One-Pot Hainanese Chicken Rice Recipe: A Non-Traditional Take on the Classic Asian Dish

Talia Cortez (@taliacor)

Meya Cortez (@meyarrr),
Jerome Jocson (@emowredge)

Dan Aragon (@danaragonowns)

Jica Simpas (@jicasimpas)

Making authentic Hainanese chicken rice is not something you can casually do on a weeknight. The dish looks deceptively simple—just poached chicken atop a bed of shiny rice. But, as you can tell from the explosion of flavor each bite brings, it takes a lot of toiling in the kitchen to get it right. This one-pot Hainanese chicken rice recipe is not traditional; we take a few shortcuts here and there. But what it is is an easy way to get all the delicious, familiar flavors of Hainanese chicken rice in a short amount of time, all done in one pot.

One-Pot Hainanese Chicken Rice
Tender, juicy (not hotdog) chicken + fragrant rice + medley of sauces.

The Chicken

Chicken thighs are the way to go in this one-pot Hainanese chicken rice recipe. In the method, we cook the rice and the chicken at the same time. So it’s important to use a part of the chicken that doesn’t dry out easily. This gives you a little bit more insurance to make sure that you still end up with juicy, tender pieces after 25 to 30 minutes of cooking. That said, you can always use chicken breasts. Just make sure that they’re fully submerged in the rice when you leave it to cook. Any part that’s exposed runs the risk of drying out.

Are you #TeamThighs or #BreastBest?

Chicken in Rice
For best results, make sure that your chicken is really nestled in there.

Before cooking, prep your chicken thighs by trimming the excess skin and fat. (Don’t discard them, though!) If you’re using chicken breasts, there should also be some excess skin. Trim as much as you can. These will be used as the main source of fat in this recipe. If you don’t have enough trimmings, you can also just substitute it with regular oil and a bit of salt.

Most recipes sear the chicken skin to get this fat. But since we want our chickens just poached, we achieve this using trimmings.

You still have to season your chicken, but it might not need a lot. Adjust the amount of salt you use to season your chicken depending on how salty the chicken broth you’re using is.

The Rice

In this one-pot Hainanese chicken rice, the uncooked grains are first toasted in chicken fat and ginger scallion sauce. This step achieves the signature sheen and vibrant flavor of the rice. The excess skin and fat from your chicken are rendered in a pan, leaving you with a pool of chicken fat to cook some of your ginger scallions sauce in. The longer you toast your rice in this base, the more flavor it gets.

Rice in Fat
Rice post-toast.

This recipe then cooks the rice in chicken stock. You can buy chicken stock by the carton in some supermarkets, or you can prepare some at home by boiling chicken bones or meat. The easiest (cheat) way to get chicken stock, however, is by dissolving chicken bouillon cubes in water. The ratio to follow is 1 bouillon cube is to 3 cups of water—which is exactly what you’ll need in this recipe.

Chicken Broth
Give it a stir to make sure everything’s evenly distributed.

The Hainanese Chicken Rice Sauces

Hainanese chicken rice typically comes with three sauces: ginger scallion sauce, chili sauce, and dark soy sauce. The ginger scallion sauce is what really brings freshness into this dish, so it’s important that you use a great version of the stuff. This recipe uses a homemade ginger scallion sauce recipe which you can easily replicate, too!

Hainanese Chicken Rice Sauces
Sauce trifecta.

We used bottled chili sauce in our version and you can, as well; it’s much easier that way! You can also go the store-bought dark soy sauce (aka kecap manis) route, however, it’s not always available. In any case, you can make it at home by cooking 1/2 cup of regular soy sauce and 2 tbsp brown sugar until it reaches a syrupy texture.

One-Pot Hainanese Chicken Rice

Hainanese Chicken Rice
Separating into different plates optional.

To finish your one-pot Hainanese chicken rice, lift out your chicken, and drizzle a generous amount of dark soy sauce onto the rice. Return the chicken, then dress everything with the rest of your ginger scallion sauce, chili sauce (you can leave this out first if you don’t want it spicy), more dark soy sauce, and spring onions.

Hainanese Chicken Rice Plate
Hai, sarap!

You get everything you’d want in a Hainanese chicken rice dish: fragrant rice, juicy chicken, and a medley of flavors from a variety of sauces. But this recipe does it in less time and little effort, making it a great option for a weeknight dinner!

One-Pot Hainanese Chicken Rice Recipe



Serving Size

4-6 people

Active Time

45 mins

Total Time

45 mins

Instructions for One-Pot Hainanese Chicken Rice

  1. In a large straight-sided skillet, add 2 tbsp. oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the chicken fat and trimmings to the oil and cook for about 5 minutes until brown and the fat has rendered out.
  3. Remove chicken trimmings from the pan, leaving the fat in the pan.
  4. Lower heat to medium then add half of the ginger scallion sauce.
  5. Add rice and toast, moving the rice around, for about 5 minutes or until rice begins to color.
  6. Add in the chicken broth and stir until evenly distributed.
  7. Add the chicken thighs to the top of the rice, skin side up, then turn the heat back up until bubbling.
  8. Once bubbling, lower the heat then cover the pot.
  9. Let cook for 15 minutes undisturbed then remove the lid.
  10. Continue to cook uncovered for about 5 more minutes or until rice is completely tender and liquid has evaporated.
  11. Remove from heat and garnish with spring onions, sweet soy sauce, chili sauce, and remaining ginger scallion sauce.

Substitutions & Adjustments

When scaling up or down, use 1 1/2 cups of liquid (chicken stock) to 1 cup of uncooked rice.

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