25 of our best homemade sauces for chicken
Our collection of homemade chicken sauce recipes will transform your meat into a mouth-watering meal...
- (opens in new tab)
- (opens in new tab)
- (opens in new tab)
- Sign up to our newsletter Newsletter
From a sticky balsamic barbecue sauce to soy and ginger chicken, through to creamy cheese and mustard sauce, we’ve got stacks of ideas for homemade sauces to cook chicken in.
Paired perfectly with chicken breasts (opens in new tab), chicken thighs (opens in new tab) and chicken drumsticks (opens in new tab), this collection of mouthwatering sauces are ideal for marinating chicken before cooking as well as drizzling over when ready to serve. Most sauces are super simple to make and ideal if you’re looking to improve your sauce making skills as well as eat a little healthier as homemade sauces are often much lower in salt than jarred.
Dominique Woolf (opens in new tab), the winner of Channel 4’s The Great Cookbook Challenge with Jamie Oliver, is something of a sauce expert. “I’m a huge fan of chicken in all its various forms. Quite possibly the most versatile meat, it works with an endless array of sauces from the French-style creamy varieties as used in recipes like Chicken Fricasée to tomato-based Italian sauces such as Chicken Cacciatore to aromatic Thai red curries and sweet and spicy Sichuan classics like Kung Pao Chicken,” she says.
Dominique, who has her own range of Asian-inspired sauces (opens in new tab), and is the author of Dominique’s Kitchen: Easy Everyday Asian-inspired Food (opens in new tab), has plenty of top tips for how to make the best chicken dishes – her favourite way to cook it is with "the skin rubbed in a mix of smoked paprika, soft brown sugar, mustard powder, garlic powder and sea salt flakes, then basted with homemade barbecue sauce." And her favourite cut of meat is chicken thighs. “They’re my go-to for midweek dinner, perfect for an easy traybake. I personally love sticky Asian-inspired sauces, and although hours marinating is ideal, it’s not essential when pushed for time (especially when the dish has lots of sauce anyway). For me, a crispy skin is a must though, so I tend to wipe any marinade off the top of the skin and sprinkle it with salt - this draws out the moisture and helps it crisp up. You can also place the whole dish under a hot grill at the end of the cooking time," she says. "Stir-fries are another staple in my household using chicken breast, whether in a peanutty satay-style sauce, a garlicky oyster sauce or a zingy, sweet chilli sauce.”
Easy sauces for chicken
1. Cheese and mustard sauce
Serves: 4 | Total time: 1 hr | Make ahead: Y | Freezable: Y | Perfect with: Chicken breast
This creamy, mustard-infused sauce is super simple to make and really transforms your average chicken breast, making a great big food hug of a dinner for all the family. Essentially a bechamel sauce, with added mustard, cooking it in this creamy sauce makes a lean cut of chicken (that can often be dry) taste incredibly succulent. Use whatever mustard is your mustard of choice – if you want a strong flavour, go for English or Dijon, if you like a more textured sauce, go for wholegrain. Serve with mash, roasties or jacket potatoes, and a big pile of steamed green veggies.
To make in bulk, cook it separately from the chicken and freeze or store in an airtight container for up to three days in the fridge.
Get the recipe: Chicken in cheese and mustard sauce (opens in new tab)
2. Chilli and chocolate sauce
Serves: 4 | Total time: 40 mins | Make ahead: N | Freezable: Y | Perfect with: Chicken breast or thighs
Chilli and chocolate complement each other beautifully – and not just in sweet dishes. This rich, slightly spicy sauce takes inspiration from the Mexican mole, an earthy marinade made from chilli, tomato and chocolate, for all types of meat. Alongside peppers, onions and the spices you’d use in a classic chilli con carne, such as cumin and cinnamon, is a small amount of dark choc, which brings a wonderful depth of flavour (and means you’ll have the rest of the bar leftover, which is a stroke of luck). The chicken will be super tender, too. Serve with rice, and perhaps a side of creamy guacamole (opens in new tab).
If you're making this dish for a dinner party, double the measurements. You can fry up the chicken and make the base of the sauce in advance, just add the chocolate at the last minute – otherwise it will set if stored in the fridge.
