One-Pot Sesame Chicken Recipe

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Growing up, getting take-out from the local Chinese restaurant was a real treat. My mother always cooked because there wasn’t a lot of room in the budget for expensive restaurant meals. Going out to eat was reserved for special occasions or especially busy weekends. You know, the ones where my siblings and I all had swim meets, soccer matches, and piano recitals on the same day.

Chinese take-out was always especially welcomed because of my favorite dish, sesame chicken. I loved those deep-fried chunks of chicken, but it was really about the sauce. Every bite was coated in that sweet, sour, and savory glaze packed with toasted sesame flavor. It was a magical experience—my mother didn’t cook anything like it. Making this meal at home seemed impossible.

Fast forward a few years and here I am, an accomplished cook, but I’ve still never made sesame chicken. No matter how many foods I make from scratch, my childhood favorite has stayed out there in the realm of impossibility. That is, until I discovered this easy, healthy one-pot sesame chicken recipe.

Ditching the MSG

Chinese restaurants are infamous for using MSG to amp up the flavor of their dishes. Monosodium glutamate is a chemical compound that is used to enhance the flavor of food. It brings an “umami” component to your dish, adding flavors which naturally occur in Parmesan cheese or mushrooms.

My mother always added “…and no MSG” when she ordered Chinese food. She was a firm believer that this chemical was responsible for giving her headaches, feelings of sluggishness, and achy limbs. Was it the culprit? We still don’t quite know.

Ask a hundred people what they think about MSG and you’ll get a hundred different responses. The science is still out on the chemical, and there are no conclusive studies that prove that MSG creates these side effects. But, whether it’s placebo or true, people still complain of headaches after eating MSG-rich foods.

I can’t say one way or another if it’s good or bad. While I personally don’t feel side effects, I trust my mother’s reactions that she knows her body better than anyone. I always try to avoid it anyway, which makes a great excuse to make foods from scratch—like homemade hoisin sauce. I like to know 100 percent of the ingredients that go into making it. This also helps me control my sugar intake, too.

All You Need Is One Pot

Okay, now that we got that out of the way, let’s move on to the best part of this healthy sesame chicken recipe. You can make it in one pot! I love healthy one-pot meals because they make it easier to cook on weeknights. I find that if I only have one pot to clean up, I’m that much more likely to cook.

We start by browning the chicken in the sesame oil. This creates these roasty little bits at the bottom of the pan. In classic French cooking, this is called fond, which roughly translates to “base.” These browned bits are like super concentrated flavor capsules. When you add liquid, the bits dissolve to create the base of a flavorful sauce.

So the one-pot meal isn’t just about easy cleanup – it creates a better, more intensely flavorful sauce! By the time you whisk in your soy sauce, honey, ginger, and garlic, you’ll already have a great base for your sauce. The cornstarch will help the sauce thicken up so it will cling better to the sides of the chicken. You definitely want that, because the best part of this dish is how the sweet and savory sauce coats the chicken.

We think this easy, one-pot sesame chicken recipe is better than the Chinese take-out variety, but you be the judge! Let us know in the comments what you think of this healthy chicken recipe.

Healthier One-Pot Sesame Chicken Recipe

Healthier One-Pot Sesame Chicken Recipe

Yields: 4 servings | Serving Size: 1 cup | Calories: 278 | Total Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 83mg | Sodium: 447mg | Carbohydrates: 14g | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 10g | Protein: 28g | SmartPoints (Freestyle): 7


  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 pound boneless and skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch strips
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced into thin 1 inch ribbons
  • 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup green onion, sliced


  1. Heat the sesame oil on medium heat. Once hot add the chicken and carrot. Cook until the chicken is firm and cooked through. Drain off any excess liquid.
  2. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients except sesame seeds and green onion. Whisk until smooth and pour over the cooked chicken. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 minute, or until thick and chicken is coated. Stir in the sesame seeds. Remove from heat and top with green onion. Serve over brown rice or quinoa, if desired.

