Our air fryer sesame chicken recipe will help you cook this Chinese staple without having to clean any pots and pans. Both the sauce and the chicken are placed in a foil faux baking tray, which is simple to make and saves time cleaning.
What Does This Chicken Taste Like?
If you’re expecting a lot of sesame seeds, you are correct, but how this Chinese staple tastes is far more complex.
The chicken is cut into cubes, seared, and cooked with a fragrant sauce made from a host of ingredients including soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and sesame oil. It’s this sweet, salty chicken glaze that makes it so addictive and delicious on top of cooked rice with some side veg.
Today, we’re adding a modern element to this classic treat: air frying. We’re going to blast the top with hot air until golden brown, then cook it all in the staple sauce (more on the how-to later).
Is Our Recipe Healthy?
Air fryer sesame chicken is just as healthy as traditional sesame chicken, with lean proteins, good fats, and fulfilling carbs. Add some cooked veg to have a more well-rounded meal.
Our healthy air fryer sesame chicken recipe has a sound nutritional profile:
2.6 g saturated fats
534.8 mg sodium
If you’re a fan of sesame chicken, these other recipes might be something to add to your meal prep list:
Honey Sesame Chicken Recipe: it’s similar to this dish, but with honey as a sweetening agent. It’s served with microwaved/steamed broccoli and cooked rice.
For this air fryer sesame chicken recipe, you’ll need chicken, cooked rice, green beans, broccoli, and seasonings.
Chicken thighs are our favorite, for a simple reason: they become moist and flavorful with a slightly chewy texture when cooked. If you prefer chicken breasts because they’re leaner, feel free to swap, but flavor-wise, we’d highly recommend the thighs.
Although chicken skin contains some saturated fat, the levels are rather insignificant, so it’s okay to use skin-on chicken thighs if that’s your preference. We didn’t because the supermarket’s stock that day simply didn’t leave much room for choice.
The sauce comprises soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, black pepper, sugar, red pepper flakes, and a cornstarch slurry for thickening. These ingredients make for a salty and sweet base with a slightly spicy kick.
To the mix, we’re also adding some sriracha and paprika, to up the heat level. If you want a lingering warmth, sprinkle in a few drops of tabasco.
Finally, because it’s sesame chicken after all, we scatter on top a large handful of toasted sesame seeds. You can use the black ones instead, or, for a little variety, go for half and half.
3. Cooked Rice
For this Chinese dish, as always, we used cooked rice. If you haven’t got any to hand, cook up your favorite rice in your favorite way before making the chicken.
We wanted to use green veg that stays crisp after cooking so we went for green beans and broccoli. You can include other veg of your choice, but make sure they’re not starchy veggies like potatoes.
Rather than having to wait for the veg to boil, we spent just 4 minutes microwaving them while we prepared the chicken. It’s an easy process: Place them in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, shoot on medium for 4 minutes, and give them a rinse in cold water to retain their crispness.
Tips for Making
1. Can You Put Frozen Chicken in an Air Fryer?
No, because slicing into rock-hard raw meat is impossible, and a frozen whole piece of chicken can cook unevenly.
If they’re already cubed before freezing, however, they simply need a lower temperature and a little longer cooking time. For this air fryer sesame chicken recipe, it’s 350 and 15 minutes on the first stage.
2. Can You Use Parchment Paper in an Air Fryer?
You can, but since this recipe involves sauce and parchment doesn’t hold liquid particularly well, it’d be a terrible combo.
Can You Freeze?
You can, and that’s one of the reasons why sesame chicken is meal-prep friendly. Divide the portions into biodegradable bags and freeze away. They’ll keep for up to 3 months and reheat easily in a saucepan.
If you’re consuming them within just 4 days, you can store the portions in the fridge. When our fridge has lots of space, we just place everything in one pan and cover it before refrigerating the whole pan.
What to Eat With
Today’s accompaniments are a wholesome soup and a simple lemon watermelon juice:
Additional Air-Fried Chicken Recipes to Satisfy Your Tastes
With this Air Fryer Teriyaki Chicken, you can pull off an authentic Japanese meal in 25 minutes. The meat is as juicy, as sticky, as flavorful, but you won't have anything to clean thanks to the faux foil baking tray that holds the meat.
We wouldn’t say that this air fryer chicken fajitas recipe is authentic, but it is healthy, simple, and delicious. The chicken is well-seasoned, the peppers are slightly charred, and the cheese brings everything together. It’s quick to make, too.
Tuyet Pham is an award-winning Saigonese chef who believes that joy is the secret ingredient to delicious food. At Healthy Recipes 101, Tuyet personally tests and simplifies every recipe, ensuring maximum flavor with minimal effort. With a background at prestigious French restaurants P’TI Saigon and Le Corto, Tuyet knows how to make every dish exceptional.
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.
Natalie Butler is a registered dietitian nutritionist with a passion to help others live their best life through food, fitness, safer beauty and a healthy lifestyle. She has expertise with a variety of diets and diseases and believes that there is no one-size-fits-all approach for health.
This is a healthier and more delicious version of the classic takeout dish. Try it now!