This quick and easy sha cha chicken (沙茶雞, shā chá jī) takes only 15 minutes to make and packs a ton of umami-rich flavor! Enjoy tender and juicy chicken cooked with shā chá jiàng (沙茶醬), soy sauce, and veggies!
You’re going to love serving this stir-fry over white rice, with soup, or even noodles. Plus, there’s only one pan to clean and five minutes of prep. Even though this is a simple recipe, I'll still walk you through all the steps so you get the same delicious results.
✨ why you'll love this recipe
With only 5-10 minutes to prep and 5 minutes to cook, you can’t beat this easy chicken stir-fry recipe! Now that I make this regularly, I can make it in 10 minutes tops.
This is a go-to Taiwanese home-cooking recipe because it’s so quick to come together whether you’re hosting guests or whipping up a simple weeknight dinner.
🍚 how to serve this dish
You could also cook your vegetable side dish with some sha cha sauce - it's delicious with stir-fry spinach!
You can either keep it simple and enjoy this recipe as is, or you can incorporate different vegetables and herbs like cilantro, bell peppers, and sliced celery. This is such a flexible meal that you can even swap out the tender chicken for other proteins like shrimp, beef, or tofu.
Whatever variation of proteins and veggies you decide to cook with, the sha cha sauce will make this dish packed with umami-rich flavor that’ll fill your senses.
💭 what is sha cha sauce?
Sha cha sauce (shāchá jiàng 沙茶醬), which I’ve also seen spelled as sa cha or sacha sauce, is the ultimate must-have Taiwanese condiment! Commonly known as Taiwanese BBQ sauce, this versatile paste can be used in stir-fries, soups, as a dry rub, marinade, or as a hot pot dipping sauce - among many other uses!
Now, what is this sauce made of? It’s a delicious savory paste made with dried seafood, garlic, ginger, shallots, chile, and oil. It has a rich umami flavor and it will add depth to anything you pair it with, whether it’s meat or vegetables.
fun fact - Sha cha sauce is sometimes known as “satay sauce.” Typically, satay sauce is made from peanuts, but sha cha is the Taiwanese and Chinese versions. So, “satay” has been used to describe it colloquially.
Different brands will taste slightly different, but I grew up with the Bull Head brand and that’s what I’ll be using in today’s recipe.
Store your opened sauce in the refrigerator. When you’re done making today’s sa cha chicken, you’re going to be adding it to every recipe until it’s gone – or eat a lot of hotpot!
📋 key ingredients
You only need 10 simple ingredients to make this 10- to 15-minute recipe!
- chicken - use chicken breast for the best cut and thickness for an evenly cooked stir-fry.
- sha cha sauce - I recommend the Bull Head bbq sauce (also commonly referred to as "Taiwanese BBQ sauce"), but there are many others that you can choose from. You can find regular sha cha sauce – or a vegetarian version (the green cap) – at your local Asian grocery store, through Amazon (affiliate links), or Weee!
- soy sauce - I use regular low-sodium soy sauce in this recipe, but you can use a Taiwanese soy sauce that's brewed without wheat, or opt for tamari for a gluten-free option.
- cornstarch - for sauce thickening.
- canola oil - any neutral flavor oil with a higher smoke point will work for this recipe. Possible substitutes include peanut oil, avocado oil, and grapeseed oil.
- grated ginger - this aromatic spice is the perfect complement to all of the savory and umami flavors in sha cha!
- garlic - peeled and thinly sliced.
- sugar - I prefer cane sugar in Taiwanese recipes. The mellow sweetness makes a difference.
- scallions - ends removed and cut on an angle into 2-inch long pieces.
- ground white pepper - a common ingredient in most Taiwanese recipes! It'll add a hint of pepper spice to this dish.
See the recipe card for quantities.
The same seasonings and recipe steps would work well with other thinly sliced proteins, veggies, and additional sauces. Check out some of my suggestions below.
- vegetarian - replace the chicken with medium-firm to firm tofu cut into ½-inch thick pieces and use the vegetarian sha cha sauce (it has a green top).
- gluten-free - use a Taiwanese soy sauce that's brewed without wheat, or opt for tamari.
- other protein options - the same seasonings and recipe steps would work well with shrimp, thinly sliced pork loin, or beef sirloin.
- instead of scallions - garlic chives or garlic scapes make great substitutes for this dish.
- other vegetables - add different vegetables to this dish if you’d like! Bell peppers, yu choy, bok choy, mung bean sprouts, summer squash, and thinly cut celery or cucumber are some ideas.
- spicy - add thinly sliced fresh Thai chili
- kid-friendly - this dish is kid-friendly, but adding some noodles to this stir-fry may gain you some extra favor with the little ones
I’m going to go through each step in detail below, including step-by-step photos of how to prepare your chicken and stir-fry it with the scallions. In a hurry? You can jump straight to the printable recipe.
Begin by grating ½ teaspoon of ginger.
Slice 1 pound of chicken breast into thin strips (can also substitute boneless skinless chicken thighs).
Make sure the thickness isn't much more than this.
If it's too thick, slice it from the side with a chef's knife.
In a medium container or mixing bowl, add the sliced chicken, 1 teaspoon of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, and 1 tablespoon of canola oil.
