This sophisticated take on sweet and sour chicken from the October issue of Bon Appetit will make you forget all about takeout. First, you brown chicken legs and thighs. Then you make a luscious sauce from garlic, brown sugar, vinegar, chicken stock and soy sauce. Pop the browned chicken into the sauce and bake for about 25 minutes. Remove the chicken, and, while it rests, reduce the sauce for about 10 minutes. Serve with steamed rice to soak up the sauce.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

I use Marukan rice vinegar, which contains only natural ingredients, and Imagine brand organic chicken stock. Use tamari instead of soy sauce, because it uses alcohol as a preservative, not sodium benzoate or MSG.

The sauce is made with garlic, ginger, vinegar, brown sugar, stock and soy sauce

Brown the chicken well

Brown the garlic

Caramelize the sauce

Nestle the chicken into the sauce and bake

While the chicken rests, reduce the sauce to thicken it

Top the chicken with the sauce and serve with steamed rice


2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2½ pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken legs and thighs

Kosher salt

8 garlic cloves, peeled

⅓ cup (packed) light brown sugar

¼ cup (or more) unseasoned rice vinegar

2 slices ¼”-thick slices peeled ginger

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 scallions, thinly sliced

Cooked white rice (for serving)


Heat oil in a large wide heavy pot over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and, working in 2 batches, cook until golden brown and crisp, 6–8 minutes per side; transfer to a plate. Add garlic to pot and cook, stirring often, until golden, about 2 minutes; transfer to plate with chicken. Pour off fat from pot.

Return pot to medium-high heat and add ½ cup water, scraping up browned bits. Add brown sugar; stir to dissolve, then cook, stirring, until mixture thickens and turns a deep amber color, about 4 minutes. Carefully add vinegar (it may bubble up; sugar will crystallize); stir to dissolve sugar.

Add ginger, broth, and soy sauce, then add chicken, skin side up, and garlic. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer gently until chicken is cooked through, 20–25 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate.

Bring cooking liquid to a boil and cook until thick enough to coat a spoon, about 10 minutes. Return chicken to pot; turn to coat. Top with scallions and serve with rice. Serves 4.

From the October 2013 issue of Bon Appetit