Chilli Chicken Recipe

Updated: December 18, 2023, By Swasthi

This Chilli Chicken is an epic holiday, game day & a party appetizer you need in your Indian-Chinese recipe repertoire! These crispy & tender chicken bites are tossed in an addictively delicious hot, sweet and tangy chili sauce. This restaurant style chili fried chicken is a crowd-pleasing appetizer you can make for weekend meals, parties, game day or potlucks.

chilli chicken

Recipe Comments

Ask any meat eating Indian about their favorite food, you are likely to hear “Indo-Chinese Chilli Chicken dry”. This crisp fried saucy chilli chicken recipe is hands down the best you can make at home.

Here I am sharing how to make the dry version and you can easily tweak it to make the gravy from the notes section.

What is Chilli Chicken?

Chilli Chicken is a popular Indo-Chinese appetizer, consisting of tender fried chicken bites tossed in a super aromatic sweet, spicy and slightly tangy chili sauce.

It is usually accompanied with Hakka noodles, Fried rice, Schezwan fried rice or even plain steamed basmati rice. Manchow soup or Corn soup are other popular sides that go well in this meal.

Boneless chicken pieces are marinated in soya sauce, chili sauce and black pepper. Later coated with cornstarch, flour and egg white, before frying to yield crispy chicken bites.

Onions, bell peppers, garlic, chilli sauce, soya sauce and vinegar come together to form a delicious finger-licking good sauce. To finish, crispy chicken is then tossed in this chili sauce & garnished with green onions.

Is Chilli Chicken very hot & spicy?

Most people assume it to be too hot & spicy. Chilli Chicken served in Indo-Chinese restaurants is never hot/spicy. It is highly aromatic, slightly sweet, moderately hot and tangy, making it a kids’ friendly dish.

Green chilies in vinegar, green chili sauce and various other kinds of sauces are served as complimentary for you to increase the heat while eating.

Ingredients you need

Chilli sauce: Chili sauce is the main ingredient in this recipe. In restaurants, red chili sauce is always used and sometimes even green chili sauce is used. In India, Chings and Maggie are the popular brands used. But you can use any Asian chili sauce that is sweet, hot and tangy. You can use any other favorite sauce like Schezwan sauce, but it will take on the different flavors.

Corn starch and all-purpose flour are used to give the required crispness to the chicken.

Egg white is another important ingredient that keeps your chicken tender, juicy and flavorsome. It prevents the meat from drying out and won’t make it chewy. However if you can’t eat egg, you may omit it and brine the chicken following my pro tips section below.

Soya Sauce adds flavor and it can be substituted with tamari. I use organic soya sauce. Chilli chicken is not heavy with soya sauce like Chicken Manchurian so you actually don’t need dark soya sauce.

Tomato ketchup is another ingredient that adds tang and flavor to your dish. Do use it as per your preference because every brand is different.

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Chilli Chicken Recipe

Photo Guide

How to Make Chilli Chicken (Stepwise Photos)


1. To a mixing bowl, add the following ingredients:

  • 250 grams (9 ounces or ½ lb) sliced boneless chicken cut to 1 by ½ inch
  • 1 ½ teaspoon soya sauce
  • 1 ½ teaspoon chili sauce (sweet and spicy)
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper (powder)
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt (or as needed)
adding marination ingredients to a bowl to make chilli chicken

2. To the same mixing bowl, add

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons cornstarch (organic white corn flour)
  • 1½ to 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (preferably organic)
  • 1 egg white (use only as needed) or 2 tbsps water (refer pro tips section below to use water)

Mix all the ingredients to coat the chicken well. If it is too dry, add a splash of water or egg white.

adding corn flour

3. Optional – If you want add ¼ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder or paprika for color & mix.

adding red chili powder

4. This is how the chicken looks. Avoid adding too much egg or water. Cover and keep this aside until you prepare the ingredients for the sauce. You can also refrigerate overnight.

