Weeknight Cooking

A Honey-Garlic Chicken to Mix-Pour-Bake in 20 Minutes

Weeknight cooking comes in two forms for me, in general. There’s the hurried—nay, harried—kind of nights when the hours slip away like seconds, and you’re rushing to get anything resembling a balanced meal on the table. And there’s the rhythmic, all-business kind, when you’re just executing something you know well, or something quick and uncomplicated.

You never know what a weekday will throw at you, but in general, my weekdays take up much more brain energy than weekends. Thus, I like having dishes that don’t take too much babysitting or focus. That's when a slow-cooker or pressure cooker (like an Instant Pot) come in—but for this honey garlic chicken, you can go without one of these, and still have dinner in 20 minutes.

A whole world of flavor. Photo by Posie Harwood

I swooned a little bit when I first made and tasted this dish. With a handful of simple ingredients—including ketchup—it couldn’t be easier to make. You just whisk together a few things—soy sauce, honey, garlic, and so on—and pour it over some chicken thighs. Toss them into the slow cooker or a pressure cooker (I make this in my Instant Pot), and let it cook. (If you don't have one, just whisk the sauce together and coat the chicken with it. Then, nestle the chicken in an oven-proof skillet or Dutch oven, and bake at 425 for 20 minutes.) That’s it! You don’t even need to brown the meat; in some slow cooker recipes, that step is crucial for building flavor, but here it isn’t necessary.

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Tender and moist, the chicken thighs end up with the perfect balance of taste: salty and sweet and garlicky and delicious. I love the scallions and sesame seeds for garnish, but those are optional. You can add in some citrus zest or ginger if you like, as well.

I serve this over a starch usually, like brown rice or quinoa. It’s wonderful with just a simple salad or with roasted vegetables, like broccolini and crispy kale. You can make it ahead of time, as the chicken will get more flavorful as it sits in the sauce. Just reheat it gently before serving, and take care not to cook it much, or the sauce will reduce and get too sticky and salty-sweet.

It's the sort of recipe that’s easy to memorize, but it’s good enough for a dinner party or special occasion. Consider it the hero of busy days—a weeknight savior that gives you the meditative, soothing experience of cooking at home without any of the chaos.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Alexandra Stafford
    Alexandra Stafford
  • Posie (Harwood) Brien
    Posie (Harwood) Brien
I like warm homemade bread slathered with fresh raw milk butter, ice cream in all seasons, the smell of garlic in olive oil, and sugar snap peas fresh off the vine.


Alexandra S. April 16, 2018
I'm SO making this. Maybe tonight. Question: have you ever tossed still-frozen boneless, skinless thighs into the IP? I have a pack, which I definitely could thaw before dinner, but I'm wondering if there is another miracle of the IP I have yet to discover.
Alexandra S. April 16, 2018
Update: threw a block of 4 frozen boneless, skinless thighs in the IP for 30 minutes high pressure — 20 minutes may have been fine, but I figured the recipe would be forgiving. It was! We all loved it. So easy and delicious!! Served it with roasted cauliflower and coconut basmati rice ... really wished I had a second IP to make the rice, but the stovetop method works just as well. This is the recipe I follow: https://food52.com/recipes/26046-crispy-coconut-kale-with-roasted-salmon-and-coconut-rice
Posie (. April 16, 2018
Oh SO glad you made this and that is a game changer to know about the frozen chicken!!!! Yet another way for me to swoon over the instant pot :)