Soy Sauce Chicken With Cola Recipe

Soy sauce chicken gets a weeknight Coca-Cola twist.

Vicky Wasik

Why It Works

  • Rubbing the chicken skin with salt, and brushing it with wine, flavors the chicken and results in a more uniform, appealing appearance in the final dish.
  • Coca-Cola approximates flavors of hard-to-find ingredients—sun-dried tangerines and rock sugar—used in traditional soy sauce chicken.
  • Toasting the whole spices improves their aroma and flavor.
  • Gently poaching the chicken yields juicy, perfectly cooked meat.

Soy sauce chicken is a classic Cantonese dish with legions of fans. Though it isn't hard to cook, traditional recipes use ingredients like rock sugar, chenpi (a medicinal ingredient made from sun-dried tangerine peels), and Chinese rose wine that can be difficult to source in the US. Here, we take a shortcut with a quintessentially American beverage: Coca-Cola. The soda plays well with ginger, star anise, cinnamon, garlic, and white pepper, bringing sweetness, tang, and caramel notes to the soy-based sauce in which the chicken is cooked. Gently poaching the chicken guarantees tender, juicy meat, while an extended rest in the liquid coats the skin in a beautiful, even lacquer. Served over rice and garnished with scallions, it's a relatively simple weeknight meal that delivers big flavor.

Recipe Facts



Active: 15 mins
Total: 75 mins
Serves: 4 to 6 servings

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For the Chicken:

  • One 3 1/2- to 4-pound (1.6 to 1.8kg) chicken, backbone removed and chicken cut in half lengthwise through breastbone

  • 1 tablespoon (12g) kosher salt

  • 1/4 cup (60ml) Chinese rose wine or Shaoxing wine, divided (see note)

For the Poaching Liquid:

  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) vegetable oil

  • 1 large shallot (50g), thinly sliced

  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

  • One 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

  • 5 pieces whole star anise

  • One 2-inch cinnamon stick, smashed

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

  • 3 cups (710ml) Coca-Cola (two 12-ounce cans)

  • 1 3/4 cups (420ml) dark soy sauce

  • 1 cup (240ml) water

  • 3/4 cup (175ml) honey

  • 2 scallions, cut into 3-inch pieces and lightly smashed

To Serve:

  • Steamed white rice

  • Sliced scallions


  1. For the Chicken: Using clean hands, rub salt generously over chicken skin to remove any rough imperfections. Using a brush, brush 2 tablespoons (30ml) wine over surface of chicken. Set aside.

  2. For the Poaching Liquid: In Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add shallot, garlic, ginger, star anise, and cinnamon and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in white pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds longer. Stir in Coca-Cola, soy sauce, water, honey, and scallions. Bring mixture to boil, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until bubbling subsides, about 15 minutes.

  3. To Poach: Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons (30ml) wine. Gently lower chicken in pot, breast-side up, and return to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover and carefully flip chicken breast-side down. Cover and simmer 10 minutes longer. Turn off heat and let chicken stand, covered, until thickest part of breast registers 150°F and legs register 165°F, 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer chicken, breast-side-up, to serving platter, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.

  4. Meanwhile, bring poaching liquid to simmer, and cook, uncovered, until slightly reduced and thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning with water or salt to taste. Ladle liquid over rested chicken to lacquer and fill in any light spots. Serve over steamed white rice, passing extra poaching liquid and sliced scallions at the table.

Special equipment

Dutch oven, instand-read thermometer


Mei kuei lu chiew is a Chinese rose wine that works particularly well in this dish, as it complements and amplifies the floral notes in the soda. If you can't find it, Shaoxing wine is a perfectly serviceable substitute. Both can be found at Chinese markets or online.

Make-Ahead and Storage

Stored in the braising liquid, the chicken will keep for up to one week in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container; it will become more flavorful as it sits. The poaching liquid can be strained and refrigerated for up to one week, or frozen for up to six months. The poaching liquid can be used to poach more chicken, and the more chicken you poach in it, the better it will taste.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
777 Calories
38g Fat
62g Carbs
46g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 777
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 38g 49%
Saturated Fat 10g 51%
Cholesterol 195mg 65%
Sodium 5090mg 221%
Total Carbohydrate 62g 23%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 48g
Protein 46g
Vitamin C 8mg 42%
Calcium 70mg 5%
Iron 5mg 27%
Potassium 884mg 19%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)