Star Anise and Ginger Braised Chicken

Star Anise and Ginger Braised Chicken Recipe

A wonderfully simple and healthy way to enjoy chicken that will also fill your kitchen with exotic aromas, this spice-braised chicken is a real crowd pleaser. It gets better with time, so it’s worthwhile preparing it in advance or making a big batch to ensure leftovers. (Use two small chickens or one hen and a package of chicken pieces and double all the other ingredients.) To serve for dinner, accompany with steamed or sautéed snow peas and rice. This recipe also works very well with chicken wings as party food.–Laura Washburn

LC Just Wing It Note

We don’t know about you, but when a recipe calls for generic “chicken parts,” we tend to assume breasts or thighs or drumsticks. But as Washburn suggests, why not wings? (And not just wings, but how about those meaty little drummettes?!) To make wings (or other parts) for a crowd, opt for a large roasting pan, cover the wings and sauce with foil, and roast at 350°F (176°C) for about 30 minutes. Uncover and roast until the meat is cooked through and the skin is slightly crisp and the sauce has reduced, about 15 minutes or so. Then pass the napkins.

Star Anise and Ginger Braised Chicken Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 40 M
  • Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (whatever kind you please) or 1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken breast
  • Sea salt
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin strips
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup Chinese rice wine (in a pinch you could use dry sherry or sake)
  • 1/2 cup homemade chicken stock, low-sodium canned chicken broth, or water
  • 1 tablespoon runny honey
  • 1 star anise
  • 1/4 cup light or low-sodium soy sauce (trust us you really want to use low-sodium soy sauce here)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons fresh clementine or orange juice, if desired
  • 2 scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced

Directions

  • 1. To make the Star Anise and Ginger Braised Chicken in your slow cooker, see the Slow Cooker Variation below.

    To make the Star Anise and Ginger Braised Chicken on your stovetop, heat the oil in a large saucepan. If desired, remove the skin from the chicken. Place the chicken in the pan, skin-side down, being careful not to crowd the pieces. (You may need to work in batches.) Cook until browned, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and season lightly with salt.
  • 2. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of oil from the pan. Add the ginger, garlic, rice wine, stock or water, honey, star anise, and soy sauce to the pan and bring to a boil. Add the clementine juice and the chicken, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer very gently for 15 minutes. Then turn the chicken pieces and continue to simmer gently until cooked through, about 5 minutes more, depending on the size of the chicken pieces. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a plate.
  • 3. Skim any fat from the surface of the sauce. Take a sip of the sauce and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Return the liquid to a simmer and reduce slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. (Be mindful that reducing it too much could cause the sauce to seem quite salty.) Remove and discard the star anise. Return the chicken to the pan and turn to coat it in the sauce. Sprinkle with the scallions.

Slow Cooker Variation

  • We invariably rely on skinless chicken for the slow-cooker rendition of this ginger-infused recipe—after all, nobody likes flabby chicken skin, do they? Place the chicken in the slow cooker and combine the remaining ingredients, except for the scallions, in a bowl or a large measuring cup and stir to combine. Pour the mixture over the chicken. Cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or low for 6 to 8 hours. Transfer the chicken to a platter. If a thicker sauce is desired, slowly stir a little cornstarch slurry into the sauce in the stockpot, place it on high and let it simmer until thickened to the desired consistency (to make a cornstarch slurry, we tend to use 1 tablespoon cornstarch stirred into 1/4 cup cold water). Return the chicken to the sauce just until warmed through, then transfer the whole shebang back to the platter and sprinkle with the scallions.

    [Editor’s Note: Bear in mind, no two slow-cookers are exactly alike, just as no two cooks are exactly alike. This slow-cooker approach worked really, really well for us, although if you have a different slow-cooker cooking technique you want to try by all means, do so. And, natch, we’d love if you’d share it with us in a comment below.]
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Eydie Desser

Mar 28, 2011

Yum, yum, yum! These ingredients make the most amazing, sumptuous, satisfying sauce. My only criticism is that the cooking time was too long, as my chicken was a little overcooked. For boneless chicken breasts, bone-in thighs and chicken wings, it makes sense to sauté for 3 to 4 minutes per side, and braise for about 8 minutes per side, as opposed to the 15 minutes per side for which the recipe suggests. Usually, cooking chicken on the bone results in a more flavorful chicken, but the sauce is so delicious, no bones (at least with the breast meat) are necessary. This is a must-try recipe.

