This crispy fried chicken is slathered in a thick, sweet, homemade sauce with a good splash of whiskey. Jack Daniel’s Whiskey Fried Chicken uses skinless, boneless chicken thighs which have more flavour and hold up well to the hot oil. With my double fry method, your chicken will stay crispy even after soaking up that delicious sauce too!
A few months ago, I started experimenting with cocktails and ended up spending a small fortune on alcohol. As much as I have been enjoying the art of mixology, I’m also loving having the option of cooking with alcohol. After the success of my Copycat Bourbon Chicken, I wanted more! Jack Daniel’s Whiskey Fried Chicken is the result of taking elements of two of my favourite chicken recipes and putting them together.
If you scroll to the bottom of this post to the recipe card, you might recall that the ingredients for the sauce look quite familiar. That is because I used almost the same recipe in my Bourbon Chicken as I did for this Jack Daniel’s version. With the whiskey, I had to reduce the amount of soy sauce. It did not mix well with the whiskey like it did with the bourbon. As a result, I was able to up the amount of whiskey, which resulted in a stronger alcohol presense.
The second part of the recipe uses my deep fried chicken technique. I loved the Bourbon Chicken in its almost natural format, but the whiskey version needed more. It needed crunch and crisp and I knew just the way to get it! Do you remember my Crispy Honey Garlic Beef? That was the inspiration for this chicken recipe. I used just cornstarch to get that light and crispy, crunch batter on the outside. It was perfect! And, it locked in the moisture so that I could double fry the chicken without any risk of it drying out.
I’M OBSESSED WITH THESE TYPES OF RECIPES!
It’s no secret that I have an addiction to Asian-inspired dishes. I love any chicken, pork, or beef that has been fried until crispy and tossed in a delicious sauce. In fact, I have many of those types of recipes on my site already. One of the most popular, my 30 Minute Ginger Beef, starts with the same frying technique as this Jack Daniel’s Whiskey Fried Chicken.
Late last year, just before I got started with my Christmas baking, I was eating food like this at least once or twice a week. Remember my General Tso’s Chicken, and my Sweet Jalapeno Pork? I ate so much of those two! Like those, this is one of those dishes that comes together quite easily. It might look like there’s a lot of steps, but they’re really quite simple and fast. To be honest, if you put aside the actual cooking of the chicken, it’s the prep that takes up the most time.
This dish will completely put aside any misconceptions you have about making Asian-style takeout food at home. It can compete with the best of them! And, in comparison to takeout prices these days, you’ll get way more chicken for your buck if you make it at home yourself.
COOKING WITH ALCOHOL
The sauce, even though prepared with whiskey, does not taste like alcohol at all. It’s thick, but not gelatinous like most take out chicken dishes. And, it tastes slightly sweet, but with a little bit of tartness from the vinegar. And, of course, the soy sauce presents a bit of saltiness and the umami flavour we all love about soy sauce.
So, what about the whiskey? Well, whiskey can be quite dynamic and complex. For this recipe, I used Old No. 7. This is the original Jack Daniel’s whiskey. The JD website describes it as having “sweet aromas of brown sugar, wood, resin and fresh leaves. It tastes sweet and reminds you of oranges, wood and warm cinnamon. The aftertaste is pleasant and comes with flavors of oranges and dark chocolate.” There’s nothing about that description that I don’t love!
When the sauce is done, you will not taste all of those things. Although the sauce is not cooked for a long time, the strength of the alcohol is certainly lessened. You will be left with a warming flavour, that is sweet and very aromatic. Because the amount of alcohol evaporates during cooking, some of it will remain, but not so much that you would not be able to share this chicken with anyone underage.
SUITABLE WHISKEY SUBSTITUTES OR COMPLETE OMISSION
Whiskey can easily be substituted with rum, bourbon, brandy, or even cognac. If you don’t have one of those, you can also use scotch. However, if you want to omit the alcohol completely, then use apple juice. It will work perfectly! But, pay attention to the type of apple juice you use.
I highly recommend that you use unsweetened rather than sweetened apple juice. Because of the fact that there’s brown sugar in this recipe, you will most certainly want to stay away from any additional sugar. Will it taste the same with apple juice instead of whiskey? No. Will it be good though? Yes! It will still be delicious. It will still be sweet and sticky, but it most certainly will not taste as it should. The choice is yours.
HERE IS WHAT YOU WILL NEED:
- Chicken – For best results, use boneless skinless chicken thighs. They have more flavour and will not dry out, which is especially important when employing the double fry method. I’m using free range chicken from Ottawa Valley Meats.
- Cornstarch – This used twice. First, it is used to form a crispy batter on the chicken. It’s used a second time to help thicken the sauce.
- Oil – You will need oil to fry the chicken. Either vegetable or canola oil is good.
- Brown Sugar – The sauce needs the sugar for sweetness. Brown sugar helps with caramelization, which makes an glossy, amber-coloured sauce.
- Soy Sauce – There’s a lot of soy sauce in here, so use low sodium for best results.
- Jack Daniel’s Whiskey – This is the key to that delicious sauce!
- Rice Vinegar – You can use other vinegars as well, such as white vinegar, cider vinegar, or even rice or champagne vinegar. Don’t use malt or balsamic for this dish.