Stir until the chicken is well coated with the cornstarch and sauce.
tip: prepare all your ingredients while the chicken marinates in the sauce for a little bit. This includes the garlic, scallions, and measuring out all your seasoning and sauces.
Peel 4 cloves of garlic and thinly slice.
Cut the ends off of 6 scallions and then slice at an angle into 2-inch long (50-millimeter) pieces. Keep the white and green portions separate.
Then, measure out the seasoning and sauces:
- 2 teaspoons sha cha sauce
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce, Taiwanese
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon ground white pepper
- have canola oil handy (I like to have it in a squeeze bottle)
pro tip: I like to use a fork to scoop out sha cha sauce to help the oil drain. Alternatively, you can mix the sauce before scooping because it does separate when it's sitting in the jar.
Now, let's start stir-frying!
Heat a 14-inch seasoned wok or cast iron pan over medium-high heat until the pan is hot and just starts to smoke (about 15 seconds for a wok or 3 minutes for a cast iron pan). Add 1 tablespoon of canola oil.
Then, add in the coated chicken slices.
Stir the chicken in the heated wok to cook.
Continue stirring until the chicken turns opaque on both sides (about 2 minutes). Lower the heat and remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
Add 1 tablespoon of canola oil to the same pan and increase the heat to medium-high.
Then, add the white portions of the cut scallions.
Stir for about 15 seconds until the scallions are fragrant.
And then add the sliced garlic.
Continue stirring for another 15 seconds and then add the scallion greens.
Add the chicken back to the pan to cook with the scallions.
Season with sha cha sauce.
Add soy sauce and stir until it is well incorporated.
Stir-fry the contents in the pan by constantly flipping and moving the vegetables with your spatula to prevent burning.
Then, season with ground white pepper.
Stir-fry for 10 more seconds, and immediately turn off the heat.
The bottom of the pan should be fairly dry as the sauce will coat the chicken.
Transfer the stir fry to a serving platter and serve hot.
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A wok is what I find works best for this recipe, but you could also use a cast-iron pan/skillet to yield similar results.
Allow the dish to fully cool and store it in a covered container in the refrigerator (within 2 hours) for up to 2 days. Scallions don’t stand up well to freezing since the texture will change.
Reheat in the microwave, air fryer, or preheated steamer for 30 seconds to 1 minute or until the chicken is at least 165ºF (74ºC).
💭 top expert tip
When stir-frying a dish, it’s important to have all ingredients prepped and sauces measured out beforehand since the cooking process is so quick. You don’t want to be fumbling for a sauce or ingredient while cooking on high heat.
The short answer is that sha cha chicken tastes delicious! As for the long answer, it tastes like a tender and juicy chicken stir-fry infused with umami flavoring. The sha cha sauce adds a briny flavor along with garlicky goodness.
Sha cha sauce is made of dried seafood (like dried shrimp or brill), garlic, ginger, chiles, and shallots. It's all ground into a paste with oil to make it a versatile sauce, marinade, dip, and more!
🍚 perfect pairings
Pair this with an easy side dish like one of these:
👨🍳 COOKING WITH KIDS
What can kid chefs help with?
- peeling garlic
- carefully cutting the scallions with a kid-safe knife
- measuring out the seasonings
- adding seasonings to marinate the chicken
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.
Happy cooking! ~ Cin
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sha cha chicken
- 1 pound chicken breast, boneless, skinless, thinly sliced (can also substitute boneless skinless chicken thighs)
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce, Taiwanese, divided
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
- ½ teaspoon grated ginger
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons sha cha sauce, Bull Head bbq sauce recommended, mix the sauce before scooping
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 6 scallions, ends removed and cut on an angle into 2-inch long (50-millimeter) pieces, keeping the white and green portions separate
- ⅛ teaspoon ground white pepper
*The Instacart button above is an affiliate link, which means we do make a small profit from your purchases (your price is not affected by this commission).
- In a medium container or mixing bowl, add the sliced chicken, 1 teaspoon of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, and 1 tablespoon of canola oil. Stir until the chicken is well coated with the cornstarch and sauce. In the meantime, prepare the ginger, garlic, scallions, and meaasureout the seasoning and sauces.
- Heat a 14-inch seasoned wok or cast iron pan over medium-high heat until the pan is hot and just starts to smoke (about 15 seconds for a wok or 3 minutes for a cast iron pan). Add 1 tablespoon of canola oil, then add in the coated chicken slices. Stir until the chicken turns opaque on both sides (about 2 minutes). Lower the heat and remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
- Add 1 tablespoon of canola oil to the pan and increase the heat to medium-high, then add the white portions of the cut scallions. Stir for about 15 seconds until the scallions are fragrant before adding the sliced garlic. Continue stirring for another 15 seconds and add the scallion greens.
- Add the chicken back to the pan, season with 2 tablespoons sha cha sauce and 1 teaspoon of soy sauce, and stir until the sauce is well incorporated. Stir-fry the contents in the pan by constantly flipping and moving the vegetables with your spatula to prevent burning. Then, season with ⅛ teaspoon ground white pepper and 1 teaspoon sugar, stir-fry for 10 more seconds, and immediately turn off the heat. The bottom of the pan should be fairly dry as the sauce will coat the chicken.
- Transfer to a serving platter and serve hot.
equipment and highlighted ingredients
🌡️ food safety
- Cook chicken to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Don't use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with a higher smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove