Home Tips How To Make Chicken Sauce For Rice: A Step-By-Step Guide
How To Make Chicken Sauce For Rice?

How To Make Chicken Sauce For Rice: A Step-By-Step Guide

by zilvinas.juraska

Rice dishes topped with flavorful sauces are satisfying comfort foods enjoyed all over the world. Chicken sauce is one such versatile topping that pairs deliciously with rice. By learning how to make chicken sauce from scratch, you can quickly elevate simple rice into a hearty, protein-packed meal.

In this in-depth blog post, I’ll explain the benefits of chicken sauce, walk through ingredients and substitutions, provide detailed step-by-step instructions, suggest serving ideas, discuss storage and reheating, and share extra chicken sauce tips. Let’s get cooking!

Why Make Chicken Sauce for Rice?

Before jumping into the recipe, let’s first cover why chicken sauce is such a great pairing for rice. Here are 5 key benefits:

1. Adds Protein

Chicken sauce made with shredded or diced chicken breast or thighs is an easy way to incorporate protein into a plant-based starch like rice. The chicken adds minerals like iron and zinc to make the meal more balanced and nutritious. Having protein together with carbs can also help you feel fuller for longer.

2. Boosts Flavor

Plain rice is relatively bland on its own. But when you top it with a flavor-packed chicken sauce made with aromatic ingredients like garlic, onions, herbs and spices, it transforms into something delicious. The sauce permeates the rice, infusing it with savory depth.

3. Versatility

Chicken sauce complements a wide variety of rice varieties. It tastes fantastic on plain white or brown rice, but also works well on exotic rice like basmati, jasmine or black rice. The mild flavor of chicken sauce suits most palates, making it family-friendly.

4. Repurposes Leftovers

Got leftover roasted or rotisserie chicken? Shred it and simmer in sauce for an easy meal. Making chicken sauce is a great way to use up leftovers and prevent food waste. Any leftover chicken can be given new life as a tasty rice topper.

5. Quick and Simple

While chicken sauce tastes incredible, it’s actually quite simple and fast to make at home. With basic ingredients like broth, tomatoes, and seasonings, you’ll have a flavorful sauce in under 30 minutes. Even beginner cooks can master this versatile recipe.

As you can see, chicken sauce is a great recipe to have in your repertoire. Now let’s discuss the ingredients you’ll need.

Chicken Sauce Ingredients

The basic formula for chicken sauce includes cooked chicken, an aromatic base, liquid, and seasonings. But you can customize it to your taste. Here are some guidelines for ingredients:

a. Chicken

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • Rotisserie or leftover cooked chicken
  • Shredded or diced into bite-sized pieces
  • Around 1-2 pounds provides enough for 4 servings

For the best flavor, I recommend using a combo of white and dark meat. Thighs offer more moisture, while breasts are leaner. Mixing them provides a well-rounded flavor and texture.

b. Aromatic Base

  • Onion: 1 small yellow or white onion, diced
  • Garlic: 3-5 cloves, minced
  • Other options: Carrots, celery, shallots, leeks

These aromatics provide the flavor foundation. Onion and garlic are must-haves, but you can also add carrots, celery, shallots or leeks.

c. Liquid

  • Chicken broth or stock: 1-2 cups
  • Water, milk, coconut milk
  • Wine: white or red

The liquid simmered with the chicken provides moisture and background flavor. Chicken broth is classic, but you can also use veg broth for vegetarian. For a creamy sauce, stir in milk, cream or coconut milk. A splash of white or red wine is nice too.

d. Seasonings

  • Dried herbs: thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil, Italian blend
  • Spices: paprika, cumin, chili powder
  • Fresh herbs: parsley, cilantro, dill
  • Tomatoes – fresh or canned diced
  • Soy sauce, fish sauce, Worcestershire
  • Hot sauce, garlic powder, onion powder
  • Salt and pepper

Herbs, spices, tomatoes and savory sauces help infuse big flavor. An Italian herb blend is classic, but play around with different global spices. Finish with fresh herbs.