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22 Comments on "One-Pot Sesame Chicken Recipe"

  1. Pamela Wright  January 19, 2018

    Made this for dinner tonight. It was quick and so good. The glaze was perfect. I added broccoli and sugar snaps peas with the carrots. Thanks for a new favorite!

  2. Joyce  January 20, 2018

    So quick, I added extra vegetables and it was good for 6 people. This one is on my camping recipes also. After a long drive, setting up and very hungry, quick and easy to cook, and clean up.

    • Nichole Furlong  January 21, 2018

      One-Pot recipes make great camping recipes! So glad you enjoy this Sesame Chicken!

  3. Elaine  April 3, 2018

    Thank you for sharing. I will definitely be making this dish soon except will leave out the crushed red peppers and add sweet peppers and probably sugar snap peas too!!

    • Nichole Furlong  April 4, 2018

      Sounds delicious, Elaine! Make sure to come back and let us know how the recipe turned out with your sweet peppers!

  4. Lee  April 3, 2018

    Has anyone tried to toast the sesame seeds? I’m thinking it will give another depth of flavor.

    • Nichole Furlong  April 4, 2018

      Lee, you most definitely can toast the sesame seeds! It will create a much richer sesame flavor. Give it a try and share you results!

  5. Sherri  April 10, 2018

    I’m hoping to try this, but I will use canola oil to brown the chicken. I have read from many sources that Sesame oil is not a “browning or cooking” oil, just a flavoring oil to be added to the finished dish. However, I have used a couple drops in conjunction with canola oil, to add flavor. It’s just that Sesame oil has such a low smoking point, I wouldn’t want to ruin the chicken. But the rest of the dish (minus the honey – I don’t eat honey) sounds wonderful.

  6. Suzanne  April 10, 2018

    This was really delicious. So easy to cook as well. Next time, I will cook the chicken first, in batches, then remove the chicken and cook the carrots, They just didn’t cook at the same rate, so some of my carrots were too undercooked to enjoy. I think this could also use some more vegetables, so adding asparagus, snap or snow peas or baby bok choy would add more bulk and some green as well. The sauce was delicious and the right amount for the dish.Thank you for sharing this tasty, easy-to-prepare meal.

    • SkinnyMs. (JH)  April 11, 2018

      Thank you, Suzanne. Those additions and cooking modifications sound great, too.

  7. XYZ  January 16, 2019

    If you cook the chicken in one pot, and the rice in another, this is a two pot recipe. Not one.

    • Gale Compton  January 17, 2019

      Brown rice or quinoa are not included in this recipe. It’s up to you whether or not to serve a grain. 🙂

  8. Mel  February 25, 2019

    This is the perfect type of lunch I’ve been looking for. The only things I did differently was to cook the chicken first then the carrots (I also added cabbage and some onions). Added quinoa to meal prep bowls and I’m good for most of the week.

    • Nichole Furlong  February 25, 2019

      We’re glad you found this recipe, Mel! Great tips and ideas. It’s always fun to make a recipe fit you needs.

  9. Ali  July 30, 2019

    I doubled the amount of chicken and still only came out with about 5 cups when it was all cooked. Does a pound of chicken breast and a carrot really come out to 4 cups?

    • Nichole Furlong  August 1, 2019

      Hi Ali, the amount also depends on the size of the chicken breast and if you’re using fresh or frozen.

  10. Ashley  March 9, 2020

    It was good but to much ginger in my opinion. Next time I will try it with half the ginger. I served it with chick peas in brown rice.

  11. Karen  April 19, 2020

    I made this for meals for my son for the week.
    He gave it a taste test and Loved it! Great recipe! Easy to follow!

    • Erin Miller  April 20, 2020

      Awesome, Karen! We’re so glad he loved it! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  12. Karen Ruf  May 7, 2020

    I made these fri make mails for my son so he would eat healthier. He loved them and asked for them again. Highly recommend

    • Gale Compton  May 8, 2020

      Karen, YEAH!!! Thank you so much for letting us know. 🙂


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