This tender chicken and broccoli recipe features juicy pieces of chicken breast, and broccoli that soaks up all the delicious, savory sauce! If you prefer beef, check out my beef and broccoli recipe instead 🙂
I'm usually team chicken thighs over chicken breast, but chicken breast is a great option when trying to incorporate more lean protein into my meals. Chicken breast usually gets a bad reputation for being dry or tough, but with the right techniques, you can get chicken breast that tastes as good as it does at a Chinese restaurant!
TWO easy tips to make chicken breast taste good in this chicken and broccoli recipe, and any stir-fry:
Slice against the grain
Like you would for other meat like beef, make sure to slice against the grain! The “grain” is the direction that you see the long muscle fibers running. By slicing against, or perpendicular to, those fibers, you’re cutting them short (a good thing!) so you’re not chewing forever once it’s cooked.
Use the "velveting" technique for the marinade
The second tip is to velvet your chicken breast. This involves mixing a liquid (like Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, or water) to your marinade, and cornstarch. This mixture creates a hydrated starch coating on the meat, which keeps it juicy inside. Additionally, a bit of baking soda will keep it extra tender!
It’s also common to add egg white in velveting marinades, but I find that cornstarch + liquid does a pretty good job on their own to keep the meat juicy. Also, if you add egg white but you don’t do the “passing through” technique of par-cooking the meat in hot oil or water first, you might end up with bits that look like scrambled eggs.
This "passing through" technique is also part of what makes Chinese takeout meat so tasty, but for a homecook who's looking to reduce the amount of steps in this recipe, I skip this (and promise that the chicken breast still comes out very tender)!
Can I use chicken thighs for this chicken and broccoli recipe?
Yes, of course! I cook with chicken thighs over breasts 90% of the time, because I like their texture and flavor. I wanted to use chicken breasts in this recipe to show that it can be delicious as well, with just a few tips.
If you use chicken thighs, you can skip the baking soda in the marinade. Chicken thighs on their own are already tender and aren't as prone to overcooking.
What other vegetables can I use instead of broccoli?
If you don't like broccoli, you can easily replace it with other vegetables in this dish. Green beans, cauliflower, gailan (Chinese broccoli), and even asparagus would be delicious in this recipe! You can also add additional vegetables, like bell peppers, mushrooms, and onions to make this a complete chicken and veggie stir-fry.
Check out my other popular Chinese takeout recipes:
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Tender Chicken & Broccoli
- ½ lb 8oz chicken breast or thigh
- 10-12 oz broccoli
- 3-5 cloves of garlic
- neutral oil for cooking
Prepare the ingredients
- Identify the grain of the chicken breast (the direction the muscle fibers are running), and slice against, or perpendicular, to that direction.½ lb 8oz chicken breast or thigh
- Add all the marinade ingredients to the chicken, except for the neutral oil. Mix well. Add the neutral oil last and give it one last mix. Set aside to let marinade while you prep the other ingredients. (Don't let this marinade for more than 30 min! Because it contains baking soda, it can get unpleasantly tender if left in the marinade for too long.)2 teaspoon Shaoxing wine, 2 teaspoon light soy sauce, ⅛ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon sugar, 2 teaspoon cornstarch, ⅛ teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon neutral oil
- Wash and cut the broccoli into florets. Keep the stems, but slice off any dry or tough ends. Mince the garlic.10-12 oz broccoli, 3-5 cloves of garlic
- In a bowl, mix all of the sauce ingredients together.½ cup chicken broth, 2 teaspoon light soy sauce, 1 tablespoon oyster sauce, 1 teaspoon sugar, ½ teaspoon rice vinegar, 2 teaspoon cornstarch, ½ teaspoon sesame oil
Steam or blanch the broccoli
- Because I like to cook this all in the same pan, I just bring ½ cup of water to boil in a large pan, then add my broccoli and cover to let steam for 1-3 minutes. 1 minute if you like really crunchy broccoli, and 2 minutes if you prefer firm, and 3 if you like it softer. My preference is 2.5 minutes.
- Remove the broccoli from the pan, and pour out any remaining water.
Cook the chicken and combine with broccoli
- Heat up the pan to medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoon of neutral oil. Once it's hot, add the marinated chicken. Spread the slices evenly across the pan. Let it cook for 1-2 minutes then flip the pieces. It doesn’t need much sear or color.neutral oil for cooking
- Once almost cooked through, add the minced garlic and stir-fry for 1 min.
- Add the broccoli back to the pan. Give the sauce a stir to dissolve any settled cornstarch, then add it to the pan.
- Mix well. Once thickened slightly, it's ready! Enjoy with some rice.