Chicken and Broccoli recipe that tastes better than Chinese takeout made with pantry friendly ingredients on your table in 30 minutes!
This Chinese Chicken and Broccoli is a QUICK and easy recipe loaded with juicy chicken and crisp-tender broccoli enveloped in a savory garlic, ginger stir fry sauce complimented by hot steaming rice (or go low carb with cauliflower rice). This Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry utilizes the easy restaurant velveting technique to produce smooth, tender, melt-in-your-mouth chicken you will have to taste to believe! It is made with pantry friendly ingredients and a large skillet instead of a wok so anyone can make this fakeout takeout any time. And you are going to want to make this healthy, versatile, filling, satisfyingly Chicken and Broccoli recipe ALL the time!
CHICKEN BROCCOLI RECIPE
Who else loves a good stir fry? From my Sweet and Sour Chicken Stir Fry, Honey Coconut Chicken Stir Fry, Hoisin Chicken Stir Fry, Mongolian Beef, Kung Pao Shrimp and on and on, I am a huge fan of these easy skillet dinners – you just can’t beat your protein and veggies all cooked in one pan smothered in tantalizing sauce!
Some stir fries require more prep/marinating time than others or a quick breading, but this Chicken and Broccoli recipe can be on your table in just over 30 minutes! It requires 15 minutes of marinating which is when you prep your broccoli, garlic and ginger and only a 10-minute cook time. It is simple, quick, easy, healthy and most importantly, it is CRAZY GOOD! I guarantee you will not find a better tasting Chicken and Broccoli recipe!
The sauce is based off of my reader favorite Beef and Broccoli recipe with hundreds of rave reviews and the velveting technique/marinade is based off of my Chinese Chicken Stir Fry. The two unite to create the juiciest chicken and most jaw dropping sauce AKA the BEST Chicken and Broccoli recipe!
REASONS TO LOVE CHICKEN BROCCOLI STIR FRY:
- Family friendly: chicken, broccoli and hot steaming rice slathered in an intoxicating sauce AKA everyone’s new favorite way to eat broccoli!
- QUICK and easy: chop your chicken, marinate while you prep your broccoli and whisk your sauce together then cook! When its “go” time, your dinner will go from stove to mouth in 10 minutes!
- Pantry friendly ingredients: this Chicken and Broccoli recipe actually came about because I wanted to make a recipe with ingredients I already had on hand – and if you do much Asian cooking, you will easily have all of the ingredients. If you don’t, all of the ingredients are easy to find at your local grocery store.
- Customizable: swap the chicken for shrimp, pork or beef and use whatever veggies you have on hand; add more or less heat, add any variety of CRUNCH such as peanuts, cashews or water chestnuts. Serve over rice, zoodles, or ramen, or even in lettuce wraps.
- FLAVOR! the sauce is bursting with aromatic garlic and ginger along with oyster sauce, chicken broth, and Asian chili sauce for a rich, slightly sweet, mostly savory, addictive sauce that envelops every nook and cranny of the chicken and broccoli.
- JUICY and so TENDER: I’ve included a simple velveting technique for the chicken that will leave you speechless! We’re talking SO tender, juicy and moist – you will never go back – and it only take minutes!
Now, I’m going to break down this Chinese Chicken and Broccoli recipe and try and answer all your questions as well as offer some tips and tricks. You can use my “jump to recipe” button at the top of the page to skip straight to the recipe.
WHAT CHICKEN IS BEST FOR CHICKEN AND BROCCOLI STIR FRY?
You can use either chicken breasts or chicken thighs for this Chicken and Broccoli Stir fry recipe and both will emerge tender due to the velveting technique (more on velveting below).
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts: are leaner than chicken thighs but still emerge buttery tender from the velveting. I always use chicken breasts + velveting and I am never disappointed. It is what I have used and shown in these photos.
- Boneless skinless chicken thighs: are dark meat and therefore inherently juicier and hard to overcook or dry out or overcook. Thighs are the best option if you want to skip the velveting but I recommend velveting either way because it infuses the chicken with tons of flavor.
- Can I use different Protein? Looking beyond poultry, try out cubed tofu, pork or shrimp. If using shrimp, add it at the end of cooking because shrimp will get rubbery if overcooked.
