Chicken Rice: How To Make Hainanese Chicken Rice

Hainanese chicken rice is a poached chicken and seasoned rice dish, eaten with chili sauce. This dish is typically garnished with cucumber. However, depending on the region the dish is served in, you may find it with a variety of other toppings as well.

It was developed in southern China by immigrants from Hainan and adapted from the Wenchang chicken dish from Hainan. It is considered one of Singapore’s national dishes and is most commonly associated with Singaporean cuisine. But is also seen throughout Southeast Asia and is a culinary staple in Malaysia.

If you are not able to travel all the way to Southeast Asia to try this dish, don’t worry. You can also prepare this dish in the comfort of your own home! Follow the recipe below to great this dish yourself.

Hainanese Chicken Rice

  • Author: Romae Chanice Marquez
  • Recipe Category: Main Dish
  • Cuisine: Singaporean

The chicken is cooked using traditional Hainanese methods, which include poaching the whole chicken at sub-boiling temperatures to cook the bird and produce the stock.

The whole preparation and cooking time is 1 hour and 30 minutes. This recipe is suitable for at least six people. 

Follow this recipe to cook your own chicken rice. Photo credits: @amafoodblog /

Hainanese Chicken Rice Ingredients

For the chicken,

  • 4 lb whole chicken, giblets removed
  • ¼ cup kosher salt (60g), divided
  • 5 1-inch pieces fresh ginger, peeled and cut into ¼-inch (6mm) slices
  • 2 bunches fresh scallion
  • 3 gal. cold water
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil

For the rice,

  • ¼ cup sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons chicken fat, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups long-grain rice, rinsed and drained
  • 3 cups reserved chicken broth

For the sauce,

  • 3 tablespoons sambal
  • 3 tablespoons sriracha
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons reserved chicken broth

For the ginger-garlic sauce,

  • 3 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
  • 3 tablespoons garlic, finely minced
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • 4 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar

For the soy dipping sauce,

  • reserved fried garlic and ginger
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 4 tablespoons dark sweet soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons reserved chicken broth

For serving,

  • 3 cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro

Hainanese Chicken Rice Instructions

Step 1: Clean the chicken and get rid of any loose skin. Rinse the inside and outside of the chicken thoroughly. Pat dry with paper towels.

Step 2: Remove any excess fat from the chicken and set it aside for later. Generously season the chicken with oil. Stuff the ginger slices and scallions into the chicken’s cavity. Put the chicken in a large stockpot, cover with 1 inch of cold water and season to taste with salt.

Step 3: Bring to a boil over high heat, then to the heat to low immediately. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165°F (75 °C) in its center.

Step 4: Remove the chicken from the pot, conserve the leftover liquid for later. Switch the chicken to an ice bath for 5 minutes to avoid continuing the cooking process and to keep the skin of the chicken springy. Discard the green onion and ginger.

Step 5: Pat the chicken dry with paper towels after it is cooled, and brush it with sesame oil. This will help prevent drying out the chicken.

Step 6: Heat the 1/4 cup of sesame oil over medium-high heat in a big wok or skillet. Add 2 reserved spoonfuls of chicken fat, garlic, ginger, and salt, and fry for about 10 minutes until aromatic.

Step 7: Reserve 1⁄4 of the mixture of the fried garlic, then add the rice to the rest of the fried garlic and stir to coat. Cook for 3 minutes. Transfer the rice to a rice cooker and add 2 cups reserved broth. Steam the rice, for 60 minutes, or until soft. Carve the chicken while the rice is cooking.

Step 8: Now, make the chili sauce. In a small bowl, combine the sambal, sriracha, sugar, garlic, ginger, lime juice, and chicken broth and whisk it all together.

Step 9: Make the ginger-garlic sauce: mix the ginger, garlic, salt, peanut oil, and rice vinegar in a small bowl and stir to be added.

Step 10: Create the soy sauce mixture. Mix the reserved fried garlic and ginger with the oyster sauce, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, and chicken broth in a small bowl.

Step 11: Serve with rice the sliced chicken, dipping sauces, sliced cucumbers, and fresh cilantro.

Hainanese Chicken Rice Additional Information

  • Per serving, this recipe has 389 calories, 38g of carbohydrates, 21g of fat, and 11g of protein.
  • This recipe will take 1 hour and 30 minutes to prepare. 
  • This recipe can feed up to six people.
  • The dish was born out of frugality in Singapore, developed by immigrants of the servant-class trying to stretch the chicken’s flavor.

About Hainanese Chicken Rice

Hainanese chicken rice is a dish adapted by early Chinese immigrants from southern China’s Hainan province. It is based on a well-known Hainanese dish called Wenchang chicken, one of four main Qin dynasty Hainan dishes.

Traditionally, the Hainanese in China used a specific breed to make the dish, the Wenchang chicken. The original recipe was adapted in the Nanyang area by the overseas Chinese Hainanese population.

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We hope this recipe will help you enjoy this delicious dish with friends and family! For more international recipes, click here.

Featured Image: @findrihodi /, @step3by2step1 /