Five Spice Chicken Stir-fry

Five spice chicken stir-fry closeup on a plate.

5 from 1 review

Quick and easy to make in 30 minutes and full of the BEST savory, spicy and sweet flavors! Tender chicken pieces, onion, fragrant aromatics and chilies get tossed in a mouthwatering sauce in this Five Spice Chicken Stir-fry!



For the Chicken Marinade:

  • 250 grams / 9 ounces Chicken Thigh Fillets, excess fat trimmed, sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • ⅛ TSP Ground White Pepper
  • 1 TSP Potato Starch
  • ½ TBLS Low Sodium Light Soy Sauce
  • 1 TSP Shao Xing Rice Wine (substitute dry sherry if unavailable)

For the Sauce:

  • ½ TSP Potato Starch
  • ⅛ TSP Kosher Salt (use half the amount if using iodized table salt)
  • ½ TSP Chinese Five Spice Powder (store-bought or homemade – note 1)
  • 1 TSP White Sugar (or other sweetener of choice – note 2)
  • 1 TBLS Low Sodium Light Soy Sauce
  • 1 TBLS Shao Xing Rice Wine
  • ½ TBLS Chinkiang Vinegar (Chinese black vinegar – substitute with half distilled white vinegar and balsamic vinegar if unavailable)
  • ½ TSP Dark Soy Sauce
  • ½ TSP Sesame Oil
  • ½ TSP Pure Chili Oil (optional – without flakes and seeds)
  • 3 TBLS Water

For the Five Spice Chicken Stir-fry:

  • medium Yellow Onion – sliced into ¼-inch wide strips, then sliced in half across the middle
  • 2 medium Spring Onions (Scallion/Green Onion) – cut into 1-inch pieces, white and light green parts separated from dark green parts
  • 1-inch piece fresh Ginger – julienned (about 2 tablespoons julienned)
  • 3 Garlic cloves – minced
  • 13 fresh Red Chilies (Thai Bird’s Eye or any other small hot red chilies), to taste – destemmed, finely chopped
  • 310 Dried Red Chilies (note 3), to taste – snipped into ½-inch pieces, seeds shaken out and discarded for milder dish if preferred
  • 2 TBLS Peanut Oil (or any other neutral oil with a high smoke point)



  1. Marinate the chicken: Clean and trim the chicken thigh fillets and slice into bite-sized pieces. Add to a medium bowl, followed by the ground white pepper, potato starch, low sodium light soy sauce, Shao Xing rice wine and sesame oil. Mix well to coat and set aside.
  2. Make the sauce: Whisk together the potato starch, kosher salt, Chinese five spice powder, white sugar, low sodium light soy sauce, Shao Xing rice wine, Chinkiang vinegar, dark soy sauce, sesame oil, pure chili oil (if using) and water in a small measuring cup or bowl until thoroughly combined.
  3. Prepare the rest of the ingredients: Prepare the yellow onion, spring onion, ginger, garlic, fresh red chilies and dried red chilies as indicated in the ‘Ingredients’ section. (Pro-tip: Discard all or some of the seeds from the dried red chilies for a milder flavor. You can also leave them whole to get the aroma without the added heat in the final stir-fry dish.)

For the Five Spice Chicken Stir-fry:

  1. Cook the chicken: Heat 2 tablespoons peanut oil in a large wok over high heat. Once hot, add the marinated chicken and immediately spread the pieces out in the wok. Allow to cook for 30 seconds, then stir-fry for another 30-40 seconds or until 80% cooked. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a clean bowl and set aside.
  2. Stir-fry the onions, ginger and garlic: Heat the oil remaining in the wok over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the yellow onion, spring onion white and light green parts and ginger. Stir-fry for 20 seconds until you can smell the ginger. Add the garlic and stir-fry for another 20 seconds until fragrant.
  3. Add the chilies: Add the fresh and dried red chilies and stir-fry for 20 seconds to combine.
  4. Add the chicken and sauce: Add the chicken and all the juices in the bowl. Give the sauce a quick stir with a spoon to loosen up the starch that will have settled at the bottom. Turn the heat up to high and pour the sauce over everything. Stir-fry for a minute, until the sauce thickens and everything is coated well with it. (Note: If the sauce thickens too quickly, you can add a splash of water and continue stir-frying.)
  5. Toss through spring onion: Toss through the spring onion dark green parts and switch off the heat.
  6. To Serve: Transfer to a serving plate and serve immediately with warm steamed rice, over cooked noodles or zoodles (zucchini noodles) for a low carb option.



  1. Chinese Five Spice Powder. This is a mixture of usually five or more spices that’s used in Chinese cuisine. It’s typically made with cloves, cinnamon, star anise, Sichuan red peppercorns and fennel seeds. Sometimes orange peel or ginger is also added. I personally prefer No. 1 Hand Brand blend which has ground cumin and coriander seeds instead of fennel. Either store-bought or homemade is fine. Although not spicy-hot, it is very potent so a little goes a long way. Find it in the herbs and spices section of any mainstream supermarket. For a substitute, mix ¼ teaspoon garam masala (homemade preferred) and ⅛ teaspoon each of ground star anise and ground Sichuan red peppercorns. If your garam masala already has black pepper incorporated in it, you don’t need to add the ground Sichuan red peppercorns. Use this mixture as a substitute for the ½ teaspoon of five spice powder called for in this recipe.
  2. White Sugar. You can use honey or any other sweetener of your choice to taste instead of sugar. If using honey, you will need more water and can omit the potato starch from the sauce as the honey version will thicken the sauce and make everything nice and glossy. The flavor will be slightly different, but it’s equally delicious.
  3. Dried red chilies. I’ve used Thai Jinda dried chilies here which are quite hot. Either Chinese or Thai dried red chilies can be used. Adjust the quantity based on your heat level preference and how spicy the chilies are. If using Thai Bird’s Eye dried chilies, use less as they are hotter than most Chinese dried chilies.
  4. Adjust spice level to taste. For a milder stir-fry dish, use less of (or omit) the fresh and dried red chilies completely. You can leave them whole so you get the wonderful aroma in the dish but not the spice. Alternatively, shake out and discard all the seeds after snipping them as they are what contain the heat. Also omit the pure chili oil from the stir-fry sauce.
  5. Double the recipe. Simply click ‘2x’ at the top of the recipe card above to double all the ingredients and make four servings. Be sure to use a large enough wok or large deep heavy bottomed frying pan if doubling the recipe. Alternatively, cook in two batches if your pan is not big enough.
  6. Storing leftovers. Although this stir-fry tastes best right after cooking, you can store any leftovers in a sealed airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat on high in the microwave for 1-2 minutes or until hot throughout.
  7. See ‘Variations’ section in the post above if you’d like to customize this stir-fry.


Keywords: five spice chicken stir-fry, five spice chicken, chicken with five spice