Apricot Chicken

Apricot Chicken is addictively sticky, sweet and tangy with a kick – on your table in 30 minutes!

This Apricot Chicken recipe is a quick and easy weeknight dinner home run!  It boasts everything you love in one bite with its juicy, tender, lightly breaded chicken and sensationally sticky, sweet, tangy and as spicy-as-you-like-it sauce.  Basically, you’ll be licking your plate. But equally impressive is how simple this recipe is to make thanks to my quick and easy breading technique that leaves you with one pan to wash! This Apricot Chicken is also healthier, cooked in minimal oil in a nonstick skillet – winning!  Serve this tasty chicken recipe with rice, low carb cauliflower rice or mashed potatoes and roasted broccoli for a dinner your whole family will beg you to make again and again!

30 minute chicken dinners exploding with flavor is where it is at. Some of our favorites include Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry, Sweet Fire Chicken, Chicken Stir Fry and Kung Pao Chicken.

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how to make apricot chicken video

top view of apricot chicken recipe in a skillet garnished by green onions

apricot CHICKEN RECIPE

While I’ve enjoyed sharing football and Valentine’s Day recipes like my loaded nachos and cannoli dip these past few weeks, I am excited to get back to real life, every day recipes like this Apricot Chicken!   

This recipe is the epitome of no boring chicken and is guaranteed to become a repeat favorite. In fact, Patrick declared it in his top 20, which is huge seeing as I have thousands of recipes on my site. Here’s why you’ll love it too:

The sticky, slightly spicy, sweet and tangy, apricot sauce is everything.  The sauce is inspired by my Honey Buffalo Meatballs recipe which everyone adores but I’ve swapped some of the sugar for additional apricot preserves to really bring the fruity flavor and Asian sweet chili sauce for its sweet, spicy, garlicky goodness. Add some spicy Frank’s hot sauce, tangy balsamic vinegar and umami forward soy and you have a dynamic sauce that tastes like a million bucks.

It’s pan fried without all the fat!   The chicken is tossed in flour and cornstarch for maximum crispiness then cooked in a nonstick skillet which requires minimal oil.  Patrick said I should make chicken like this every night!

The crust carries the flavor.  The bonus of breading the chicken, aside from the pleasing texture is that the crust soaks up the jammy apricot sauce so each bite is brimming with its sweet and spicy glory.

Best of all, this Apricot Chicken recipe can be on your table in 30 minutes with only one pan to wash!  I know some of us recoil when we hear the word “breaded chicken” because it sounds like a hassle.  But this recipe is SO EASY!  No marinade required, no dirtying your hands, and no multiple breading bowls. Simply combine the eggs and chicken in one bag then toss it with flour, cornstarch and seasonings in a second bag – voila!  And bonus, the sauce gets whisked together directly in the skillet so the only pan you have to wash is the chicken skillet!    

You can make this pantry friendly, restaurant worthy, easy chicken dinner any night of the week.  This recipe is made with kitchen staples (or soon to be staples).  Once you stock them once, you can make this Apricot Chicken recipe at a moment’s notice!

up closer of a scoop of apricot chicken recipe in a skillet showing how sticky the sauce is

recipe ingredients

The star of this Apricot Chicken recipe is the sauce made with pantry staples in perfect proportion. Each ingredient plays a specific role in weaving the sticky, sweet and tangy tapestry.  You will need:

  • Chicken:  1 ½ pounds chicken breasts cut into 1-inch pieces.  This might sound like a lot of chicken, but it goes down SO easily! You are welcome to use chicken thighs if you prefer.
  • Apricot preserves: adds the fruity, multi-dimensional sweetness and cooks down so extra sticky!  You’ll love how it coats and clings to the chicken, permeating every bite with its deliciousness.
  • Asian sweet chili sauceis sweet and spicy.  It is made with red chilies, onion, garlic, brown sugar and fish sauce for a one stop complex flavor stop.  It can be found in the Asian section of your grocery store.  It is sometimes labeled “Thai Sweet Chili Sauce.” Please do not confuse it with Asian Chili sauce/paste without the “sweet” – or your mouth will be on fire! 
  • Balsamic vinegar:  adds the needed tanginess to cut through the sweet apricot preserves.
  • Soy sauce: grounds the sauce with its salty depth. Use low sodium so your recipe isn’t too salty.
  • Hot sauce: is an absolute must to cut through the sweetness of the apricot preserves and sweet chili sauce.  I use Frank’s Red Hot Original Sauce, but I’m sure any hot sauce would work, just start with less and add more to taste.
  • Cornstarch: helps thicken the sauce to a glossy, sticky consistency.

