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Tasty boneless chicken thighs, covered in honey, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger, then oven-baked until golden brown. It’s the perfect dinner recipe because it’s easy to make.
The dish is ready in 45 minutes, and all you need to do is make the sauce, combine the ingredients and let the oven do the hard work.
Baking the chicken in the oven doesn’t dry it out, thanks to the sweet and savory soy marinade. It’s going to be tender, juicy with a sweet honey crust.
It sounds like the perfect meal for chicken lovers, right?
What’s best though is that this is a one-pan meal which makes feeding your family an easy task even if you’re very busy!
In this post we'll cover:
- 1 How to make the best honey soy sauce chicken
- 2 Oven-baked honey soy sauce chicken thighs recipe
- 3 What is honey soy sauce chicken?
- 4 Honey soy sauce chicken recipe variations
- 5 How to serve honey soy chicken and what to pair it with
- 6 Is honey soy chicken healthy?
How to make the best honey soy sauce chicken
Oven-baked honey soy sauce chicken thighs recipe
- 2 lbs boneless chicken thighs
- 5 tbsp honey
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- ¾ tsp minced ginger
- ½ tsp black pepper ground
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 425 F (218 C).
- Grab an 8x8 baking pan and line it with aluminum foil. For extra protection against sticky liquids, add two layers of tin foil.
- Grab a bowl and mix the honey, vegetable oil, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and black pepper. Whisk everything together until the sauce has a runny consistency.
- Remove any skin from the chicken thighs, add the salt, and place them in the baking pan.
- Pour the sauce on top of the chicken, then turn each piece around once to ensure the meat is evenly coated with sauce on both sides.
- Bake for 30 minutes uncovered. Flip the chicken halfway through to ensure even baking. In case the top of the chicken is browning too fast, cover with some tin foil and remove it later. The chicken’s internal temperature should be 165 F (70C), and that’s when you know it’s well-cooked and perfect for serving.
- After the chicken is cooked, remove it from the oven and take each piece out. Then take the sauce that’s leftover in the pan, and you can add some of it on top of each chicken thigh or use it as “gravy” for mashed potatoes.
- I recommend using a double layer of tin foil because the sauce is runny, and if it sticks to the edges or bottom of the pan, you’ll have a lot of scrubbing to do afterward.
- If you want extra brown and crispy meat, use the broiler for about 3-5 minutes.
- If you use chicken breast instead of thighs, reduce the cooking time by about 10 minutes, or else the meat is too dry and chewy.
- You have to cook the chicken at a high temperature to get that crispy brown crust. If you cook at lower temperatures, the sauce won’t stick to the chicken, and it’s not quite as tasty.
- Don’t use a larger pan than necessary because you want the sauce to be concentrated around the chicken, not running to the edge of the pan.
- The sauce is not supposed to be thick. Soy sauce and honey are sticky, but they don’t cause any thickening. The sauce will be runny, but once it bakes, it infuses the meat with tons of flavors. Don’t worry if you still have lots of runny liquid in the pan after the meat is cooked. Simply use the chicken sauce to coat the meat again or as a gravy for the side dish.
What is honey soy sauce chicken?
Honey soy chicken is a Chinese-inspired chicken recipe, usually made with dark thigh meat, covered in a sticky sauce made of soy sauce and honey.
To intensify the flavors, you add some minced garlic and ginger. The end result is a flavorful, tender chicken with sweet and savory flavors and a sticky mouthwatering texture.
The exact origin of this dish is unknown, but it seems like it has Cantonese influences. Soy chicken is very popular in mainland China and Hong Kong, where it’s a siu mei dish (spit-roasted).
In some parts, chicken wings are covered in soy sauce and honey, and in other whole chickens are basted and marinated in this yummy sauce.
These days, the most popular honey soy chicken is made with dark meat, cooked in a skillet or baked, and served with common lunch or dinner side dishes like rice, veggies, and salad.
Also check out these popular Japanese ramen side dishes to pair it with
Honey soy sauce chicken recipe variations
The alternative cooking method to oven-baking is searing the chicken thighs in a skillet. Searing also causes the chicken to ooze those delicious juices, and the dish tastes similar.
The advantage of baking the meat in the oven is the browned crust you can get from broiling.
Boneless chicken thighs are my favorite cuts of meat for this recipe. Since it’s boneless, it’s easy to eat, and the dark meat retains its tenderness.
You can also use bone-in chicken thighs and cook them for an additional 5-10 minutes to ensure the meat is well-cooked through.
Some people prefer the bone-in thighs because they claim it’s more flavorful. But the honey soy sauce is already full of amazing sweet and savory flavors, so the meat will taste as if it’s been marinated.
Chicken breast is another option because the breast is juicy and tender. Reduce the cooking time by about 10 minutes to avoid drying out the meat.
Breast meat is also leaner and has fewer calories, so it’s best for weight loss.
For the ultimate comfort food, use chicken wings. It makes them a great alternative to BBQ-flavored wings, and I recommend it for those of you who love Asian-style chicken wings.
The wings are sticky and brown and a perfect alternative to grilled BBQ wings.
I’ve found some recipes that use a couple of tablespoons of sake as part of the marinade and sauce.
The sake removes the chicken’s odors and also makes it more tender. If you’re using boneless thighs, though, this is optional.
How to serve honey soy chicken and what to pair it with
This is one of those dishes that pair well with Western and Asian side dishes. It’s versatile, and you can eat it with whatever you like.
The top side dish for honey soy chicken is white or fried rice.
Then, add a serving of steamed vegetables, especially broccoli, for a healthy and nutritious meal. In fact, steamed or stir-fried broccoli with sesame seeds is a typical side dish for Asian chicken recipes.
This delicious 10 minute Bok Choy in Oyster Sauce recipe is another great side dish for honey soy chicken.
People also like to add a healthy vegetable salad with a soy dressing. Coleslaw and pickled veggies are also tasty and nutritious.
Miso soup is another great food to have with honey soy chicken because the hot soup balances the sauce’s sticky texture and sweetness.
For those who prefer a Western-style meal, the chicken tastes great with a side of mashed potatoes topped with leftover juices from the chicken.
Baked potatoes can work too, and you can top each potato with a bit of sweet and savory sauce.
If you want to add a bit of color and garnish to the chicken, you can chop up two spring onions or scallions and garnish or sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds.
Another time tested classic: Teriyaki salmon recipe (delicious & healthy!) + variations and pairing tips
Is honey soy chicken healthy?
Because it’s a simple recipe with few ingredients, honey soy chicken is a pretty healthy meat dish.
One serving (without sides) has between 400-500 calories, depending on how much sauce you add and how fatty the chicken thighs are.
Therefore, it’s a great light meal for lunch and dinner. Plus, since we’re using honey instead of artificial sweeteners or other calorie-packed sauces, this dish is diet-friendly too.
If you want to make the dish healthier, you can use tamari soy sauce, which is gluten-free, or low-sodium soy sauce, which contains less salt.
Chicken thighs are an excellent source of protein and healthy fats.
Sometimes chicken thighs get a bad rep for being much fattier than the breast. But the only not-so-healthy part is the skin, so remove the skin, and the dish is totally healthy.
There really is no reason not to try this chicken recipe for dinner tonight.
It’s different from many other much more complex recipes, but it’s so tasty and juicy, you can pair it with whatever you want, and a healthy meal is only minutes away.
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Ever had trouble finding Japanese recipes that were easy to make?