Chef John's Caramel Chicken Recipe -
Chef John's Caramel Chicken Recipe
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How to Make Caramel Chicken
Try Chef John’s version of a wildly popular Vietnamese dish. See more
  • READY IN 40 mins

Chef John's Caramel Chicken

Recipe by  

"This stunning dish is an amazing combination of sweet, spicy, and salty flavors all sticking to succulent pieces of chicken."

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Ingredients Edit and Save

Original recipe makes 4 servings Change Servings
  • PREP

    20 mins
  • COOK

    20 mins

    40 mins


  1. Whisk brown sugar, water, fish sauce, rice vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger in a bowl until brown sugar is completely dissolved, about 1 minute. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil over high heat in a skillet. Stir in chicken.
  3. Pour 1/3 cup of the brown sugar mixture over chicken; cook and stir until the brown sugar mixture has a syrup-like consistency, 6 to 7 minutes.
  4. Pour in the remaining brown sugar mixture; cook until chicken is tender and no longer pink inside, about 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in in peanuts, jalapenos and green onion; cook until warmed through, 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Garnish with cilantro and serve.
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Reviews More Reviews

Most Helpful Positive Review
Apr 30, 2012

Just made this for dinner tonight. Delicious! I wasn't prepared to make it, so had to do some substitutions. (White onions for green onions, more soy sauce for the fish sauce) Even with the substitutions, this spicy dish was superb served over brown rice.

Most Helpful Critical Review
Jul 08, 2012

(I thought) I followed the recipe exactly and it took an hour for the sauce to reduce! We eventually ate and everyone loved it (or maybe everyone was just starving). I will try it again and omit the water. I cooked it in a wok...maybe that was my problem /:

May 04, 2012

Really good! I omitted the water after a first try because it's a lot easier to reduce the sauce. I like to use Thai chili sauce instead of Jalapenos because I always have it on hand, that way I can really slam it together if I get the urge.

May 14, 2012

WOW, this is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!! My thighs were pretty big, so I cut my pieces a bit smaller. The flavors here are perfect! This could not have been easier to make, but it really seems like you spent some time in the kitchen. Served this over jasmine rice. I will be making this over and over, which is not gonna be good for my waistline, lol...SOOOO GOOD, and definitly worthy of more than 5 stars~YUM! Thanks for sharing. :)

Sep 18, 2013

Chef John, I'd like to meet you some day and give you a big ol' hug! I love the way you cook. I made this for my boys and everyone was amazed by how good it was. And for such a simple dish, it had a really complex flavor that knocked all our socks off! The recipe is versatile enough to accommodate what you have on hand, or for your personal tastes. I didn't have fish sauce, so I substituted with about a teaspoon of anchovy paste in 1/3 cup soy sauce. The fresh jalapeno didn't appeal to me, so instead, I used 1 1/2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes. The key ingredients for the sauce are the soy/fish sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, garlic and ginger. If you start there and add/subtract what you like/don't like, this will always be a hit. For those of you who had trouble getting the sauce to thicken; this dish must be cooked on high heat for the entire cooking time in order to achieve the right caramelization on the chicken and to get the sauce to reduce. I used the entire amount of water called for and my reduction took between 10-15 minutes. The sauce will bubble and foam. That's ok. That's what you're looking for to get it to reduce. Don't be afraid of how hard it boils. Let it do what it do!!! DO NOT USE BREAST MEAT! Boneless, skinless thighs can withstand the high temperatures required to make this dish. Breast meat will dry out way before your sauce is properly reduced. Fantastic with a side of steamed broccoli with a bit of the sauce drizzled over it. YUM!!

Oct 19, 2012

This recipe was absolutely fantastic! Make sure you watch the video before making it because it's got some crucial things in it.

Jun 10, 2012

This was so good. I really can't say enough good things about it. Only made 3 changes, I used oyster sauce instead of fish (just what I had) no cilantro no one likes it, and no jalapeno (didn't have any)! I will make this again!

Oct 19, 2012

4 1/2 Stars- but I'll round up! Seriously one of the best Asian Chicken recipes I've ever made. The chicken was a perfect combination of sweet and spicy, the 1/2 star I took off was because I found the recipe a bit too salty. I'm sure this will probably vary depending on the brands of soy/fish sauce you use. I would start light on both then add if needed. I made half a recipe for my boyfriend and I with a side of sesame green beans and brown rice. I was worried it wouldn't be enough food as I only had 3 chicken thighs, but it was perfect, if not too much food. I had no troubles with the liquid ratio, but I did have a big pan with not much meat (and a gas stove). I would tend to think that maybe the people who are having trouble may be overcrowding the pan. All in all this is a wow-worthy recipe, definitely suitable for company. I'll be making this again!


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  • Calories
  • 615 kcal
  • 31%
  • Carbohydrates
  • 37.9 g
  • 12%
  • Cholesterol
  • 129 mg
  • 43%
  • Fat
  • 33.2 g
  • 51%
  • Fiber
  • 3.6 g
  • 14%
  • Protein
  • 43 g
  • 86%
  • Sodium
  • 1967 mg
  • 79%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

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