Chinese Drunken Chicken

We wanted to make drunken chicken but never knew how to really make it. We have always enjoyed the soupy type of drunken chicken and so we did a search on the internet for recipes of this dish. We were quite surprised how many versions of drunken chicken there are out there. Here is one that sounded simple and delicious.

The one we found is a popular Chinese appetizer which is recommended served cold. I am not sure why it is called an appetizer but the amount of meat does not really qualify this as a appetizer but more of a main meal. Anyway, I prefer to serve it warm with rice for dinner. This is very much like every popular Hainanese Chicken Rice with a touch of Chinese cooking wine.


I was intrigued by the instructions to soak the cooked chicken in cooking wine for “a few days”. Instead of Chinese cooking wine, you may use sherry instead. So, read on …


  • 3 lb broiler or fryer chicken
  • 2 slices ginger
  • 2 green onions
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • Sherry (I used Chinese Xiao Xin Wine) or a good dry wine to cover chicken



IMG_4611_edited-1Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the ginger, green onion, and salt and boil for a few minutes. This is to add a tinge of flavour.

Add the chicken which has been washed and dried (with paper towels) into the pot and simmer for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the chicken to cool in the broth. That’s the whole cooking done.

IMG_4612_edited-1Drain the bird. I leave it for a few minutes until it does not drip anymore.
IMG_4614_edited-1At this point you can cut the chicken in half, quarters or eight pieces (2 pieces for the wings, 4 for the legs, 2 for the breast and discard the back). Place the chicken pieces into a jar (I used a ziplock bag instead) and cover with sherry. Keep refrigerated for several days. I started serving it after just two days in the refrigerator. Before serving, cut into bite-sized pieces. Serve cold. Garnish with cilantro if desired.Variation: you can save some of the broth from boiling the chicken and mix it with the sherry to cover the chicken if you do want it too heavy in wine flavour.

Frankly, it’s not too bad but I wasn’t too pleased with it. Perhaps Ben always expected such chicken to be a bit salty but this is not at all. At least, it does look nice to me. 🙂 Let me know what you think.

Anyone has a good recipe for a drunken chicken — send it my way and I’ll try it out … just make sure that it’s a simple recipe!

This Post Has 0 Comments

  1. xun

    I have tried similar drunken chicken recipe sometime ago, the result was pretty disappointing. The chicken turned out very bland, and we did not like the light liquor flavor.

    Maybe this one is better? The pictures do look clean and enticing.

    1. gavin ho

      i think that my dad has the best recipy ever the chicken is so full of flavour and a very boozy taste best chicken to use is a corn fed one as the taste of a corn fed is so much better then as other people say use the chinese Xiao Xin Wine but also you need to have salt sugar and if u want to add that more rounded taste msg (monisodium glutamate) traditionally there was msg so why not do it the propper way soo boiling the chicken once the stock is boiled put the chicken in boil for 5-10 minutes then tun heat off compleatly and let the chicken sit in the stock for 30-45 min if not cooked through put back in to sit for a little longer
      then take the chiken out and chop into peices get a bown roughly the size of mixing bowl put the chicken in it a start adding 1 tbls of salt 2 tbls of sugar and 1/3 tbls of msg or season to taste and the the special part alot of peopl add water and wine but traditionaly just the rice win added so pour the chinese wine in untill it just covers the chickendont be shy about it if u need to youse the wohle bottle ont worry as long as the chiken is coved then put in the fridge over night and enjoy any questions add me on facebook the name is gavin ho

      1. Ben

        Hi Gavin: Oh wow, that sound like a great recipe. I hope Suanne was reading this! 🙂 How do one know if the chicken are corn fed? BTW, I just realized there was no period in your whole comment! LOL! Ben

  2. Suanne

    Hi Xun:
    You know, my chicken sounds exactly like what you have described your chicken. 🙂 It’s pretty bland and the liquor flavour did not come out quite the way I wanted it. Anyway, I have been checking your site and do enjoy reading it … keep it up.

  3. karen

    The white cut chicken/Huinan chicken is my favourite dish. Basically the same, but cooked with water instead of sherry. Add a star anise and the stems of the cilantro to the water for extra flavour. It is served with cilantro and a dip made with green onions, ginger, oil and salt.

    To Xun, this dish is all about the sweet flavour of the chicken meat itself, so it is important that the chicken is just barely done, so it stays moist and juicy. In fact, the bone should probably be raw in the center. This dish is best with a free range chicken, which has better texture. Mmm…my mouth is watering.

