My Debut Cookbook 'Comfy' Is Out Now. ORDER HERE!
Air Fryer/ Chicken/ Hearty Dinners

Salted Caramel Chicken

April 26, 2024 (Last Updated: May 1, 2024) by Chris Collins

You won’t believe how easy it is to make the most incredible salted caramel chicken!

Yes, this truly is as good as it sounds. It’s the perfect balance of sweet and savoury and I’m beyond excited to share the recipe with you! Follow me…

close up shot of salted caramel chicken on bed of rice garnished with sesame seeds

Crispy Caramel Chicken

We’re going to be using chicken thigh in this recipe for a couple of different reasons:

  • Tender – chicken thigh is much more forgiving in the sense that it’s more difficult to overcook than breast is. This means you can get a crispy coating without the chicken drying out.
  • Flavour – thigh is fattier and more flavoursome than breast.

Once you’ve diced the chicken, you’ll want to coat it in oil and seasoning. The seasoning is important as it adds some depth of savoury flavour to the dish, whilst also obviously seasoning the meat itself. The oil is great to help the seasoning stick. I love using groundnut oil to add a very gentle nutty background flavour.

Cornflour/Cornstarch

Coating the chicken in cornflour is what creates the light, crispy coating. The coating also absorbs the sauce and helps it cling to the chicken.

Process shots: add chicken, seasoning and oil to bowl (photo 1), toss to combine (photo 2), add cornflour (photo 3), toss until fully coated (photo 4).

4 step by step photos showing how to coat chicken in cornflour

Cooking Caramel Chicken

When it comes to cooking the chicken, I like to use one of these two methods:

1. Air fryer

This uses less oil and is less hands-on, but it takes a little longer and the chicken doesn’t come out quite as crispy.

2. Pan fry

This is the quicker option and the chicken comes out a little crispier and a little juicier, but you’ll need to use more oil and it can get a little messy with the oil splattering over the stove.

Both options are great so just use whichever suits you best!

2 step by step photos showing how to cook caramel chicken

Caramel Sauce for Chicken

You won’t believe how simple this is to make. You only need 4 ingredients:

  • Sugar – I prefer using light brown sugar.
  • Cream – Double/heavy cream and make sure it’s close to room temp.
  • Butter – I use unsalted to gain more control over the saltiness of the sauce. I recommend dicing it into small cubes so it melts into the sauce with ease.
  • Soy Sauce – This is my secret weapon. It adds a lovely depth of savoury flavour, whilst also adding the salt aspect of the salted caramel.

Depending on how salty you want the sauce, you can add a pinch more salt if you feel it needs it.

Simmering the sauce

The sauce comes together in a matter of minutes. I find many recipes for salted caramel overcomplicate things – I simply bung it all in the pan, melt it down and gently simmer until it thickens. It’s a more rough and ready method, but I honestly see no difference in the result. Just make sure it doesn’t boil too rapidly and keep in mind it thickens more as it cools.

Process shots: add caramel ingredients to pan (photo 1), stir to melt sugar/butter (photo 2), bring to gentle simmer (photo 3), stir until it thickens (photo 4), add chicken (photo 5), stir to combine (photo 6).

6 step by step photos showing how to make salted caramel chicken

Salted Caramel Chicken FAQ

How salty is the caramel?

The soy sauce adds a good amount of saltiness to balance out the sweetness, but you can add more salt if you think it needs it. Just go easy – it’s much easier to add more than take it out. Plus you’ll be serving with a bit more salt.

What happens if the caramel over-thickens?

You can very easily thin it back out with a dash of hot water.

Can I make it ahead of time?

You can definitely make the caramel ahead of time (I’ve added more on this in the recipe card below).

close up shot of salted caramel chicken in pan

Serving Caramel Chicken

I typically serve this with rice, although noodles work great too. I also love adding some sesame seeds and flaky sea salt to garnish. If you’d like, you can also add some very thinly sliced spring onion and red chilli to add another layer of savoury flavour.

For two similar recipes check out my Honey Butter Chicken and Honey Sriracha Chicken!

Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe for this salted caramel chicken shall we?!

salted caramel chicken served in white bowl with rice garnished with spring onion and red chilli

How to make Salted Caramel Chicken (Full Recipe & Video)

close up shot of salted caramel chicken in pan

Salted Caramel Chicken

You won't believe how easy it is to make the most incredible salted caramel chicken!
Print Pin Rate
Servings (click & slide): 3 - 4
Course: Dinner / Main Course
Cuisine: Asian / Western
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Calories per serving: 685kcal
Cost per serving: £2.50 / $3

Equipment:

  • Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
  • Large Mixing Bowl
  • Large Pan & Tongs
  • Wire Rack
  • Spatula

Ingredients (check list):

Chicken

  • 640g / 1.4lb boneless skinless Chicken Thighs, diced into large bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tbsp Groundnut Oil, plus more if frying the chicken (see notes)
  • 3/4 tsp Fine/Table Salt
  • 1/2 tsp EACH: Garlic Powder, Ginger Powder
  • 1/4 tsp White Pepper
  • 50g / tightly packed 1/3 cup Cornflour/Cornstarch, plus more if needed
  • Oil Spray, if air frying the chicken

Salted Caramel

  • 110g / tightly packed 1/2 cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 60ml / 1/4 cup Double/Heavy Cream, at room temp
  • 45g / 3 tbsp Unsalted Butter, diced into small cubes and left at room temp
  • 2 tbsp Light Soy Sauce
  • 1/8 tsp Fine/Table Salt (optional)

To serve

  • Flaky Sea Salt
  • Sesame Seeds
  • very thinly sliced Spring Onion, (optional)
  • very thinly sliced Red Chilli, (optional)

Instructions:

  • Add the diced chicken to a large mixing bowl and coat in the oil and seasoning. Add the cornflour and toss until the chicken is fully coated. You can add another tbsp or so cornflour if needed.
  • Air Fry (option 1): Lightly spray the base of the air fryer with oil. Spread the chicken out and lightly spray with oil. Cook at 200C/400F for 12 minutes, or until light golden, crisp and piping hot through the centre. You may need to work in batches.
  • Pan Fry (option 2): Add 4 tbsp oil to a large pan over medium-high heat (or enough to cover the base of the pan). Once the oil is hot enough that a crumb rapidly sizzles, spread out the chicken and fry each side for 3-4 minutes, or until golden, crisp and piping hot through the centre. You may need to work in batches. Place the chicken on a wire rack when done, then discard any excess oil and wipe out the pan.
  • For the sauce, add the sugar, butter, cream and soy sauce to a pan over low heat. Use a spatula to stir until everything is combined, with the sugar dissolved and butter melted. Increase the heat slightly and bring the sauce to a gentle simmer. Stir frequently for around 3 minutes or until the sauce thickens and starts turning syrupy. Keep in mind it'll thicken up more as it cools. You can add a pinch of salt if you think it needs it.
  • Turn off the heat and stir in the chicken until fully coated, then serve with sesame seeds and flaky sea salt.

Quick 1 min demo!

Notes:

a) Chicken - I don't recommend using breast because it'll overcook by the time the outside gets a chance to crisp up. Thigh is more difficult to overcook in comparison to breast (plus it's more flavoursome). Timings will vary based on the size of the chicken and how crowded the pieces are in both the air fryer and pan, so just be vigilant throughout.
b) Oil - Groundnut oil adds a gentle nutty flavour to the dish which works tremendously with the caramel. I haven't used peanut oil before, as it's difficult to get in the UK, but if it's got a subtle flavour you could sub that. Don't use sesame oil - it's too strong. Sub veg or sunflower oil.
c) Sauce consistency - Make sure it doesn't simmer too aggressively because the sugar could burn. Just keep gently bubbling away until the sauce thickens up and keep in mind it'll thicken a little more once you add the chicken in. If at all wary just cut the heat and check where you're at. You can always turn the heat back on a simmer a little more. If you over-thicken the sauce or need to loosen it up at all once the chicken is in, just stir in hot water a dash at a time.
d) Saltiness - A lot of saltiness will come from the soy sauce and a little bit from the chicken itself. I tend to add a pinch more in the sauce (~1/8 tsp) but that's completely optional. Keep in mind you're serving with a pinch of flaky sea salt too. In general, it's much easier to add more than take it out, so go steady!
e) Make ahead - I don't recommend making the chicken ahead of time, but you can make the caramel ahead of time. Just transfer to a bowl or jar and leave to completely cool, then tightly store in the fridge for a few days. Gently reheat in the pan, using a splash of water to loosen it up if needed.
f) Servings/Calories - Will make 3 portions (or 4 modest). Calories is the whole recipe divided by 3 assuming the air fryer method.

Your Private Notes:

Nutrition:

Nutrition Facts
Salted Caramel Chicken
Amount Per Serving
Calories 685 Calories from Fat 296
% Daily Value*
Fat 32.87g51%
Saturated Fat 15.078g75%
Trans Fat 1.759g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3.39g
Monounsaturated Fat 11.696g
Cholesterol 260mg87%
Sodium 1146mg48%
Potassium 624mg18%
Carbohydrates 52.79g18%
Fiber 0.3g1%
Sugar 36.19g40%
Protein 43.52g87%
Vitamin A 718IU14%
Vitamin C 0.2mg0%
Calcium 66mg7%
Iron 2.27mg13%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition is based on the absence of salt unless stated as a measurement in the ingredients. Cost is worked out based on ingredients bought from UK supermarkets, then divided by the number of servings. In both instances these values are just for guidance. Please check out my FAQ Page for more info.
Tried this recipe?Show me how you got on by tagging @dontgobaconmyheart_ on IG and #dontgobaconmyheart
Looking for more?You'll find plenty more delicious comfort food like this in my Debut Cookbook 'Comfy'

DINNERS

YOU'LL NEVER STOP MAKING

A FREE EMAIL SERIES, FROM ONE FOODIE TO ANOTHER

5 KNOCKOUT

Leave a Reply

Recipe Rating




No Comments

5 KNOCKOUT

DINNERS

YOU'LL NEVER STOP MAKING!

A FREE EMAIL SERIES, FROM ONE FOODIE TO ANOTHER