Gluten Free Sesame Chicken

Gluten Free Sesame Chicken

Satisfy your craving for Chinese takeout with this recipe for crispy and tender gluten free sesame chicken that’s packed with flavor.

Gluten free sesame chicken pouring sauce to serve.

There are a few Chinese restaurants not too far from where we live with safe & reliable gluten-free menus, and sesame chicken has always been a favorite. And I’m not at all against fried chicken.

But this baked version, especially with a new-to-me breading method, is just more versatile and lighter. Plus, the smell doesn’t linger in your home for hours after you’ve finished dinner.

Gluten free sesame chicken raw and being tossed in bread crumbs.

How to bread chicken the easy way

I had always breaded chicken with the dry-wet-dry method with a dipping station for coating the chicken in flour, then beaten eggs, and finally in bread crumbs. It had to be done right before baking or frying the chicken, and it made a mess.

Now, there’s an easier way courtesy of the food blogger Recipe Tin Eats. She calls it her “quick-crumbing technique,” and it has blown up dinnertime 🤯 in the very best way.

Rather than coating the protein in dry-wet-dry ingredients in stages, her method involves making a batter of eggs, flour, and mayonnaise for coating the chicken all at once. Then, right before you’re ready to cook, remove the chicken pieces from the batter and dip them in bread crumbs.

A versatile method

You can even have the chicken sit in the batter in the refrigerator all day until you coat and bake it. I also use this breading method to make our Chinese orange chicken, and just plain chicken fingers with different seasonings like the dry mix from our gluten free Rice a Roni.

My family used to be less than enthusiastic about breaded skinless boneless chicken breasts in any form. Not only is this method so much easier for me, it makes better chicken every single time.

Gluten free sesame chicken just out of the oven.

The best sesame chicken sauce

There are few essential elements to most gluten free Chinese food sauces: sesame oil, honey, rice vinegar and/or mirin (a tangy rice wine), tamari or gluten free soy sauce, and garlic. Without some form of each of these ingredients, the sauce won’t seem like American-style Chinese food.

In this recipe for sesame chicken, we begin with chicken stock thickened with cornstarch. We add honey and brown sugar for sweetness and depth of flavor, rice vinegar, tamari, toasted sesame oil, and garlic powder.

A few crushed red pepper flakes don’t make the sauce hot. They just balance the sweetness of the honey and brown sugar.

Since not everyone in my family is, um, flexible when it comes to their individual tastes and preferences, I prefer to drizzle the sauce on individual portions rather than add the cooked chicken to the sauce. Once you’ve cooked the sauce and it’s cooled, you can heat it in the microwave to loosen it before serving it.

Gluten free sesame chicken overhead being served and eaten.

Ingredients and substitutions

Eggs: There is one egg in the batter recipe that we use to coat the chicken, and of course eggs in the mayonnaise. If you can’t have eggs, you might be able to use a “chia egg” (1 tablespoon ground white chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel) in the batter.

You might be able to replace the mayonnaise in the batter with an egg-free vegan mayonnaise. I haven’t tried any of them, so I’m afraid I don’t know which, if any, to recommend.

Sesame oil: Toasted sesame oil is a unique ingredient that adds a tremendous amount of flavor to this recipe. If you replace it with another oil, you won’t be replacing the flavor. The sauce will turn out, but it won’t have the same flavor.

Bread crumbs: We’ve made our own gluten free bread crumbs, and that recipe works great here. You can also use your favorite store-bought Panko-style variety, or crushed gluten free cornflakes.

Tamari: I really like San-J brand tamari, and stock up on that when I find it for a good price. Instead of tamari, you can use your favorite gluten free soy sauce.

Keep in mind that traditional soy sauce is made with wheat, so it’s not gluten free. Choose your ingredients carefully!

Gum-free flour blend: You should not use any gluten free flour blend that contains xanthan gum or the chicken batter will be gummy and won’t coat the chicken properly. I always have my three-ingredient gum-free blend, made of superfine white rice flour + potato starch + tapioca starch) in a jar on my kitchen counter, since it’s so useful.

In place of that flour, you can try any non-gritty gum-free blend, if you have one you like. You could also use a single starch, like cornstarch or tapioca starch/flour.

Gluten free sesame chicken being served.

Satisfy your craving for Chinese takeout with this recipe for crispy and tender gluten free sesame chicken that's packed with flavor.

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 4 to 5 servings


For the chicken
2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 egg (any size), beaten

3 tablespoons (27 g) gum free gluten free flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 1/4 pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes

2 cups Panko-style gluten free bread crumbs or crushed gluten free cornflakes

Cooking oil spray

For the sauce
1 1/2 cups (12 fluid ounces) chicken stock

3 tablespoons (27 g) cornstarch

3 tablespoons (63 g) honey

2 tablespoons (27 g) packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

3 tablespoons (45 g) tamari or gluten free soy sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon or less crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

For serving
Cooked white rice

1 to 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Chopped scallions


  • First, make the chicken. Preheat your oven to 375°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside.

