A popular and delicious Hakka, Indian Chinese takeout dish, dry chilli chicken is made with crispy chicken chunks and lightly tossed in a spicy chilli sauce. Packed full of amazing flavours from both worlds.

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You will find this popular dry chilli chicken dish in both Hakka Chinese restaurants and Indian restaurants, so does this make it a Hakka dish or an Indian Chinese dish? The real question is: Does it really matter? It’s fantastically delicious and it’s two regions of the world working together by combining their techniques and flavours to produce a very loved dish. πŸ™‚


Chilli Chicken


If you have never had this dish before then definitely try it out. If you enjoy takeout dishes like sweet and sour pork, crispy beef or Mongolian beef then you will probably enjoy this dish as well. It uses the Chinese takeout technique of ‘deep frying and tossing it in a thick sauce to coat it’ that most of us are very familiar with but uses a dark spicy chilli sauce instead of the usual sweeter sauces.



Chilli Chicken



This recipe is a dry chilli chicken version, however if you prefer the gravy version of chilli chicken then just double up the sauce recipe to make it more saucy πŸ™‚




Almost all of of the ingredients can be found at your local grocery store.


Chilli Chicken


Why do I use 2 kinds of soy sauce? Dark soy is a thicker, less salty soy sauce. It is used for this dish to mostly give it the signature dark colour.


For the chilli powder, this is usually found at a Indian grocery store. The chilli powder at local grocery stores usually are a blend of cumin and other spices – this is not the type of chilli you would use for this recipe. That type of chilli powder has a more tex-mex kind of flavour. Indian chilli powders are just pure chilli peppers blended into a fine powder with no extra spices, so this gives just heat. When you are looking for chilli powder, make sure there are no other extra spices in the ingredient list – it should only be chillis.Β If you cannot find this, you can substitute it 1:1 with cayenne pepper.



Hot Hot Hot?

The type of hot peppers you use in this dish will be your preference, depending on how spicy you like your food.


For a milder spicy, go for the bigger green chillis. I found they have a mild spiciness to them if you use about 3-4 of them and you can kick it up to medium easily by increasing the amount to about 7-8 of them.


Chilli Chicken


If you are into the very spicy foods, then I’d say go with the smaller green thai chillis. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, these peppers are POTENT. πŸ˜› Rule of them is usually, the smaller the chilli peppers the spicier they are.


I like to use about 6 of the larger green chillis combined with 1-2 of the smaller thai chillis. This gave me a medium spiciness that was just right since I am personally not a huge fan if making my foods so ridiculously hot that I can’t taste anything except for heat.






Spicy Chilli Sauce

To make the chilli sauce, you essentially combine all the ingredients (except the corn starch slurry thickener) and let it sit out to ‘marinate’. You want the heat from the chillis to meld into the sauce.


Chilli Chicken


When adding in the corn starch to the sauce, create a slurry with it first with a few teaspoons of cold water – then pour the slurry into the soy sauce and mix. Corn starch is a funny ingredient that doesn’t always want to play nice when mixed with sauces directly so the easiest way to deal with it is to mix it with a small amount of cold water first, then add it to the sauce. (You can put the corn starch slurry in the sauce at the very end right into the pan when the sauce is cooking but I find it easier to just combine it to the sauce in the beginning. One less step to worry about.)



Deep Frying Chicken

What makes this dish delicious is the deep frying step. There is honestly no way around it. You can do a shallow fry in a pan with less oil but you will still need to deep fry it to a certain extent to create a crispy exterior.


Chilli Chicken


I personally LOVE crispy foods, but find it slightly irritating when it when it is 60% batter and 40% chicken. This dish is lightly coated and therefore has a very light crispy exterior. This makes for a less greasy end product as well. πŸ™‚

Chilli Chicken


The flavour in the crispy marinade is mainly ginger, garlic and onion.Β Traditionally in chilli chicken there isn’t any onion in the marinade/batter but I find adding the onion gives it a little something something. Caramelized onion is honestly the secret weapon here. Traditions are always broken around here anyways πŸ˜‰


Chilli Chicken


Chilli Chicken



Looking for Something Baked but Loaded with Spices Instead?