Testers Choice
Neilson Hixson

Mar 28, 2011

This recipe starts with the comment about “filling your kitchen with exotic aromas,” and it certainly delivers on that note. My kitchen smelled amazing for several hours. The braising liquid is the star of the recipe, of course. I tasted it after pulling out the chicken parts to check for final seasoning, and it was a little bit of heaven. TIPS: I used 2 pounds of chicken parts, though I suggest going only with thighs and legs. Breasts and wings, in my opinion, aren’t the way to go here. Also, if you like crispy chicken skin, don’t flip the chicken too often or submerge the chicken in the sauce for a lengthy period, if possible. Save the coating for the final step—this is something I do with similar recipes of this technique. All in all, I loved it.

Testers Choice
Dawn E.

Mar 28, 2011

WOW! DELICIOUS! This recipe is so easy to make! I love how quickly this came together. I used little drummettes. Next time I'll use boneless skinless chicken—maybe thighs. I would imagine if I cubed up boneless skinless thighs, it would be the makings of a great chicken and rice bowl. I didn't have Chinese rice wine, so I substituted sherry and it tasted fine. I also added about 1/3 cup orange juice and skipped the stock or water. The result didn't have a lot of sauce, but it was delicious and the flavor really infused the chicken. I’m saving this one for a busy weeknight dinner. Teenager and husband approved!

Testers Choice
Tania M.

Mar 28, 2011

This recipe was delicious. It packed a great flavor punch, and was very simple to prepare. The overall result was a rich, deep, and exotic dish that transitioned seamlessly from its Asian origins to an American dinner table. This recipe would function well when doubled or tripled for a crowd, as it easily can be prepared ahead of time and reheated. The dish was a little salty, however, possibly due to the fact that I used regular soy sauce. Next time, I’ll omit salting the chicken after browning. Also, the cooking time was generous. I used thighs and drumsticks, and I found that after turning my chicken, it required only another 5 minutes to fully cook. TIPS: Add the ginger and garlic off the heat. Add the liquid ingredients first, or let the pot cool slightly, to prevent the garlic from burning.

Testers Choice
Jeremy Schweitzer

Mar 28, 2011

This recipe was very good, but I must add a warning: If you can’t find unsalted Chinese wine, you might skip salting the chicken after you brown it. The citrus and ginger come together really well with the savory flavors, and the star anise plays a subtle supporting role. I served this with rice and sautéed mustard greens—perfect accompaniments. In the future, I’ll make this with boneless, skinless chicken thighs, mostly for convenience. By pre-cutting the meat and browning it in batches, you get something a little easier to serve without giving up too much flavor.

Testers Choice
Julie Dreyfoos

Mar 28, 2011

This is a great chicken dish. The sauce is full of flavor, and the leftovers are even better the next day. This recipe is simple to prepare, and comes together quickly. TIP: Make sure that your pan is big enough to hold all of the chicken pieces without overcrowding them.

Testers Choice
Pat Francis

Mar 28, 2011

This recipe quickly earned a spot in my favorites file. It’s a fairly simple dish to prepare, and it can be done easily—from start to finish—in less than an hour. The prep work for the other ingredients can be completed while the chicken is initially being browned, which adds to the recipe’s efficiency. I loved the sauce especially, with its touch of sweetness and gentle spicing. It smells wonderful while simmering.

I made this recipe twice, once with Chinese rice wine and once with dry sherry, and it was delicious both times. If anything, I preferred the sauce made with the sherry, so that’s a good option for someone who has trouble locating Chinese rice wine.

Testers Choice
Kip Hardy

Mar 28, 2011

We tried this recipe with chicken wings instead of a whole chicken. We also took the suggestion to cover the pieces with foil and give them a turn in the oven rather than simmer on the stove. This worked really well. We did, however, find that our sauce was pretty soupy, taking about 10 minutes to reduce instead of the 2 or 3 minutes the recipe states. Next time, I’ll remove the foil after turning the chicken, and let it roast uncovered for the last bit. (This would also help crisp up the skin.) When using wings, these are fantastic for dinner or as an appetizer for a party. We also found that the leftovers reheated well the following day.

Testers Choice
Helen S.

Mar 28, 2011

The flavors in this chicken were wonderfully different, and the sauce was excellent over rice. Together with snow peas and mushrooms as a side, I served an elegant dinner with an Asian flair verses a casual stir-fry meal. The directions were clear, and the method of braising chicken—though a little different—was easy. I did struggle to keep the breast meat moist, however. I used a pan with a clear lid, so I monitored the activities in the pot to make sure that it didn’t over boil.