  • In a medium-sized bowl, place the mayonnaise, egg, flour, salt, and pepper and whisk to combine. Add the cubed chicken and toss to coat completely in the mixture. Place the bread crumbs in a wide, shallow bowl and dip each piece of chicken in the crumbs on all sides, pressing down to help the pieces adhere. Place the pieces of chicken about 1/2-inch apart from one another on the prepared baking sheet. Spray the tops of the pieces of chicken with cooking oil spray, then place the chicken in the center of the preheated oven and bake until the chicken is opaque throughout and the inside of a larger piece reads at least 165°F on an instant read thermometer (about 15 minutes). The chicken will be crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.
  • While the chicken is baking, make the sauce. In a medium-sized, heavy-bottom saucepan, place the chicken stock and cornstarch, and whisk to combine well. Add the brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic powder, and optional red pepper flakes and whisk to combine well. Cook the sauce over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture simmers and begins to thicken (about 5 minutes). The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. Once the chicken is baked, toss in the sauce, serve over brown rice and sprinkle the chicken evenly with toasted sesame seeds and scallions.

  • Originally published on the blog in 2013; photos, video, and much of the text new; chicken coating method based on Recipe Tin Eats less-mess technique.


  • Ambrielle
    June 27, 2020 at 12:39 AM

    In the ingredient section, just checking is it toasted sesame seeds or oil?

    • Nicole Hunn
      June 27, 2020 at 8:55 AM

      There’s no error, Ambrielle, if that’s what you’re asking. For the sauce, you need toasted sesame oil. For serving, it calls for seeds.

  • Emily
    June 14, 2020 at 12:10 PM

    I made this a few weeks ago in the oven and couldn’t get it crispy enough to make it as good as I know it could be! I want to try it in the air fryer – what temperature and cook time would you recommend for doing it that way?

    • Nicole Hunn
      June 14, 2020 at 12:12 PM

      You really need a pretty hot oven, Emily. You can definitely do them in the air fryer. Here is my recipe for air fryer chicken nuggets.

  • Gayle Derwinski
    June 10, 2020 at 10:24 PM

    Hi Nicole,
    The chicken turned out great, I put oil on the pan and flipped the pieces at the half-way point. It was crispy and delicious . The entire recipe is so very yummy. We loved the sauce, crispy chicken, crunchy sesame seeds! Great recipe, thank you so much!

    • Nicole Hunn
      June 11, 2020 at 10:02 AM

      I’m so glad, Gayle! Thanks for letting me know.

  • Gayle Derwinski
    June 10, 2020 at 2:10 PM

    Making tonight, chicken in the batter in the fridge. I am out of cooking spray Nichole. Can I use a bit of vegtable oil on tray and on chicken? Scant amount? Thanks!

    • Nicole Hunn
      June 10, 2020 at 2:21 PM

      You definitely can, Gayle, but a spray is by far the best way to get a little bit of oil evenly dispersed. Just try to approximate that!

  • Jane
    March 15, 2020 at 1:00 PM

    Do you have a recipe for schezwan beef?

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 15, 2020 at 3:57 PM

      In my first cookbook, Gluten Free on a Shoestring, I have a recipe for szechuan meatballs. But not here on the blog, Jane.

  • Kelly Snider
    March 11, 2020 at 5:48 PM

    My family loved this recipe and it was so easy to make! I used the tapioca starch instead of the flour because I didn’t have any without the xanthan gum. Thank you so much for all of your posts we are grateful followers.

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 11, 2020 at 7:06 PM

      Tapioca starch alone is a pretty good choice. If you’re ever inclined, the gum free blend is really useful! So glad you enjoyed the recipe and made it work. Thank you for letting me know!

  • JoAnn
    March 9, 2020 at 4:52 PM

    Just finished making this dish and oh my goodness it has reminded me of what sweet and sour chicken is supposed to taste like. Used your GF gum free flour mix. Made a double batch and it turned out perfectly. Cooked the chicken pieces for 35 minutes as I made the pieces a bit bigger. Great flavour and a great recipe. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Rosellina Bruni
    March 9, 2020 at 12:42 PM

    Do u have the recipe for your 3 ingredient bread crumb mixture. I usually buy it. But if i can make it and keep it on hand. It would be great.
    Can’t wait to try your sesame chicken recipe.

  • Angela
    March 8, 2020 at 5:23 PM

    If I wanna make this with boneless thighs, how long do you think I should bake them?