HOW TO MAKE APRICOT CHICKEN

Now for the main event! This Apricot Chicken recipe is made in four easy steps: 1) bread the chicken, 2) cook the chicken, 3) simmer the sauce, 4) toss chicken with the sauce.  Let’s take a closer look (full recipe with measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of the post):

  • Step 1:  Bread the chicken.  This is the absolute quickest breaded chicken you will ever make!  First, combine the chopped chicken and eggs in a freezer bag and turn to coat.  Second, add the flour, cornstarch, and seasonings to a separate large freezer bag.  Remove chicken from the eggs, dab off any excess and add the chicken to the flour bag. Give it a good shake and all your chicken will be coated in minutes – without any gummy hands!
a collage showing how to make apricot chicken recipe by adding chicken and eggs to a bag, then whisking flour and seasonings together in a separate bag then tossing the chicken with the flour breading in the bag
  • Step 2:  Lightly pan fry the chicken.  Even though this method uses minimal oil, you will be amazed at how crispy it gets!  Simply heat some oil in a nonstick skillet, and work in two batches until the chicken is lightly browned.  Remove the chicken from the skillet so it’s ready for the sauce.
showing how to make apricot chicken recipe by cooking chicken in a nonstick skillet until crispy and golden
  • Step 3:  Simmer the sauce. All of the sauce ingredients are whisked together directly in the skillet, (with the exception of combining the soy sauce and cornstarch) so you don’t have to dirty another dish!   I just whisk the soy sauce cornstarch in the measuring cup I used for the apricot preserves.  Whisk all the ingredients together then simmer for a couple minutes while it becomes increasingly sticky.
a collage showing how to make apricot chicken recipe by adding apricot preserves, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar to a nonstick skillet then simmering until thick and sticky
  • Step 4:  Combine the chicken and the sauce. Add the chicken to the sauce and turn until every nook and cranny is coated in the sticky, sweet and spicy sauce. 
showing how to make apricot chicken recipe by tossing the crispy cooked chicken with the apricot sauce
  • Step 5: Dig in! Garnish with green onions if you like and serve over a bed of rice or potatoes to soak up all that jammy sauce.
showing how to make apricot chicken by coating in in apricot sauce in a skillet and garnishing with green onions

Do I have to bread the chicken?

The breading not only creates a palate pleasing texture with its crunch giving way to tender chicken, it also helps insulate the chicken from the heat, making it extra juicy. The light breading also is a vehicle for the apricot sauce to cling to so it can fully envelop the chicken, ensuring each bite is laden with flavor. Of course, you can forgo the breading, but the chicken will be missing that dynamic flavor and texture which makes it extra magical.  

TIPS AND TRICKS FOR apricot chicken RECIPE

This Apricot Chicken recipe is very simple to make, but there are some helpful tips and tricks for efficiency and flavor:

  • Don’t chop the chicken too small.  The chicken should be chopped 1” thick, erroring on the side of larger.  Larger pieces are harder to overcook and dry out while the exterior gets nice and crispy.
  • Thoroughly bread the chicken.  Tossing the chicken in the breading bag does a great job at coating the chicken, but I like some extra insurance and press the breading into the chicken with my hands from the outside of the bag.  If you notice any of the chicken pieces aren’t fully coated as you remove them from the breading, just dunk them in the breading at the bottom of the bag, there should be plenty.
  • Remove excess egg.  It is important to remove excess egg so the flour breading bag doesn’t become a goopy mess. The quickest way I’ve found to do this is to plop the chicken on a wad of paper towels before adding the chicken to the flour mixture, this way you’re not dabbing individual pieces of chicken.  
  • Remove excess flour.  Give the chicken a good shake or place it in a strainer after dredging to help shake off any excess flour.  Some loose flour is inevitable but you want to avoid most of it because these flour specks aren’t rotated like the chicken, so they are likely to burn in the skillet.
  • Use a nonstick skillet. The apricot sauce is STICKY and requires a nonstick skillet or it will glue to the bottom of your pan.  Additionally, the chicken is cooked in minimal oil which requires a nonstick skillet unless more oil is used, or it will also stick to the pan.
  • Cook the chicken in batches. Give the chicken some space in the pan so the pieces have room to crisp up instead of steam.  
  • Don’t overcook the chicken.  Overcooked chicken is dry chicken!  You might be surprised it takes less time than you think to cook.  Check the smallest piece of chicken with an instant read thermometer (should read 160 degrees F and will reach 165 with carryover from the sauce) or slice the smallest piece of chicken open to check for doneness once the exterior is golden brown.  
  • Serve immediately. The chicken begins crispy but will become softer the longer it sits and soaks up the glorious sauce. To prevent soggy chicken, serve immediately or only add the chicken to the sauce when everyone is at the dinner table.
up close  of scooping up apricot chicken showing the juicy, plump chicken coated in sauce

possible recipe VARIATIONS:

