Drunken Chicken Recipe

This chicken is cold, juicy, and drenched in wine.

A bowl of drunken chicken.

Serious Eats / Chichi Wang

Why It Works

  • Slices of poached chicken soaked in a chicken broth and Shaoxing rice wine are cold and juicy–perfect to have on a hot summer's day.
  • You can use a whole chicken, or only white meat or dark meat.

This is one of my favorite chicken dishes to have on a hot summer's day. This chicken is cold, it is juicy, and drenched in wine.

Or rather, soaked in wine, up until the moment you remove the chicken from its bath and set it on the plate to eat. It is not an exaggeration to say this, because the marinating liquid for this chicken is 50% chicken broth and 50% rice wine.

Now, this probably goes without saying, but I want to say it anyway. If you don't like rice wine, you are not going to like this chicken. You are probably not going like the way the chicken flesh is just dripping and juicy with what is basically a chicken cocktail, and the way the meat tastes so alcoholic that if you eat a half chicken's worth of this, as I have done on some occasion, you may feel a little buzzed. (Then again, I suffer from the high chicken/low alcohol tolerance problem.)

Poached chicken cut up into pieces, garnished with sliced scallions.

Serious Eats / Chichi Wang

In Chinese meals, this aptly-named drunken chicken is served as a cold dish before the warm stir-fried dishes are brought to the table. Yet I see no reason for drunken chicken to be relegated to the appetizer portion of the meal. It is very good as a main course, with maybe a light salad on the side.

Drunken chicken is so easy to make, too: You poach it, you cut it up, you dunk it in the broth in which it cooked, plus the equivalent amount of wine. You can use a whole chicken, or only white meat or only dark, and once you've made it, it can sit in the marinade for many days, and only become slightly more alcoholic-tasting as the days wear on (which, in my book, is not a bad thing).

Sometimes I really want to futz about with the marinade, and add some sugar and white peppercorns, and maybe some star anise or cloves. But then I think, no, no, I just want my chicken to taste like wine. You are, of course, welcome to make the recipes more involved by adding more spices and seasonings, though I'm a purist when it comes to drunken chicken.

July 2012

Recipe Facts

Active: 30 mins
Total: 24 hrs
Serves: 4 servings

Rate & Comment


  • 2 whole chicken parts (2 breasts, 2 leg/thighs, or a mix), totaling about 2 pounds

  • One 1-inch piece ginger

  • Kosher salt

  • 1 cup Shaoxing rice wine

  • 1 cup chicken broth, reserved from simmering


  1. Place chicken and ginger in a medium saucepan. Add enough cold water to barely cover chicken. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat then reduce to lowest heat. Liquid should be barely quivering. Cook until chicken is cooked through (breasts should register 155°F/68°C on an instant-read thermometer and legs should register at least 165°F/74°C). Remove each piece as they cook through to a bowl. When all chicken is cooked, pour broth over chicken in bowl.

  2. Let chicken and broth cool. Chop chicken into 1-inch- to 1/2-inch pieces, depending on the cut of the chicken (breasts should be cut into 1/2-inch pieces against the grain, legs can be cut into 1-inch pieces).

  3. Find a nonreactive container that snugly fits all chicken pieces. Place all the chicken in the container, taking care not to cram the pieces. Season with salt. Combine chicken broth and wine, and pour over chicken until completely covered. Marinate for at least 24 hours, and up to 5 days. Serve cold, taking out as many pieces of chicken as you need while keeping the rest in the marinade.

Special Equipment

3-quart sauté pan


To learn more about Shaoxing rice wine, check out how to stock a Chinese pantry.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
297 Calories
16g Fat
2g Carbs
32g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 297
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 16g 20%
Saturated Fat 4g 22%
Cholesterol 101mg 34%
Sodium 735mg 32%
Total Carbohydrate 2g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 32g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 20mg 2%
Iron 1mg 8%
Potassium 283mg 6%
*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.)