Tangy-Sweet Plum-Spiced Chicken

I call this the 1-2-3 dinner because just like that, snap, and it's ready. 

On the way home yesterday, after spending the afternoon at a museum with my boys, my eight-year old begged me to make this for dinner.  It's one of his favorite meals and he knows he doesn't have to wait long for me to whip this up.

"Mom, please make the 1-2-3 chicken tonight, it's soooo good.  I really, really want it and it's so yummy, you could even put it on Noble Pig."  What a smart boy.

So here it is, dinner in a flash, ready so fast there's even time to take pictures! 

I know I saw this recipe in a magazine, however I can't remember which one.  I've made it so many times, I have it memorized.  I also don't remember if this dish had a name, so let's call it Tangy-Sweet Plum-Spiced Chicken, a shout out to the plum jam and Chinese five-spice powder used in this recipe.

So come on, your family is waiting, let's make dinner.

Here's what you'll need:  Skinless, boneless chicken thighs, Chinese five-spice powder, green onions, extra-virgin olive oil, chicken broth, plum jam and balsamic vinegar.  Ingredients not shown: Salt.

A scary but necessary photo.  In a bowl, toss the chicken thighs together with 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

In a nonstick skillet, heat 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil until hot.  Add chicken thighs and cook 5 minutes on each side, until browned and juices run clear.  Transfer thighs to a plate; cover to keep warm.

In drippings in skillet, on medium heat, cook chopped green onions until browned, about three to four minutes.

Stir in 1/2 cup chicken broth, 1/2 cup plum jam and 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar; heat to boiling.  Reduce heat to medium and reduce down, about four minutes, until sauce is syrupy.

Return the chicken thighs to the skillet and coat with the sauce.  Done.

See the syrupy coating?  It should be illegal.

Have a nice dinner.


This is a ghost candy dish with my glass candy corns.  Aren't they cute?

Print Recipe

Sweet-Tangy Plum-Spiced Chicken

Recipe from: Inspired by a Magazine (wish I knew which one) | Serves: 3-4


  • 1-1/4 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice powder
  • 4 green onions, chopped (more for garnish)
  • 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup plum jam
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  • In a bowl, toss the chicken thighs together with Chinese five-spice powder and salt.
  • In a nonstick skillet, heat extra-virgin olive oil until hot. Add chicken thighs and cook 5 minutes on each side, until browned and juices run clear. Transfer thighs to a plate; cover to keep warm.
  • In drippings in skillet, on medium heat, cook chopped green onions until browned, about three to four minutes.
  • Stir in chicken broth, plum jam and balsamic vinegar; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium and reduce down until sauce is syrupy; about four minutes. Return the chicken thighs to the skillet and coat with the sauce. Garnish with green onion.

Post a Comment

104 Comments and 4 Replies

  1. HoneyB 1

    This looks delicious! Is that candy corn real???

  2. Your son requests the same kind of food I always requested from my parents for my birthday, and still request from my husband for my birthday and any special celebrations !

    I WILL be making this meal this very week. Thank-you, and thank your clever son too !

  3. mikky 3

    what a great recipe… will surely try this soon… thanks for sharing… :)

  4. Philly 4

    This chicken looks great. Could I use breasts instead?


  5. I’m all up for 1-2-3 meals. The plum jam must be wonderful in it! The glass candy corn are so cute, like jewerly!

  6. Laura 7

    I am so glad you did this. I have tons of chicken in my freezer and no more fresh ideas.

  7. Deeba 8

    This looks like a race I’m winning Cathy…& I’m loving the ease of it! You’ve got a smart & charming lad. Knows how to get what makes his tummy happy, keep the mummy happy…& keep the blog happy (& we haven’t reached the blog readers as yet…LOL). Great pictures & flavours; plum jam’s on my list! Great glass candy…woohoo…empty calories!!

  8. Jamee 9

    I love the glass candy corn!
    That dinner looks delicious! I definitely need to try it!

  9. Barbie with a T 10

    You are so lucky your boys like such a quick, easy and healthy dish to prepare. Most kids their age only eat pizza and hamburgers, fries, etc. Do they also eat candy corn? That is my favorite Halloween candy, but most kids like the chocolate bars better. (I am allergic to chocolate). Maybe that is why candy corn is my favorite, I don’t know. Also, I think tradition has something to do with it. Thanks for the recipe…right down my alley!

  10. It looks like I will be making this next week since dh just walked by and commented on how good it looks. “Except for all those funny green onion things.” Alrighty then, the green onions are out. I’ve got to make that potato recipe sometime soon too since I finally remembered to look for smoked paprika at Super Target. ST has all sorts of spices Wally World and Dillon’s do not have, including the garam masala that I was really after when I thought to look for smoked paprika. They’ve got a cocoa chile blend that is very nice to add a dash of to my cocoa coffee (coffee + 1/2 to 1 packet Swiss Miss + cream and now cocoa chile stuff, mmmmm).

  11. Good Thursday morning to you, Cathy.

    That looks incredibly good – it’s going to be one of my most favored favorites !

    I have the same question Philly did about using breasts instead – I just assume it will take longer cooking time…

  12. Another great and quick dinner to try! I love it…

    And I love the glass candy corn. It looks so real in the picture! I’d put it out just to fool people that came over…

  13. Katie 14

    That looks awesome Cathy! I can never find the broccoli rabe around here, it looks like something I would love.

  14. Mmmmm, Cathy that looks wonderful! I will definitely have to give that a try. Thanks!

  15. Kraysian 16

    mmmm that looks delicious. I think I’ll make that for dinner tonight.. thanks for sharing
    you’ve done it again!!

  16. i can see why this was the choice for dinner! It looks great – and I bet that sauce was to die for, or kill, which is why it should be illegal – lol!


  17. sharon 18

    I love that your son requested such a fancy dish! If you hadn’t named it 1-2-3 chicken I definitely would have thought it was labor intensive.

  18. Becky 19

    Although that does look delicious to me, I’m not sure my family would eat it. They are finicky. Darnit!
    Love the glass candy corn! You have such neat Halloween stuff! I wonder if it’s a West coast thing? I haven’t seen some of it here on the East coast. Maybe I should come visit next Halloween.

  19. I was at the store yesterday–but I think I’ll have to go back for some plum jam–I am definitely making this one!!

    Those candy corn lokk so vivid–love it!!

  20. Harmony 21

    Wow…that does look easy, I know the family would like this dish. Thanks again for another great idea.

  21. That’s a great chicken recipe. You have a lucky family.

    I couldn’t have candy corns like that around. My husand love the real kind so much I’m afraid he’s try to eat these.

  22. Your little guy was right… It does look awesome!

  23. Mmm…Chinese 5 spice is one of my favorites, and I often get home from work pretty late so anything that can be cooked up in a heartbeat gets my vote. That looks awesome!!

  24. Quick, easy and tasty is perfect for those weekdays!!

  25. Cathy 26

    You could, but it won’t taste as juicy unless you pound the breasts flat.

  26. Deborah 27

    I love easy recipes like this one. And it sounds delicious – bookmarked!!

  27. Chicken looks great! I love the combination of flavours. I also love the name: it’s somewhat Chinese-y, like ABC chicken or something. LOL

  28. Marjie 29

    So, multiply everything by 4 and use the whole jar of jam to feed my horde…this is really pretty and sounds great! I love fast & easy foods, although I always make mine in the bottom of the broiler pan, because there’s no skillet big enough to hold food sufficient for my household. And I really prefer chicken thighs to breast, because they’re moister and more flavorful.

    And your glass candy corns are cute!

  29. Except for plum jam, I always have all of these ingredients (including the chicken) in my pantry. I do keep Chinese plum sauce though, and I think that would make a good substitute.

  30. Misty 31

    SWEET MAMA that looks wonderful Cathy!

