Cajun Cafe Bourbon Chicken

Cajun Cafe Bourbon Chicken emulates the bourbon chicken that appears frequently in shopping malls. It is a wonderfully easy-to-make-chicken dish. Best of all you can make Cajun Cafe Bourbon Chicken with chicken breasts, thighs, or legs.

Homemade bourbon chicken on top of rice

Cajun Cafe Bourbon Chicken

Does your mall have a Cajun Cafe? Or maybe you’ve passed another Asian food-court restaurant that makes bourbon chicken. One taste and you know you want more. Well, now you can make this scrumptious dish right at home.

Favorite Mall Chicken Recipe

I love making takeout recipes at home. I’m like a sleuth, comparing them and trying to make sure they are as close as possible.

So when I ate at Cajun Cafe, I knew I had to figure out how to make their bourbon chicken. It seemed simple enough. And I’m happy to say that it really is pretty easy!

a plate of bourbon chicken on rice


Here’s what you’ll need for making Cajun bourbon chicken:

  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
  • Bourbon Sauce which is also the marinade

What is the bourbon sauce made of?

The bourbon sauce is salty and sweet. It’s made of a combination of these ingredients:

  • Soy Sauce
  • Brown Sugar
  • Garlic Powder
  • Ground Ginger
  • Minced Onion
  • Bourbon Whiskey
  • White Wine
  • Cornstarch

The recipe only uses a few tablespoons of white wine, so if you don’t have any you can skip it. But I think it adds just the right amount of sweetness to the bourbon.

bourbon chicken ingredients

Can you use whiskey instead of bourbon?

For this recipe, I used Jim Beam bourbon. It’s so smooth and cooks the best with my chicken. If you have ever wondered what the difference is between whiskey and bourbon, Jim Beam wrote a thorough guide.

In fact, bourbon is a type of whiskey. Just like there are types of chocolate (dark chocolate, milk chocolate) there are types of whiskey, and bourbon whiskey is one of those.

These are the different types of whiskey, and you can use any of them in this recipe.

  • Irish whiskey
  • Rye Whiskey
  • Bourbon Whiskey
  • Scotch Whiskey

Chicken breast or thighs – which is best?

Honestly, either one works just as well as the other one. When you are chopping up the chicken, remove any fatty or tendon pieces. Those are difficult to chew. Otherwise, boneless chicken thighs work just as well as chicken breasts in this recipe.

How to Make Bourbon Chicken

There are two basic steps to this bourbon chicken recipe – the marinade and the baking. That’s it. Marinate the chicken for at least a few hours in the bourbon sauce. Then, bake it.

Here are the steps:

  1. Mix all the marinade ingredients in a small bowl and pour the mixture over chicken pieces in a large bowl.
chicken pieces in bourbon marinade
  1. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight, stirring often.
  2. Bake chicken at 350°F for one hour in a single layer, basting every 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the chicken from the oven.
  4. Scrape the pan juices with all the brown bits into a large skillet.
  5. Heat and add white wine.
  6. Make a cornstarch slurry by thoroughly mixing water and cornstarch together.
  7. Pour the slurry into the skillet with the pan juices. Stir and simmer until the sauce thickens.
  8. Stir and add chicken. Cook for 1 minute and serve over white rice or cauliflower rice.
  9. Garnish with green onions if desired.
a platter of bourbon chicken on top of white rice

Can you make bourbon chicken in a slow cooker?

I made my bourbon chicken in the oven. But you can just as easily make this in a crockpot too. If you are going to make it a slow cooker or Crock Pot, you can skip the marinating step.

Just pour the diced chicken and the bourbon sauce into the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-6 hours.

Be careful not to overcook the chicken or it will just fall apart (unless you like it like that).

Can you use another type of meat?

Yes, this sauce tastes just as amazing on any type of meat. Try one of these ideas to substitute the chicken.

