Honey Soy Chicken – Marinade & Sauce (excellent grilled!)

Honey Soy Chicken – Marinade & Sauce (excellent grilled!)

This is a recipe for everybody’s favourite Honey Soy chicken marinade. It does everything you expect from a marinade (tenderises, adds flavour), and gives it a lovely lacquered finish. But that’s not all! We’ve also got a glossy honey garlic sauce to smother the chicken and everything else on your plate.

This is particularly excellent grilled, but for everyday purposes just cook it on the stove!

Honey Soy Chicken – marinade and sauce

This is a Honey Soy chicken marinade I’ve been using for most of my adult life which is direct copycat of the store bought bottled marinades.

Except unlike store bought where a quick inspection of the label reveals it contains a mere 0.5% of honey (I felt so indigent when I saw this!!), this is actually made with plenty of honey!!!

(In case you are wondering, most of the sweetness comes from cheap syrups like glucose or golden syrup)

One sauce is used for 3 purposes: to marinade, baste and make a serving sauce. Because nobody says no to extra sauce!

Honey Soy Chicken – Marinade & Sauce (excellent grilled!)

Honey Soy Chicken – Marinade & Sauce (excellent grilled!)

What you need for Honey Soy Chicken

Here’s what you need for this Honey Soy Chicken. I feel like there’s a good chance you already have all these ingredients!!

Honey Soy Chicken – Marinade & Sauce (excellent grilled!)

Chinese cooking wine (“shoaxing wine”) is the secret ingredient here. Without it, you will really notice that the flavour is a bit too one dimensional, especially the sauce. The Chinese cooking wine adds depth and complexity into both the marinade and the sauce.

Substitutes in order of preference (best first) – dry sherry, Mirin, cooking sake. Best non alcoholic substitute is chicken stock.

Some Recipe Trivia! You don’t need cooking wine when making Honey Soy Chicken on the stove or in the oven because you cook the chicken in the sauce and this gives the sauce greater depth of flavour. But when cooking on the BBQ, we don’t have that option so both the sauce and the marinade needs an extra dash of flavour which we get from the Chinese cooking wine.

Though this recipe particularly caters to grilled chicken, it’s still excellent for stovetop cooking when you want a premium version of the stove or oven version (this has more sauce and marinating adds flavour).

How to make Honey Soy Chicken

And here’s how it’s made –

  • mix up a batch of the sauce
  • save some for basting (by separating it, it’s not tainted by uncooked chicken)
  • save some to make the sauce
  • use the rest for marinating

Honey Soy Chicken – Marinade & Sauce (excellent grilled!)

Honey Soy Chicken – Marinade & Sauce (excellent grilled!)

Note: the batch depicted in the photos and video is a bit less than what the recipe calls for – I had to sacrifice some for Dozer

Also, I know this recipe more than what you’ll need for one meal – it calls for 1.5kg/3lb chicken which sounds like a lot. But this is the kind of food that makes everyone happy, so I assure you it’s worth making a large batch so you can enjoy leftovers for days to come. Especially if you make this with chicken thighs, it’s terrifically juicy when reheated! – Nagi x

Watch how to make it

Honey Soy Chicken – Marinade & Sauce (excellent grilled!)


Honey Soy Chicken – Marinade and Sauce (excellent grilled!)

Recipe video above. This is my premium recipe for Honey Soy chicken, a step up from this quick Honey Garlic Chicken and easy Baked Honey Soy Chicken, neither of which call for marinating. One mixture is used as a marinade, for basting, and also to make a fabulous glossy sauce to drizzle over the chicken and everything on your plate. It’s especially good for grilling!
Course BBQ/Grilling, Mains
Cuisine Asian-esque, Western
Keyword Grilled chicken, Honey Garlic Chicken, honey soy chicken
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
1 day
Servings 5 – 6
Calories 353kcal
Author Nagi


  • 1.25 – 1.5 kg/ 2.5 – 3 lb skinless boneless chicken thighs OR breast (Note 1)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil , for cooking

Honey Soy Marinade Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce , all purpose or light (not dark, Note 2)
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar (or rice vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup Chinese cooking wine or dry sherry (Note 3)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil , toasted (Note 4)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp garlic , finely minced

Serving Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tsp cornflour/cornstarch

Garnishes (optional):

  • Green onion , finely sliced
  • Sesame seeds


Marinade Sauce:

  • Place ingredients in a jug and mix well until honey is completely dissolved.
  • Reserve 1/4 cup for Basting, refrigerate. (Note 5)
  • Reserve 3/4 cup for Serving Sauce, refrigerate.
  • Marinade Chicken: Pour remaining marinade over chicken in a container. Coat chicken thoroughly. Cover, refrigerate 24 to 48 hours (minimum 3 hrs).

Serving Sauce:

  • Place reserved sauce in a small saucepan. Mix cornflour and water, then add into saucepan.
  • Simmer over medium, stirring regularly, until it thickens to a syrupy consistency. Set aside and keep warm.


  • Brush BBQ plate or grills with oil and heat to medium high. Or heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
  • THIGHS: Place chicken on BBQ. Cook the first side for 2 minutes, then flip and dab with reserved Basting Sauce. Cook for 2 minutes, flip and baste. Then flip/baste every 1 minute for total cook time of 8 to 10 minutes or until a thermometer reads 75°C/165°F.
  • BREAST: Cook first side 2 minutes, flip, baste. Cook 2 minutes, then flip and baste every 45 sec or so for total cook time of 7 – 8 minutes (internal temp 66°C / 151°F).
  • REST: Transfer to serving plate, cover loosely with foil and rest for 5 minutes.
  • SERVE chicken garnished with sesame seeds and green onion, with sauce on the side so people can help themselves.


1. Chicken – boneless thigh and breast are my favourite cuts for cooking on the BBQ. Just easier than bone in which requires more attention. For bone in chicken thighs and drumsticks, use medium heat and cook for 20 minutes with the lid down, or until internal temp is 75°C/165°F. Wins take about 12 – 15 minutes.

2. Soy sauce – light or all purpose soy works here. DO NOT use “dark soy sauce” or “sweet soy sauce” – flavour is too intense.

3. Chinese cooking wine – essential for sufficient depth of flavour, especially in the sauce. Costs a few dollars for a large bottle at Asian stores, lasts for years. Best sub (in order of preference) – dry sherry, Mirin, cooking sake, chicken stock/broth (use 1/2 cup of stock).

4. Toasted sesame oil is brown, untoasted is yellow. Toasted is the standard in Australia – stronger sesame flavour.

5. Basting – reserve some sauce for basting so it’s not tainted by raw chicken. I don’t do this for all BBQ recipes, only where we do frequent basting because it doesn’t have sufficient time to cook out raw chicken juices (1.5 minutes on BBQ after each baste).

6. Nutrition per serving, assuming all sauce is consumed. I made an educated guess about how much of the marinade is absorbed into the chicken.


Calories: 353kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 190mg | Sodium: 569mg | Potassium: 523mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 48IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 2mg

Life of Dozer

Chilly nights + useless heating = using Dozer as my hot water bottle (he is very good at it, actually).

Honey Soy Chicken – Marinade & Sauce (excellent grilled!)

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