Making Hainanese Chicken Rice: Steps & Tips

by Ella

Hainanese Chicken Rice is a beloved dish hailing from the Hainan province of China, but it has gained widespread popularity throughout Southeast Asia and beyond. Known for its simplicity, yet depth of flavor, this dish consists of succulent poached chicken served atop fragrant rice, accompanied by dipping sauces and garnishes. Let’s delve into the rich history and characteristics of Hainanese Chicken Rice before exploring how to recreate this culinary delight in your own kitchen.

Origin and Characteristics:

Hainanese Chicken Rice traces its origins to Hainan, an island province in southern China, where it was traditionally served as a simple yet satisfying meal for the working class. Over time, the dish evolved and became synonymous with Hainanese cuisine, eventually spreading to other parts of China and Southeast Asia through migration and cultural exchange.


The hallmark of Hainanese Chicken Rice lies in its tender and moist poached chicken, which is infused with aromatic flavors from a fragrant broth. The accompanying rice, cooked in the same broth, is rich in flavor and subtly seasoned with garlic and ginger. The dish is typically served with a trio of dipping sauces: chili sauce, ginger sauce, and dark soy sauce, each adding layers of flavor and complexity to the meal.


List of Raw Materials and Equipment:

To make Hainanese Chicken Rice, you’ll need the following ingredients and equipment:



  • 1 whole chicken (approximately 3-4 pounds)
  • 2 cups jasmine rice
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, sliced
  • 4 cups chicken broth or water
  • Salt, to taste
  • Soy sauce, for seasoning (optional)
  • Sesame oil, for drizzling (optional)
  • Sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, for garnish

Dipping Sauces:

  • Chili sauce
  • Ginger sauce (made with grated ginger, garlic, and chicken broth)
  • Dark soy sauce


  • Large pot or Dutch oven
  • Strainer or slotted spoon
  • Rice cooker or pot with lid
  • Small bowls for dipping sauces
  • Sharp knife and cutting board
  • Serving platter or individual plates

Preparation Steps:

Now, let’s walk through the step-by-step process of making Hainanese Chicken Rice:

Step 1: Poach the Chicken

In a large pot or Dutch oven, bring the chicken broth or water to a boil.

Add the whole chicken, garlic cloves, and ginger slices to the pot, ensuring that the chicken is fully submerged.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 30-40 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and tender.

Once cooked, remove the chicken from the pot and plunge it into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process and tighten the skin. Set aside.

Step 2: Cook the Rice

In the same pot used to poach the chicken, add the jasmine rice along with any remaining garlic and ginger.

Strain the chicken broth through a fine-mesh sieve or use a slotted spoon to remove the garlic and ginger pieces.

Measure out 4 cups of the strained chicken broth and pour it over the rice.

Season with salt, to taste, and stir to combine.

Cover the pot with a lid and cook the rice according to the instructions on your rice cooker or stove.

Step 3: Prepare the Dipping Sauces

While the chicken and rice are cooking, prepare the dipping sauces by combining the ingredients for each sauce in separate small bowls.

For the ginger sauce, mix grated ginger, minced garlic, and a splash of chicken broth until well combined.

Adjust the seasoning of each sauce to taste, adding more chili sauce for heat, or soy sauce for saltiness.

Step 4: Carve the Chicken

Once the chicken has cooled slightly, carefully remove the skin and bones, and carve the meat into bite-sized pieces.

Arrange the chicken pieces on a serving platter or individual plates, reserving any juices for drizzling over the chicken.

Step 5: Plate and Serve

To serve, fluff the cooked rice with a fork and transfer it to a serving platter or individual plates.

Garnish the rice with sliced cucumbers and tomatoes for freshness and color.

Serve the poached chicken alongside the rice, accompanied by the dipping sauces and any reserved juices.

Drizzle the chicken with sesame oil, if desired, for extra flavor and shine.

Tips and Suggestions (Troubleshooting):

For tender and juicy chicken, avoid overcooking. The chicken is done when the juices run clear and the internal temperature reaches 165°F (75°C).

To infuse the rice with more flavor, you can sauté the garlic and ginger in a bit of oil before adding the rice and broth.

If you prefer a richer flavor, you can use chicken fat skimmed from the broth to cook the rice instead of plain water or broth.

Adjust the seasoning of the dipping sauces to suit your taste preferences. You can add a splash of lime juice or rice vinegar for acidity, or sugar for sweetness.

To enhance the presentation, garnish the serving platter with fresh herbs such as cilantro or Thai basil, or sprinkle toasted sesame seeds over the chicken.

See Also: How To Make Curry Rice – Just 8 Steps!

Description of Taste and Recommendation:

Hainanese Chicken Rice is a harmonious blend of flavors and textures, with each element complementing the other to create a satisfying and comforting meal. The poached chicken is tender and succulent, infused with the aromatic essence of garlic and ginger, while the rice is fragrant and flavorful, with a subtle hint of sweetness from the chicken broth. The trio of dipping sauces adds depth and complexity to the dish, with the chili sauce providing a spicy kick, the ginger sauce adding warmth and freshness, and the dark soy sauce lending a rich and savory note.

I recommend Hainanese Chicken Rice to friends who appreciate simple yet delicious comfort food with a touch of elegance. Whether enjoyed as a family meal, a casual lunch, or a special occasion dish, Hainanese Chicken Rice is sure to delight with its enticing aroma, flavorful chicken, and fragrant rice. So gather your ingredients, follow the steps outlined in this guide, and treat yourself and your loved ones to the comforting flavors of Hainanese Chicken Rice.



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