  • Pork chops – chop up the pork chops and marinate them in the sauce just like you did for the chicken.
  • Pork Loin – marinate the pork loin and either bake it or cook it in the slow cooker. Then you can either shred it or slice it and serve it over rice.
  • Steak – Chop up sirloin steak into bite-sized pieces and marinate them and bake them, just like the chicken.
  • Vegetarian – You can press tofu and soak the tofu in the sauce. Then fry them in it.

How to Store, Freeze, and Reheat

Storing: Allow the bourbon chicken to cool to room temperature. Transfer the leftovers to airtight containers and place the containers in the refrigerator. It will last up to 4 days.

Freezing: All the bourbon chicken to cool to room temperature. Transfer it to a freezer-safe container and label it with the current date. It will last up to 3 months. Thaw it in the fridge overnight.

Reheating: Reheat bourbon chicken on the stovetop in a skillet over medium heat or in the microwave on high for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Ensure the chicken reaches an internal temperature of at least 165°F for food safety.

Bourbon Chicken on top of white rice

Cajun Cafe is one of my favorite Chinese restaurants. Here are some more Chinese recipes I’ve perfected that you should try!

Favorite Chicken Recipes

Be sure to check out more of my easy chicken recipes and the best fast food copycat recipes here on!

Homemade bourbon chicken on top of rice

Cajun Cafe Bourbon Chicken

Make Cajun Cafe Bourbon Chicken just like you find in many malls. 
4.50 from 8 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Bourbon Chicken, Cajun Cafe Bourbon Chicken
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 454kcal


  • 1 pound Chicken leg or thigh meat cut in bite size chunks
  • 4 ounces Soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup Brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Powdered ginger
  • 2 tablespoons Dried minced onion
  • 1/2 cup Jim Beam Bourbon Whiskey
  • 2 tablespoons White wine
  • 2 tablespoons Water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Cornstarch


  • Mix all the marinade ingredients and pour over chicken pieces in a bowl.
  • Cover and refrigerate (stirring often) for several hours (best overnight).
  • Bake chicken at 350 degrees for one hour in a single layer, basting every 10 minutes.
  • Remove chicken. Scrape pan juices with all the brown bits into a frying pan.
  • Heat, and add 2 tablespoons white wine.
  • Make a cornstarch slurry by combining water and corn starch together. Mix this well. Pour the cornstarch slurry into the skillet with the pan juices. Stir until the sauce thickens.
  • Stir and add chicken. Cook for 1 minute and serve.


You can use chicken breasts instead of thighs or leg meat.


Calories: 454kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 111mg | Sodium: 1679mg | Potassium: 329mg | Fiber: 0g | Sugar: 27g | Vitamin A: 90IU | Vitamin C: 0.3mg | Calcium: 38mg | Iron: 1.7mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of's Dining Out in the Home, and's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Zoey’s Dad

    5 stars
    This was perfect! It came out exactly the same as in restaurant. We moved to a city without a Cajun Cafe and I really missed this dish. Even my 8 year old loved it. We will definitely be making this again soon. Thanks so much for the recipe!

  2. Chris Scales

    2 stars
    I must be honest. Not good for us: I LOVE bourbon. This was waaaay too bourbon forward and waaaaay too salty. I did marinate it more then overnight, more like 24 hours so perhaps that is the issue.

    The sauce itself was not too bad, aside from being a little salty. The chicken tasted far too much like Jim Beam.

    If I do this again I would cut the amount of soy and bourbon by at least half as well as the marinating time.

    I am also likely to take smaller amounts of bourbon, brown sugar and reduce those is a sauce pan prior to using white wine to deglaze the pan and then adding to make the sauce.
    For me, I knew something did not seem right to me, I should have followed my gut.

    The flavors are indeed there and basically I think I can tweak this to make it much more to my and my families liking but for us, this was not a hit.

  3. Darlene's Mom

    5 stars
    Very Tasty and spicy dish ,i made it many times in my home and enjoy with my family they also loved it & Main part of this dishes is how to make the sauce.Sauce gives the flavor of this dish .For good smell you must use sesame oil And for spicy you can use hot sauce and red chili . Thanks for sharing.