Get the recipe: Chicken with chilli and chocolate (opens in new tab)
3. Chicken with black bean sauce
Serves: 4 | Total time: 20 mins | Make ahead: N | Freezable: Y | Perfect with: Chicken breast
Your favourite takeaway food, made at home, meaning it’s every bit as tasty – if not more, particularly minus all that gloopy MSG that’s commonly found in Chinese takeouts – and far more nutritious. The rich, black bean sauce pairs wonderfully with chicken and there is extra protein from the cashew nuts, and goodness aplenty in the broccoli, spring onions, garlic and ginger. It’s a quick stir fry that is best served immediately, ideally with a steaming hot bowl of egg fried rice. “Fakeaway dishes are always a winner – quicker, healthier and cheaper than your local takeaway,” says Dominique Woolf.
Get the recipe: Chicken with black bean sauce (opens in new tab)
4. Chicken cacciatore
Makes: 4 | Total time: 30 mins | Make ahead: Y | Freezable: Y | Perfect with: Chicken breast
With just five ingredients, this rich, easy-to-make Italian sauce is classic ‘peasant food’. Combine peppers, garlic, tomato puree and chopped tomatoes with the chicken, and you’ve got yourself a superfood-packed dinner with minimal fuss. You may want to add to the veggies, of course – courgettes would work well, and olives are a perfect addition too – for an easy midweek family dinner (that is also pleasingly low fat, particularly if you use breast meat). Serve with roast or sauté potatoes, mash, rice or couscous. It’s also a great one to make in bulk, and freeze for another dinner, another day.
Get the recipe: Chicken cacciatore (opens in new tab)
5. Balsamic barbecue sauce
Makes: 4 | Total time: 30 mins | Make ahead: Y | Freezable: N | Perfect with: Chicken breast, thigh or leg
This tangy barbecue sauce is a classic recipe from South Africa, where they know a thing or two about grilling meat on the braai. It’s a thick, tasty sauce made with balsamic vinegar, dry mustard and brown sugar for added sweetness, best made ahead of time and added to the meat to marinate and absorb the flavours, ideally for at least a day. It works well with any cut of chicken and we highly recommend adding a good splash of tabasco in the mix. Serve with rice, potato salad and a heap of green salad, too.
Get the recipe: Chicken in balsamic barbecue sauce (opens in new tab)
6. Sweet chicken with smoked paprika
Serves: 4 | Total time: 3hr 15 mins | Make ahead: Y | Freezable: Y | Perfect with: Chicken thighs
We more often associate slow cooking with beef or lamb dishes, what with fillets of chicken being pretty quick to cook through, but it is so much more succulent cooked over a long period of time, and this sauce from TV chef Phil Vickery is the perfect way to do so. Paprika, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and vinegar all bring the flavours, along with sweet ramiro peppers, for an authentic Spanish feel to the dish. Prep in the morning or the night before and pop in the slow cooker, or cook on a low heat in the oven. If you’re in more of a rush for your dinner though, it could also be done in a pressure cooker to the same effect. Serve with crusty bread to soak up the juices, and perhaps a side of broccoli or green beans.
Get the recipe: Sweet chicken with smoked paprika (opens in new tab)
7. Spanish chicken with beans
Serves: 4 | Total time: 50 mins | Make ahead: Y | Freezable: Y | Perfect with: Chicken thighs
This tasty, comforting stew might hail from a hot country but it equally works as a perfect winter warmer. The sauce is made from chicken stock, sun-dried tomato paste and smoked paprika, with garlic, onions and thyme, and the chorizo and cannellini beans make it wonderfully protein rich. If you want to prep in advance, make this sauce without the chicken and then reheat on the hob adding the meat so it can cook in the juices. We think a generous handful of olives will make it even better, too. Serve with roast or saute potatoes, or hunks of crusty bread, and some garlicky green beans.
