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A large clay pot with Three cup chicken (San Bei Ji) inside
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5 from 17 votes

Three Cup Chicken (三杯鸡, Taiwanese San Bei Ji)

A quick and easy, incredibly flavorful one-pot three cup chicken recipe (三杯鸡, Taiwanese San Bei Ji), loaded with garlic and ginger and braised in a sweet soy sauce which caramelizes into a very syrupy sauce that goes amazing with rice!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 923kcal
Author: Joyce | Pups with Chopsticks


  • 2 lbs chicken wings (or any type of dark meat chicken)
  • ¼ cup sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter (optional)
  • 10 cloves garlic (smashed and intact, do not chop them.)
  • 7 slices ginger (1x3 inches)
  • 4 small shallots (or 1 small onion - cut into 1-inch chunks)
  • 5-6 birdseye chili (medium heat. Use less to make it less spicy or more to make it spicier)


Delicate Aromatics (Add At The End)

  • 3 stalks green onions (chopped into 2-inch length)
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves (I like to use Thai basil for this but in a pinch, Italian basil will work as well)



  • Cut the 10 slices of ginger and set it aside for later
  • Peel 10 cloves of garlic and use the side of a knife to smash it down to crush it. Do not cut them into small pieces, leave them intact so that they don't burn as easily. Don't worry it will soften and caramelize during the cooking process. Set it aside for later
  • Peel and chop 4 shallots into 1 inch chunks. Set it aside for later
  • Cut 3 stalks of green onions 2 inches lengthwise and set aside for the end
  • Wash and pick 1 cup of basil leaves off the stems and set aside for the end

Making the Sauce

  • In a bowl, combine the ½ cup of hot water and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Stir it until the sugar has dissolved
  • Once the sugar has dissolved, add ¼ cup of light soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of dark soy sauce (optional) and ½ cup of Shaoxing wine.
  • Mix it and set aside for later.

Putting It Together

  • Set the stove to medium heat and add the ¼ cup of sesame oil into a small pot.
    Try to use a pot with tall wall to prevent the oil splatter from getting everywhere. Also try to use a pot that isn't too wide so that when you put the sauce in, it will be able to cover the chicken.
    If you are using a claypot, make sure you soak it before you use it to prevent it from cracking.
  • When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the ginger and toast it for about 3 minutes
  • Once the ginger has toasted for a bit, add the shallots, chilies and garlic and toast it for 2 minutes until it is golden brown.
  • Add in the chicken and brown it for approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Keep the garlic, ginger, and shallots on top of the chicken so it doesn't burn.
  • Once the chicken has slightly browned, pour in the sauce and cover the pot with a lid. Adjust the heat to medium-low heat and let it braise for 10 minutes.
  • Once 10 minutes is up, remove the lid and raise the heat back to medium heat. Let everything simmer for 8-10 more minutes (lid off). The sauce will start to caramelize and thicken.
  • Once 8-10 minutes is up and the sauce should have thickened, if it hasn't turned syrupy, continue to braise it without the lid for another 1-3 minutes.
  • Once the sauce is syrupy, add in the green onions and mix well for 1 minute.
  • Turn off the heat and add in the basil and mix well.
  • Enjoy with a bowl of rice! (don't eat the ginger slices! Remove them ahead of time, or when you're eating :) )
    A large clay pot with Three cup chicken (San Bei Ji) inside


  • Keeping the onions into 1 inch chunks and smashing the garlic and keeping it intact, prevents it from being burned when you are browning them in the oil
  • Delicate aromatics such as fresh basil loses a bit of flavor when it's cooked for too long. Using the residual heat from the dish to wilt it, maintains the flavors.
  • If you cannot find Shaoxing wine, you can substitute it for dry sherry. If you substitute it with Dry Sherry, the sauce will be slightly sweeter.
  • This recipe also works well with white meat. If you use white meat, cut it into bite sized chunks and marinate it in a mini brine of 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of water for 1 hour before using the chicken. This will keep the chicken moist and tender, and won't overcook as easily.
  • If you use boneless chicken, the sauce will need to use a corn starch slurry (1 tablespoon of corn starch mixed with 1 ½ tablespoon of cold water) to thicken the sauce at the end. The cartilage from the bones helps thicken the sauce to a thicker consistency.


Serving: 1Serving (½ lb of wings) | Calories: 923kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 46g | Fat: 64g | Cholesterol: 174mg | Sodium: 2632mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 26g