HOW DO YOU MAKE CHINESE CHICKEN & BROCCOLI TENDER?
Chinese Chicken and Broccoli boasts only three stars- the chicken, the broccoli and the sauce – so the chicken better be fabulous! And this chicken is fabulous.
If you have wondered how Chinese restaurants attain such smooth, tender chicken, it is through a simple process called velveting. There are a few different techniques, but I opt for the easiest one using baking soda. You can taste the textural difference (but not the baking soda)!
Essentially, the chicken is coated in baking soda, along with our other marinade ingredients of soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, Asian chili sauce and cornstarch which protects it from the high heat of stir frying. The baking soda tenderizes the chicken by breaking down the chicken fibers so the chicken emerges softer on the inside like “velvet” – hence the name.
And the chicken lives up to its name. You will be AMAZED at how velvety tender the chicken is – just like your favorite takeout! The best part is this restaurant worthy chicken takes just a couple minutes to toss the ingredients together and then you let them rest while you chop up your veggies.
This easy velveting technique can be used in all your favorite Chinese Chicken recipes – even the ones with breading; instead, skip the breading and add whatever seasonings were in the breading to the velveting mixture. This allows you to enjoy the intoxicating sauces without the hassle of breading. Try it on my General Tso’s Chicken, Cashew Chicken Stir Fry, or Honey Lemon Chicken.
Ingredients for CHICKEN & BROCCOLI SAUCE
The BEST Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry needs the best sauce! This sauce is savory, salty, rich, gingery, garlicy and as spicy as spicy as you want it with plenty of umami. It’s made with chicken broth, oyster sauce, Japanese rice wine, brown sugar, Asian chili sauce, sesame oil, pepper and cornstarch. Once you have everything stocked (if you don’t already), you’ll be ready to make this Chinese Chicken and Broccoli recipe at a moment’s notice – AND all of my other Asian recipes!
- chicken broth: use low sodium chicken broth so you can control the salt level. You can also use vegetable broth but chicken broth is more flavorful. Please DO NOT use water as I’ve tried this and will leave you with sad, wanting results.
- oyster sauce: is a necessity in stir fry recipes. It adds that extra punch of flavor that takeout sauces have and will elevate your Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry to new heights. Oyster sauce is a thick, brown sauce with a balance between sweet and salty with an earthy undertone, due to the oyster extracts. You can find oyster sauce in the Asian aisle of any supermarket for only a few dollars. Please use QUALITY oyster sauce such as Lee Kum Kee or Kikkoman. You truly can taste the difference and will be sorely disappointed with less quality brands.
- soy sauce: is used in the marinade. Use low sodium soy sauce or your chicken stir fry will be too salty.
- brown sugar: adds just a little adds sweetness to balance the oyster sauce. You may need more or less depending on personal taste.
- rice wine: should become a pantry staple if you do much Asian cooking. I use it in almost all of my Asian Recipes from my Beef Bulgogi to my Mongolian Chicken and Sesame Noodles. Rice wine is NOT rice vinegar- DO NOT switch them out. Rice wine adds a sweetness and depth of flavor; rice vinegar, on the other hand, will add an acidic flavor.
- Asian chili sauce: use your favorite chili sauce like Sambal Oelek or sriracha. Use as much or as little as you like. We personally love heat and think chili sauce elevates the Chicken and Broccoli recipe to another dimension of deliciousness.
- sesame oil: a “secret ingredient” that adds an irresistible, subtle nutty flavor.
- cornstarch: helps thicken the sauce to a glossy, luscious consistency without a raw flour taste.
Where do I Buy Rice Wine?
I use “Kikkoman Aji-Mirin: Sweet Cooking Rice Seasoning” which is commonly found in the Asian section of most grocery stores or you can Amazon it. I highly suggest you google image before you head off to the grocery store so you know exactly what you are looking for. The best substitute for rice wine is pale dry sherry.
WHAT AROMATICS FOR CHICKEN AND BROCCOLI RECIPE?