  31. yum, the chicken looks good (sans scallions)! but WHERE did you get the glass candy corns?!?!?!?!?!

  32. Teri 33

    I was going to ask the same thing about chicken breast. My daughter and husband do love the thigh because it is more flavorful, but I do like the the chicken breast. Maybe if it’s mixed all together after the chicken breast is flattened???

    It looks so delicious and the pictures are glossy and gorgeous! Cute candy dish! I still didn’t make it to Pottery Barn yet, maybe today!

  33. Pam 34

    This looks amazing. I love the flavor combination. Your son has good taste in food.

  34. Aubrey 35

    Mmmmm…my mouth is watering! I think I should just make my grocery list according to the recipes you post! LOL

    I love the candy corn & dish! So cute.

  35. I LOVE those glass candy corns! So cute. Where did you find them?!

    The chicken looks scrumptious! How cute that your son said you could put it on Noble Pig. HA!

  36. Louise 37

    When reading the ingredients, I so cracked up at the spare amount of chinese 5 spice powder. I tend to be one of those “if a little is good, a lot is better” types of cooks. One time, and one time only, I took that approach with the Chinese 5 spice powder. Obviously you got that message, too. This looks scruptous!

  37. ELRA 38

    That look so delicious and silky Cathy, plum jam and Chinese spice five sound like a perfect combo.

  38. Leslie 39

    Dinner looks Delish Cathy!
    I ust so happen to have some 5 spice Powder that I have never used, so I guess now is the time!

  39. annbb 40

    That looks like some serious yum!

  40. vanessa 41

    Those glass candy corns are brilliant.

    And I think my next spice purchase will have to be the Chinese Five Spice. I feel incomplete.

  41. I love the idea of adding jam to a sauce. But really, my most favorite are those candy corns. I think the day after halloween you should show us how you store all your paraphanalia. I can’t imagine how you keep it so organized.

  42. Carol 43

    Oooo-this chicken looks SO good Cathy! This is a must-try soon for sure….now to see if I have any chicken thighs in the freezer…………

  43. I love it that you used chicken thighs – they are much more delicious than breasts!

  44. That’s a really simple and delicious sounding dish! I rarely cook with chicken, but mostly just because it usually strikes me as boring – but I don’t think it would be in here!

  45. If I weren’t lounging at the Delano, I’d so be there.;)

  46. ok, that’s it, that’s the winner. My favourite Halloween decoration to date– glass candy corn. Wow.

    And that dish looks dee-lish!

  47. I’ll take one serving of the chicken, one ghost dish and a million candy corn! Thanks!

  48. Tipper 49

    I could 1-2-3 eat that!! Looks good.

  49. dawn 50

    Mmm. I am totally loving this. Smart kids you got there!

  50. Bunny 51

    I’m grocery shopping tomorrow after work and I’m getting everything to make this!! Fantastic recipe Cathy!!

  51. Daziano 52

    Extraordinary practical-and-quick recipe!!! Thanks for sharing!

  52. This looks like the perfect recipe for the next time my daughter in law comes to eat. She just loves chicken.

  53. Mrs. L 54

    Glass candy corn? Who knew! And just so you know, that first photo is enough to make me want to dive in and eat it through the computer.

  54. Glass candy corn? I had no idea! It’s soooo beautiful! (Am I weird for thinking so? Don’t answer that.)

  55. Kevin 56

    That chicken looks really good. Nice vibrant greens in the photos! I like the plumb and Chiniese five spice combo.

  56. ALF 57

    Ok, so that looks delicious. I am officially starving now that I’ve read 3 posts about delicious food.

    And those candy corns scare me. They’re too perfect. And candy corns are for eating!

  57. Rachel 58

    Yum Cathy! Can you say Delish? Because I can. This sounds right up my alley!!

  58. Shirley 59

    Can’t wait to try that recipe, but won’t be getting the candy corn … there would definitely be some accidents in our house if I did!

