Quick and Easy Chinese Chicken With Oyster Sauce

Chicken in oyster sauce recipe in a bowl

The Spruce

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 8 mins
Marinate Time: 10 mins
Total: 33 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Yield: 4 to 5 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
416 Calories
18g Fat
14g Carbs
36g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 416
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 18g 23%
Saturated Fat 3g 16%
Cholesterol 101mg 34%
Sodium 1009mg 44%
Total Carbohydrate 14g 5%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 36g
Vitamin C 3mg 15%
Calcium 40mg 3%
Iron 2mg 12%
Potassium 479mg 10%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Chinese restaurants are known for their ability to turn out a high volume of dishes in a noticeably short time. The secret is stir-frying, a speedy cooking method that tosses bite-sized pieces of meat and vegetables in hot oil over a wok or skillet. You can use the same technique at home to replicate Chinese takeout or get a work-night dinner on the table in a hurry. This recipe for Chinese chicken with oyster sauce delivers the dish—without you needing to call for takeout. (Speaking of takeout, you might want to make up a pot of white rice with this, too.)

Prepared oyster sauce, available at most grocery stores, adds the essence of oysters to this dish and the signature flavor associated with a number of Chinese dishes. Oyster sauce is a condiment comprised of oyster juices, salt, sugar; some versions include soy sauce thickened with cornstarch. The finished flavor of a recipe with oyster sauce—combined with all of the other ingredients—becomes more savory in taste than explicitly fishy.

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"This was a quick and easy meal, and my family enjoyed it with rice. Most of the prep time is spent measuring and combining the marinade and sauce ingredients. My sauce turned out a bit thick, but it was easy to thin with a tablespoon or two of water." —Diana Rattray

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Ingredients

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, chopped into bite-sized pieces

For the Marinade:

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon rice wine

  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

For the Sauce:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

  • 1/3 cup water

  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce

  • 1 tablespoon rice wine

  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

For the Stir-Fry:

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger

  • 2 medium green onions, sliced diagonally into 1-inch pieces

  • 3 to 4 dried Chinese mushrooms, softened in warm water and sliced

  • 1 can bamboo shoots (or 1 can baby corn), drained

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for chicken in oyster sauce
    The Spruce
  2. Combine the soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil in a large bowl.

    Combine marinade ingredients
    The Spruce
  3. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of cornstarch evenly across the meat and toss again. Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes.

    Add the chicken to the soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil, along with cornstarch
    The Spruce
  4. While the chicken marinates, dissolve 1 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch in the water, then mix it with the water, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice wine, sugar, and sesame oil.

    Mix together the cornstarch, water, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, sherry, sugar, and sesame oil.
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  5. Heat a wok or deep heavy skillet on high and add 1 tablespoon of the canola oil. When the oil shimmers, add the garlic, ginger, and green onions and stir-fry for about 1 minute or until fragrant and just starting to brown.

    Stir-fry the garlic, ginger, and green onions
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  6. Transfer the ginger, garlic, and onions with a slotted spoon to a small bowl.

    Ginger, garlic, and onions in a small bowl next to the wok
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  7. Remove the chicken from the fridge, transfer to the wok with a slotted spoon, and stir-fry, stirring frequently, until it changes color, about 3 to 4 minutes. Discard the unused marinade.

    Chicken in the wok
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  8. Remove the chicken from the wok.

    Chicken in a small bowl removed from the wok
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  9. Add the remaining 1 tablespooon of oil and return the garlic, ginger, and green onions to the wok. Add the mushrooms and bamboo shoots (or baby corn) and stir-fry for 1 minute.

    Bamboo shoots, mushroom, green onions, garlic, and ginger in a wok
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  10. Return the chicken to the wok.

    Chicken added to the wok with veggies, garlic, and ginger.
    The Spruce
  11. Make a well in the middle and add the sauce, giving it a quick stir before combining it with the chicken and vegetables.

    Oyster sauce in the middle of the wok surrounded by chicken and vegetables
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  12. Stir-fry for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, or until the sauce thickens and coats all of the ingredients. Serve and enjoy!

    Chicken in oyster sauce finished recipe
    The Spruce

Tip

  • Good prep is the key to executing a stir-fry dish because everything cooks quickly over high heat. Have all of your ingredients at the ready when it's time to cook and your dish will taste fresher and more vibrant as a result.
  • Try not to add too many things to the wok all at once. If you do, it will cool down your wok and your food will simmer or steam rather than fry. One of the tricks to stir-frying is to cook the ingredients in batches.
  • If you don't have Chinese rice wine, you can use dry sherry as a substitute.

Recipe Variations

  • For a spicier dish, add a dash of crushed red pepper flakes or hot sauce, to taste.
  • For additional color and flavor, add strips of red bell pepper along with the green onion.
  • Add about 1/2 cup of snow peas along with the mushrooms and bamboo shoots or baby corn.

How to Store and Keep Chinese Chicken With Oyster Sauce

Leftovers will keep for 3 to 5 days if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Reheat over low heat on the stovetop or in the microwave for a couple of minutes until warmed through.

What's the Difference Between Oyster Sauce and Hoisin Sauce?

Oyster sauce is made from oyster juices, salt, sugar, soy sauce, and sometimes it's thickened with cornstarch. It's dark and thick like hoisin sauce, which is used as a glaze for meats, a dipping sauce and, like oyster sauce, in stir-fries. Hoisin sauce, however, is typically made from soybeans, fennel, red chile peppers, and garlic. It's decidedly sweeter than oyster sauce. Both are used regularly in Chinese cuisine to enhance the savory flavors in a dish.