This Chicken and Broccoli recipe relies heavily on the aromatics (garlic, and ginger) for flavor. So, while the broccoli might be flexible, the aromatics are not. They are the quintessential ingredients to flavor the entire stir fry. That being said, you can use powders if you’re in a bind.
- Garlic pro tip. Purchase the pre-bagged, already peeled garlic to save time. They are actually less expensive than whole garlic cloves (at least when I did the math).
- Garlic Use more or less garlic depending on your garlic love. You may substitute the fresh garlic with 1 teaspoon garlic powder whisked directly into the sauce.
- Ginger pro tip: I like to freeze ginger so it’s always at my fingertips. To freeze ginger: grate it, spread it by the teaspoon or tablespoon on parchment paper and flash freeze until solid, about 1 hour. Transfer to an airtight container or plastic bag for up to 6 months. You can add frozen ginger directly to your stir fry. You can also grate frozen garlic if you have a quality microplaner.
- Ginger. Adds a warm spicy, almost pepper taste. You may substitute the fresh garlic with 1 teaspoon ginger powder whisked directly into the sauce.
IS CHINESE CHICKEN AND BROCCOLI GLUTEN FREE?
As written, this Chinese Chicken and Broccoli recipe is not gluten free – but almost! To make gluten free, use gluten free soy sauce or tamari. You will also want to double check that your oyster sauce and chili sauce are gluten free. The rest of the ingredients are gluten free.
HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN AND BROCCOLI STIR FRY
This Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry is recipe is very simple but does require a few, easy steps. Depending on how long you marinate the chicken, you can have dinner on the table in just over 30 minutes. Here’s how:
STEP 1: MARINATE CHICKEN
- The marinade serves two purposes – it infuses the chicken with flavor and produces the astonishing velveting effect. Your chicken breasts will emerge silkier and juicier than even chicken thighs – with less fat!
- The velveting process is simple – simply whisk all of the ingredients together in a large freezer bag.
- Add chicken and turn until evenly coated. Let sit at room temperature while you prep your aromatics and broccoli; preferable 30 minutes, but whatever you have time for is fine.
STEP 2: MAKE SAUCE
- While the chicken is resting, whisk chicken broth, oyster sauce, brown sugar, rice wine, sesame oil, cornstarch, and Asian chili sauce together in a medium bowl; set aside.
STEP 3: STIR FRY CHICKEN
- It is important to cook the chicken first because as it browns in the skillet, it creates a layer of flavor that will be scooped up by the broccoli.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pan or wok over medium-high heat.
- Once very hot, add chicken and stir fry until golden. You can achieve more seared chicken if you let it cook undistributed in a single layer for a minute before proceeding to stir fry.
- The chicken does not need to be cooked all the way through because it will finish cooking in the stir fry sauce. Remove chicken to a plate.
STEP 4: STIR FRY BROCCOLI
- To the now empty skillet, heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil/vegetable oil until very hot and sizzling. Add the broccoli and stir fry for 30 seconds. Add water, garlic and ginger and stir fry one minute. Now, not only is our chicken infused with flavor but our broccoli is as well!
STEP 5: COMBINE
- Return the chicken to the skillet. Whisk the sauce to recombine then add to the skillet.
- Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thickened, chicken is cooked through, and broccoli reaches desired tenderness, about 1-2 minutes.
- Now dive into the best Chinese Chicken and Broccoli recipe you’ve ever tasted!
TIPS AND TRICKS FOR THE BEST CHICKEN AND BROCCOLI
- Prep first. While your chicken is marinating, prep your broccoli, garlic, ginger and sauce. You want everything ready before you start cooking because the actually stir frying takes just a few minutes.
- Don’t chop chicken to small. The chicken should be chopped 1-2-inches thick, erroring on the side of larger so that it doesn’t overcook and dry out.
- Swap veggies. You can substitute the broccoli with your other favorites or you can swap some of the broccoli with other veggies.
- Quality oyster sauce. Use QUALITY oyster sauce like Lee Kum Kee or Kikkoman because you can literally taste the difference.
- Hot but not too hot skillet. Your pan should be hot enough so that the chicken sizzles but the pan shouldn’t be so hot that it smokes excessively once you add the oil. If the pan is smoking hot, remove it from heat, let it cool slightly then return to heat.
