Sticky, saucy, and full of flavor, this keto bourbon chicken is incredibly easy to make without the loads of sugar that is a staple of most bourbon chicken recipes. The sweet and savory bourbon sauce that coats tender chicken pieces makes this the ultimate keto comfort food. Serve it over cauliflower rice for an easy, low-carb dinner that works any day of the week. 🙂
Why you'll rave about this keto bourbon chicken recipe:
- dinner is ready in 30 minutes
- it is low-carb, keto-friendly and gluten-free
- it's a go-back-for-seconds kind of meal that even little ones will enjoy
- a delicious, keto chicken recipe for when you really need comfort food
what is bourbon chicken?
Bourbon chicken is named for the bourbon whiskey that the sauce is made with, and also supposedly originated from New Orleans (Bourbon Street). However, my original love for bourbon chicken came from a mall food court at a fast-food-ish kind of Asian restaurant that I swear had something addicting in the sauce. It was tender, super sweet, and I would probably be frightened if I ever saw the ingredient list.
The good news is that this bourbon chicken recipe is easy to make right at home and is just as tasty, without all of those questionable ingredients. 😉
how to make keto bourbon chicken
First, I should say that yes, this bourbon chicken recipe does contain bourbon, one-third of a cup to be exact. And while some say that alcohol "burns off" in the cooking process, that notion is a little bit exaggerated. The heat intensity and cook time are just a couple of the main factors that play into how much alcohol is retained in a dish, and if you're looking for more on the science behind it, this Food Network article has a pretty good explanation.
All in all, with about 20 minutes of cook time and the sauce reaching a full boil, the alcohol content will be reduced significantly (but not entirely). I've seen estimates that a dish cooked that long would contain about 35% of the total alcohol content (and don't forget to factor in the recipe yield). I personally don't worry about the alcohol content (my whole family- including the kiddos- enjoy this recipe too).
the ingredient list
To make keto bourbon chicken, you'll need the following ingredients:
- chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
- coconut oil or avocado oil
- salt and pepper
- minced garlic
- chicken broth (or stock)
- apple cider vinegar
- granulated allulose
- ground ginger
- onion powder
- coconut aminos
- tomato paste
- xanthan gum
- sesame seeds and chopped green onions for topping (optional)
I love this bourbon chicken recipe because it's so, so easy! Start by cutting the chicken thighs into 1-inch cubes and patting the chicken dry with paper towels (this will help the chicken brown). A few more simple steps and you're well on your way to a keto bourbon chicken dinner!
- Cook the chicken. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook the chicken for about 5-8 minutes or until browned, flipping the pieces halfway. Remove from heat.
- Make the bourbon sauce. Add the garlic to the skillet and sauté for 30 seconds on medium heat. Add the water, chicken broth, bourbon, coconut aminos and vinegar to the pan. Stir in the allulose, ground ginger, onion powder and tomato paste.
- Simmer. Bring the sauce to a boil and then turn it down to medium-low, simmering it for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Return the chicken to the pan and continue simmering for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the xanthan gum until the sauce thickens. Let it cool for about 5 minutes, then top with sesame seeds and chopped green onion (optional) and serve!
is bourbon keto friendly?
Bourbon, along with similar spirits, contains zero carbs and sugar which means you don't have to worry about any excess carbs with this ingredient. Its lightly sweet vanilla and caramel-like flavor notes really make this sauce. Don't worry about using an expensive bourbon, a bottom-shelf variety will work just fine.
- Sweetener- I prefer a granulated allulose for this recipe, as allulose tends to dissolve better than an erythritol-based sweetener. If you're cooking off the cuff and have a liquid allulose, sweeten to taste. Another sweetener I have used for this is a liquid monk fruit sweetener, but again, sweeten to your taste preference as pure liquid monk fruit is extra concentrated (I use about 2 teaspoons total). Take note that keto-friendly granulated sweeteners are not all 1:1 swaps. For example, allulose is less sweet than a granulated monk fruit sweetener (like Lakanto), so use slightly less sweetener if you're making that substitution.
- Chicken- Chicken thighs tend to turn out more flavorful and tender than chicken breasts, but this recipe is very doable with both.
- Coconut aminos- Slightly sweeter than tamari which is why I prefer it for this recipe, but if you're in a pinch, tamari is the next best swap.
- Xanthan gum- This works as a sauce thickener (similar to corn starch) but its extra-fine, powdery texture makes it prone to clumping. Whisk it into the sauce as best as you can. Without it, the sauce will not become thick and sticky. If you need to substitute, arrowroot powder should also do the trick although it is a tad higher in carbs and you'll likely need at least 1-2 tablespoons.
This keto bourbon chicken recipe is a new family favorite! It's delicious served on its own or over a bowl of cauliflower rice. For a really easy dinner, sauté frozen cauliflower rice while the bourbon chicken simmers. Or, add in some broccoli florets, sliced cabbage or chopped zucchini into the bourbon chicken to create a sweet, veg-filled stir fry. Quick and healthy comfort food for the win!
you might also love...
- Crispy roasted Brussels sprouts with sriracha. So good it's borderline snacking food!
- Keto teriyaki chicken meatballs and broccoli for a fun spin on classic teriyaki.
- A keto poke bowl that's ready in 20 minutes! Tender marinated chunks of ahi tuna with low-carb veggies and a creamy sriracha mayo.
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1-½ lbs. chicken thighs (boneless and skinless), cut into 1-inch pieces
- salt and pepper
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup chicken broth
- ⅓ cup bourbon (bottom shelf variety is fine)
- ⅓ cup coconut aminos (or gluten-free tamari)
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- ⅓ cup granulated allulose sweet (or 2 teaspoons liquid monk fruit sweetener)
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
- sesame seeds and chopped green onion (optional topping)
- Warm the coconut oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Pat the chicken pieces dry with a paper towel (this will help them brown).
- Place the chicken pieces into the skillet and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Cook the chicken for about 5-8 minutes, flipping them halfway. They should be slightly browned. Transfer the chicken onto a plate or bowl and set aside.
- Turn the heat down to medium. Add the minced garlic to the skillet and sauté for about 30 seconds. Pour the water, chicken broth, bourbon, coconut aminos and vinegar into the pan.
- Stir in the allulose, ground ginger, onion powder and tomato paste. Whisk the sauce together until well combined.
- Bring the sauce to a boil and then turn the heat down to medium-low. Let the sauce simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Return the chicken to the pan and continue simmering for another 10 minutes on medium heat.
- Remove the pan from the heat, push the chicken pieces to one side of the pan, and whisk the xanthan gum into the sauce on the opposite side of the chicken. Mix well- the chicken should be evenly coated with the sauce. The sauce will thicken (and thicken even more as it cools). Taste and add salt if needed.
- Let the bourbon chicken cool for about 5 minutes, then spoon it into serving bowls and top with sesame seeds and chopped green onion (optional).
Sweetener substitutions: I've made this with liquid monk fruit sweetener (like this one) and granulated allulose, which tends to dissolve better than an erythritol-based sweetener. Liquid allulose should work fine as well, although I suggest sweetening to taste instead of replacing it with granulated 1:1.
Keto bourbon chicken is great served over cauliflower rice (I cook up frozen cauliflower rice in a separate pan while the chicken is simmering).
Leftover chicken will keep well in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 298Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 51mgSodium: 529mgCarbohydrates: 7gNet Carbohydrates: 6gFiber: 0gSugar: 5gProtein: 14g
This nutritional information is approximate and is provided for convenience as a courtesy.