Bourbon Street Chicken

Bourbon Street Chicken is a popular sweet and sticky Chinese-style chicken named after Bourbon Street in NOLA.

Bourbon Street Chicken

Bourbon Street Chicken

by Sue Lau | Palatable Pastime

I know you will often hear it said that this recipe is supposed to have bourbon in it.

I was never on board with that concept, and never will be. Just because something is named after a street in a city, doesn’t mean it has that ingredient in it. I think the name is just supposed to evoke the southern feel of the dish.

And about 6 years ago, when I first sat down to decode this for myself (Bourbon Chicken on, I had run up to the local food court at the mall and bought a plate full of this to go. I sat down and deciphered it to the best of my ability, a taste of this, a pinch of that. I was on a diet at the time so some of my ingredients were lo-cal (such as diet cherry coke and Splenda brown sugar). When I was finished, I tasted them side by side and there was very little difference. Mine was a bit red, but I attributed that to the brand of Indonesian soy sauce I was using.

I recently had eaten some Bourbon chicken somewhere, and thought to myself that I should revisit the recipe, make it more mainstream. Because while I never did believe there was bourbon in the original, because I just don’t think restaurants would go to that expense (as their so-called secrets are often the simplest common denominator to reduce food costs, waste, and excess inventory.) Besides, I don’t think all customers would appreciate hidden alcohol in their food. And as well, since I had been dieting and had some specialty ingredients around, like the diet pop, the Splenda, and the Ketjap Manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce), the same line of thinking applies there. Restaurants aren’t going to be using those items, but simpler more common items instead.

So back I am in the kitchen with another science experiment. Streamlining it to the most common things with the lowest cost. I will say up front I did add Sriracha for a tiny bit of bite instead of using black pepper. I think a restaurant would just use black pepper. I dropped the cherry part in the coke because I felt it was really irrelevant . And after tasting this version, I still feel that way. The only reason I picked the cherry pop in the first place was to simulate a bourbon-ish flavor. But since the recipe is not about the bourbon liquor at all, here we are.And as for the Coke being in there at all, I feel it must be, in the tradition of Coca-cola ham from the south. It’s a southern thing.

I hope you enjoy my updated version.


Bourbon Street Chicken

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Bourbon Street Chicken

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thigh, cut into chunks
  • 1-2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • steamed rice (as accompaniment)


  • 1/4 cup Coca-Cola beverage
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil


  • 1/2 cup Coca-cola beverage
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch


  1. Stir together marinade ingredients and add chicken; marinate 6 hours or overnight.
  2. Drain marinade from chicken and discard.
  3. Stir together ingredients for sauce.
  4. Heat oil in a large skillet and cook chicken until browned and cooked through, about 10-15 minutes or less.
  5. Add sauce and continue to cook, stirring, for several minutes until sauce stops foaming and thickens.
  6. Serve with steamed rice.

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Bourbon Street Chicken

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4 responses

  1. Bourbon st. In n’awlins has nothing to do with Bourbon whiskey. It refers to the French House of Bourbon, of the Capetian dynasty. Nawlins was furst settled by mant french. Some wew descended from the Bourbons and often lone or last survivors of the bloodbath of the French Revolution. After the Revolution, Napoleanist factions immigrated to New Orleans. Indeed, the name refers to Orleans and in the new world, it was named “New” Orleans. So, Bourbon is the family, not the whiskey.

  2. This recipe has nothing to do with New Orleans or Bourbon Street…..however it is a healthier version of what you get at a Chinese restaurant. Not sure where it originated there…..just not in New Orleans or in the South! The chicken isn’t breaded and fried beforehand, which is usual with bourbon chicken. ThIs recipe results in a much healthier version, but not one that someone looking for a reproduction of what they had in Chinese take out would expect. Since the sauce is much thinner and the chicken isn’t breaded, I’d add some broccoli to the mix next time, and make it a bit more like the Chinese take out I know and love. That being said, this was a delicious and quick chicken dish (not counting the marinating time).

    • So interesting, Lynette! There must be regional versions of this dish. In Ohio I have never seen it breaded, I know there are regional difference in things like sweet and sour pork, where some places it is always breaded and others not at all. I do agree with the southern origins of this dish as every restaurant I ever saw when it first became popular were Chinese-Cajun places in mall food courts. Now it seems to be on the menus of every Chinese place.
      If others know of how this is made where they live, please comment along with the name of your area. It will be interesting to see where it is made one way or the other.

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