marinade for chilli chicken recipe

5. Mix together the following ingredients in a small mixing bowl :

  • 1 tablespoon soya sauce (naturally brewed)
  • 2 tablespoons red chili sauce (adjust to taste) (sweet & spicy)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato ketchup (adjust to taste, can vary depending on brand)
  • ½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder (optional for color) or paprika or red chili paste
  • ¾ to 1 teaspoon vinegar (rice or apple cider)
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons water

Taste test and adjust the sauces.

adding sauces to a bowl

6. You will also require the following to make the sauce:

  • 1 medium onion thinly sliced or cubed
  • 1 tablespoon garlic fine chopped
  • 1 to 2 green chilies slit and deseeded (Thai or Indian chili peppers, optional)
  • ¼ to ½ cup bell pepper (capsicum) – cubed
  • 1 sprig spring onion or scallions chopped (optional)
  • 1 to 3 tablespoon Spring onion greens to garnish

Fry Chicken

Instead of frying, you can also air fry or bake the chicken in oven but the results won’t be the same. I have the instructions below to air fry and bake.

7. On a medium flame, heat oil about 1 inch in a deep pan. The oil is hot and ready to fry, when a small portion of batter dropped, sizzles and rises to the surface steadily without browning or burning. Add the chicken pieces one by one without crowding the pan.

frying marinade

8. Fry on a medium high heat stirring often (only after 2 mins) until crisp, golden and evenly cooked from inside. Do not overcook as it can dry out the chicken. When the chicken is cooked completely, bubbles in the oil will begin to reduce. Remove to a kitchen tissue or a wired rack. For extra crisp chicken, once done frying the entire chicken refry them in hot oil.

crisp fried chicken bites

Bake in the oven, preheat the oven to 200 C or 390 F for at least 15 mins. Place the chicken pieces on a tray lined with parchment paper. Bake for 25 to 30 mins until crisp and cooked through. Turn them to the other side after 12 to 13 mins. Adjust the baking time as every oven is different.

To air fry, place the chicken on a perforated parchment paper. Air fry at 375 F or 180 C for 7 minutes, shake the basket and air fry for another 1 to 2 mins depending on the size of your pieces. Adjust the timings a bit as every air fryer is different.

Make the Chilli Chicken Sauce

9. Heat 1½ tablepsoon oil in the wok or a pan on a high flame. Add garlic and fry for a minute.

frying garlic in a pan

10. Add onions, green chilies, spring onions whites and bell pepper. Fry until they turn slightly tender. They must still keep the crunch.

adding onions bell peppers to make chilli chicken

11. Pour the sauces we prepared. Let it bubble and turn thick. Taste test the sauce & the chicken as well at this stage and adjust salt or spice to taste.

pouring sauce to the pan

12. Add the chicken and toss. Fry on high for 1 minute and sprinkle ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper.

Tossing chilli chicken in pan

Garnish Chilli Chicken with green onions and serve hot as an appetizer. Hakka noodles or this Vegetable Fried rice & Corn soup are the perfect choices for an Indo-Chinese meal.

make chilli chicken

Pro Tips

Egg White is an essential ingredient and helps to keep the chicken juicy and tender from inside, without drying out. However if you don’t prefer to use it, you may brine the chicken in buttermilk (3 tbsps yogurt + 2 cups water + ¼ tsp salt) for a minimum of 1 to 4 hours in the refrigerator.

Later drain and pat dry the chicken before mixing in other ingredients.

MSG: Also known as ajjinomotto or monosodium glutamate (MSG) is used in the restaurants for a unique flavor. Trust me! you can still make the best without it. If you are sensitive to msg, make sure your store bought sauces do not have that.

Food color is also used to bring a deep red color. To avoid that I prefer to use Kashmiri chilli powder for a vibrant color. You can also use paprika.

No fry option: The restaurant versions often makes us grease sick and tend to dehydrate a lot due to plenty of oil and msg used in the sauce. A lot of times the oil used to fry the chicken is reused while making the sauce.

