Dr. Josh Axe, DC, DMN, CNS – What is it about sweet and spicy flavors that make them go so well together? It’s like a kick in the butt for your taste buds. Sweet and spicy chicken is a popular takeout order at my local Chinese restaurant, but I prefer making my own version at home — and now you can, too.
This is my favorite recipe when I can’t decide if I’m craving something sweet or just some heat; it’s got the best of both worlds! To really make these flavors pop, I like using boneless, skinless and organic chicken thighs.
If you normally cook with only chicken breasts, prepare to have your mind blown. Chicken thighs, even with no skin or bones, stay super juicy while cooking, so there’s no fear of dry, rubbery chicken. With just a handful of ingredients, we’re going to prepare some of the zestiest chicken around with this Sweet & Spicy Baked Chicken Thighs recipe.
How to Make Sweet & Spicy Baked Chicken Thighs
We’ll begin by heating up the oven to 400 F and greasing a baking dish with coconut oil. Pat the thighs with a paper towel, removing any extra moisture, and place them in the baking dish. Sprinkle the 5-spice powder on them generously, flipping them to get both sides.
While the chicken waits for your next move, in a medium bowl, let’s mix together the sweet part of this dish. Combine the diced and nutrition-rich apple, sweet potatoes, raisins, garlic and orange juice and zest. I don’t bother peeling the potatoes beforehand. They’re full of nutritional benefits, increase the fiber content and it makes life easier; just scrub and chop.
Spread the mix over the chicken; as it all cooks, the juices will release onto the thighs, infusing them with flavor.
Cover the baking dish with aluminum and bake the chicken for 35 minutes. When the timer goes off, uncover the dish, sprinkle on more 5-spice powder and return to the oven for another 5 minutes. That way, we’ll get a nice, crispy coating on the chicken. When time’s up, let the chicken rest for 5 minutes, so all the juices resettle, before serving.
This dish is great because it basically cooks itself along with a side dish; who can turn down those sweet potatoes, after all? Serve with a side salad and your entire dinner is ready! If you want to turn up the heat even more, add some crushed red pepper flakes along with the 5-spice powder.
Most apples will work well with this baked chicken thighs recipe, but I’m partial to organic Pink Lady, Braeburn and Jonathan varieties. Just like the potatoes, keep the skins on. Why complicate things?
Sweet & Spicy Baked Chicken Thighs Recipe
Sweet and spicy chicken is a popular takeout order at my local Chinese restaurant, but I prefer making my own version at home — and now you can, too.
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 2 tablespoons Chinese 5-spice powder
- 1 sweet-tart apple, diced
- 1 sweet potato, diced
- ¼ cup raisins
- 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- zest and juice of one orange
- 2 tablespoons rum (optional)
- Heat the oven to 400 F. Grease a glass 13 x 9 baking dish with coconut oil.
- Pat the chicken thighs dry with paper towel. Place the chicken thighs in the baking dish and sprinkle both sides generously with the 5-spice powder.
- In a medium bowl, mix the apple, sweet potato, raisins, garlic and orange zest together. Spread this mixture over the top of the chicken.
- In a small bowl, mix together the orange juice and optional rum. Pour this mixture over the top of the chicken dish.
- Cover the dish and bake for 35 minutes, or until the chicken thighs have an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
- Uncover, sprinkle on more 5-spice powder and return to the oven, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
- Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving.