Five Spice Chicken

Five Spice Chicken

5 stars

Two easy steps to making the juiciest five-spice chicken which is freezer friendly. The sticky sauce which coats the chicken is loved by families. The game-changer here is the secret ingredient which improves the flavours tremendously. Prepare it in a pan or over the grill.

Preparation 5 mins
Cooking 30 mins


Chinese Five Spice Chicken

Chinese, Indonesian, Malaysian, Singaporean

Nutrition per Serving

845 kcal
6 g
64 g
58 g

Everyone loves some sweet sticky sauce on juicy chicken. This is the recipe to look for, the five spice chicken which is easy to prepare and great for bulk freezing. There is not much to do but to marinate the chicken pieces and then cook them. As the sauce caramelizes, it coats the chicken with its sweet flavour that goes so well with a simple turmeric rice. A time saver yet extremely delicious, so there is no reason to not try the dish!

What is five spice powder?

Five spice powder is not associated with allspice or mixed spice. This is a mixture of five often used spices in the Chinese kitchen namely cloves, cinnamon, star anise, Sichuan peppercorn and fennel seeds. In Singapore and Malaysia, five spice powder is easily found in either (Asian) supermarkets or Chinese medicinal shops. However, those that are sold in this region is slightly different and may consist of other spices such as cardamon, white pepper (instead of Sichuan peppercorns), tangerine peel, cloves, nutmeg, coriander seeds or ginger.

While it is definitely more than five spices, the mixture has a fragrant smell that can be recognized immediately. In this recipe, you can get any five spice powder of your choice. If you think you would not like the flavour of the five spice powder, you can reduce the amount recommended in the recipe. However, the flavour is really mild.

The secret ingredient

That's sweet soy sauce or kicap manis which is savoury and sweet at the same time. Originally from Indonesia, this type of soy sauce works very well with the five spice powder and its sweetness helps to enhance the taste of the dish.

A good substitute of sweet soy sauce would be honey as they have the same consistency but you need to add a pinch of salt to balance its sweetness. Otherwise, adding more sugar and soy sauce would be another acceptable substitute.

Tips during cooking

Cooking drumsticks could be tricky as they need a long time to cook. Besides that, pan frying marinated chicken pieces may cause the oil to splatter quite a bit. Hence, we recommend covering the pan with its lid while cooking. Besides that, adding just enough oil as recommended helps to further reduce splattering.

Oven-baked five spice chicken

It is possible to bake the dish in an oven too. Bake the marinated chicken in a preheated oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes before turning them over to bake for another 10 minutes. Remember to baste the chicken with the marinade every 15 minutes to create the desired sticky coating.

‘Cheat’ turmeric chicken rice

Of course, the dish can be served with plain white rice. However, if you are in the mood for more flavourful rice, here is a quick ‘cheat’ method to prepare delicious turmeric rice inspired by the much loved Hainanese chicken rice. Simply saute sliced shallots and ginger with some chicken fats or vegetable oil until fragrant. Add in the rinsed rice along with a pinch of turmeric powder and salt. Then, cook rice as you would usually do.

Note: Chicken fats are from the excess skin and fats which are usually removed when cleaning the chicken pieces.


garlic clove(s)
1 tsp
sesame oil
1 tsp
five spice powder
1⁄2 tsp
white pepper
1⁄2 tbsp
1 tbsp
sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)
1 tbsp
light soy sauce
chicken leg(s)
1 tbsp

Steps to Prepare

Five Spice Chicken Step 1

Step 1 of 2

    • 1 garlic clove(s)
    • 1 tsp sesame oil
    • 1 tsp five spice powder
    • 1⁄2 tsp white pepper
    • 1⁄2 tbsp sugar
    • 1 tbsp sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)
    • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
    • 2 chicken leg(s)

Mix minced garlic clove, sesame oil, five spice powder, white pepper, sugar, sweet soy sauce and light soy sauce. Coat chicken with marinade evenly. Marinate chicken pieces for at least 30 minutes or best overnight in the refrigerator.

Five Spice Chicken Step 2

Step 2 of 2

    • 1 tbsp oil

Add oil to a pan and heat over medium heat. Then, place chicken without the rest of the marinade into the pan. Cover the pan with the lid. Flip the chicken after 5 minutes. Then, let it cook for another 5 minutes with the lid on. After that, pour the rest of the marinade into the pan. Continue flipping and basting the chicken a few more times. The chicken should take in total about 30 minutes to fully cook.

Published: April 14, 2020

8 Discussions

6 months ago

Judy Webster

Made this tonight for our dinner. Absolutely yummy. I baked it in the oven for 40 mins and had it with rice and salad. Hubby and son wants this every night lol. Thank you for this!

6 months ago


Hello. Thank you for your recipe. May i ask if i dont hv sweet soy sauce, am i able to replace it with dark sweet sauce? Thanks 😊

6 months ago


Do you mean caramel dark sauce? You can add it for colour. For more sweetness, you will also need to increase the amount of sugar or add some honey.

7 months ago

Lily Chua

I tried with mid joint wings today

9 months ago

Kam Y Foo

Hi Hrace. Can the chicken be baked instead of pan fried?

9 months ago

Mira - Community Happiness Manager

Sure. The guide to baking is found above under "Oven-baked five spice chicken".

a year ago


My parents love this dish. The chicken meat is tender :) Thank you Grace for sharing the recipe !

a year ago

Mira - Community Happiness Manager

Thank you for taking the time to give this a try.

a year ago

Gordon Cowan

I only have skinless thigh fillets available during lockdown. I think they will still be OK though.

a year ago

Mira - Community Happiness Manager

Sure, Gordon! Give it a go and add a food snap to your collection ;)

a year ago

Cris Wilson

We all love it including our 2 kids.

a year ago

Mira - Community Happiness Manager

That's fantastic ^^ If you have a photo, share with us as your food snap here!

a year ago


Hi Grace, will it be okay to substitute chicken legs with thighs?

a year ago

Mira - Community Happiness Manager

Hey Mary, that works too. Share a food snap once you've made it ;)

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