Maple Whiskey Chicken

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Grab a fork and put on your fat pants. This is one of my favorite, super indulgent, weeknight chicken dishes.

I’m the first one to admit that this will never be called health food.

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It’s chicken fried in bacon fat, candied in maple syrup, then doused with whiskey.

And it’s absolutely delicious. Just don’t eat it every night. 😉

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This is one of our favorite chicken dishes right now. It’s packed with flavor—and easy enough that you can bang it out on a weeknight.

It’s sweet. It’s spicy. It’s sticky and laced with whiskey. And, there’s bacon.

What more could you ask for?

Ground clove and cayenne give it depth and heat. Maple syrup sweetens things up, and a generous pour of whiskey balances the flavors out and adds some earthiness.

Hot or not?

This recipe as is has a moderate amount of heat. Definitely feel free to crank it up and add more. All depends on what you like.

Maple Whiskey Chicken

1 lb. chicken breast, cut into chunks
6 strips thick-cut bacon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon ground clove
3/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup whiskey or scotch

Serves about 3

Fry the bacon

Grab your bacon. (Mmmmm, bacon.)

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Cut it into pieces, spread it out in a pan, and fry over medium-high heat in a large, non-stick pan.

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Flip it once it’s starting to brown and crisp.

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When it’s nice and crispy, yank it out of the pan and set it aside to drain on paper towels. Reserve about 1/4 cup (no more) of the bacon fat in the pan for frying the chicken.

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Prep the chicken

While the bacon’s frying, prep the chicken. Grab your chicken breast. Whack it into roughly 2-inch chunks. Try to keep the pieces about the same size so they cook evenly.

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Toss the chicken chunks into a zip-top bag. You can also use a bowl, but I aim for speed/efficiency on the weeknights, which means the zip-top bag is my friend.

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Throw in the cayenne, garlic, clove, white pepper, and dried parsley.

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Seal the bag and shake the hell out of it to coat the chicken. (Make sure you have a good seal on the bag. I learned this the hard way…)

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Toss in the flour. Seal and shake to coat. (I do the spices and flour in separate steps. The spices will stick better to the raw chicken.)

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Cook the chicken

This cooks quickly, so make sure you have all your ingredients handy. You’re going to cook on high heat most of the time. Think of it like a crazy, bacon-powered stir fry without all the tossing.

Remember that bacon fat? You only want to use about 1/4 cup of it, or else your end sauce will likely be greasy.

Set the pan back on the stove over high heat. Get the bacon fat nice and hot. When it’s ready, the surface will start to shimmer. Don’t leave it on the heat so long that it starts to smoke.

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When the fat is hot, add your chicken to the pan. (If you want to test, dip one piece of chicken in the hot fat. If it immediately starts to bubble, you’re good to go. If not, wait a minute and check again.)

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I know: MOUSE, YOU’RE BREAKING THE GOLDEN RULE OF FRYING: DON’T CROWD THE PAN!

I know. Take a deep breath. It will fine. Keep your heat on high and watch what happens.

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Let the chicken cook, untouched, for about 3 minutes, until the edges start to get opaque.

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Your chicken should have a glorious brown crust on the bottom. When you see that, flip the chicken over. Fry for about another 3 minutes on the other side.

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Pour the maple syrup over the chicken.

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It will bubble furiously.

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Sprinkle with the cooked bacon.

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Toss the whole thing together to coat the chicken and bacon. Let cook, on high heat, for another 2 minutes maybe. (If your pan is obviously smoking or burning, notch the heat down a bit. Everyone’s stove is a little different.)

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Pour the whiskey into the pan.

A quick note on cooking with booze
Have a pot lid handy *just* in case the whiskey lights up. It’s only happened to me once, but let me tell you: “Surprise Flambee” is never something you want to deal with. If your stove is hot enough that the whiskey does catch fire, toss a pot lid over the pan and just let it go out. No big deal. When the fire is out, uncover. No harm done.

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Let the whiskey bubble for a minute or two, then toss to combine the whole mess.

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Cook for another 2-3 minutes until the maple syrup and whiskey have coated the chicken with marvelous sauce.

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If you have dogs, they should be incredibly concerned with what you’re doing at this point. (Dexter likes to hang out under my work table and peek out.)

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If you like, sprinkle with sliced scallions and serve with buttered white rice.

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Weekend chicken + waffles

For more of a weekend meal, this makes an excellent base for chicken and waffles. Follow this recipe and make the chicken. Set it aside, covered, to keep warm. Break out your waffle iron, and go to town. (My go-to waffle recipe is here.) Serve the waffles topped with the warm chicken and garnished with a whole strip or two of bacon.

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Enjoy!

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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie serves as an Associate Creative Director at PARTNERS+simons, a boutique ad agency in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.

15 COMMENTS

  1. If it flames up with the whiskey, why not just let it flame and die on it’s own… would the extra burn change the flavor?

    • Honestly? Safety. If you’re comfortable with flambeing, you could def let it go out on its own…though, I’d wager that the actual flame could almost make a hard candy crust on the chicken if it burns for too long.

      +Jessie

  2. I made this for supper tonight since I had everything on hand and it’s AMAZING! Even my picky husband loved it. Thank you!

  3. [email protected]

    You are correct…… My dog did not leave my side lol and it’s also very tasty

  4. My wife loved this. I was wondering about the lack of salt in the recipe, but I figured the bacon would have that covered, but my chicken needed salt. Next time I try this, I’m going to try it with boneless chicken thighs and a little salt added to the spice mix. This came out looking lovely though.

  5. Just made this last night for dinner, accompanied it with butternut squash in browned butter and green beans. The chicken was definitely the star. I was full, yet wanted to eat more because it was so good! There were only three things I did differently from the recipe: 1) I didn’t have thick cut bacon, so used regular and it worked fine; 2) omitted the cayenne pepper because the kids don’t like hot stuff :/ ; 3) we don’t do wheat, so instead of regular flour, I used almond flour which worked great as a substitution. I intend on making this sauce alone and trying it out as a marinade for chicken breasts – I have a feeling it will be just as phenomenal. 🙂 Thanks for bring this to my table!!! 😀 OH! And just so that you’re aware, when you click on the “Pin It” button (which I desperately wanted to do), it doesn’t pin the recipe, it pins something entirely different. Hopefully you will be able to fix it so we can share on Pinterest!!!

  6. Ok, now I am hungry! This recipe looks amazing! And the way you explain it, with pictures and everything? Awesome! Thank you for that! you are an amazing cook! I’ll try your recipe as soon as possible, thou, as I have some spirit made with my whiskey still, I might use some moonshine whiskey, instead of just whiskey 🙂 looking forward to other recipes! 😉

  7. This dish has become a staple in our house. But it’s so messy to prepare that it’s kind of a special treat when I make it. Also, it’s very good as leftovers so I usually buy a family pack of chicken breasts and do the entire thing up. It only last about two days in our house. I happen to be out of Jameson at the moment… wonder how it would taste if I used Rum?

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