry with paper towels. Season lightly on both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Place the flour in a shallow dish. Dredge the chicken tenders in flour to coat. Shake off excess. Place the chicken in a single layer in the buttered pan.
  • Bake for 10 minutes. It will bake longer in a following step. While the chicken bakes, make the sauce.
  • In a medium saucepan, whisk together the broth, vinegar, ketchup, granulated sugar, brown sugar, soy sauce and chili garlic sauce. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Pour the sauce over the chicken and return to the oven to bake for 15 minutes until chicken is baked through and the sauce is bubbly and slightly thickened. The sauce will continue to thicken out of the oven as it cools.
  • Serve the chicken and sauce over hot, cooked rice.


Sauce: the sauce thickens more quickly in the oven if it is simmered on the stovetop before using (which also helps prevent over cooking the chicken). 
Chili Garlic Sauce: add more or less chili garlic sauce to taste depending on how spicy you want the finished dish. As written, it is mildly spicy for our family. Different brands of chili garlic sauce may vary in heat, so adjust accordingly.
Serving: 1 serving, Calories: 289kcal, Carbohydrates: 26g, Protein: 25g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 88mg, Sodium: 616mg, Fiber: 0.4g, Sugar: 20g

Recipe Source: from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe (inspired by a recipe from my cousin-in-law Tami, by way of Aunt Marilyn – I adjusted just about everything including cooking method so it is baked, not fried, and adjusting ingredient quantities including decreasing the sugar significantly)