Star Anise and Ginger Braised Chicken

This star anise and ginger braised chicken with soy sauce is a healthy meal that will fill your kitchen with exotic aromas and can be made in a single pot on the stove-top or in the slow cooker.

A crock filled with browned chicken thighs and sliced scallions, a spatula in the middle

A wonderfully simple and healthy way to enjoy chicken that will also fill your kitchen with exotic aromas, this star anise and ginger 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 a couple packages of chicken pieces and double all the other ingredients.)–Laura Washburn

Star Anise and Ginger Braised Chicken

  • Quick Glance
  • (5)
  • 15 M
  • 40 M
  • Serves 4
5/5 - 5 reviews
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Special Equipment: Slow cooker (if following the slow cooker method)

Ingredients

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Directions

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.
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.
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. Originally published March 28, 2011.
Print RecipeBuy the Home-Cooked Comforts cookbook

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Variations

  • Slow Cooker
  • 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 stock pot, 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.] Curious to hear more about working magic with your slow cooker? Peruse our entire selection of slow cooker recipes.
  • Star Anise and Ginger Braised Chicken Wings
  • 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 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.

Recipe Testers Reviews

This dish was simple to put together, made a lovely presentation over rice, and my guests asked for the recipe. It's certainly easy enough for a weeknight dinner and delicious enough for a company meal.

I made the slow cooker version. Obviously the slow cooker version won't have the crisp skin that the roasted version would, but it was delicious. I used to teach Chinese cooking and have made similar recipes but not a slow cooker version and wasn't sure how I was going to like this. I didn't brown the chicken but simply mixed the chicken pieces in the slow cooker with the garlic slivers, ginger, and the remaining ingredients. I added 1/4 cup of low-sodium coy sauce and 1/4 cup chicken stock and the honey. I thought I had Chinese rice wine but at the last minute realized I didn't have either the rice wine, dry sherry, or sake, so I just omitted it. I cooked it on high for 2 hours, then low for 45 minutes. When I checked the chicken after 45 minutes, it was perfectly done but my slow cooker seems to run somewhat high.

The taste was lovely, though when I make it again—and I will—I might add a few more star anise to give it a little more zing. The recipe calls for reducing the liquid, however, I removed the pieces of ginger, garlic, and star anise and added rice to the slow cooker and continued cooking it until the rice was ready and served the chicken on top of the rice with scallions sprinkled on top. It was a very big hit with my tasters.

My chicken cooked rather quickly even in the slow cooker but, as I mentioned, mine seems to cook somewhat hot, possibly because it's 28 years old and well used, rather than newer models which probably have more controls. All slow cookers, though, vary in their heat, no matter what the setting. But next time I make this recipe I'll set it on high for about 45 minutes and then switch to low.

I really liked the crock pot version of the recipe. I used skinless bone-in chicken thighs. (I think the chicken skin is unpleasant when slow cooked over a long time.) To keep the liquid that accumulates in the pot over the long cooking time to a flavorful minimum, I kept the liquid measures the same and doubled the rest of the ingredients. The chicken went in first and then the rest was combined and poured over the chicken. This cooked on low for 4 hours and then was turned to the keep warm setting for another 4 hours.

I removed the chicken to a platter and it was cooked through and tender, but not overcooked to the point where it was off the bone. I made a corn starch slurry of a scant 1 tbs corn starch to 1/4 cup cold water. This was stirred into the sauce remaining in the pot and the pot was turned to high. This thickened the sauce slightly but not too thick. I added the chicken back to the crock pot and turned it back to keep warm.

I think I'll do this again as it was so good and easier to make this time. I served this over plain brown rice.

I made this recipe in the slow cooker and the result was an amazingly flavorful chicken dish with just 2 spices—ginger and star anise. The aroma of the star anise filed the kitchen while it was cooking.

I used 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. I put the chicken in the slow cooker, mixed the rest of the ingredients except the scallions in a bowl, and poured it over the chicken. Cooked it on high for about 4 hours. The result was a flavorful, moist, fall-off-the-bone chicken.

I poured the left over liquid into a bowl and blast chilled it (on my back deck over the snow). In 20 minutes, i could skim off the fat. And then I reduced the liquid by half (boiled it on high for 10 minutes) and poured it over the chicken. Garnished it with chopped scallions.

i served it with rice and my dinner guests were raving about the dish and requested the recipe.

I felt the need for a little heat in the sauce so I added 1 tsp chili flakes and, to thicken the gravy a little, 1/2 tsp cornstarch in a splash of cold water and boiled it. I also served chili oil on the side in case we needed it to be a 5-alarm chicken. A versatile and essential recipe in a cook's collection.

WOW! DELICIOUS! This recipe is so easy to make! I love how quickly this came together.

I used little chicken drumettes. 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 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 weeknight dinner! Teenager and husband approved!

This was a fantastic dinner. Everyone loved it.

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 ingredients in the crock pot, 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 of 1 tbsp cornstarch to 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.

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Comments

  1. This recipe is wonderful! I made it tonight for Sunday dinner and it was incredible. It definitely will be on the rotation in my house!

    1. So happy, Kat. Isn’t it nice to have a go-to recipe? If you like salmon, this is a great recipe to put in your rotation. I mix up a large batch of the spices and have it on hand to quickly whip this up.

  2. 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!

    1. 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?

  3. 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!

    1. 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!

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

  5. 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!

  6. 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

    1. 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.

      1. 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}

          1. 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.

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

    Can’t wait to try this recipe!

    1. 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.

      1. 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!

  8. 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.

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