True story: I cooked this sweet chili chicken bowl every day for lunch for over a week straight. It’s easy, fast, and so flavorful.
When I was in Los Angeles, I had the best chicken larb. This dish has roots in Laotian and Thai cooking. It’s a fragrant mixture of ground meat, lots of fresh herbs, and toasted ground rice. It has plenty of lime juice and fresh chilies, which make it a refreshing, light dish. It’s typically accompanied by fresh vegetables, like carrots, cucumbers, and red onion. I’ve seen variations where the chicken is spooned into lettuce cups. The larb I had in Los Angeles was served alongside a giant wedge of raw cabbage, and I absolutely loved it.
I can confidently say that this sweet chili chicken bowl does not have the same flavors as chicken larb as the chicken is simmered in a sweet chili sauce. While some of the components are similar–the fresh vegetables and ground chicken–this isn’t attempting to be chicken larb. But the inspiration for this dish and the inclusion of fresh crunchy cabbage came from the larb I had in Los Angeles years ago.
How to make this sweet chili chicken bowl:
As I said in the beginning, I ate this sweet chili chicken bowl every day for lunch for over a week. I love whipping this up for a quick lunch dish. It’s super versatile, so mix and match ingredients depending on what you have on hand.
The sweet chili sauce
I’ve cooked the chicken in every kind of sweet chili sauce. I’ve used Mae Ploy as well as a homemade mixture of honey and sriracha. I often find myself coming back to The Ginger People’s sweet ginger chili sauce. I love the gingery undertones. It’s not particularly spicy, so I add some extra sriracha to the sauce. If you use a brand of sweet chili sauce that has a kick, you may want to omit the sriracha.
What you need
- Chicken: I use ground chicken, but you can use ground pork or ground turkey.
- Aromatics: Shallot, garlic, minced ginger, and scallions add fragrant undertones to the meat. I add Thai chili peppers for extra heat, but you can omit or add a crushed red pepper to taste.
- Sauce: All you need is fish sauce, sweet chili sauce, and sriracha if you need it.
- For serving: You can mix and match, but my go-to is shredded Napa cabbage, sesame oil, cucumber, avocado, crushed peanuts, sesame seeds, and lime wedges. Try it with chopped romaine lettuce, or you can serve the chicken with cooked rice if you want a heavier dish.
How to make it
- Step 1: Fry up your aromatics and then remove them from the skillet.
- Step 2: Fry up the chicken and return the aromatics to the pot.
- Step 3: Add the sauce ingredients and simmer the chicken for 10–15 minutes.
- Step 4: Prepare your salad ingredients and divide everything between bowls.
- Step 5: Serve it up! Pile the ground chicken on top of each bowl. Garnish with peanuts and sesame seeds, and serve with a lime wedge.
Sweet Chili Chicken Bowl
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil, plus more if needed
- 1 shallot, peeled and diced
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1–2 Thai chili peppers, trimmed and minced, optional
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 2 scallions, trimmed and minced; white and light green parts separated
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce, plus more if desired
- 1 tablespoon sriracha, optional
- Salt and pepper
- 1 small head Napa cabbage, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 English cucumber, diced
- 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
- ¼ cup peanuts, crushed
- Sesame seeds
- Lime wedges
Fry the aromatics:
- Heat 1 tablespoon avocado oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and cook for 2–3 minutes. Add the garlic, chili peppers, ginger, and minced white parts of the scallions. Sauté for 1 minute until fragrant. Transfer to a bowl.
Cook the chicken:
- Add another drizzle of oil to the skillet if needed. Turn the heat to medium and add the chicken. Fry the chicken for 12–15 minutes, breaking it up as it cooks, until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper.
Finish the chicken:
- Return the fried aromatics to the skillet and toss to combine. Add the fish sauce, sweet chili sauce, and sriracha if desired. Toss to coat and turn the heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference.
Prepare the bowls:
- Place the Napa cabbage in a large bowl and drizzle with sesame oil. Add the avocado and cucumber. Season with salt and use your hands to massage the oil into the leaves. Divide the vegetables between shallow bowls.
- Pile the chicken on top of each bowl. Garnish with the minced green parts of the scallions, crushed peanuts, and sesame seeds. Serve with lime wedges. Enjoy!