For a fresher flavor, use fresh oil that has a high smoke point. Also using a carbon steel wok imparts those restaurant smoky flavors to a little extent. For a healthier option you can shallow fry, air fry or bake the chicken, details mentioned in the instructions below.

chilli chicken recipe

Related Recipes

Recipe Card

chilli chicken recipe

Chilli Chicken Recipe

4.96 from 556 votes
The best Indo chinese chilli chicken appetizer made with crisp fried chicken tossed in sweet sour & spicy chilli sauce. Pair it with hot stir fried noodles or fried rice. 
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For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time50 minutes
Servings3 people

Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )

To Fry the Chicken

  • 250 grams (½ lb.) grams boneless chicken (preferably breast)
  • teaspoon red chilli sauce (sweet & spicy, less spicy kind)
  • teaspoon soya sauce (naturally brewed)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper (pepper powder)
  • ¼ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder (optional) or paprika or red chilli paste
  • teaspoon Salt or as needed
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons cornstarch (organic white corn flour)
  • 1½ to 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (preferably organic, optional)
  • 1 egg white (use only as needed) or 2 tbsps water (refer notes)
  • ¼ cup Oil or more for deep frying

For the Chilli Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon soya sauce (naturally brewed)
  • 2 tablespoons red chilli sauce (adjust to taste) (sweet & spicy)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato ketchup (adjust to taste, can vary depending on brand)
  • ½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder (optional) or paprika or red chili paste
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper (pepper powder)
  • ¾ to 1 teaspoon vinegar (rice or apple cider)
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons water

Other ingredients (veggies)

  • tbsp oil
  • 1 medium onion thinly sliced or cubed
  • 1 tablespoon garlic fine chopped
  • ¼ to ½ cup bell pepper (capsicum) – cubed
  • 1 to 2 green chilies slit and deseeded (optional)
  • 1 sprig spring onion or scallions chopped (optional)
  • 1 to 3 tablespoon Spring onion greens to garnish


  • Slice chicken to bite sized pieces, about 1 by ½ inch slices or cubes and add to a mixing bowl.
  • Add soya sauce, red chilli sauce, black pepper, red chili powder (optional), salt, corn starch and all-purpose flour. (Quantities as mentioned under the section “To Fry the Chicken”).
  • Add the egg white or water only as needed to bind the flour with the chicken. If the mixture is dry add more egg white or sprinkle some water.
  • Keep this aside until you prepare the ingredients & the sauce. You can also refrigerate overnight.
  • Cube the onions & bell pepper. Separate the layers and slit green chilies.
  • Prepare the sauce in a bowl. Add soya sauce, chili sauce, tomato ketchup, red chili powder, vinegar, sugar and water to a bowl. (Quantities as mentioned under the section "for the chilli sauce"). Mix well. Keep this aside.

Fry Chicken

  • On a medium flame, heat oil (about 1 inch) in a pan to deep or shallow fry. The oil is hot enough to fry, when a small portion of batter dropped, sizzles and rises to the surface steadily without browning.
  • Add the chicken pieces one by one without crowding the pan.
  • Fry on a medium high heat stirring often until crisp, golden and evenly cooked from inside. Do not overcook as it can dry out the chicken.
  • When the chicken is cooked completely, bubbles in the oil will begin to reduce. Remove to a kitchen tissue or a wired rack.
  • For extra crisp chicken, refry them in hot oil again on a medium heat.

Make Chilli Chicken Sauce

  • Heat oil in a wok or pan on a high flame. Add garlic & fry for about a min.
  • Add onions, bell peppers, spring onion whites and green chilies.
  • Fry till they turn slightly soft for about a minute or so. The veggies must still be crunchy.
  • Pour the sauces. Let the sauces bubble up well & slightly thicken. Taste the sauce and chicken as well. Add more salt, spice or sauce as needed.
  • Add the fried chicken & toss well until it is coated with the sauce. Sauté chili chicken on a high flame for 1 minute and sprinkle black pepper.
  • Garnish with spring onion greens. Serve chilli chicken immediately hot as appetizer or with fried rice or noodles.