If this recipe isn’t exactly how you want it, MAKE it how you want it!  It is easy to customize so many ways:

  • Customize the sauce: The sauce is perfect for us, but you may find you like it sweeter, tangier, or spicier.  Taste the sauce after it has simmered and the flavors concentrated, then adjust it how you like.  Sweeten it up with granulated sugar or add sweet heat with Asian Sweet Chili Sauce, make it tangier with additional balsamic vinegar or spicier with additional hot sauce. Just keep a note of your adjustments then whip out the perfect apricot sauce for next time.  
  • Try a different preserve. I have not experimented with this, but I imagine different flavored preserves such as apricot-pineapple, pineapple, peach, orange, blackberry, etc. would all be tasty.
  • Add vegetables:  Feel free to reduce the chicken to 1 pound then add some stir fried vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, carrots, bell peppers, snap peas, mushrooms, etc.
  • Other add-ins:  Pineapple, mandarin oranges, mangos, cashews, peanuts, chestnuts, sesame seeds, etc. to mix it up.
  • Make it gluten free:  Use gluten free flour, gluten free soy sauce or tamari and double check that your Asian sweet chili sauce and hot sauce are gluten free.
  • Lightly dredge the chicken:  You can skip the egg and cornstarch and simply toss the chicken in the flour and seasonings for a light coating. It won’t get as crispy but it will help seal in juices, create a crust of flavor and give the sauce something to cling to.  
  • Stir fry the chicken:  I highly recommend “velveting” the chicken if stir frying to create extra juicy, tender “velvety” chicken.  Skip the breading and instead toss the chicken with 2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and 1 teaspoon baking soda in a large freezer bag or bowl. Let the chicken rest for 15-30 minutes (no more or it can become mushy).
  • Bake the chicken:  Swap the cornstarch with an equal amount of flour in the breading for a total of ¾ cup flour. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly spray with cooking spray for easy cleanup.  Let the baking sheet preheat with the oven so it’s nice and hot before adding the chicken.  Carefully line the chicken an even layer on the hot baking sheet and spray generously with cooking spray. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes then move the baking sheet about 8″ away from broiler and broil until crispy, watching closely so the chicken doesn’t burn (about 2-4 minutes). Flip chicken pieces over and broil another 2-3 minutes, or until crispy if desired.

WHAT DO YOU SERVE WITH apricot CHICKEN?

This Apricot Chicken is somewhat of an anomaly in that yes, it can be treated like an Asian recipe because the chicken is breaded but it also can be treated simply as a sweet and tangy chicken recipe without a country that can be served with pretty much anything.  Either way, you’ll want a neutral side such as rice or potatoes because it is exploding with flavor, along with a side of veggies or a salad.  Here are some serving ideas:

top view of apricot shrimp in a bowl with broccoli and rice showing how to serve it

prep AHEAD apricot chicken

Even though this recipe is easy to make, you can still prepare it in stages if that works best for you:

  • The sauce: Whisk the sauce ingredients together but do not simmer/thicken. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 
  • The chicken: Chop the chicken and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
  • Breading:  Whisk the flour breading ingredients together in a Ziploc freezer bag.  You can store the breading for weeks or proceed to dredge chicken then refrigerate.
  • Dredge chicken:  Prepare chicken through dredging, then transfer it to a parchment paper lined baking sheet in a single layer. Cover the chicken tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  Let the chicken sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before cooking.  

HOW TO STORE and reheat

This Apricot Chicken recipe is best served fresh because it is at peak crispiness, sauciness and juiciness.  For leftovers:

  • How to store: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • Reheating in microwave:  Take care not to overcook the chicken or it can become rubbery in the microwave.  Microwave for one minute then at 20 second intervals until warmed through.  
  • How to reheat on the stove:  Leftovers are best reheated on the stove, even if they are small portions.  To reheat, heat a drizzle of oil over medium heat.  Once hot, add the chicken, stirring occasionally until warmed through. 

CAN I FREEZE apricot chicken?

If you are making this recipe specifically to freeze, then I recommend freezing the chicken and sauce separately. 

TO FREEZE CHICKEN WITHOUT SAUCE:

  1. Cook chicken according to directions then let cool to room temperature.
  2. Space chicken apart on a baking sheet then transfer to the freezer.  Flash freeze for 1-2 hours or until the chicken is solid. This prevents the chicken from clumping together.
  3. Add chicken to a freezer size bag, squeeze out excess air and label. Add the apricot sauce to a separate freezer safe, airtight container.
  4. Freeze for up to 3 months.
  5. When ready to use, thaw chicken and sauce in the refrigerator overnight then reheat in a nonstick skillet.

