If you cook only one recipe from this blog, let it be this Indonesian-inspired sweet soy chicken. I promise you this dish is a BIG keeper. It is a perfect way to impress a small dinner party and the easiest way to make your little ones ask for more.
To make this delicious recipe we will need only a couple of simple ingredients:
- Chicken. I made this recipe using bone-in chicken thighs. However, you can use drumsticks, marylands, chicken wings or even the whole chicken, just ask your butcher to cut it into small pieces.
- Shallots. If you don't have shallots, a regular onion will work just fine.
- Fresh garlic cloves. Do not substitute with garlic powder.
- Fresh ginger. Ground ginger won't work.
- Coconut milk. Make sure to choose good quality coconut milk, it makes a huge difference in taste. Check the ingredient label, it should be coconut extract or cream and water, nothing else.
- Kecap manis. I make my own kecap manis, the recipe is below.
- Salt and pepper to season
- Extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup of organic brown sugar
- ⅔ cup soy sauce, I used tamari, because it is gluten-free
- Basmati rice. Use cauliflower or brown rice for a healthier option.
- Fresh cilantro leaves (coriander)
- Green onions
- Red chilies (optional)
See the full ingredient list in the recipe card below.
As I mentioned before, I make my own kecap manis. It is so much better than anything you might find in grocery stores. Unfortunately, most of the time kecap manis is made using high-fructose corn syrup, caramel color, and preservatives. Unless of course, you have found one with all-natural ingredients, I would recommend you make your own. It is extremely easy to make.
How to make Kecap Manis
- Combine sugar and soy sauce (or tamari) in a small saucepan and bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Let it boil gently over very low heat for 3-4 minutes, until the sauce has slightly thickened. Watch it carefully, it will burn easily if left unattended.
- Take the sauce off the heat and let it cool while you are preparing the chicken.
How to cook chicken
This recipe is extremely easy to make, however, you want to have all the ingredients to be ready to go.
- Start by finely chopping onions, garlic and ginger. You can use a small food processor, to chop the vegetables. Transfer everything to a small bowl until ready to use.
- In a deep frying pan heat some olive oil over medium heat. Add pieces of chicken, skin down, and let them cook for about 10 minutes until the skin is golden brown. Turn them around and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Take the fried chicken pieces out and set them aside.
- Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. No need to clean it, unless your chicken got accidentally burnt.
- Add shallots, garlic, and ginger to the pan. Cook for a couple of minutes until fragrant and the shallots have softened. Stir often. If you like spicy food add half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper at this point.
- Add kecap manis and coconut milk, stir and bring to a simmer.
- Put chicken back into the frying pan, and cook for 20 minutes with the lid on, or until the chicken is fully cooked.
- The only thing left to do is to serve and enjoy!
What to serve with the sticky chicken?
The sauce of this chicken is absolutely finger-licking delicious and you want to have some rice to soak up the sauce. 😉 If you need help with HOW TO COOK PERFECT BASMATI RICE ON THE STOVE, check out this post.
I would also recommend making the FIVE-MINUTE ASIAN-STYLE PICKLED CUCUMBER SALAD because it goes really well together with the chicken and rice. Dinner tonight is sorted 😉
How to store
If you happened to have any leftovers, which is highly unlikely, you can refrigerate them in an air-tight container for up to 3 days. It is also a good meal-prep idea. You can cook the recipe on Sunday and enjoy a delicious dinner later in the week. Just cook fresh rice 🙂
How to freeze
If you would like to cook this Indonesian chicken recipe ahead of time, you can freeze it in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Take the chicken out of the freezer the night before you are planning to serve it and let it defrost naturally in the fridge. Once defrosted, warm it up in a wok or deep frying pan until the chicken is hot. You might need to add a little splash of coconut milk or water.
I would recommend you use dark chicken meat to prepare this recipe. However, if you would like to use white lean meat, go ahead and choose one with skin on. The skin will help to preserve the moisture which will result in tender chicken.
More family-friendly chicken recipes
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Indonesian Style Sweet Soy Chicken
- 6 chicken thighs bone-in and skin on
- 4 small shallots finely diced
- 3 garlic cloves grated or pressed
- 3 cm ginger grated
- 1 cup of coconut milk
- 7 tablespoon of kecap manis use recipe in the recipe card
- salt and pepper to season
- 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup of organic raw sugar
- ⅔ cup of gluten-free soy sauce I use Tamari
Start by making the kecap manis:
- Combine sugar and soy sauce (or tamari if gluten-free) in a small saucepan and bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Let it gently boil for 3-4 minutes. Watch it carefully so it doesn't burn. It will bubble a little and thicken. Think fresh cream-like consistency.
- Take the sauce off the heat and let it cool while you prepare the chicken.
- Chop and grate onions, ginger and garlic. You can use a small food processor to mince the vegetables. Set aside.
- In a deep frying pan heat some olive oil over medium heat. Add chicken pieces, skin down and let them cook for about 10 minutes until the skin is nice and golden. Turn them around and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Take the fried chicken out and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. No need to clean the frying pan, unless your chicken got accidentally burnt.
- Add shallots, garlic, and ginger mix to the pan. Fry for a couple of minutes until fragrant and shallots have softened. Stir often.
- Add kecap manis and coconut milk into the frying pan.
- Put the chicken back into the frying pan, bring to simmer, and cook for 20 minutes with the lid on over very low heat.
- Your chicken is now ready to be served. Enjoy
- This is a very good meal to cook on a Sunday for the week ahead. It will last for up to 3 days in the fridge, ready to go.
- Do not use kecap manis from the shop, unless you find one with nothing artificial in it. If you do, please let me know 🙂
I LOVE simple and easy recipes, and this one is certainly that. It tastes amazing and was super easy to make.
Thanks, Jenna, I love simple and easy recipes too!
This was delicious!! I tried swapping out the sugar for a stevia sweetener to make it sugar-free but it didn't work out too well. The stevia made the sauce sweeter but it wouldn't thicken (not really surprising I guess). I ended up adding just enough sugar to make it thicken but maybe next time I'll try adding cornstarch to thicken it. Thanks for the recipe!
Thank you for trying out the recipe, Niamh! Cornstarch sounds like a good idea. So glad you enjoyed it!! x
We made this chicken for dinner last night and it was amazing! Easy to prepare (love easy meals) and full of flavor. I used liquid aminos for the soy sauce (it's what we use for soy sauce) and served it with rice. The whole family loved it, we had no leftovers so you know it was good.
Wow this meal was so easy to prepare it was amazing. So juicy everyone went for seconds
I love cooking with chicken thighs, and the flavors in this recipe are perfect! Thanks!
Love all of the flavors in this dish! We are adding to our rotation since everyone loved it.