e. Thickeners (Optional)

  • Cream, coconut milk, half and half
  • Flour, cornstarch, arrowroot
  • Butter or oil

For a thicker, richer sauce, you can add dairy, make a roux with flour, or finish with butter. This is optional, but does result in a sauce that better coats the rice.

f. Custom Add-Ins

  • Mushrooms
  • Other veggies: bell peppers, spinach, zucchini
  • Olives, capers, artichoke hearts
  • Lemon, white wine, red wine vinegar
  • Cheese: parmesan, feta, goat cheese

Get creative with extra ingredients! Vegetables, cheese, citrus, olives, artichokes and other mix-ins add unique flavors.

Now that you’re familiar with the ingredients, let’s go step-by-step through the entire easy process.

Step-by-Step Chicken Sauce Recipe

Follow this simple walkthrough for making perfect chicken sauce at home:

1. Cook the Chicken

First, simmer, bake or grill boneless, skinless chicken breasts and/or thighs until cooked through (165F internal temperature). You can use raw chicken or leftovers.

Once chicken is cooked, let it rest 5 minutes before shredding or dicing into bite-sized pieces. You want around 1-2 pounds.

Having pre-cooked chicken ready to go makes assembly easier.

2. Prep the Vegetables

While chicken is cooking or resting, prep your aromatic veggies – onion, garlic, carrots, etc.

Chop the onions into a small dice. Mince the garlic. Peel and slice carrots if using. Wash, dry, and chop any fresh herbs or other vegetables.

3. Heat Oil in a Skillet

In a large deep skillet, heat 1-2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Olive, vegetable, coconut or avocado oil all work well. If your pan is non-stick, you may not need much oil.

Heat the oil for 1-2 minutes until shimmering.

4. Cook the Onion

Add the chopped onion and a pinch of salt. Saute for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens and becomes translucent.

Don’t rush the onion – properly caramelizing it provides a sweet, aromatic base.

5. Add the Garlic

After the onion is softened, add the minced garlic. Cook together with the onion for just 1 minute longer.

Be careful not to burn the garlic.

6. Add Chicken and Liquid

Now tip in the cooked shredded chicken pieces. Pour over enough chicken broth or stock to almost cover the chicken.

For a creamier sauce, use milk or coconut milk instead. Bring to a gentle simmer.

7. Season and Simmer

Here you can add any vegetables like carrots or mushrooms, herbs, spices, tomatoes or other seasonings. Some options:

  • 1-2 teaspoons Italian herb blend or individual dried herbs like oregano or basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Fresh tomatoes or canned diced tomatoes
  • Red or white wine vinegar
  • Worcestershire or soy sauce
  • Garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper

Let the sauce simmer gently for 10-15 minutes so the flavors infuse into the chicken and broth. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.

8. Finish with Fresh Herbs

Just before serving, remove the bay leaf if you used one. Then stir in a few tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley, cilantro or dill.

The fresh herbs add brightness and color to the finished sauce.

9. Add Cream or Thicken (Optional)

For a richer, creamier sauce, stir in 1/4 cup heavy cream, half and half or coconut milk at the end. For thicker sauce, create a roux by whisking in a bit of flour.

And that’s it – your chicken sauce is ready to enjoy over rice!

Serving Suggestions for Chicken Sauce and Rice

There are endless ways to put together your chicken sauce rice bowl. Here are some serving ideas:

  • Spoon the sauce over cooked rice. Mix together gently before eating so the flavors combine. White jasmine or basmati rice works well.
  • Bake the sauce and rice mixture in a casserole dish until bubbly for cheesy chicken rice casserole. Top with parmesan.
  • Stuff peppers, tomatoes or squash with the chicken sauce and rice mixture. Bake until tender.
  • Serve the sauce on top of rice cooked inside carved pumpkins or acorn squash bowls for a festive presentation.
  • Layer the rice on the bottom of the bowl and top with the hot sauce.
  • Fluff up cooked rice with a fork. Pile into a mound and make a well in the center for the sauce.
  • Add sauteed or steamed vegetables like snap peas, broccoli or asparagus on the side.
  • Garnish with chopped green onions, toasted nuts or seeds like almonds, peanuts or sesame seeds.
  • For extra flavor and crunch, top with crispy fried onions or shallots.
  • Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice.