- Use neutral oil. You can substitute vegetable oil with another neutral oil but not flavorful oil like olive oil.
- Don’t overcook chicken. For the juiciest chicken, don’t overcook! Brown it in the skillet but let it finish cooking in the sauce.
- Don’t overcook broccoli. Take care not to over-cook the broccoli because it will continue to cook in the sauce. It is better to under-cook when stir frying then over-cook.
- Add heat. Customize the heat with additional sriracha or chili sauce. If the Chicken and Broccoli feels like it’s missing something, it is probably heat.
HOW DO I THICKEN THE SAUCE?
The cornstarch in the Chicken and Broccoli Sauce will thicken as it simmers with the broccoli. If you still would like a thicker sauce, then just keep simmering until it reaches desired consistency.
HOW DO I THIN THE SAUCE?
Your Sauce will become thicker the longer it is simmers. If it simmers to the point of too thick, don’t worry! It is easy to thin by whisking in additional chicken broth.
HOW DO I STORE SAUCE?
The Sauce can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container or mason jar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Shake it up or whisk it to recombine before using.
The fantastic thing about chicken stir fry sauce (aside from enlivening your entire stir fry) is that it can be whisked or shaken together in minutes, stored for weeks, then just thrown into the skillet when you’re ready to cook!
Chicken and Broccoli Recipe Variations
While this Chicken and Broccoli recipe is just right for us, you can adjust it to make it just right for YOU and your family’s personal tastes.
- Sweeten it up: with additional brown sugar or swap the sugar for honey.
- Add sweet heat: with Asian sweet chili sauce.
- Spice it up: add additional Asian chili sauce to taste.
- Add herbs such as Thai basil, coriander or cilantro.
- Amp up the garlic and/or ginger: for a stronger punch of flavor.
- Swap veggies: with your favorites or you can combine the broccoli with other veggies.
- Add crunch: with peanuts or cashews; take care to purchase raw, unsalted nuts so your Chicken and Broccoli isn’t too salty. To elevate your cashews or peanuts, dry roast them in a skillet until toasted- YUM!
- Water chestnuts: are delightfully crunchy and easy to find at any grocery store.
- Sesame seeds: add a nutty sesame flavor. Take care to use toasted sesame seeds or toast them yourself.
- Fruit: pineapple, Mandarin oranges or mangos add a juicy, fresh, sweet dimension.They are the sweet ying to the umami yang – just think teriyaki chicken and pineapple. If you’re intimidated by choosing or cutting mangos, check out this post here. For the oranges, fresh oranges hold together better but canned or super convenient.
- Ramen: stir in some cooked ramen directly into the stir fry instead of serving over rice.
WHAT VEGETABLES CAN I ADD?
This Chicken and Broccoli recipe is delectable in its simplicity or you can mix and match the veggies based on what’s in your fridge, your favorites, what’s in season or what’s on sale. You will want to equally swap the broccoli for the other veggies to maintain the veggie/sauce ratio. Here are some great vegetables for stir fries:
- Bell Peppers
- Snow Peas
- Snap Peas
- Baby corn
- Bean sprouts
- Cabbage (green or red)
- Bok choy
WHAT DO YOU EAT WITH CHICKEN AND BROCCOLI STIR FRY?
Traditionally, Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry is served with rice to soak up all the sauce and for a neutral textural component because sauce is SO flavorful.
- Rice. I like jasmine rice or brown rice but any rice will work. Just pop the rice in your rice cooker for a hands-off, easy side. You can also use microwave rice pouches if you’re making a serving for one or meal prep.
- Low carb. Cauliflower rice, quinoa or a blend of brown rice and any of the aforementioned options. You can also use low carb noodles such as zoodles or spaghetti squash.
- Noodles. Ramen, soba noodles, rice noodles or even linguine are a fun way to mix things up!
WHAT SIDES DO YOU SERVE WITH CHINESE CHICKEN AND BROCCOLI?
