Empress Chicken (Chicken Stir Fry)

Empress chicken in a white bowl with chop sticks balancing on the bowl.

Looking for a quick and easy chicken stir fry recipe? This delicious Empress Chicken recipe fits the bill. Juicy chicken is tossed in a sweet and savory stir fry sauce creating a velvety Asian-inspired dish. It’s as delicious as Yaki Chicken Udon

Serve over white rice (or even fried rice or instant pot sushi rice), noodles or vegetables. 

Photos showing all the ingredients needed to make Empress Chicken.

What Is Empress Chicken

Empress chicken is a chicken stir fry recipe going back generations, traditionally served to royalty. While there are different variations, the most common includes serving a whole chicken vs chicken pieces.

We’ve gone ahead and modernized this dish to make it a quick and easy chicken recipe for folks at home. This Chicken Empress recipe utilizes chicken breast (or chicken thighs) vs. cooking a whole chicken.  

Empress Chicken vs General Tso

Chinese Empress Chicken is similar to General Tso’s chicken, in that many of the ingredients overlap. Empress Chicken tends to be a bit spicier whereas General Tso’s is pretty sweet and tangy. Empress Chicken goes back for generations while General Tso’s is an American-Chinese cuisine. You can’t go wrong with either option.

Both pair well with Veggie Stir Fry.

Stir Fry Chicken in a white bowl. being picked up by chop sticks.

Velveting Chicken

This Empress Chicken Chinese recipe utilizes a process known as “velveting chicken”. It’s a key step in Chinese cooking so it’s not to be skipped. Essentially it’s coating the chicken in cornstarch and eggs before stir-frying to produce a juicy and silky textured chicken vs. tough and dry chicken.

Technically, the chicken is dredged in an entire wok full of oil, however that isn’t always an option when cooking Chinese food at home. Our version limits the amount of  oil, so you’ll still have the benefits of velveting the chicken without wasting a ton of time and resources.

We also use this technique to make Honey Walnut Shrimp and Hunan Beef.

Raw chicken coated with egg and cornstarch.

Recipe Tips

  • Do not use toasted sesame oil as it has a lower smoke point and can turn bitter.
  • This would be a great recipe to utilize Instant Pot Bone Broth. Use a chicken broth substitute if you need to.
  • This chicken stir fry recipe keeps in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
  • Do not overcrowd the pan. Work in batches to avoid brining down the temperature of the oil thereby creating soggy chicken. This is how close we keep the pieces when cooking.

Recipe Variations

Spicy Chicken Stir Fry

Like some heat? Add an extra 1/2- 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes to the sauce for an extra kick. 

Jalapeno Chicken Stir Fry

Throw in sliced jalapeños when you cook the garlic and chilis. 

Shrimp Stir Fry

Use a pound of peeled shrimp instead of chicken if shrimp recipes are your jam. No other edits are necessary, other than shaving the cook time down to about 3-4 minutes. Also consider making Hunan Shrimp or Chow Mei Fun.

Chicken and Shrimp Stir Fry

Throw in a half pound of peeled shrimp and cut down the chicken to 1 pound. Cook the chicken first and the second batch will be the shrimp as you’ll need to shave down the cook time to about 3-4 minutes.

Here’s a list of Substitutes for Red Pepper Flakes to read – any of these would work well here.

Pieces of cooked chicken coated in an stir fry sauce.

More Asian Recipes

Here are a few more popular Asian Recipes to check out:

Pad Woon Sen
Egg Drop Soup
Korean Beef Bulgogi
Instant Pot Chicken Adobo

Drink Recommendations

Red- Zinfandel, Lambrusco, Beaujolais or Pinot Noir.
White – Dry Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Riesling or Dry Sparkling.

Empress chicken in a white bowl with chop sticks balancing on the bowl.

Empress Chicken (Chicken Stir Fry)

Looking for a quick and easy chicken stir fry recipe? This delicious Empress Chicken recipe fits the bill. Juicy chicken is tossed in a sweet and savory stir fry sauce creating a velvety Asian-inspired dish. Serve over rice, noodles or vegetables. 
5 from 4 votes
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 People
Calories: 372kcal
Author: Darcey Olson
Cost: $10

Ingredients

SAUCE

  • tbsp Corn Starch
  • ¼ Cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 1 Cup Chicken Stock
  • 2 tbsp White Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • ½ tsp Grated Fresh Ginger

CHICKEN

  • Lb Boneless and Skinless Chicken Breast, Cubed ((*Note 1))
  • 1 Large Egg, Whisked
  • 3-4 tbsp Cornstarch
  • 3-4 tbsp Un-toasted Sesame Oil or Peanut Oil ((*Note 2))
  • 4 Dried Red Chili Flakes ((*Note 3))
  • 2-3 Garlic Cloves, Finely Minced

Garnish

  • 2 Green Onions, Thinly Sliced
  • Toasted Sesame Seeds

Instructions

SAUCE

  • Add the corn starch to a small mixing bowl and slowly whisk in the soy sauce, until the cornstarch is dissolved. Whisk in the chicken stock, vinegar, sugar and ginger until well combined. Set aside.

CHICKEN

  • Add the diced chicken to a large mixing bowl. Pour the whisked egg over the chicken and toss to evenly coat.
  • Sprinkle 3 tbsp of cornstarch over the chicken and toss to evenly coat (use more cornstarch if need be). If the cornstarch isn't sticking to the chicken, use your fingers to gently press down on the chicken so it sticks.
  • Pre-heat a large skillet or wok over high heat. Add 3 tbsp of oil. Add more if needed to coat the bottom of the pan. Add half the chicken and cook, stirring frequently, for 5-6 minutes (or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.) Transfer the chicken to a plate and repeat with the second batch of chicken.
  • Add the red chilis and garlic to the same skillet and cook for approx. 30 seconds, stirring frequently so neither burns.
  • Add the chicken back to the skillet and stir to combine.
  • Re-whisk the prepared sauce and pour it over the chicken. Gently fold the chicken into the sauce until all pieces are evenly coated and the sauce thickens, approx. 1-2 minutes.
  • Transfer to individual serving bowls and top with green onions and sesame seeds. Enjoy immediately.

Notes

Note 1 – Use chicken thighs if that’s what you have on-hand.
Note 2 – Do not use toasted sesame oil as it has a lower smoke point.
Note 3 – Omit the chilis if you’re sensitive to any heat. They really only lend flavor to the dish vs. heat but we know some peeps can still “feel” the heat.

Nutrition

Calories: 372kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 42g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 152mg | Sodium: 880mg | Potassium: 937mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 601IU | Vitamin C: 68mg | Calcium: 38mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @foodieandwine or tag #foodieandwine!

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