hainanese chicken

Hainanese Chicken and Rice for Lunar New Year

Last Updated on May 2, 2022

Hainanese chicken, which originated in Hainan, China, can be found in many countries in South East Asia. Popular in Singapore and Malaysia, this simple recipe has you delicately poach the chicken until just tender and with a gelatinous skin, as is served in Asia.

Celebrating Lunar New Year in China is all about eating lucky dishes on New Year’s Eve during the family reunion feast. One of these dishes is serving a whole chicken, which symbolizes ‘togetherness.’

Around Asia, many regard the perfect Hainanese chicken to have the bone (but not the chicken) still pink, proving the chef is a true master in Hainanese chicken cookery. But this might not be to everyone’s liking, so I have shared with you two possibilities in creating the perfect Hainanese chicken—to suit everyone’s taste.

Hainanese Chicken is always served with the chicken broth it was poached in, as well as the scallion oil dipping sauce. Chili is also a favorite but optional.

hainanese chicken recipe

Hainanese Whole-Poached Chicken and Rice

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For the chicken

  • 1 ButcherBox Whole Chicken
  • 2- inch piece of ginger cleaned and smashed with the back of a knife
  • 3 scallions washed
  • Water or chicken stock approximately 1 gallon
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

For the rice

  • 2 cups long-grain rice rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups reserved chicken broth from the poached chicken
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger roughly chopped or smashed
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

For the scallion dipping sauce

  • 2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 scallions (green and white parts) finely chopped
  • ¼ cup peanut oil or other neutral oil

For the soy dipping sauce

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons chicken broth


  • For the chicken
  • Rinse the chicken under cold running water and remove any additional fat with kitchen shears.
  • Pat dry and set aside.
  • In a large pan with a well-fitted lid, add the spring onions and ginger.
  • Place the chicken in the pot and add enough water or chicken stock to cover the whole chicken completely, about 1/2-inch above the top of the chicken when lying breast-side down.
  • Add the salt.
  • Bring the chicken and water to a rolling boil and immediately reduce to a simmer.
  • Simmer with the lid on for 30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and reserve the chicken stock for the rice.
  • Submerge the chicken into an ice water bath for 5 minutes, this will stop the chicken from overcooking and also give a gelatinous skin – the hallmarks of great Hainanese chicken. Drizzle sesame oil on the chicken skin to keep it from drying out and to give a glossy finish.

For the rice

  • Rinse the rice under cold running water until the water runs clean (3 times).
  • Place all the ingredients in a rice cooker and cook accordingly.
  • To serve the rice, drizzle in the sesame oil and fluff with a spatula.
  • Serve warm.
  • For the scallion dipping sauce
  • Place the ginger, salt, and scallions in a clean bowl. Make sure there is no water because the oil will splatter aggressively!
  • In a small fry-pan, slowly heat the oil until tiny bubbles appear before carefully pouring the oil into the scallion and ginger mix. Stir with a spoon and set aside.
  • To serve, cut the chicken into pieces and serve with warm rice and dipping sauces.

 For the soy sauce dipping sauce 

  • Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.


NOTE: If you want to replicate Hainanese Chicken recipes from Singapore, simmer the chicken for just 11 minutes and turn off the heat. Allow the chicken to poach in the chicken stock for 45-60 minutes in the residual heat but do not open the lid. When ready to serve, submerge in an ice-water bath as above.
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Michelle Tchea is a 5-time bestselling author on food and wine with her last book, Chefs Collective, highlighting 50 of Asia’s greatest chefs. She loves traveling and exploring different cultures and cuisines. Her current food obsession is a moldy blue cheese from southeastern Switzerland.