Get the recipe: Spanish chicken with beans
8. Olive butter
Serves: 4 | Total time: 55 mins | Make ahead: Y | Freezable: N | Perfect with: Chicken breast
This simple, classic sauce doesn't take long to make and yet feels ever so special and fancy, so could easily be served at a dinner party. Fresh tarragon is the perfect herb for chicken, green olives are a wonderful accompaniment and, well, a generous helping of butter always helps. It’s best to make this one fresh and serve immediately drizzled over griddled chicken, and served with new potatoes and greens.
Get the recipe: Chicken olive butter (opens in new tab)
9. Leek and Cheddar sauce
Makes: 4 | Total time: 35 minutes | Make ahead: Y/N | Freezable: Y/N | Perfect with: Chicken breast or thighs
An excellent one for family meal times, kids will love the cheesy, oozy sauce, and it’s pretty speedy to put together, too, with a straightforward, affordable ingredients list. As bechamel type sauces are a slight faff, with all that stirring, you could always whip up double the quantity and freeze half for another day. It’s a pretty rich dish, so we’d serve it with a big pile of steamed green vegetables, but you could also add a side of simple new potatoes, too.
Get the recipe: Chicken, leek and Cheddar bake (opens in new tab)
10. Soy and ginger chicken
Serves: 4 | Total time: 30 mins | Make ahead: N | Freezable: Y/N | Perfect with: Chicken breast
Another reason to take your local Chinese takeaway off speed dial, because this is a way better, cheaper and more nutritious alternative. Packed with peppers, spring onions and shiitake mushrooms, adding bean sprouts for crunch, the sauce is made from soy sauce, ginger, dry sherry and tomato puree. Best stir fried and served immediately, with rice or noodles, you could add other dishes, like chicken with black bean sauce (opens in new tab), to really get the takeaway treat vibes. “This is a childhood favourite of mine, and a great stir-fry to have up your sleeve,” says Dominique Woolf.
Get the recipe: Soy and ginger chicken (opens in new tab)
11. Mushroom and tarragon sauce
Serves: 6 | Total time: 55 mins | Make ahead: N | Freezable: N | Perfect with: Chicken breast
This delicious, creamy sauce is something of a nod to a classic beef stroganoff, with juicy button mushrooms, double cream and a splash of wine. Excellent for a family meal, it could be a refreshing change from your usual Sunday roast, served with roast potatoes and seasonal veg. Tarragon, the key ingredient, is an underrated herb that adds a wonderful aniseed flavour and transforms any chicken dish (it’s pretty good with fish too, especially salmon or trout). This dish is best cooked and served straight away, rather than prepared earlier.
Get the recipe: Chicken in mushroom and tarragon sauce (opens in new tab)
12. White wine sauce
Serves: 6 | Total time: 25 mins | Make ahead: N | Freezable: Y | Perfect with: Chicken breast or thigh
A classic sauce, made from a good glug of vin blanc, along with cream, shallots, thyme and lemon juice, that is wonderful poured over grilled or roasted chicken, and is versatile enough to pair with other meat and fish too – it works with steak, and is also great with white fish from cod to sea bream. Serve freshly prepared with a generous grind of black pepper, steamed spinach and your potatoes of choice.
Get the recipe: Chicken with white wine sauce (opens in new tab)
13. Salsa verde recipe
Serves: 8 | Total time: 15 mins | Make ahead: Y | Freezable: Y | Perfect with: Chicken breast, thighs or drumsticks
A great way to add an easy Italian twist to your chicken, this amazing salsa verde sauce is infused with garlic, parsley, anchovies and plenty of capers for a rich blend of texture and flavour. It’ll do you for at least two meals – the leftovers can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days – and it’s perfect drizzled over some simple griddled, oven baked or grilled chicken, with some great bread to dip and a large side salad. It’s pretty low fat too, and a good choice if you aren’t a fan of cream and prefer your sauces a little punchier.
Get the recipe: Salsa verde (opens in new tab)
14. Coronation curry sauce
Serves: 8-10 | Total time: 1hr 15 mins | Make ahead: Y | Freezable: Y | Perfect with: Chicken breast
An icon of sandwich fillings, that could also be served with a cold rice salad, coronation chicken truly has an eclectic mix of ingredients. Tomato puree, korma curry paste, red wine and stock are mixed with chopped dried apricots for a fruity edge, and blended to a smooth paste, before stirring in mayo. It shouldn’t work, but, as we all know, it very much does. Layer in a crusty baguette with some crisp lettuce for a right royal sandwich.