Testers Choice
Cindy Zaiffdeen

Mar 28, 2011

I made this in a slow cooker. I used 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (I weighed them out to get 2 pounds.) I removed the skin because no one likes to eat flabby chicken skin except my dogs. I seasoned the thighs with black pepper and put them in a single layer in a 5-quart slow cooker. I then sprinkled the ginger and garlic on top. I made the entire sauce recipe, because my husband is a saucy guy. I used dry sherry and chicken stock along with the honey, star anise, and low-sodium soy sauce. I also added the juice of one mandarin orange. I turned the machine on high and went outside to finish some yard work. I checked the chicken after 2 1/2 hours and it was almost done. I turned the pieces over and cooked on high for another 1/2 hour and then let it go to warm while I made some basmati rice. I removed the chicken thighs and covered them with foil to keep warm while I stirred in a cornstarch slurry (about 1 teaspoon cornstarch and 1/4 cup cold chicken stock) and let that simmer on high for a couple of minutes. I then added the chicken back to the slow-cooker to warm it. I served it with the rice and it was really good. The sauce wasn’t overly salty and was quite tasty. The only thing I would do differently next time is to add some chilis for a bit of spice, as we ended up adding hot sauce at the table. I would make this again.

Testers Choice
Helen Doberstein

Mar 28, 2011

To make this work right in a slow cooker, I kept the liquid quantities the same and doubled the rest of the ingredients. Make sure the chicken is skinless as the skin isn’t nice when it comes out after all that cooking. I put everything together and cooked this on low for 4 hours and then had my husband come in and turn it to the keep warm setting for the next 4 hours. When I got home from work, I checked it and the chicken was cooked through but not so overcooked that it was falling off the bone. The sauce was a little thin, but not too salty. I removed the chicken and made some cornstarch slurry (1 scant tbsp. cornstarch to 1/4 cup water) and stirred that in and turned the pot to high. After 1/2 hour, the sauce was slightly thicker but no saltier. If I’d reduced the sauce in a pan, the other option, it may have become too salty. I put the chicken back in the sauce to warm while I made some brown rice. It tasted as good as the original recipe made on the stovetop.

Testers Choice
Sue Epstein

Mar 28, 2011

I made the ginger chicken and it was really delicious in spite of the fact that it didn’t turn out as I had planned. I didn’t sauté the chicken first but layered everything in the slow cooker without browning the chicken. I didn’t dry the chicken first so it was somewhat wet and I added 1/4 cup soy sauce and 1/4 cup of chicken stock. I thought I had Chinese rice wine but discovered that I had neither the rice wine, sherry, or sake, so I just omitted it. I also did not use the optional orange juice. My slow cooker is 28 years old and has only high, low, and auto-shift (2 to 3 hours on high then it automatically shifts to low). I wanted to set it on high for about an hour or two and then shift it to low but I got busy and forgot about it. Three hours later I checked on it and was going to turn it to low but the chicken was done—and delicious. I was serving the chicken the following night to guests so I removed it from the sauce and refrigerated it. The next day I strained the sauce and cooked my rice in the sauce in the slow cooker, then added the chicken on top to warm it. When I served it, I removed the skin and served the chicken on the bed of rice sprinkled with thinly sliced scallions. It looked very pretty and was good enough that my guests wanted the recipe. I will definitely make this again but in my slow cooker, and I’ll switch it too low after one hour and possibly add one or two extra star anise to give it a little more zing, but it was great the way it was.

Testers Choice
Natalie Reebel

Mar 28, 2011

To make this recipe slow cooker friendly, I browned the skin of the chicken the night before I planned on using it. The next morning I placed the rest of the ingredients in the slow cooker, beginning with the chicken. Even though I mixed all the liquid ingredients together, I only poured half of the mixture into the crock-pot with the chicken. When I returned home from work, I pulled the chicken out of the slow cooker. The skin slid right off and the chicken was fork-tender. I placed the reserved sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and added a slurry using 1 tbsp cornstarch and 1 tbsp water. I also add the liquid from the crock-pot. Allowing the liquid to come to a simmer over medium heat, I slowly whisked in the slurry. The sauce thickened up in a matter of a couple of minutes. I served the chicken with rice and poured the sauce over the top of the skinned chicken and rice. It was a fantastic dinner. Everyone loved it.

Testers Choice
Sita Krishnaswamy

Mar 28, 2011

I made this recipe in the slow cooker and the result was an amazingly flavorful chicken dish spiced with ginger and star anise. I used 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. I put the chicken pieces in the slow cooker, mixed the rest of the ingredients except the scallions in a bowl, and poured it over the chicken. Then I set it on high for about 4 hours. The result was flavorful, moist chicken so tender it was falling off the bone. The aroma of the star anise filed the kitchen while it was cooking. I poured the leftover liquid into a bowl and blast chilled it on my back deck in the snow, and in 20 minutes, I could skim off the fat. Then I reduced the liquid by half by boiling it on high for 10 minutes and poured it over the chicken. I garnished it with chopped scallions. I served it with rice and my dinner guests were raving about the dish—and have since requested the recipe. To thicken the gravy a little I added 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch to a splash of cold water and added it when I boiled the sauce. I also served chili oil on the side in case anyone wanted it to be a 5-alarm chicken. I consider this a versatile and essential recipe in a cook’s collection.

