Bourbon Street Chicken (soy-free!!!)

I wanted to have a big, long, entertaining thread about the history of a dish called “Bourbon Street Chicken”. But, in my scouring of the “interwebs” I have discovered that this dish is basically a mythical one-eyed unicorn. By that, I mean that no one knows the history and no one even consents on the recipe. Generally, it’s a chicken dish made with ginger, garlic, and soy sauce. People differ on whether Bourbon is a necessary ingredient. Some say it’s named after Bourbon because it’s made with it, others say it’s named after the street in New Orleans and bourbon is not an ingredient. Some say it’s a Chinese-American dish and some say it’s a Creole dish (I may be grossly ignorant of Creole cooking, but soy sauce+ginger+garlic says Asian to me). You’ll see it on menus at Chinese-American restaurants as well as various American restaurant chains. It varies in taste from a sweeter teriyaki flavor, to a sweet and spicy complexity.

I have been wanting to develop a series of asian-inspired dishes that are soy-free. A huge task, I know. Soy sauce is a staple in various dishes and there’s nothing conventional that really compares to the flavor. I thought that Bourbon Street Chicken would be a good recipe to try out my soy sauce substitutions, and boy was it!! This recipe is a winner. I have one son who is sensitive to soy and one son who loves Chinese food. They both loved this dish, although they said it was a little spicy. If your kids are sensitive to spicy foods, you can lower or eliminate the red pepper flakes, but I encourage you to make it with them for yourself sometime. It’s just not the same without that kick. I also opted to leave out the bourbon in this recipe. I think people are confusing Bourbon Chicken with Bourbon Street Chicken, and that the original recipe is without bourbon, but that’s just my guess.


1 1/2 pounds chicken breast, cut into large chunks
2 TBS olive oil
2 TBS cornstarch
1/4 cup apple juice
1/3 cup beef stock
2 TBS balsamic vinegar
2 TBS molasses
1/3 cup brown sugar (dark is preferable)
2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1/4 tsp fresh ginger, grated or minced
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

In a large frying pan, heat oil. Add chicken and cook until brown and cooked through (no pink on the inside, but don’t overcook). Meanwhile, whisk together the cornstarch and apple juice until smooth. Add in the remaining ingredients. When chicken is cooked, pour sauce onto chicken and stir until chicken is coated and sauce is thick. Remove from heat and serve with rice or quinoa.

REAL food alert: check your beef stock for msg or autolyzed yeast extract.
ALLERGY alert: if you are allergic to corn, simply eliminate the cornstarch and cook the sauce longer until it thickens.
MAKE AHEAD alert: You can make the sauce, minus the corn starch, and marinate the chicken in it. When you’re ready to make it, dump the whole thing in the pan and add the corn starch after the chicken is cooked. Be careful not to scorch the sauce, it’s high in sugar. You can also pre-make and freeze the sauce.

10 thoughts on “Bourbon Street Chicken (soy-free!!!)

  1. My Aunt Nita from Uruguay makes a dish like this which makes wings absolutely edible. She got it down in Uruguay and it has nothing about Bourbon in it. It sure is good, though. She uses soy, though.

    • Balsamic vinegar is typically gluten-free (It’s aged grape juice). I just specify because you never know what some commercial products have in it unless you read the label (and even then, sometimes you don’t know).

      • Huh. My mom (who is Celiac) read somewhere that most balsamic vinegar is NOT gluten-free. I will have to look into that more closely.

  2. The ingredients in normal, natural balsamic vinegar is nothing but grapes (not wine, which may have other additives that have gluten), so it is naturally gluten-free. Malt vinegar is the main vinegar that uses grain in the fermentation process, so that has gluten. However, some cheaper brands of other kinds of vinegar, including balsamic, may contain additives that have gluten, or may use grain-derived vinegars as a base. Also, I believe some people who are celiac may be extra sensitive to vinegar, but I do not know why, I am not familiar enough with the condition.

  3. Was craving Bourbon Chicken and have a soy allergy and was glad to come across something like this. However, I have an apple allergy (well most fruit for that matter) 😦 Do you have any ideas for an alternative to apple juice?

    • I’m so sorry, what a tough allergy! Is there a fruit that you are not allergic to that is similar? I would try pear, that has a similar flavor to apple. You could use white wine if you have it. Honestly, you could leave it out entirely and it won’t make too much of a difference.

      • No pears either! LOL. I’m allergic to quite a bit. I can only eat strawberries, grapes, canned peaches, and oranges. White wine may be a good idea, thanks! I’ll figure it out! Thanks for the reply!

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