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Skillet full of spicy sesame chicken and broccoli.

This spicy sesame chicken with broccoli is hearty, warming, and ready in 30 minutes—and the spiciness is totally adaptable!

This recipe goes against so many of my usual practices when it comes to East Asian-inspired cooking—like sautéeing scallions and cashews along with the other ingredients. Scallions and cashews are best served as garnishes in my world. I love the crisp and tangy bite of raw scallions and the salty crunch from cashews. But this recipe is a riff off of Melissa Clark’s Sesame Chicken, and her recipe taught me that it’s ok to let go of these old habits once in a while.

My New Year’s shift is to whip up a recipe from one of my many cookbooks every Sunday. I’m referring to this practice as ‘Cookbook Sunday’; I’m very creative ;)

Right now I’m hooked on Melissa Clark’s Dinner: Changing the Game. I’ve found a ton of inspiration in this book already and I’m thrilled that I can trust these recipes. (Totally my favorite cookbook right now.)

Spicy Sesame Chicken with Broccoli.

My riff off of Melissa’s recipe brings a bit more heat to your plate with extra chiles, which can easily be toned down to your preference. I’ve also swapped her dates for a drizzle of raw honey, and I’ve added broccoli to the mix. Because what’s a good Chinese-inspired dish without bites of crunchy, saucy broccoli. Oh, I’ve also added sesame seeds because hello, sesame chicken!

We enjoy this good stuff spooned over fluffy jasmine or basmati rice, but you could also toss it into a wholesome tangle of soba noodles or spiralized zucchini if you’re keeping things light.

Pro tip: steam your broccoli.

It’s an extra step, but steaming your broccoli and adding it to the chicken and cashew blend at the end of it’s cooking time is crucial. If you cook your broccoli along with the chicken in the sauce, your broccoli is going to turn into mush. It probably won’t even resemble broccoli. This is my general rule when adding most vegetables to saucy dishes like this one.

I hope you enjoy my spin on this recipe!

Plate of spicy sesame chicken with rice and chopsticks.

Side shot of plate of spicy sesame chicken with rice and chopsticks.

2 from 1 vote

Spicy Sesame Chicken with Broccoli

This spicy sesame chicken with broccoli is hearty, warming, and ready in 30 minutes.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4
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  • Large skillet
  • Vegetable steaming basket or steaming bag


  • 4 TBSP sesame oil
  • 1 TBSP freshly grated ginger
  • 8 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 bunch of scallions (about 6-8 of them), cut into 1-inch pieces (green and white parts)
  • 4-6 dried red chiles (or 1-2 tsp of red chile flakes), Adapt this with your heat preference in mind.
  • 1/2 cup lightly salted whole roasted cashews
  • 6 boneless and skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • 1/3 cup rice wine or pale dry sherry
  • 3 TBSP dark soy sauce
  • 2 TBSP raw liquid honey
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, steamed
  • 2 cups fresh torn basil leaves, You can also use cilantro, or a combination of the two.
  • Sesame seeds, for garnish
  • Lime wedges, for serving
  • Cooked rice, for serving, I like to use jasmine or basmati
  • toasted sesame oil (optional)


  • Cook rice as per directions on package; set aside once ready.
  • Steam the broccoli; set aside once ready. (See notes)
  • While the rice and broccoli cook, heat a large skillet over high heat. Once it's hot enough, which should take about 2 minutes, add 2 TBSP of the sesame oil. Swirl it around the pan to coat.
  • Add the ginger, garlic, scallions, and chiles, and stir immediately to prevent the garlic from burning. Fry for about 2-3 minutes, or until the garlic is fragrant and golden at the edges, stirring often. It's important to keep the garlic moving to prevent it from burning and becoming bitter.
  • Add the rest of the sesame oil to the pan as well as the cashews and the chicken. Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper over the chicken, and cook for about 4-5 minutes, or until the chicken starts to brown, stirring occasionally. If the cashews seem to be browning to quickly, reduce the heat.
  • Lower the heat to medium and add the rice wine, soy sauce, and honey. Simmer until the sauce reduces into a thicker consistency and the chicken is cooked through. This should only take another 5-7 minutes.
  • Stir in the steamed broccoli and torn basil; garnish with sesame seeds and serve over rice.


For an extra punch of rich sesame flavor, add a drizzle of toasted sesame oil to the skillet, if you have some handy, and toss to coat.

Steamed Broccoli

If using prepackaged frozen broccoli that's in a steamable bag, prepare it as per the instructions on the packaging.
If using freshly cut florets, bring about 2 inches of water to a boil in a pot. Place your steaming basket over the pot and transfer the broccoli florets to the basket. Cover, and let them steam for 5-6 minutes or until tender enough to poke with your fork, but still offering a crunch. Don't oversteam them, or they will be mushy.
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If you enjoyed this recipe, try my Garlic and Ginger Meatballs with Hot Honey Glaze.

2 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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