  • Egg helps to keep the chicken juicy without drying out. If you wish to leave out the egg, brine the chicken following my pro tips section.
  • To make chilli chicken gravy: Mix 2 tsps cornstarch with 1 cup water and pour it to the pan. Plus add 1 tbsp more soya sauce, 2 tbsps more chilli sauce and 2 tbsps more tomato ketchup. Taste test and adjust the sauces as needed. When the mixture thickens turn off. Cool the sauce a bit and then add the fried chicken.
  • You can double the above quantities to triple the gravy. But note that you will have to add a lot of sauces and the entire dish turns out to be so high in carbs due to starch and sauces added. It will also be high in sodium, so you may look for low sodium products.


NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)

Nutrition Facts
Chilli Chicken Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 441 Calories from Fat 261
% Daily Value*
Fat 29g45%
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Cholesterol 63mg21%
Sodium 966mg42%
Potassium 298mg9%
Carbohydrates 25g8%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 12g13%
Protein 19g38%
Vitamin A 904IU18%
Vitamin C 24mg29%
Calcium 22mg2%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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About Swasthi

I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me

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5 stars
I tried this out 2 days ago, my sons wanted more, so made another batch yesterday! Thank you, Swasthi, for this recipie. We miss our bombay chinese food, and this was just perfect!

5 stars
What would be the quantity of the necessary ingredients for 500g chicken?

I love this Recipe

Do you brine and also leave the chicken in the marinade overnight? Won’t this make the chicken too soft? Can I use chicken breasts because my family don’t like thighs.

5 stars
Thank you!

5 stars
Thank you so much Swasti for an amazing recipe! This was a super hit with my family. My kids kept asking for more. I ended up making a larger batch and even before tossing chicken into the sauce and vegetables they munched on all the crispier pieces 🙂
Will definitely make this again!

Hi Swasthi,
Another winner recipe!
You and your recipes never fail me.
My Chilli chicken turned out to be delicious!
Thank you for the step by step pictures and instructions. They help me to gage what my food prep should look like at each stage.

Upon opening this recipe the video pops up, but for some odd reason it stops working after the diced chicken is shown.

I’m a regular user of your website and my family thanks you because before you came along, I was terrible at cooking.

5 stars
I made this recipe to the letter and I have to say it was fantastic. It definitely reminded me of great restaurant food. Since I made this as is I can say I would classify this as medium to medium hot, but very flavorful. I will be making it again! Thank you for this recipe.

5 stars
I made this recipe and it was so good! One question tho. I brined the chicken overnight, then marinated for a few hours, then added the flour mixture but when I went to fry it the flour mixture did not stick too well even tho I patted it down with a paper towel. Any idea why ? It was still so good !

5 stars
Amazing recipe!

5 stars
Hi Swasthi! I like your recipés. They’re easy to follow, and I especially like the tips and notes you take care to add.?
Thank you ?

5 stars
Hey, thanks for the recipe! Turned out pretty good.

1 note though, MSGs do not infact have any negative health effects that was basically a smear campaign from the 80s. So there’s no reason people shouldn’t use it to get that delicious umami flavor!

As a medical professional I can attest that MSG can be a migraine trigger to migraine sufferers. Otherwise no I’ll effects.

5 stars
I want to try to make this dish this weekend. Do you use Maggi Mild Sweet Chili Sauce or Maggi Hot and Sweet Tomato Chili Sauce?

5 stars
Really like your recipes. They are simple to follow, quick to make and very tasty! Thank you! Have tried many of your recipes and made this chilli chicken today and it came out great!

Hello, what brand chili sauce do you use? I’m unsure what chili is so want to make sure I’m getting the right thing. Thanks!

I love all your recipes and regularly use them . A question can we fry the chicken in the Air fryer ? Or would it dry out. Thank you

Hi. I would love to do this but needs further instructions. I would like to do this as a meal instead of an appetizer but when I change the number of servings only the ingredients change — the instructions do not. Can you send me instructions based on about 4 lbs of chicken? Thank you!

5 stars
You can increase and decrease the amount of people you want to cook for have a look at the recipe card

5 stars
Easy to cook yummy recipe

5 stars
Made this, it was great! I love spicy foods so I didn’t deseed the green chiles. Perfect amount of heat.

5 stars
Perfection and I actually made this. Thank you for this.

5 stars
I tried this recipe tonight. It was absolutely delicious! Thank you so much for sharing!