TO FREEZE CHICKEN IN apricot sauce:

  1. Let the dish cool completely.
  2. Transfer to a large freezer size bag or divide the dish into smaller bags or airtight container(s).
  3. Press air out of the freezer bag, seal, label and freeze for up to 3 months.
  4. When ready to eat, thaw in the refrigerator.
  5. Heat on the stove in a nonstick skillet until warmed through, adding a drizzle of water if needed to thin the sauce.
a bowl of apricot chicken with rice and broccoli showing what to serve with the recipe

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top view of apricot shrimp in a bowl with broccoli and rice showing how to serve it

Apricot Chicken

This Apricot Chicken recipe is a quick and easy weeknight dinner home run!  It boasts everything you love in one bite with its juicy, tender, lightly breaded chicken and sensationally sticky, sweet, tangy and as spicy-as-you-like-it sauce.  Basically, you’ll be licking your plate. But equally impressive is how simple this recipe is to make thanks to my quick and easy breading technique that leaves you with one pan to wash! This Apricot Chicken is also healthier, cooked in minimal oil in a nonstick skillet – winning!  Serve this tasty chicken recipe with rice, low carb cauliflower rice or mashed potatoes and roasted broccoli for a dinner your whole family will beg you to make again and again!
Servings: 4 -6 servings
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins

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Ingredients

CHICKEN AND BREADING

  • 1 ½ lbs. chicken breasts cut into 1" pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tsp EACH salt, garlic powder, onion powder
  • ½ tsp EACH ginger powder, paprika, pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive, canola or vegetable oil, plus more as needed

APRICOT SAUCE

Instructions

  • BREAD CHICKEN. Combine chicken and eggs in a freezer bag and turn to coat. In a separate large freezer bag, combine flour, cornstarch, and seasonings. Remove chicken and dab off excess egg with paper towels and add to flour bag. (To quickly remove excess egg, I plop the chicken on a wad of paper towels using a slotted spoon.) Shake chicken until well coated, pressing coating into chicken from outside of the bag.
  • COOK: Heat oil over medium-high heat in a NONSTICK skillet (medium if your stove runs hot). Working in two batches, shake off excess breading from chicken and add to the skillet in a single layer. Cook for about 4-6 minutes, or until cooked through, flipping halfway. Remove chicken to a paper towel lined plate. Add another drizzle of oil to the skillet if needed and repeat with remaining chicken. Remove chicken and wipe out skillet.
  • ADD SAUCE. Whisk the cornstarch with the soy sauce until completely smooth. Add to the skillet along with all of the Apricot Sauce ingredients. Bring to a simmer, stirring often until thickened, about 2 minutes.
  • COMBINE. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Garnish with green onions if desired. Serve immediately.

Video

Notes

HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT

This Apricot Chicken recipe is best served fresh because it is at peak crispiness, sauciness and juiciness.  For leftovers:
  • How to store: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • How to freeze:   Cook chicken according to directions then let cool to room temperature.  Space chicken apart on a baking sheet then transfer to the freezer.  Flash freeze for 1-2 hours or until the chicken is solid. This prevents the chicken from clumping together.  Add chicken to a freezer size bag, squeeze out excess air and label. Add the apricot sauce ingredients (don’t simmer) to a separate freezer safe, airtight container.   Freeze for up to 3 months.  When ready to use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Reheating in microwave:  Take care not to overcook the chicken or it can become rubbery in the microwave.  Microwave for one minute then at 20 second intervals until warmed through.  
  • How to reheat on the stove:  Leftovers are best reheated on the stove, even if they are small portions.  To reheat, heat a drizzle of oil over medium heat.  Once hot, add the chicken, stirring occasionally until warmed through. 

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4 Comments

  1. Darice says

    VERY GOOD Jen. I added some stir fried bell pepper, onion and carrot to stir in with the chicken.

    Husband asked if I made my own sauce and what was in it, Delicious I certainly will be making again. Your recipes are always creative and SPOT ON. Thank you.

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment Darice! I’m so pleased this recipe will be on repeat and I love your addition of all those veggies!

  2. Eli says

    I don’t often review recipes. The flavor in this sauce blew my mind. Absolutely delicious. Definitely keeping this one in the monthly rotation. Threw in some wilted spinach and served over rice. Next time I’ll try adding broccoli and maybe some roasted peanuts.

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much for the glowing review Eli, I’m so pleased you loved the sauce so much! Your additions sounds perfect – yum!

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