Comments
Comments
  1. Looks delicious and I can’t wait to try this. Easy breezy!
    Love the simple ingredients that everyone will have on hand, very nice ;)

  2. Ling Teo says:

    Add a teaspoon of roasted sesame oil to the braising liquid for another flavour dimension! When my mum makes this for us (it’s a very homestyle Chinese dish), it’s always chicken wings… yum.

  3. Foodelf says:

    I have everything but the rice wine – could I use Mirin, Dry Vermouth or White Wine?

    Can’t wait to try this recipe!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Any of the above, Foodelf! Mirin would be the bottle that I reach for, though, as it has a sort of floral sweetness that I think will meld nicely here. White wine will be fine, if a little benign, perhaps even a little wan. Vermouth will contribute a sharper edge. But all will work.

      • Foodelf says:

        This was absolutely terrific and SO EASY! I used mirin instead of the rice wine and it worked beautifully. This will make a regular appearance at my dinner table.

        I made it with drumsticks and thighs, but I’m looking forward to trying it with wings!

        • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

          Lovely to hear, Foodelf. And yes, the wings are terrific for a crowd…or, ahem, one.

  4. Zanne says:

    I only have ground star anise – what would I do with that instead of the actual piece of star anise?

    This is very similar to a dish my asian friends taught me in San Francisco. Yum!

    Thanks

    • David Leite says:

      Zanne, because the star anise steeps in the dish, and the longer it cooks, the stronger the flavor, I would try 1/2 teaspoon of the ground anise. Taste it halfway through the cooking. If it’s too light, add a bit more.

      • zanne says:

        Thanks David. I usually have star anise, but none in the cupboard right now and I’m living in the middle of nowhere – star anise is exotic here :o}

        • David Leite says:

          Zanne, have you tried Penzy’s? They ship all over and they have whole star anise, as well as ground and in pieces.

          • Zanne says:

            I order from Penzeys and also My Spice Sage, but I just got an order and can’t afford to keep buying extras. I’ll wait till I go to a shopping area next month to stock up again at the health food store and the Asian market. I’m cooking for myself (and friends) so buying a lot of different spices is not always practical since they go stale before I use most of each.

            I was spoiled from living in San Francisco, just a walk to Chinatown and I could get whatever was needed.

            • David Leite says:

              Have you tried tsp Spices? They sell spices in smaller sizes. Much more practical when buying exotic items. (Their site is a bit wonky right now, but check it out.)

  5. Zanne says:

    Just made a double batch of this recipe. Terrific. I used chicken wings, sherry instead of Chinese rice wine, and added the sesame oil as suggested in another comment. I made the whole thing in a big wok. Next time I’ll try the oven method (when the weather cools off a bit). I did not salt the chicken at all and I used “San J” GF Tamari (NOT low-sodium). Worked fine and wasn’t too salty at all. This was great warm, served with steamed rice–also good cold, as a snack. I think I’ll make it with thighs next time – wings are a lot of work for very little meat :-} If I don’t oink and eat the whole batch, I’ll freeze some. It’s a keeper!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Terrific, Zanne! Greatly appreciate the play-by-play, very helpful to hear your experience. I do love this type of thing, I make a double batch, too, and shred the rest and save it for summer rolls…

  6. pluvk says:

    This looks very delicious! I’m always looking to incorporate healthier recipes in our household, especially those with an Asian/Pacific Rim flair.

  7. Katie says:

    This is a staple in our house. It comes together so quickly and my kids love it too. Last night I added peeled hard-boiled eggs with the chicken in step 2, and I’d do it again!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Katie, we can completely understand how this has become a staple for you, as you’re not alone in that. Thanks for letting us know. We’re looking forward to hearing about other recipes that become repeat requests at your home!

  8. Mrs E says:

    WOW! DELICIOUS! This recipe is so easy to make! I love how quickly this came together. I used little drummettes. Next time I will use boneless skinless chicken, maybe thighs. I would imagine if I cubed up boneless skinless thighs, it would be the makings of a great chicken and rice bowl. I did not have Chinese rice wine so I substituted sherry and it tasted fine. I also added more about 1/3 cup OJ and skipped the stock/water. The end result did not have a lot of sauce at the end but it was delicious and the flavor really got into the chicken. I’m saving this one for a busy week night dinner! Teenager and husband approved!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Woohoo, Mrs E! Was actually just thinking about you last week, wondering what you’ve been cooking and baking lately. And here you are. Love your suggestion for a rice bowl—perfect for a quick weeknight dinner, a way to stretch leftovers, or an easy take-to-school or take-to-work lunch. Okay, so what recipe is next?

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