  59. Erin 60

    Yummy! Looks like a great new recipe to try out. I’m always up for new things to serve for dinner. :)

  60. How many times has someone put those candy corns in their mouths :)

  61. Jude 62

    Looks so good… Interesting mise. Never tried plum jam in cooking.

  62. Will you please move in with me and be my personal chef?

  63. Tammy 64

    I am gonna have to try this recipe, it looks deliscious!!
    But, five spice powder has always scared me….once a girl in my office made chili with it in there and it was the worst taste and I have been afraid ever since….But I think I’m gonna have to try it again…

  64. Kate 65

    Damn, Cathy. That dinner looks good. I have to find this Chinese 5 Spice stuff. Never heard of it!

  65. grace 66

    not fair–i’m sure i’d break my teeth on your faux candy corn in hopes that it was the real thing. :)
    great recipe–my favorite treat as a kid was chicken mcnuggets with sweet and sour sauce. my, how i’ve grown. :)

  66. This looks delicious and so juicy. Yum will bookmark this one for sure!

  67. Alisa 68

    I can not wait to try this chicken.
    I really, really, really want those candy corns. Love them!
    Love a boy who knows how to get what he wants from his blogging mommy.

  68. Dee 69

    Ooh, this looks great! Do you think plum sauce (the kind you eat with duck) would work with this?

  69. Cathy 70

    I’m really not sure.  It might be a little too concentrated but you could try it.

  70. ntsc 71

    Got to get you making your own stock, so much better and better for you than the packaged stuff.

    And if you can get local plums, jams are easy.

  71. This looks fantastic! I make a pork chop dish that is very similar, but it doesn’t have that sticky, gooey syrup! Will definitely try this one.

  72. Egghead 73

    Oh good! Another easy one that looks great. Love those glass candy corns.

  73. pam 74

    I know I say this all the time, but I am really, really making this. It’s perfect!

  74. All of it looks good,vineyard land included! I would love to pick up sticks but this is the first year in a long time I’m not driving to Oregon for Thanksgiving. If the plans change, I’ll let you know! Just kidding. sort of…..

  75. Suzette 76

    I’m loving your Halloween-a-Day pix. When I lived in Maryland, I just loved all things Fall. It’s so…Fall-y there. I really got into Halloween and now have way too much Halloweeny stuff. Here in Tennessee, fall comes late, and I don’t really get into the spirit so much. But, you’re stirring my juices. Maybe I’ll get up in the attic after all. Those spider web lamps are calling my name.

  76. Amy 77

    GREAT view… and yes… I covet those glass candy corns!

  77. April 78

    Made this last night and it was delicious. It was a little sweeter than I expected though — do you have any suggestions on what I might add to balance the flavor a little? I also added snow peas right before I added the chicken back into the sauce and it was very tasty! Served it over rice … thanks!

  78. Francesca 80

    I love this recipe so much and would love to cook it for my parents one night, but as I’m from the UK I’m slightly confused about the 1/2 measures. Do you now how many tablespoons it would be instead?

  79. April in CT 81

    We just finished this for dinner and I all but licked my plate it was so good. My Mr. Picky Pants of a hubby raved about it! I made it with chicken breasts I pounded flat and next time I’ll cut them into strips so they cook faster. Can’t wait to try it with shrimp! Thanks Cathy. :)

  80. *drool*


    *lick screen*

    Hmpf, that didn’t work.


  81. Kirsten 83

    yumm! i made this for dinner last night and it turned out great! and you’re right, it definitely is quick. great for those days when you’re running very short on time :)

    thanks so much!

  82. MemeGRL 84

    I am a slow, slow cook but this was awesome. One of the few things my whole family would eat (even if the vinegar made my one ask if I was cooking skunk! he got over it and had 2nds). Thank you so much!

  83. Mom24 85

    I make this all the time. It’s absolutely wonderful. Thanks for the recipe.

  84. Wow, that looks absolutely delicious! Great post, you did such a nice job presenting the pictures too…I am definitely going to have to try that recipe this weekend!