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 8, 2020 at 6:51 PM

      I honestly don’t know, Angela. Dark meat does take longer, and this recipe would be quite different all around with thighs. You’ll have to experiment!

  • Meg Mayo
    March 8, 2020 at 1:24 PM

    I am going to make this for dinner tonight. I might try a batch in the air fryer to see how that works, and a batch in the oven.
    How do you feel about General Mill Gluten Free Rice Chex? I was thinking about trying those as a crunch coating.
    P.S. I couldn’t find Better Batter anywhere, so I am currently dividing up my giant 20 lb bag I ordered online!

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 8, 2020 at 1:40 PM

      Hi, Meg, I’ve used crushed rice chex as a coating before, but it is sweetened so I generally avoid it. I have made chicken nuggets in the air fryer and really liked it, so check out that post for some tips. And yes, you won’t find Better Batter in many stores. I always mail order, and the 20 pound size is the best value by far.

  • Leslie
    March 8, 2020 at 10:03 AM

    Someone made a comment about sweet and sour chicken. You have a recipe in your Gluten Free on a Shoestring cookbook. Which is very good by the way. I am going to see if I can get my husband to make this Sesame Chicken recipe.

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 8, 2020 at 1:04 PM

      Oh my gosh no way, Leslie! That must be in the first edition. I didn’t even remember that! That must have been how I learned my family doesn’t care for sweet and sour chicken. Thanks for letting us know!!

  • Karen M.
    March 7, 2020 at 9:08 PM

    Yum, from someone who actually made it. This was delicious. Be sure to toast your sesame seeds, it does make a difference. I had some gf corn checks left so I used them up, then used gf Panko. I added a little more vinegar. The sauce was very good. Thanks Nicole for all your great recipes.

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 8, 2020 at 1:05 PM

      Thanks for letting us know how it went for you, Karen. So glad you liked it!

  • Meg
    March 7, 2020 at 4:54 PM

    I’m so excited to try this and your other Asian inspired recipes! Thank you for testing and posting.

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 7, 2020 at 5:02 PM

      Thanks for letting me know, Meg, and you are so welcome!

  • Julie L
    March 7, 2020 at 11:16 AM

    This is so inspiring! I always end up making the same “Asian night” stir fry. My family thanks you in advance. We love your dinner recipes!

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 7, 2020 at 5:02 PM

      I’m really glad you feel inspired, Julie! I don’t often post dinner recipes since most dinner foods are naturally gluten free. But Asian-style is sometimes an exception!

  • Stephanie Aston
    March 6, 2020 at 2:51 PM

    This looks so good! My husband is craving bbq and wants to do that this weekend but we might have to do this instead. I looked at all of your American Chinese chicken recipes and noticed they all use a different method. My personal favorite is sweet and sour chicken. Do you think you’ll be making a post for that soon? If not, which method would you recommend for the chicken? Thanks so much, I have all of your books that I’ve been able to find!

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 6, 2020 at 3:04 PM

      Hi, Stephanie, the honest reason I don’t have a recipe for sweet and sour chicken is that no one in my family likes it at all and I don’t know what to do with the food. I can’t seem to solve that problem, and I hate wasting food so I can’t even bring myself to really recipe test! It’s kind of soul-crushing to make food when you know no one will want to eat it.🤭
      I’d recommend using the chicken recipe from my lemon chicken, and the sauce from my friend Mel of Mel’s Kitchen Cafe (just use tamari in place of soy sauce).

  • JB
    March 6, 2020 at 1:31 PM

    Nicole i think the directions for making the chicken are from an old recipe?

    • Nicole Hunn
      March 6, 2020 at 1:43 PM

      You’re absolutely right, JB. I’m so sorry, and it’s fixed now. Apparently, the final changes I made to the recipe disappeared and the program reverted back to a previous update. If you still see the old instructions please clear your browser’s cache and try again.

  • Donna
    April 9, 2013 at 9:54 AM

    Thank you so much for all you do for all of us!!!!! You are a God send!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!! Love your cookbook by the way! Just got it and I can’t wait to start cooking and enjoying food again!!

  • Laurie Barrie
    April 1, 2013 at 11:56 PM

    Hi Nicole,

    I love Chinese food and can’t wait to try these! Thank you for posting.

  • Jenny
    April 1, 2013 at 4:04 PM

    Where do I find gf corn flakes?

    • gfshoestring
      April 1, 2013 at 5:02 PM

      Hi, Jenny,
      I usually order Erewhon gluten free corn flakes from amazon, but I have also seen them in the regular grocery store. I like them because they are thin flakes, so they can be easily ground, and because they don’t have any added sweeteners (just corn and salt in the ingredients list). You can also use Nature’s Path corn flakes (thicker flakes, some added sweeteners), or even General Mills’ Corn Chex, in case you need another option.

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