Ready in 30 minutes, this air fryer firecracker chicken is a great combination of sweet and spicy. Topped on a bed of white rice, making it a delicious choice for an at home “takeout” dish.
This recipe has been updated to include new pictures. This is not the authentic way to make Firecracker chicken, however, this is our version which includes the flavors we enjoy the most.
The chicken thighs are coated with a cornstarch and air fried until golden brown and crispy, and finishes off in a sweet spicy sauce.
What is firecracker sauce made of?
Firecracker chicken is a combination of either chicken breast or with chicken thighs. The meat is lightly coated with flour and or cornstarch, lightly fried, and is coated with a sweet spicy sauce.
No “deep frying” necessary as the air fryer will do the work for you. A completely different take on an easy weeknight meal which is elegantly served, and will have your family coming back for more.
Specific measurements and steps are included in the recipe card below. However, to start off, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Chicken Thighs – We used boneless skinless chicken thighs as it holds moisture.
- Sweet Chili Sauce – Any sweet chili sauce will work for this recipe.
- Maple Syrup – We used maple syrup because of the bold flavor it gives the meat. However, you may use brown sugar or honey.
- Soy Sauce – We recommend using a low sodium soy sauce as you will already season the chicken with salt and pepper.
- Olive Oil – This will help the ingredients to cook.
- Garlic – We recommend using fresh garlic to add extra freshness to the meat and also help to cut down the sweetness.
- Red Pepper Flakes – The pepper flakes add extra heat to the sauce. However, you may use cayenne pepper or you may find substitute for cayenne pepper here. If you are not a fan of spicy food, you may leave this ingredient off completely if you do not desire to have a spicy sauce.
- Salt and pepper to taste – Best to season the meat before air frying it so that the flavors are properly embedded.
- Cooked White Rice – To pair with the firecracker chicken.
- Slice or cut the meat: To ensure even cooking, it’s best the meat is not too thick. We highly recommend slicing the meat into smaller bite size pieces.
- Season The Meat: Season the meat with salt and pepper, and olive oil. Sit it aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes. Then lightly coat the meat with cornstarch. Place the meat in the air fryer basket or tray.
- Cook the chicken at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes on both sides or until heated through. Turn the chicken on the other side and cook for an additional 10 minutes
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the olive oil, garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Then add in the chicken. Next add in the sherry, maple syrup, chili sauce, maple syrup, red pepper flakes, soy sauce, ginger and green onions.
- Simmer for about 5 -8 minutes and serve with white rice.
Oven Baked Option
Instead of air frying the firecrack chicken, you can bake it instead. Baking the chicken will turn the two-step air frying process into 1 step.
To bake your firecracker chicken…
Wash and pat dry the chicken. In a separate bowl, add in the salt and pepper, oil, chili sauce, maple syrup, garlic powder or fresh garlic, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes, and the remaining ingredients.
Mix the ingredients well and pour the mixture over the chicken. Mix well to combined. And cook at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Once the chicken is completely cooked, serve with white rice.
Sweet & Spicy Sauce Variations
To jazz up your sauce and dish, consider adding in fresh cut pineapples. You may also add in snap peas, broccoli, and or cauliflower, onions, and or Bok Choy.
Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a low boil until the sauce has thicken.
What does firecracker chicken taste like?
Firecracker chicken has a sweet taste of sweet and spicy.
How do you make a firecracker?
Lightly brown the chicken. Prepare the sauce then mix the chicken with the sauce. Coat well to combine then serve with white rice.
Traditional Sauce Ingredients
This stovetop sauce includes chili sauce or buffalo sauce, syrup or brown sugar, citrus juice (optional), and soy sauce.
Cook’s Recipe Notes
- You can bake the chicken instead of air frying the chicken.
- Do not skip coating your chicken in cornstarch and flour. This will help give the chicken body while it cooks.
- To cut down time, prepare the sauce while the chicken cooks during the first 6-7 minutes of air frying.
- This dish is great with cauliflower rice and steamed vegetables.
Store any leftover firecracker chicken in an airtight container and place it in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze it for up to 3 months.
How To Reheat:
When ready to eat, reheat the chicken in the microwave until heated through.
More Asian Inspired Recipes To Try
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- 4 Boneless Chicken Thighs
- Salt and pepper to taste We used 1 Tsp. Kosher salt and ½ Tsp. Ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp. Olive oil divided
- 2 Tbsp. Cornstarch
- 2 Garlic Cloves; Minced
- ⅓ Cup Sherry
- 2 Tbsp. Maple Syrup
- 16 Oz. Sweet chili sauce
- 1 Tsp. Fresh Ginger Grated
- 1 Green Onion
- 1 tbsp. Red pepper flakes
- 2 tbsp. Soy Sauce; Low sodium
- Slice or cut the meat: To ensure even cooking, it’s best the meat is not too thick. We highly recommend slicing the meat into smaller bite size pieces. Season The Meat: Season the meat with salt and pepper, and olive oil. Sit it aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes. Then lightly coat the meat with cornstarch. Place the meat in the air fryer basket or tray. Cook the chicken at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes on both sides or until heated through. Turn the chicken on the other side and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the remaining olive oil, garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Then add in the chicken. Next add in the sherry, maple syrup, chili sauce, maple syrup, red pepper flakes, soy sauce, ginger and green onions. Simmer for about 5 -8 minutes on low heat and serve with white rice.