If you’re not up for deep frying and you’re looking for something baked but still loaded with flavour and spices, then definitely head on over to The Hungry Bites and try his ‘Moroccan Baked Chicken with 11 Spices‘! πŸ™‚



My local takeout joint is going to miss me πŸ˜‰


Chilli Chicken

  • Author: Joyce | Pups with Chopsticks
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 3-4 Servings
  • Category: Main, Takeout
  • Cuisine: Chinese, Hakka, Indian


A popular and delicious Hakka, Indian Chinese takeout dish, chilli chicken is made with lightly battered crispy chicken chunks lightly tossed in a spicy chilli sauce.


  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken (preferably dark meat)
  • 1/2 green pepper
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 tablespoons garlic-ginger-onion mix (reserved from marinade)

Chicken Marinade

  • 1/2 onion (small)
  • 3-4 slices ginger
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon chilli powder (or cayenne pepper) *see notes at the bottom*
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 3-4 tablespoons water
  • 6-7 tablespoons corn starch (mix this in with the chicken after you are done marinating, right before deep frying)


  • 5-6 green chilli (or green thai chillis if you like it spicier)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon dark soy
  • 2 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • t tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch (mixed with 4 teaspoons of water)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder (or cayenne pepper) *see notes at the bottom*
  • 1/2 cup water



  1. With a food processor, blitz the ginger, garlic and half a small onion until it is a fine paste. Reserve 2 tablespoons of this for browning the onions and green peppers later.
  2. Cut up the chicken into small bite sized inch pieces and marinate it in a bowl with the ginger-garlic-onion paste, soy sauce, chilli powder, black pepper and water. (Do not add the corn starch yet. We will add that right before we deep fry the chicken.) Marinate in the fridge for 1 hour
  3. Chop the green peppers and remaining onion into bite sized pieces and set aside

Making the Sauce

  1. Chop up the chillis in the slices (keep the seeds) and add it to a small bowl
  2. Add in the rest of the ingredients in the sauce ingredient list except the corn starch
  3. In a small bowl, mix 2 teaspoons of corn starch with 4 teaspoons of cold water, then add it to the sauce and stir to combine
  4. Set the sauce aside

Putting it Together

  1. In a wok, frying pan or deep fryer set the oil to 375F (191C).
  2. Add in 6-7 tablespoons of corn starch to the chicken and mix until combined and chicken is coated lightly
  3. When the oil is hot, add the chicken into the oil to cook in batches (careful not to over crowd the oil, which can drop the oil temperature)
  4. Cook the chicken for about 5-6 minutes and set aside on a plate with paper towel or newspaper when it is done
  5. In a wok or frying pan, set the stove to medium to medium high heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil
  6. When the oil is hot, add in the 2 tablespoons of ginger-garlic-onion mix that was reserved from preparation and cook it until it is toasty and brown. Approximately 1-2 minutes. Careful not to burn it.
  7. Add in the onions and green pepper chunks and cook it for about 2 minutes. We want to keep the veggies somewhat crisp still
  8. Give the sauce a quick stir (the corn starch likes to settle at the bottom) and add it to the wok
  9. Keep stirring the sauce until it thickens and becomes translucent and thick
  10. Once the sauce has thickened, add in chicken and mix everything together until the chicken is coated with the sauce
  11. Turn off the heat and enjoy it with some rice! πŸ™‚


  • The chilli powder at local grocery stores usually are a blend of cumin and other spices – this is not the type of chilli you would use for this recipe. That type of chilli powder has a more tex-mex kind of flavour. Indian chilli powders are just pure chilli peppers blended into a fine powder with no extra spices, so this gives just heat. When you are looking for chilli powder, make sure there are no other extra spices in the ingredient list – it should only be chillis. If you cannot find this, you can substitute it 1:1 with cayenne pepper.
  • This is a dry chilli chicken recipe. If you want to make the gravy chilli chicken, double the sauce ingredients and it will make it saucier for the gravy version of chilli chicken! πŸ™‚


  • Serving Size: 1 Serving
  • Calories: 574 kcal
  • Sugar: 10 g
  • Sodium: 2129 mg
  • Fat: 25 g
  • Carbohydrates: 44 g
  • Protein: 53 g

Disclaimer: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites, however I provide these links to make items
easier to find if you cannot purchase this locally and I would never recommend anything I don’t own myself or highly recommend. I would prefer you buy your items locally if possible to support your local shops (and chances are they are cheaper locally as well!) πŸ™‚


31 thoughts on “Chilli Chicken”

  1. This recipe is 100% better then at the Hakka restaurant I go too! Super awesome now I don’t have to leave my home to eat this dish!!