- Spices and Seasonings – To round everything out, you will need salt and black pepper, as well as garlic powder and onion powder.
LET’S GET EVERYTHING SET UP FIRST
Whenever I am frying anything, I make sure I have everything set up first so that I don’t have to walk away from that hot oil It is never a good idea to leave oil unattended. Not only is it flammable, but the temperature can fluctuate rapidly leaving you with either burnt food or a soggy mess. Ever have fried food with a greasy batter? That means the temperature of the oil was too low and the batter soaked it up. Nobody wants that!
I like to first measure all of the sauce ingredients into a bowl and whisk them together. I set that aside and add my cornstarch and water to a smaller bowl and set that aside too. When you get to the point where you’re ready to use both the sauce and the slurry, it’s just a matter of a quick stir to make sure nothing as settled to the bottom of the bowl and that’s it!
Next, I get started on the main. In this case, it’s the chicken. I add the chicken to a bowl and add in the salt and pepper. Use a rubber spatula – or clean hands! – to toss the chicken so that it is all evenly coated with salt and pepper. Next, I dump in the cornstarch and toss well to coat. As a final step, I like to separate the chicken.
Ever notice that when meat and cornstarch are mixed together and left to sit for a bit, the cornstarch will get wet and eventually the meat is sticking to each other? To avoid that, I like to separate each piece of chicken and lay it out onto a sheet pan. As I separate the chicken, I shake off the excess cornstarch, which is a necessary step anyway. Before I know it, I’m ready to heat up the oil and start frying!
FRYING THE CHICKEN
When you’re ready to fry the chicken, pour the oil into a heavy bottomed pot. A Dutch over is great for deep frying! You will want about four inches of oil in your pot. Turn on the heat and bring the oil to optimum frying temperature. For Jack Daniel’s Whiskey Fried Chicken, you will want the oil to be between 300 and 315 degrees. If in doubt, use a kitchen thermometer!
Set a baking sheet with a wire cooling rack on it next to the pot. You will place the fried chicken on the wire rack in a single layer. This will allow air to flow around the fried chicken, allow the excess grease to drip off, and keep the batter crispy and crunchy.
Once you’re all ready to go and the oil is hot enough, it’s time to fry! Using tongs, lower the chicken into into the oil one piece at a time. Don’t overcrowd the pot. I tend to fry them off about a dozen pieces at a time. The chicken fries really quickly; it only needs about 5-6 minutes.
Once all of the chicken is fried, increase the heat of the oil to 350 degrees. Carefully place all of the chicken back into the oil. This is what I refer to as the second fry and it will add further crisp to your chicken and it only needs another 3-4 minutes. Remove from the oil and drain well. Next, it’s time for the sauce!
IT’S TIME FOR THE SAUCE!
Let’s face it, this recipe is all about the sauce. Sure, fried chicken pieces are great, but they only have some salt and pepper at this point. We need more flavour and the sauce is going to provide all of that and more. And, this sauce is so simple too!
You took the time to measure all of the sauce ingredients into a bowl, so now all you have to do is transfer all of it to a skillet. Over medium-high heat, continuously whisk the sauce until it starts to boil. Reduce the heat to medium and mix the slurry by combining the cornstarch with the water. Pour this into the sauce while whisking. The sauce will immediately thicken. Continue to stir until all of the sauce is the same consistency.
Finally, add the fried chicken and toss it with the sauce until each piece is generously and completely covered with that gorgeous sauce. Now, it’s the moment you have been waiting for – dig in!!!
Jack Daniel’s Whiskey Fried Chicken
- 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-1 1/2 inch pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 cup Jack Daniel's Whiskey
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons water
- oil for frying
- Measure all of the sauce ingredients into a bowl and whisk them together and set aside.
- Measure the slurry ingredients into a bowl and whisk them together. Set aside.
- Pour the oil into a heavy bottomed pot such as a Dutch Oven. You will want about four inches of oil in your pot. Turn on the heat and bring the oil to 300-315 degrees. If in doubt, use a kitchen thermometer!
- Set a baking sheet with a wire cooling rack on it next to the pot. You will place the fried chicken on the wire rack in a single layer. This will allow air to flow around the fried chicken, allow the excess grease to drip off, and keep the batter crispy and crunchy.
- Using tongs, lower the chicken into into the oil one piece at a time. Don’t overcrowd the pot. I tend to fry them off about a dozen pieces at a time. The chicken fries really quickly; it only needs about 5-6 minutes.
- Once all of the chicken is fried, increase the heat of the oil to 350 degrees. Carefully place all of the chicken back into the oil. This is what I refer to as the second fry and it will add further crisp to your chicken and it only needs another 3-4 minutes. Remove from the oil and drain well.
- Next, transfer the bowl of sauce to a skillet and over medium-high heat, continuously whisk the sauce until it starts to boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium and mix the slurry by combining the cornstarch with the water. Pour this into the sauce while whisking. The sauce will immediately thicken. Continue to stir until all of the sauce is the same consistency.
- Finally, add the fried chicken and toss it with the sauce until each piece is generously and completely covered.
- Serve immediately.