Bang Bang Chicken

Bang Bang Chicken | Omnivore's Cookbook

Bang bang chicken (棒棒鸡) is a great appetizer or salad dish on a hot and humid summer day. The tender and moist boiled chicken is drizzled with a super hot and numbing savory sauce, accompanied by pungent green onion, and citrus cilantro. After one bite of this chicken, your forehead will start to sweat. The next thing you should do is grab a nice cold beer. You’ll feel so refreshed and all the worries from your long day will suddenly melt away! If you’re not familiar with Chinese cuisine, you might be a bit confused by the recipe name. Bang bang chicken is a famous Szechuan dish. The name literally means “chicken beaten by wooden baton”. The authentic method to cook this dish is exactly reflected in its name. It uses boiled chicken breast and prescribes beating it repeatedly with a stick. The theory behind the cooking method is that it softens the chicken meat and creates a better texture. Bang Bang Chicken | Omnivore's Cookbook

I highly doubt that, though, because I have actually tried the original method, and the resulting chicken was not even close to tender, and was hardly moist. My theory is, the person who invented the recipe was so pissed off at the moment and had to punch someone (something?). Then the chicken breast became the scapegoat and a new dish was born. I was happy and felt delighted while cooking this dish. So, unfortunately, you won’t find any wooden baton or beaten chicken in my recipe. In this recipe, I chose to use chicken leg instead of chicken breast, which is more flavorful and retains a juicy texture after boiling. I used the drumstick with bone, because it’s difficult to find the boneless kind here. Feel free to replace with boneless chicken thigh and/or drumstick. You could also cut the chicken instead of shredding it, which saves time. I have introduced how to make fresh Chinese chili oil in another post. Or if you have chili oil in your pantry, feel free to use it with a spoonful sesame seeds. However, I strongly recommend  cooking some fresh oil instead of using the bottled one. It only takes 5 minutes and tastes much, much better!

Bang Bang Chicken | Omnivore's Cookbook Bang Bang Chicken | Omnivore's Cookbook

Bang Bang Chicken

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Course: Salad
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 2
Author: Maggie Zhu


  • 3 chicken legs drumstick
  • 3 green onion white part
  • 2 dried chili peppers
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 slices ginger



  • Add chicken legs, green onion, chili pepper, garlic and ginger to a medium size pot. Add enough water to cover chicken leg. Put on stove at medium heat and cover pot. After bringing to a boil, turn to low heat, simmer until chicken leg is just cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  • Mix soy sauce, sesame oil, chili oil, sugar and salt in a small bowl.
  • When chicken leg has cooled down, tear the meat from the bone. Discard chicken bones and place chicken meat on a plate.
  • Before serving, top chicken with red pepper, cilantro and green onion. Pour sauce over chicken leg, mix well and serve warm or at room temperature.

The nutrition facts are calculated base on 1 of 2 servings generated from the recipe.

Bang Bang Chicken nutrition facts | Omnivore's Cookbook


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Meet Maggie

Hi I'm Maggie Zhu! Welcome to my site about modern Chinese cooking - including street food, family recipes, and restaurant dishes. I take a less labor-intensive approach while maintaining the taste and look of the dish. I am originally from Beijing, and now cook from my Austin, Texas kitchen.

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23 thoughts on “Bang Bang Chicken

  1. Christine | No Gojis No Glory

    Haha! Now that’s an interesting theory! Makes you wonder about the stories behind a lot of dishes… Love that you used chicken legs instead. Chicken breast can be such a challenge to cook with sometimes…definitely not a go-to for a moist option. Such a beautiful dish 🙂

    1. Maggie Post author

      Yep, I prefer chicken legs over chicken breast for most of the time. Especially for stir-fry and baking dishes, leg meat is much easier to deal with and the flavor is better. And yes, they are much more moist than chicken breast! Have a great weekend 🙂

    1. Maggie Post author

      What does Bang Bang shrimp like? Is it fried? I once see a fried version of Bang Bang chicken and thought it’s quite strange (but tasty!). There is another version of bang bang chicken by using peanut sauce (tasty too!). The combination of soy sauce and chili sauce is very classic, and I consider it Chinese version of “olive oil + balsamic vinegar”! 🙂

  2. Robyn @ simply fresh dinners

    You can count me in when it’s fresh, healthy and easy, Maggie. The fact that it’s chicken and spicy will make it a favourite! I will confess to never having made this but your gorgeous photos and tempting recipe will definitely have me adding this to the menu.
    I’ve made a healthy version of Bang Bang shrimp with panko and egg whites that I baked in the oven. I guess I should put that on the blog, lol.
    Love visiting your blog, Maggie. I know I’ll always learn something and the images are always so interesting. Great video, too!

    1. Maggie Post author

      The baked version of Bang Bang Shrimp sounds so delicious! I love to bake fry stuff too, they are healthier and easier to clean up. Really glad you like the recipe and my blog! 🙂

  3. Pingback: Tuesday Tidbits - simply fresh dinners

  4. steve freiman

    I did a search for variations on this recipe and found that the majority of them call for breading and frying the chicken — this looks much more appealing and I’m making it today.

    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Steve, glad to hear you like this recipe! Yeah, I know the fried version you mentioned (it is mostly served outside of China). Even here in China, we have two versions, one with peanut butter, and one without.
      Happy cooking and let me know how it goes! 🙂

  5. Cynthia Phillips

    Maggie, this recipe looks wonderful & I love the score you used for your video. What is the name of the piece pls? Tx.