Hainanese Chicken Rice

Hainanese chicken rice is well known in Malaysia and Singapore. This is the best guide to tender chicken with soft golden coloured chicken skin. Prepare long lasting homemade chilli sauce, soy sauce and a bowl of chicken-based soup with the tips featured in this recipe.

4.68 stars

Preparation 30 mins
Cooking 90 mins


Nasi Ayam Hainan, 海南鸡饭

Malaysian, Singaporean, Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Bruneian

Nyonya Cooking on Facebook
Nyonya Cooking on Pinterest
Nyonya Cooking on Twitter

Nutrition per Serving

756 kcal
146 g
12 g
14 g

Hainanese chicken rice is easy to prepare. You just need to be armed with the right techniques to prepare succulent chicken with soft golden yellow skin, well flavoured chicken rice and most importantly, the chicken rice sauces.

Accompanying the dish are sauces like soy sauce and chilli sauce to enhance the taste. These contribute to the special flavour for which Hainanese chicken rice is known for.

The combination of the refreshing cucumber slices, tender chicken and aromatic rice teaming up with the chilli and soy sauce makes every mouthful a delight. If you’re looking for a roasted chicken rice recipe, head on to this recipe.

Secrets to moist and tender chicken

Along with the supple skin with a hint of golden yellow to it, the perfect Hainanese chicken has to be moist on the inside. Hence, cooking the chicken according to the recommended time is important.

The cooking process needs to be stopped immediately once the chicken is cooked by transferring it to an ice bath. This is to create the delicious skin which is synonymous with Hainanese chicken.

Tricks to a ‘golden’ coloured chicken

The combination of salt and sesame oil helps to add some colour to the chicken. This mixture should be applied on the chicken once it is removed from the ice bath.

Some stall vendors mixed turmeric powder with warm water and pour it over the chicken for the same purpose.

Non-alcoholic substitute for Shaoxing wine

Unfortunately, there is no non-alcoholic substitute for Shaoxing wine which is added for its sweetness. While most suggested using apple juice as a substitute, I would highly advise against it. Apple juice will spoil the taste of the dish making it slightly tart.

If you do not want to add alcohol in this recipe, simply omit it as the flavour of the gravy comes from the soy sauce and chicken broth. However, a teaspoon of oyster sauce may be added to better the flavour of the sauce.

Hainanese chicken rice soy sauce recipe

The sauce is paired with this dish for its mild salty and sweet flavours. It goes very well with the chicken and rice as it's very light. In fact, the sauce is very easy to prepare.

While preparing the chicken, you'll be preparing for the base of the sauce which is the chicken broth. All you need to do is to mix soy sauce, sesame oil, Shaoxing wine, sugar and the chicken broth together. It's as simple as that.

Chicken rice soup

The soup is one of the key side dishes to a complete Hainanese chicken rice meal. To enhance the sweetness of the soup, you may add radish or carrots or even both.

Adding a dash of white pepper would make a whole lot of difference to the taste.

Hainanese chicken rice for 2

If you are only cooking for one or two people, use chicken thighs instead of a whole chicken. Stuff the ginger and scallions between two chicken thighs and secure them with strings. Continue with the same cooking steps as per recipe.

Cook this awesome dish for your family and friends. They will appreciate your effort and be impressed.


chicken meat
3 tbsp
light soy sauce
7 cm
ice cubes
3 1⁄2 tbsp
sesame oil
1 1⁄2 tbsp
white pepper
1 tbsp
chicken fats
garlic clove(s)
pandan leaves
1 1⁄2 tbsp
soy sauce
600 g
1 tbsp
shaoxing wine
1 tbsp
2 tbsp
chilli sauce (raw)
3 tbsp
chicken stock

Steps to Prepare

Hainanese Chicken Rice Step 1

Step 1 of 7

Lightly rub salt on the outer part of the chicken. Rinse and pat dry with a paper towel. Pour soy sauce into the chicken and spread it evenly. Then, stuff chicken with ginger and scallions. Secure drumsticks with a string.

Hainanese Chicken Rice Step 2

Step 2 of 7

    • water
    • 1⁄2 radish
    • 1 scallions

Boil chicken in a pot with enough water covering it. Add spring onions and radish. Once soup boils, turn the chicken over. Cover the pot and let the soup simmer for 20 minutes.

Hainanese Chicken Rice Step 3

Step 3 of 7

    • water
    • ice cubes
    • 1 tbsp sesame oil
    • 1 1⁄2 tbsp salt
    • white pepper

Remove chicken from pot and dip it into a bowl of iced water for 10 seconds. Leave aside. Mix sesame oil and 1/2 tablespoon of salt to glaze the skin of the chicken. Meanwhile, continue simmering the broth for at least another 40 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Hainanese Chicken Rice Step 4

Step 4 of 7

    • 1 tbsp chicken fats
    • 2 garlic clove(s)
    • 2 cm ginger
    • 1 shallot(s)
    • 1 pandan leaves
    • 1 1⁄2 tbsp soy sauce
    • 1 1⁄2 tbsp sesame oil

Render some chicken fats for its oil at medium heat. Then, sauté garlic, ginger and shallots until fragrant. Add soy sauce, sesame oil, pandan leaf and rice to the pot. Mix well.

Hainanese Chicken Rice Step 5

Step 5 of 7

    • 600 g rice

Add broth (used to cook chicken) to the pot of rice. The ratio of rice to water should be 2:1. Cook over high heat. Once it boils, reduce heat to the minimum and simmer until rice is cooked. It should take about 20 minutes.

Hainanese Chicken Rice Step 6

Step 6 of 7

    • 1 tbsp shaoxing wine
    • 1 tbsp sesame oil
    • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
    • 1 tbsp sugar
    • 2 tbsp chilli sauce (raw)
    • 3 tbsp chicken stock

To prepare the soy sauce, mix sugar, Shaoxing wine, sesame oil and 2 tablespoons of chicken broth together. As for the chilli sauce, mix 'cili garam' (raw chilli sauce) with 1 tablespoon of chicken broth.

Hainanese Chicken Rice Step 7

Step 7 of 7

Chop chicken into bite-size pieces. Pour soy sauce mixture over them. Serve rice and chicken along with fresh slices of cucumber accompanied with chilli sauce and a bowl of soup.

Published: October 18, 2015

4 Discussions

dorian khoo
3 months ago

dorian khoo

Hi Grace.. Do you wash the rice as per usual or do you fry it unwashed? I seem to recall my Aunty not washing, but my m emory probably does not serve me well..lol..

3 months ago


Hi Dorian, I always rinse the rice. I cannot imagine not doing so, my ancestors will be very unhappy. Haha! Happy Lunar New Year, btw

dorian khoo
3 months ago

dorian khoo

Gong Xi Fa Cai to you.. Indeed silly me.. Of course needs to be washed.. Just finished eating and it was sooo delicious.. Thankfully pandan leaf was at last back in stock in my local asian hypermarket .. makes all the difference. Will upload picture in a minute..

4 years ago


I really like this recipe, it's like how my grandma made it!

John Wick
4 years ago

John Wick

In the video shown that you cook rice with sesame oil and soy sauce. How much sesame oil and soy sauce should be cook together with rice if its for 4 servings?

4 years ago


Sorry, I missed this comment. The amount is stated in Step 4, 1 1⁄2 tbsp soy sauce and 1 1⁄2 tbsp sesame oil.

Jen G
4 years ago

Jen G

fool proof recipe, very yummy.

Mira - Community Happiness Manager
4 years ago

Mira - Community Happiness Manager

Yes! I make it all the time too ;)

Give us your opinion! Log in and start posting.