  85. Mika 87

    At this exact moment, I am eating chicken and looking at this blog thinking….. this dish looks amazing and easy to make! My next things on my grocery list: chinese 5spice, plum jam and balsamic vinegar!!

  86. marye 88

    how did I miss this? YUM!

  87. emily 89

    We make this all the time and LOVE it. My local grocery is always out of plum jam so I use plum sauce from the Asian section and it works fine. I also add a bag of shredded broccoli and carrots when I stir fry the green onions so we can eat the whole thing over rice or noodles. Definately a family favorite!

  88. Christina 90

    I stumbled upon this website recently by recommendation of a friend, saw this recipe and headed straight to the grocery store after work. My boyfriend vehemently opposed any adding of jams to meat until he tried the finished dish. He couldn’t stop eating long enough to complain anymore. We both LOVED this dish and it’s going into permanent rotation at our house! You rock!

  89. hampers 91

    Love the dice candy. Not only it looks yummy, it also is a toy in the eyes of kids and the young-at-heart.

  90. I really got into Halloween and now have way too much Halloweeny stuff. Here in Tennessee, fall comes late, and I don’t really get into the spirit so much. But, you’re stirring my juices. Maybe I’ll get up in the attic after all. Those spider web lamps are calling my name.

  91. All photos look so yummy, in time for valentine’s season. Are they healthy to eat for a person suffering and in treatment for mild pneumonia? :)

  92. Brandi 94

    I tried this recipe tonight but substituted the plum with mango jam (i could not find plum jam to save my life!). It turned out so wonderfully! Thank you so much!

  93. ejk 95

    Thank you SO much for all your amazing recipes. I love how your son tweaks his request for this divine (simple) chicken recipe with encouraging you to post here!! Smart child! –Thank him for me!!

    Will be making as soon as I can!!


  94. Jenny 96

    I made this recipe over a year ago and loved it. Unfortunately I had lost my bookmarks in a crash and thought it was gone forever. I am so glad my husband emailed it to me (credit to him for finding your site), in searching my email I found it just in time to make it tonight for dinner. Thank you so much for this recipe and your passion!


  95. Just wanted to check in and say I’m making this again tonight, it’s definitely on regular rotation around here, we love it. Thank you so much for a wonderful recipe.

  96. lillian mittner 98


    can I substitute chicken breast

  97. Heather Hicks 100

    I was given a jar of homemade plum jam and went looking for a recipe to use it in! What a delight! By accident I didn’t cook the chicken ahead of time, so just put it in the sauce- very tender and flavourful. I used an equivalent amount of breast meat cut fairly large ( sized similar to what the boneless thighs would be). Yummy:)

  98. Made this for my family this evening and they loved it! My two kids (elementary and high school aged) and husband are a bit picky and they asked that I make it again! Great looking dish and tasty too. Your website is 3 for 3 for me…the three recipes I’ve made from your site have all been hits.

  99. sara CK 103

    Yum! Made this today with what I had on hand–blackberry fruit spread. Also, I didn’t have the spice, so I just used cinnamon, cloves, red pepper flakes and anise extract. Still super easy and excellent!

  100. Scott 105

    I made this and it was so good and easy, but we had leftovers (only two of us and we probably could’ve eaten the whole batch!) so the next night I reheated the chicken and made tacos. I just lightly fried corn tortillas and topped the chicken with a cabbage slaw dressed with rice wine vinegar and soy sauce. They were awesome! I’m definitely making extra whenever I make your delicious 1-2-3 chicken. Thank you!

  101. Wesley 106

    Eight thumbs up. This may very well go into regular rotation.

  102. sharon laver 107

    Wow, thank you so much for this. All three boys and my husband were completely silent as they happy ate and savoured their dinner. It was quick and easy. I did mine with chicken breast and served with vegetable noodles. I think Duck would also be very good with this sauce. I will now forever have these ingredients in my cupboard. A*


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