In addition to rice, you can serve your Chinese Chicken Broccoli with appetizers, soup, salad and/or fruit:
- Appetizers: You can turn Chinese Chicken and Broccoli into a feast by pairing it with Chinese appetizers such as Crab Rangoons, Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Pineapple Cream Cheese Wontons, Sesame Chicken Egg Rolls, Sweet and Sour Chicken Egg Rolls or Chinese Chicken Wings. It is also delicious with potstickers, even though they are technically Japanese and not Chinese.
- Soup: Let the Chinese feast continue with soup! I love to warm up to Egg Drop Soup which is SUPER easy and always a sultry, satisfying favorite.
- Salad: This Chicken and Broccoli recipe pairs wonderfully with a fresh, crunchy salad such as Crunchy Asian Salad, Chinese Salad, or Asian Pineapple Salad.
- Fruit: fresh fruit such as chopped pineapple is always an easy, welcome sweet stir fry side. Grilled Pineapple, Summer Fruit Salad, Perfect Fruit Salad, Creamy Grape Salad, and Pina Colada Fruit Salad are also fantastic.
HOW TO STORE CHINESE CHICKEN AND BROCCOLI
This easy Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry reheats wonderfully for lunches or dinners, just take care to not overcook the broccoli initially.
- How to store: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- How to reheat in microwave: transfer small portions to a microwave safe dish, heat for one minute, stir then continue to heat at 30 second intervals.
- How to reheat on the stove: For larger portions, rewarm gently in a large skillet, stirring often.
CAN I FREEZE CHICKEN & Broccoli RECIPE?
Yes, this Chicken and Broccoli recipe freezes much better than traditional stir fries due to the broccoli. To freeze:
- Let the stir fry cool completely.
- Transfer to an airtight container or plastic freezer bag and squeeze out any excess air.
- Label and freeze for 2 to 3 months.
- Defrost in the refrigerator then reheat per above instructions.
CAN I PREPARE Chinese CHICKEN and Broccoli AHEAD OF TIME?
Yes! You can prep all of the ingredients ahead of time so this Chinese Chicken and Broccoli literally comes together in minutes:
- Whisk the sauce ingredients together and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator; whisk again before using.
- Add the velveting ingredients to a large Ziploc bag.
- Chop chicken and store in a separate container in the refrigerator.
- Chop the broccoli, garlic and ginger and store in separate baggies/containers in the refrigerator.
- Within the next 48 hours, proceed with the recipe without any of the prep!
IS CHICKEN AND BROCCOLI RECIPE HEALTHY?
This Chicken and Broccoli recipe is loaded with nutritious protein and broccoli and uses a relatively small amount of oil because it’s stir fried and not deep fried.
The chicken is a lean protein which means it is low in fat which can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle and even lose weight all while helping to sustain your muscles. Chicken is also full of calcium and phosphorous which helps strengthen your bones and reduce the risk of arthritis.
This stir fry recipe also boasts an abundance of broccoli which is free of cholesterol and provide many of vitamins and minerals. Just some of the nutrients in fresh broccoli include vitamins K & C, potassium, folate and dietary fiber. Diets rich in potassium may help to maintain healthy blood pressure and dietary fiber helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects the body from damaging free radicals. It also builds collagen, which forms body tissue and bone, and helps cuts and wounds heal.
To make your chicken stir fry even healthier:
- Add more veggies or substitute some chicken for vegetables. The more vegetables, the better!
- Use chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs.
- Serve over cauliflower rice, quinoa, or zucchini noodles instead of rice.
LOOKING FOR MORE CHINESE RECIPES?
If you love Chinese fakeout takeout, be sure to check out my:
Helpful Tools for this recipe:
- Garlic press: I use this every single day! It is the ultimate garlic press- it is easy-to-use, easy-to-clean and minces garlic with one squeeze. Unlike other presses, this garlic press has beveled holes that finely cut the clove rather than bruising it, bringing out the best flavor.
- Zester/microplaner: cooking is made 100X easier when you have the right tools for the job! This zester is razor-sharp and makes grating everything a snap from ginger, lemons, limes, Parmesan, nutmeg and chocolate.
- Rice Cooker: I LOVE my rice cooker and use it all the time – it is pretty much the only way I make rice. Many instant pots have built in rice cookers these days, but if you’re not ready for that big-ticket item, then this reliable rice cooker will always get the job done without any babysitting!
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