  4. Suanne

    Hi Karen: Hainanese chicken is the fav of my boys. I heard about how they are made — that you need to alternately dunk the chicken into boiling and cold water repeatedly for seven times! Heard of that? I don’t really fancy Hainanese Chicken but as long as the boys digs this, I will make it.

  5. Karen

    Is that how Haineanese chicken is really made? Wow, I didn’t know that. I’ll stick to the single dunk method. Actually, I’m not sure of what the different between Hainanese chicken and ‘white cut’ chicken is. Is there a difference?

  6. Sakim Nat

    Hi Suanne,
    I am a newcomer to your blog and am enjoying the recipes. You might want to try this recipe called Wine Chicken which is also known as Drunken Chicken.

    I have made this dish many times and loved it. Enjoy!
    You can only find the Drunken Chicken being served in Shanghainese Restaurants. It is usually served as an appetizer on its own or together with other choices of cold cuts or jelly fish.

    1 whole chicken (about 2-1/2 lbs)
    2 tablespoons salt
    1 1/2 cup Wine (Chinese Shao-Shing Wine – same as what you used but spelt differently)
    1 cup chicken stock (cold)

    1. Clean & dry chicken. Rub the chicken with salt, both inside and outside. Let stand 4 to 6 hours.
    2. Put chicken in a bowl,steam over high heat about 25 minutes.
    3. Remove chicken from bowl, let cool, then cut in 4 or 6 large pieces, lay in a deep bowl.
    4. Pour the chicken broth from the steamed bowl through a strainer into the deep bowl where you have put the chopped chicken pieces.
    5. Add 1 cup of the cold chicken stock and wine, mix by shaking the bowl, cover and keep refrigerated about one day. Turn the chicken pieces once after 6 hours.
    6. Remove 1 or 2 pieces of chicken at a time, cut into pieces 1″ wide 2″ long. Lay on a serving plate and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon wine brine.

    Decorate with tomato slices or parsely or cilantro, if desired.

    NOTE: The wine brine can be saved and used again.

    It is advisable not to soak the chicken any longer than 4 days, otherwide the flavour might get too strong.

  7. Suanne

    Thank you Sakim. Your recipe sound so delicious. I’ll definitely try it one of these days. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  8. Shen Su La

    I miss this food a lot!
    I will try to cook it myself/It not available Here in Thailand

  9. Parasite

    I’ve have a totally different version for drunken chicken. I think it’s more like Chicken Wine (when translated). I made this at my work potluck and it was very popular. Sorry I don’t have exact measurements but if you want, I can ask my mom how much alcohol to water she put in.

    Take chicken with bones such as drumsticks and thighs. Put in a pot with water and boil with sherry (My mother like to use sherry but I think shao xing is fine too). Add large pieces of ginger (the more ginger, the more spicy tasting it will be). Boil until chicken is cooked and alcohol smell/flavour is boiled away. Add salt to taste It is served hot. THe broth is more like a sauce and is suppose to be good for your health.

  10. Haily

    I’ve made a different version of drunken chicken. Instead of letting it soak after cooking, I brine it first in a mixture of salt water, soy sauce, wine, all the flavorings. Then you flash boil it in it. Then you turn the heat off before it’s cooked and let it sit in that broth for a while. The danger is that you have to make sure it’s a cooked all the way through, but the result is quite delicious. You get the same consistency but more flavor and a lot more color. Perhaps not text book Hainanese. But quite yummy.

    1. Raibe

      I made your chicken Haily and out of all of the attempts I have made, yours is by far the best! I also made a dipping sauce of coriander, crushed ginger, green onion(shallots), soy sauce and chilli. Served with rice, it was spectacular!

  11. chinchyesek

    Tried Suanne’s drunken chicken recipe using corn-fed free range chicken cooked to near perfection, too much of a winey flavour that I did not particularly like, shan’t be attempting again.

  12. chinchyesek

    Apropos Haily’s, 10 minutes rolling boil followed by 20 minutes gentle simmering is the irreducible minimum, turn off heat, then adding drinking-quality shaohsing rice wine and let chicken sit in liquid until reaching room temperature that may take a couple of hours or more, since I do not like too winey a flavour, I leave out the
    further processing bit of immersing cooked bird in a further quantity of wine overnight or for any length of time, consume it the next day after leaving it in fridge overnight when it will taste so much better, in my personal experience, with good dip-sauce(s) to accompany. In UK, corn-fed free range chicken is the most flavourful of all that is virtually the only variety of fresh chicken stocked in the major Chinese supermarkets in London, my dua sen worth ….