    • Anne Dietrich

      Hello Stephanie,
      If I wanted to make it very Spicy, how would i do that. Add chile garlic oil, Sirracha sauce or red chile flakes??
      Also, what kind of white rice do you make that is fluffy and tasty?
      I’ve used balsanti ? rice, but it seems kind of grainy and not fluffy.
      Your thoughts……

      Thank you,

      • Stephanie

        So there are lots of ways to make this spicy, add some chili flakes sauce when you make it, you could fry the chicken with like you said some chili oil. If you just want heat I would add the chili flakes, maybe a pinch of cayenne pepper. It depends on the type of heat you like. You could slice up a few jalapenos when you add the chicken to the sauce. So many options to add heat!

  4. Jeanne

    Ok what did I do wrong? I followed the directions to the letter. Not a lot of flavor and the sauce was very light in color and like water. I was expecting the sauce to be darker and a little thicker. It did not stay on the rice.
    Lots of excellent reviews. Must be me. Help!

  5. Glenn Lyvers

    I love to cook and I’m good at forging recipes. Here’s my
    faked mall Bourbon Chicken. Adjust for size (my recipe is for a party), and
    sorry for the quantity of ingredients, but this is what I ended up with after 6
    tries. (Note: I make the sauce thin and reduce to desired thickness at the end,
    so if it looks odd, wait ‘till you taste it to judge!)


    20 Pounds of chicken thighs with skins on.

    4 Cups Brown Sugar

    1/8 cup salt

    6 cups simple syrup (1/2 water – 1/2 sugar)

    6 tablespoons liquid smoke

    1/4 cup teriyaki sauce

    3 tablespoons soy sauce

    1 tablespoon Worcestershire

    2 cups Bourbon (Cheap and flavorful is better than expensive for this recipe)

    Dash of Ginger (optional)

    Dash of Chili Pepper (optional)

    1 can of crushed pineapple (optional but I like it)

    3 Tablespoons of cayenne pepper (optional if you want some kick)

    1/2 cup orange juice (can’t taste it but it seems to do something magical)

    Grill the chicken on a grill making sure some spots burn. Remove from flame and
    overcook so the chicken dries out a little (makes for better absorption of
    marinade). The burned chicken flavor works great as long as you don’t overdo
    it. It’s really the key to making this recipe like the Mall.

    Let chicken rest until cool. Remove chicken skins (save them) and cut the meat
    into bite sized pieces.

    Combine everything, including the skins (which you did not cut up) and mix
    everything together thoroughly (nice and simple). Sauce will be thin but cover
    a spoon. Marinade chicken in sauce for 12 hours at least (refrigerate of course).
    Mix occasionally (gently).

    Warm the entire dish to room temperature. I use a microwave,
    but if you’re a purist you can do it in the oven. Add 2 cups hot water and mix
    everything gently, will thin the sauce and remove some sauce from chicken …
    which is good because it is too strong (in my opinion) if you just eat it.

    Remove chicken from the sauce. Strain sauce and then add
    chicken back to the strained sauce. (Throw away any chunky stuff strained from
    the sauce including those skins).

    Sauce should be thin (add a little water if necessary).
    Reheat everything in a pan, let sauce reduce to desired thickness, serve hot.
    Feeds 30 people with side dishes etc. A steamer tray works well for this

    I also throw some steamed broccoli in for color at the end.

    Serve hot.


    If you alter this recipe, please post your results. I am
    always looking for new ideas.

    • stephaniemanley

      Thanks Glenn, I appreciate your recipe I can’t wait to give it a try. You have a great recipe.

  6. kevi

    Wow that’s not the real recipe cuz I use to be one of the chefs there and I have the real recipe there’s no teriyaki in the recipe there’s thigh meat lots of butter nuts bourbon green onion and more fun stuff

  7. Guest

    When you buy this at the mall, is it really made with bourbon or do they have another mix of ingredients that omits the whisky?

    • Anonymous

      Personally, I think they may add some flavoring, or they add so little, the bourbon is most likely the most expensive ingredient in the dish.

4.50 from 8 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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