Get the recipe: Coronation chicken (opens in new tab)
15. Lemon and tarragon sauce
This Serves: 4 | Total time: 55 mins | Make ahead: N | Freezable: N | Perfect with: Chicken breast or thighs
Fresh lemons and sprigs of tarragon are the ideal way to make this sauce but you can use the bottled and dried versions if you want to avoid the shops or you aren’t able to locate (Waitrose is your best bet for fresh tarragon). The more lemon you add, the tangier the overall dish will taste. This isn’t an overly creamy sauce, and is dairy free (though you could swap the soya cream for creme fraiche) so perfect for anyone with an intolerance.
Get the recipe: Lemon and tarragon sauce (opens in new tab)
16. Satay sauce
Serve: 4 | Total time: 10 mins | Make ahead: Y | Freezable: N | Perfect with: Chicken thighs
It only takes five ingredients to make this sauce and most of them you've probably already got hiding away in the back of the cupboard. A few big dollops of crunchy peanut butter and a little touch of spice is all you really need to make this delicious cheats version of this restaurant-style south east Asian sauce at home. Skewer your chicken after marinating and serve with the sauce in a mini dish on the side or drizzled over. Serve with sticky rice and a fresh cucumber salad.
Get the recipe: Satay sauce (opens in new tab)
17. Italian-style chicken with olives
Serves: 6 | Total time: 1 hr | Make ahead: Y | Freezable: Y | Perfect with: Chicken breast, thighs, drumsticks
The is a wonderful dish that can be made using a whole jointed chicken for a Sunday lunch, or, for midweek ease, with a pack of chicken thighs and/or drumsticks, which will fall off the bone beautifully – particularly if you opt for the slow cooker method. Olives beautifully complement chicken and the wine, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes pack a hefty flavour punch. It’s pretty low fat and very nutritionally balanced, too, so that is pleasing. Serve with your choice of potatoes or pasta – orzo would work well.
Get the recipe: Italian-style chicken with olives (opens in new tab)
18. Katsu curry sauce
Serves: 4 | Total time: 45 mins | Make ahead: Y | Freezable: Y | Perfect with: Chicken breast
There are few curries we love more than a Japanese katsu (and we love curries in all their varied, glorious forms). This wonderful sauce, which combines honey, soy sauce and garam masala as key ingredients, has been given a healthy makeover here by celebrity chef Gizzi Erskine. Serve with breadcrumbed chicken (this recipe uses cornflakes for crunch) and rice – it’s a serious winner for the kids, too.
Get the recipe: Chicken katsu curry (opens in new tab)
19. Piri-Piri sauce
Serves: 8 | Total time: 50 mins | Make ahead: Y | Freezable: Y | Perfect with: Drumsticks, wings, or a whole spatchcocked chicken
No need to spend your money in a certain well-known high street establishment when you can give your chicken some spice with this sweet and tangy Piri-Piri sauce. Leave your chicken to marinade in the sauce before cooking (slice holes through the skin into your cut of meat so the sauce can soak through) and use as a dipping sauce too. Perfect for a whole chicken for a weekend feast, with wedges or rice, corn on the cob, coleslaw and green salad. Keep the leftover sauce bottle in the fridge for another day.
Get the recipe: Piri-Piri sauce (opens in new tab)
20. Slimming World Diet Cola Chicken
Serves: 4 | Total time: 50 mins | Make ahead: Y/N | Freezable: Y/N | Perfect with: Chicken breast
Years after it was brought to culinary attention by Nigella Lawson, this cola dish, popular in Hong Kong, still sounds a bit bonkers – but all the best things do. This version is low fat and low calorie, as well as being super tasty. The diet cola adds a sweet flavour and sticky texture with the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and passata, and it’s packed with veggies and sugar snap peas. Serve with mashed potato, or rice.
Get the recipe: Slimming World's diet cola chicken (opens in new tab)
21. Marsala chicken
Serves: 4 | Total time: 55 mins | Make ahead: N | Freezable: N | Perfect with: Chicken breast or thigh
An old classic, made with mushrooms, shallots, butter, stock and the fortified wine of its namesake, the chicken – we reckon thigh meat is the best bet, here – is cooked in the sauce to make it super tender and juicy. Perfect served immediately with mashed potatoes – or dauphinoise if it’s the weekend or you’re feeling fancy – and some green beans. Oh, and a delicious, bold glass of red wine.
Get the recipe: Marsala chicken (opens in new tab)
22. Hairy Bikers' Somerset chicken
Serves: 6 | Total time: 45 mins | Make ahead: N | Freezable: N | Perfect with: Chicken breast
So-called in honour of the region synonymous with its key ingredients of cider and apples, this chicken sauce recipe has a welcome kick from the grain mustard, a luxurious texture from the double cream, and a herby taste from the sage. And then there is the bubbling, melted cheese on top. What’s not to love here? It would work very well with pork, too. Best served immediately with your potato of choice and some green veg. What a welcome treat.
Get the recipe: Hairy Bikers' Somerset chicken (opens in new tab)
23. Hunter's chicken
Serves: 4 | Total time: 40 mins | Make ahead: Y | Freezable: N | Perfect with: Chicken breast
Making your own homemade BBQ sauce is a highly satisfying endeavour and can be used for lots of dishes – including with hunter’s chicken, where the joints are wrapped in pancetta and grated cheese and baked in the oven. The sauce can then be jarred and kept in the fridge or frozen for another day. Serve this one with coleslaw, corn on the cob, salad and maybe a few cheeky chips – an excellent treat meal for all the family. “I love a good BBQ sauce – homemade is always so much better than shop bought,” says Dominique Woolf.
Get the recipe: Hunter's chicken with bacon, cheese and bbq sauce (opens in new tab)
24. Chimichurri sauce
Serves: 4-6 | Total time: 5 mins | Make ahead: Y | Freezable: N | Perfect with: Chicken breast
This vibrant, herby sauce, hailing from Argentina, is super simple to put together by blitzing fresh coriander and parsley in a blender with wine vinegar, garlic and olive oil. Perfect drizzled over simple grilled or griddled chicken strips, it also works wonderfully with South America’s favourite meat, beef. If you prefer a chunkier texture to your sauce, don’t blend until smooth, and if you like a bit of a kick, throw a green chilli in the mix. It will keep jarred in the fridge for a few days, too.
Get the recipe: Chimichurri sauce (opens in new tab)
25. Honey and soy sticky chicken
Serves: 4 | Total time: 25 mins | Make ahead: Y | Freezable: N | Perfect with: Chicken breast, thigh, drumstick or wings
Honey, ginger and soy sauce creates a really tangy marinade that can be used on any cut of chicken to create a super tasty, and terribly sticky texture – so don’t forget the napkins cos it’s going to get messy. Marinate the meat for at least a couple of hours if possible before cooking, then grill away, and serve with steamed or stir-fried veggies and rice. A good weeknight meal for all the family, or a fun one for parties and gatherings.
Get the recipe: Honey and soy sticky chicken (opens in new tab)
Video of the Week
Lara Kilner is a writer and editor with two decades of experience in national newspapers, magazines, and websites. She writes about food, lifestyle, travel, health and wellness, and entertainment, and regularly interviews celebrities and people with interesting life stories and experiences. Her foodie content has included interviews with Jamie Oliver, Rick Stein, Queer Eye’s food expert Antoni Porowski, the Hairy Bikers, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, Raymond Blanc, Andi Oliver, Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith, and Nadiya Hussain.
Molly Mae shares adorable personalized Mother's Day gift - here's how to bag yours
Where to buy the precious personalized gift that made Molly-Mae cry
By Heidi Scrimgeour • Published
Does Ed Sheeran have a documentary? The Sum Of It All and how to stream
A special four-part series will give fans a more personal insight into the singer-songwriter's life than ever before
By Selina Maycock • Published