The possibilities are endless! Use your imagination to make creative rice bowls.

Leftovers and Storage

Like many sauces, chicken sauce tastes even better the next day after the flavors have had time to develop fully. Here are some storage tips:

  • Let leftover sauce cool completely before transferring to airtight containers.
  • Keep sauce and rice stored separately. The rice will get soggy in the sauce.
  • Refrigerate leftover chicken sauce for 3-4 days. Reheat gently before serving.
  • Cooked rice will keep 3-4 days in the fridge. Fluff with a fork before reheating.
  • For longer storage, freeze serving-sized portions of sauce flat in freezer bags. Thaw overnight before using.
  • Cooked rice can also be frozen, but the texture declines. It’s better to make fresh rice.

With proper storage, you can get multiple fast meals out of one batch of homemade chicken sauce!

More Chicken Sauce Tips

Want to adapt this versatile sauce recipe? Here are some extra tips:

  • For spicy chicken sauce, add a diced jalapeno, red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper.
  • Use chicken thigh meat for deeper, more savory flavor compared to white breast meat.
  • To make it gluten free, use gluten-free certified chicken stock. Check seasoning mixes for gluten as well.
  • For vegetarian sauce, substitute chickpeas or tofu for the chicken. Use vegetable broth.
  • Mix in roasted vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots or butternut squash.
  • Add cream cheese or goat cheese cubes at the end for a creamy, rich sauce.
  • Stir in some cooked grains like barley, farro or quinoa instead of only rice.
  • Make it dairy free by using oil and flour instead of cream for thickening.
  • Garnish with feta or parmesan for a Mediterranean flair.
  • Use bone-in chicken pieces for extra flavor, then remove bones before adding to sauce.
  • If the sauce seems dry, add extra splash of broth, milk or wine.

I hope these tips help you adapt this recipe into your own signature chicken sauce for rice. Let me know if you have a favorite variation or special add-ins. Enjoy experimenting!

FAQs about Making Chicken Sauce for Rice

a. How long does chicken sauce last in the fridge?

Properly stored, leftover chicken sauce will last 3-4 days in the fridge. Keep refrigerated until ready to reheat and serve.

b. Can you freeze chicken sauce?

Yes! Freeze portions of cooled chicken sauce in airtight containers or ziplock bags. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating on the stovetop or microwave.

c. What rice is best with chicken sauce?

White or brown rice like jasmine, basmati or long grain work well. The sauce also pairs nicely with exotic rice varieties like black, red or wild rice.

d. What’s the difference between chicken gravy and chicken sauce?

Chicken gravy is made with pan drippings and stock and thickened with flour or cornstarch for a very thick consistency. Chicken sauce is thinner, usually with tomatoes or cream added.

e. How do you thicken chicken sauce?

To thicken the sauce, stir in a roux made from butter and flour. You can also puree canned tomatoes before adding, or finish with cream or coconut milk.

f. How spicy should I make the sauce?

That depends on your taste – start with 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes or a diced jalapeno for medium heat. For very spicy sauce, add 1/2 tsp cayenne or more sliced chiles.

I hope these chicken sauce tips and FAQs help you make the perfect sauce for rice! Let me know if you have any other questions.

Final Words

As you can see, whipping up flavorful chicken sauce is easy with just a few simple ingredients and steps. Not only does it transform boring rice into an exciting main course, but it also lets you repurpose leftover chicken creatively.

The options for seasoning, mixing in vegetables or cheese, and presentation over rice are endless. I hope this guide gives you lots of ideas for making this versatile, protein-packed sauce.

Let me know if you have a favorite chicken sauce recipe or any special tips. And enjoy all the delicious ways you can flavor rice with this tasty topper. Get ready to never serve plain rice again thanks to magical chicken sauce!

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