Continuing my cooking journey through the recipes of Magnolia Table, Volume 2 by Joanna Gaines, I came across the recipe for honey garlic chicken. Immediately, my mouth started to water. I showed the recipe to my husband and he said, “Yes. That one.”
As stated in all of my recipe reviews, I do not publish the recipes that I find in a cookbook. We can go back and forth on the legality of posting someone’s published recipe and what constitutes copyright protections, however, I don’t care to enter that conversion. Even if you provide me irrefutable information that I can copy and paste a published recipe into my blog, I will still find it unethical. What I do provide is a listing of the ingredients used in the recipe and a quick recap of what the method entailed. If you want the full recipe, please consider supporting the author and purchasing a copy of their book.
- Apple cider vinegar
- Garlic Salt
- Garlic Cloves
- Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs
- Vegetable Oil
- Red Bell Pepper
- Fresh Parsley
- Toasted Sesame Seeds
From the ingredients alone, I could tell that this was not going to taste like an Asian dish. I think most of us think of honey garlic chicken as something you would order for takeout from an Asian restaurant. This dish is not Asian. Maybe Asian inspired, but the complete lack of soy sauce, MSG, and/or sesame oil rule out any chance that this dish is Asian.
Like most of her recipes, Joanna doesn’t use anything unique or out of the ordinary. These were all ingredients that I had on hand or easily obtainable. That is part of the draw to her cookbooks. So far, very good, simple food.
If I am being honest, the use of ketchup freaked me out quite a bit. I don’t mind dabbing my fries in ketchup. I don’t mind it on a burger here and there. I don’t mind it in barbeque sauce. Beyond that, it is such a weird ingredient. I am not even really justified in feeling that way. Ketchup is nothing but a version of tomato sauce, but yet, I still side eye recipes that use it.
Ingredient Substitutions. Even though the recipe does call for it, I did not use fresh pineapple. Honestly, that is way too much effort and I don’t think going through the motions to cut fresh pineapple adds anything except bragging rights that you did it. I used a can of well-drained pineapple. I also cut the amount of red bell pepper in half. Not on purpose, but oversight. I didn’t buy the right quantity.
The recipe first calls for seasoning the chicken thighs with salt and pepper, throwing a light drizzle of oil on top, and baking for 15 minutes. While the chicken is going through the first bake, you can mix together the sauce and chop the red bell pepper, parsley, and pineapple. Once the chicken has completed its first bake, you take your sheet pan out of the oven, shove the chicken to one side, and place the bell peppers and pineapple on the other side. The recipe calls for basting the chicken in some of the sauce. It goes back into the oven for another 10 minutes. After the second bake is complete, you turn the broiler on and allow it to caramelize and build a nice char. Once you get just enough char, you remove from the oven, place in your serving dish, and toss with more of the sauce. The final step is to sprinkle on your fresh parsley and toasted sesame seeds and serve with some rice.
Hopefully, when all is said and done, you will end with something that look like this:
Where the Recipe Shined:
Very easy to make. This is a very basic and simple recipe. I think even the most inexperienced cook can make this dish without issue. All of the cooking is done in an oven. The only dirty dishes you should end up with is the cutting board, a knife, the bowl you mixed everything in, your measuring cups, and a sheet pan. All things considered, that’s not too bad!
Time. You can definitely get this on the table in under an hour. It may be too ambitious for a school night for most, but not out of the question.
Bell Peppers and Pineapple. They add a nice touch to the dish. I think without the peppery bite, this dish would not have been as tasty as it was.
Somehow, it didn’t taste like ketchup. I am not sure what chemical sorcery occurred, but it didn’t taste like tomatoes or ketchup, so WIN!
No one will starve! As far as sheer quantity, this recipe makes a ton of food.
Where the Recipe Fell Flat:
No one will starve! Sometimes, too much of a good thing can be bad. As I was reading other reviews of the same recipe, most of us came to the same conclusion. This recipe makes WAAAY too much. I had at least a cup of sauce leftover. If I had poured all of the sauce like the recipe indicated, we would have had an over-sauced mess. It would have been way too wet. The recipe calls also calls for too much pineapple and red bell pepper. As previously mentioned, I accidentally did not buy enough red bell pepper, but that was divine intervention. I think if I added the called for amount, the red bell pepper would have overpowered everything.
Lacks the Asian flavor that you might be looking for. When I see “honey garlic chicken”, my mind wanders to Asian food. It’s usually chicken thighs nuggets marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, garlic, and sesame oil, and then tossed in tempura batter, or potato starch, and deep fried. Then, coated in a honey garlic sauce. If that is where your mind wanders as well, you got the wrong recipe. Now, let’s be honest here. Asian cuisine doesn’t have a trademark on the phrase “honey garlic chicken”. This just isn’t the Asian chicken you’re looking for. It is a very Americanized recipe that just so happens to use honey and garlic.
Lacks the garlic flavor I was looking for. I tasted the honey. I tasted the red bell peppers. I tasted the pineapple. The garlic was definitely the understudy to the understudy that reads lines with the third understudy.
How I might modify the recipe:
Let me clear. This recipe is fine as written. I wholly believe if you make it as written, you will get a fine meal. For me, I know there are a few things I can do to take this very good recipe and make it better suited to my family’s tastes.
The next time I make this, I will probably marinate the chicken in a mixture of soy, garlic, ginger, and a dash of sesame oil. While this recipe made some pretty good tasting chicken, all the flavor was on the outside. The inside needed just a little bit more help. I think I will also add a bit of red pepper flake to the sauce to give it a little extra kick. I don’t want it hot, but a little more spice would be nice. I will also reduce the amount of sauce, pineapple, and red pepper by half. I want it to be more than a garnish, but not equal in volume to the chicken…I wonder if that makes sense. I feel like these are all reasonable modifications that doesn’t alter the recipe too much.
ChibiChonk’s Final Thoughts:
Reading this, you might be under the impression that I didn’t like the recipe. That is not the case at all! I think this really is a recipe worth trying as written. Just be aware that it might not be the flavors you are expecting and that it makes a ton of food. Definitely makes a beautiful looking meal.
You can grab a copy of Joanna’s cookbook on Amazon currently for $20.98.