    1. Being in Pjs at home rocks anyways! πŸ™‚ Really happy to hear you liked it. πŸ™‚

  2. Chili Chicken is near or at the top of my all time favourite foods, and since moving to Waterloo, I’ve been very, very sad there isn’t a local place to get it. My semi-annual trips up to Scarborough had to keep my cravings at bay. But now that I’ve had your chili chicken, I don’t need to wait and drive any more! It’s exactly how I love it – dark, spicy, crunchy. This recipe is perfect, and I’m gonna be busy deep frying chicken pretty much constantly!

    1. I totally hear ya. After leaving Toronto, I pretty much can’t get a lot of my faves anymore either – so my mission is to create it at home! RawR! lol Sharing is caring right? πŸ™‚

  3. Oh this dish looks amazing! I first heard of Hakka while we were in Malaysia, where I absolutely loved both the Chinese and Indian food. I’ll have to try this one too

    1. I find foods with Chinese Indian influences are amazing! Something about all that flavour jam packed into a little dish. Malaysia is such a foodie country! You’re so lucky to have went! πŸ˜€ I’d love to spend a month there and just EAT! πŸ˜€ haha

  4. Spicy is my middle name. I love your marinade and sauce. Thanks for some great flavors.

    1. Same here! πŸ˜€ I can’t take all the credit here – Indian Chinese food have amazing flavours!

  5. There used to be a street food vender near our place who used to make amazing chili chicken. Haven’t found another one as good as his anywhere else. Yours look just like his, and looking at the recipe I imagine it will be as good or better! I am going to give this a try .

    1. I hope you enjoy this recipe! I wished I had more street food vendors here! I’d be in heaaaaven!

  6. Now I’m very curious to try this dish!! I’ve never had Hakka before and I love spicy chilies!! Great info too! Love your posts!

    1. Thanks Amanda! πŸ™‚ You’re too kind friend. Hakka food is adddddictive. I am totally on a takeout kick right now haha πŸ™‚

  7. Indian or Chinese – any way you slice it this looks mouthwatering! I love anything velveted (is that even a word – the cornstarch coating) and fried. I love soy. I love chili. I’m going to love this!

    1. It is a word! A odd one at that! haha A lot of chinese recipes make use of it to get a ‘slippery smooth’ texture to their foods. This recipe is just plain ol’ deep fried and sauced! Hope you love this! πŸ™‚

  8. i love how shiny and dark and flavorful this looks!! i’m a spice wimp but i would suffer through the pain for these (also, i thought crying bc something was so spicy wasn’t a real reaction… and then i cried when i ate spicy korean noodles last weekend. so. much. pain. also deliciousness).

    1. haha you could totally tweak the spiciness but yes! I am a tooooooootal sauce fiend haha! πŸ˜€

  9. This chili spicy chicken is my favourite one, esp. when dip with the sauce. YUMMY !! I did it as your direction, ingredients etc. Kids love it and eat more rice than usual. GREAT. Thanks. THUMB UP !!!!

  10. Another of my favourite chili spicy chicken. I did love it. But I chopped lesser green chili hot peppers. I love this dainty tasteful texture when I put one piece in my mouth to eat. UhMM ! Yummy !! I will do this again . Thank you

    1. I am so happy to hear you enjoyed this! You can definitely tweak the spiciness to your liking – the joys of homemade cooking! πŸ™‚

  11. This chili chicken looks absolutely fantabulous! I love this Indo-Chinese dish to death and will try it for sure. Saving it for later and thanks for posting this (had been on the look-out for a good chili chicken recipe for some time). Glad to have found it here:)

    1. This is definitely one of my fave dish too! I feel so happy you will be trying this, I hope you enjoy it!! πŸ™‚

    1. I am so happy you enjoyed this Jennifer! πŸ™‚ I am always happy to share! πŸ™‚

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