    BTW the ‘lap cheong’ sold here bears the Wing Wing label of Vancouver, have yet to try it.

  13. Ian

    Wonderful suggestions and recipes. I was reminiscing about the drunken chicken I had many times in Kowloon, Hong Kong in a restaurant operated by the Boys Scouts (odd place for great eats). The chicken was always served warm, and it always sold out if I arrived late. It had just enough saltiness and the wine flavor enhanced the sweetness of the chicken cooked to perfection. I’ll try Haily’s recipe since that is similar to poached white chicken my mother makes.

  14. abstractj

    Sakim Nat’s version is spot on from Fu-Pei Mei’s (Julia Child of Taiwan) cook book. Typically drunken chicken are made with chicken leg quarters or wings. The most important part is to salt the chicken and leave it in the fridge overnight. I’ve made it a few times and family loves it.

  15. LotusRapper

    I’ve had drunken chicken twice in the past 3 weeks. First one at Suhang in Richmond, and the second one this week at Long’s Noodle House on Main in Vancouver. IMO, Suhang’s was better, the chicken pieces larger and more tender. Wine flavor was thorough but not overpowering. Long’s was pretty good too, but the chicken tasted overly salty to me, and the chicken wasn’t quite as tender (also more boney). Long’s serving size was a bit larger. All else being equal, I like Suhang’s more.

  16. chinchyesek

    Ben…. all of the fresh chickens sold in the largest Chinese supermarket (my local one too) in all London, England are corn-fed which is discernable from other chickens by the yellowish colour on the skin by virtue of their being fed CORN or very substantially, or maize as called in our old country. I never tire of eating Hainanese Chicken Rice or poached chicken Chinese style with or without ShaoShing wine being added to stock to instil winey flavour, and it’s easy to prepare with so very little labour involved.

    MSG addition I find unnecessary and it is not good for you as possibly carcinogenic in significant amounts.

    I like to eat it cold too, if anything flavour is a bit more pronounced.

  17. chinchyesek

    Forgot to mention, the accompanying self-made quality gingery chilli/garlic (what else?)dipping sauce is every bit as important… certainly not some manufactured stuff from a bottle or a jar!

    1. Ben

      Hehehe … you sound very passionate on your drunken chicken. No compromising on anything huh? Anyway, I consider that ginger/garlic as a dipping sauce is more for Hainanese chicken, not so much with Drunken Chicken.

  18. chinchyesek

    Yes, of course Ben, the garlicky ginger chilli (the fiery red Thai bird’s eye
    variety for me everytime) dipping sauce is primarily for the Hainanese Chicken Rice dish with touch of pure sesame oil and/or fresh lime juice as some would have it additionally… as I said before, don’t like it too ‘drunken’ in the case of my poached chicken, Chinese style.

    In my school and subsequent working days at any rate, there was a kopitiam at 1 Market Square, KL serving very delicious HCR…used also cholesterol-rich rendered chicken fats, I believe, but who cared as taste was all that
    mattered then.

    1. Ben

      Oh where is the 1 Market Square? Is that what was/is known as Central Market? I know of a famous Hainanese Chicken Rice place near by the Bailey bridge and HSBC building. I can’t remember the name but it was in an old colonial building.

      When I was still in school, it was a ritual every Saturday that my late father brought me to Nam Heong on Sultan Street for Hainanese Chicken Rice. That was my private time with him and I enjoyed the HCR there all the time. When I went back to KL about 3 years ago, Nam Heong has franchised their operations. It was not the same anymore. So sad.

  19. chinchyesek

    Market Square was or is where they had a clock tower if my memory does not fail me…. at one end of the square was the HSBC bank and at the opposite end facing directly across the much newer 9 or 10-storey Mercantile Bank with moving escalators to the floors. Number One kopitiam at the corner of Market Square was much closer to the latter bank and is very close to the bridge you spoke of, itself very close to Loke Yew Building, for a very long time probably the tallest building in KL.

    Bank of China was just a few doors away on the same side… are you sure you haven’t eaten there… their HCR often got sold out if you turn up late during lunchtime.

  20. ambet

    can i use any kind of white wine

    1. Suanne

      Hi ambet, I have not try with other white wine. Not sure how the flavour will turn out.

Leave a Reply