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This spicy, sweet and creamy Chicken Diablo recipe is a super easy dinner that will satisfy the whole family. Ramp the heat up or dial it down to your liking!
Step by step photos and instructions below!
This vibrantly colored chicken dish is a family favorite, but I also love to make it for company. The deep, rich color from the marinade looks so good, and this is an easy recipe to double, triple or quadruple.
Is this spicy? Yes and no.
I don’t like spice for the sake of it, I like deep flavors that are well balanced, like in this recipe. You won’t need to keep water on hand to put out the flames in your mouth, despite the addition of hot sauce!
Marinate this ahead the night before (or morning before) and really let the flavors mesh, but if you don’t have that kind of time, you’ll still get a great result. The flavors in this are out of this world!
I come home from the store, and put some of the fresh chicken I just bought into zip top bags, and add this marinade and freeze it. When I want to cook, I just pull it from the freezer the night before, and as it thaws it marinates.
Almost zero effort, and a great way to get a tasty dinner on the table during the week.
Why you’ll love this recipe:
- Quick Preparation. With simple pantry ingredients and uncomplicated steps, Chicken Diablo is relatively quick and easy to prepare, making it an ideal choice for both weeknight dinners and special occasions.
- Family-Friendly. While it has a spicy kick, the heat level can be adjusted to make it more kid-friendly, and its familiar flavors are often a hit with family members of all ages.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can modify the spiciness by using less or more hot sauce, or selecting a hot sauce with a different heat level. For a milder version, consider using a sweet chili sauce or omitting the hot sauce entirely.
Absolutely. While the recipe calls for chicken breast cutlets, you can use thighs, drumsticks, or a combination of chicken pieces. Just adjust the cooking time accordingly as different cuts may require more or less time to cook.
You could use crushed red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, or chili powder to add heat. For a different flavor profile, consider using sriracha, sambal oelek, or a similar spicy condiment.
What to serve with this
Steamed rice (or try my Cilantro Lime Rice), mashed potatoes or some egg noodles are good for starchy sides and a nice green salad or roasted broccoli, or sauteed green beans makes for a pretty presentation (as well as being yummy).
I have included step by step photos and instructions, as well as tips and tricks in the post. If you’d rather skip all that, scoot right on down to the full recipe card located at the bottom of the post.
Marinate a day ahead and let the flavors really deepen.
Cook the chicken at medium heat. If you cook the chicken at too high of a heat, the honey will cause your chicken to burn – you may alternately brown the chicken, and then place in a baking dish and cook until the chicken reaches 165°F
Discard the marinade you used on the chicken, we will make a sauce out of the reserved marinade that HASN’T touched raw chicken.
Ramp up the hot sauce if you like it spicy, dial it back if you prefer flavor over heat
What to do with leftovers
Store any leftover Chicken Diablo in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat it gently on the stove or in a microwave until it’s warmed through.
Chicken is cooked when the internal temperature reaches 165° degrees F when tested with a digital meat thermometer in the thickest part.
The full list of ingredients and quantities is found in the printable recipe card below.
- Hot sauce. Hot sauce provides a spicy kick and depth of flavor to the marinade. It helps to balance out the sweetness and creaminess of the other ingredients, creating a well-rounded flavor profile. I use Franks, typically. I’ve made this with different flavors of hot sauce – buffalo, chipotle and plain hot sauce are all great options for this.
- Sour cream. Sour cream adds creaminess and a slight tanginess to the marinade. Its rich texture helps tenderize the chicken while providing a base for the marinade, allowing the other ingredients to blend together smoothly. Use low fat, full fat – whatever you have. Greek yogurt will do a similar job.
- Ketchup. This adds sweetness and acidity. Use your favorite brand.
- Honey. This balances the spiciness of the marinade.
- Smoked paprika. This makes it a pretty color, as well as giving a yummy warm, smokey flavor.
- Ground cumin. Earthy and aromatic, don’t leave this out!
- Chicken breast cutlets. These can be purchased already cut into thin cutlets, or you can take a chicken breast, slice it, and pound it out to even thickness. You could also just chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
- Vegetable oil. Used for the garlic and to cook the chicken. You can use olive oil or avocado oil if you prefer.
- Garlic. I use freshly minced garlic where possible.
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- Mixing bowl, to combine the hot sauce, sour cream, ketchup, honey, smoked paprika, and cumin for the marinade
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Shallow dish for marinating the chicken.
- Cutting board
- Large skillet (preferably non-stick or cast iron)
- Spatula or tongs
- Small saucepan
How to make this recipe
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The full list of ingredients, quantities and instructions can be found in the printable recipe card below.
Marinate the chicken
In a medium bowl, combine the hot pepper sauce, sour cream, ketchup, honey, paprika and cumin and whisk together.
Pour half the mixture over the chicken breasts in a shallow dish. Set the rest aside for later.
Cover the chicken dish and allow to marinate in the fridge for as long as you have – overnight is good, but 30 mins will work just fine too.
Cook the chicken
Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, cook for 30 seconds.
Decrease to medium heat, add the chicken and cook until browned on both sides and cooked through, 10-15 minutes.
Heat the remaining marinade in a small saucepan until warmed through. Serve chicken and drizzle sauce over top
Sprinkle chicken with green onions, if using.
More delicious chicken recipes:
- Chicken Piccata Recipe. An old time classic, that is quick and easy to make and full of flavor. Butter, lemon juice and capers make the delicious sauce!
- Chicken with Romesco Sauce. Grilled Chicken paired with an amazingly full flavored Romesco Sauce brings YOUR dinner to new levels. Smoky and robust, you’ll find yourself looking for new things to eat it with!
- Balsamic Glazed Chicken. A simple homemade sauce is used to baste the chicken as it cooks. The result is tender chicken with a slightly sweet, and tangy taste.
- Jalapeno Popper Chicken. Chicken stuffed with a delicious jalapeno cream cheese mixture and coated with breadcrumbs. Baked to perfection, and absolutely delicious!
Update: This recipe was originally published in August of 2017. It was republished with updated photos in October of 2023
Spicy & Sweet Chicken Diablo
Optional (for garnish)
- 2 scallions (chopped finely)
- In a bowl, combine the hot sauce, sour cream, ketchup, honey, paprika and cumin and whisk together.
- Pour half the mixture over the chicken breasts in a shallow dish. Set the rest aside for later.
- Cover the chicken dish and allow to marinate in the fridge for as long as you have – overnight is good, but 30 mins will work just fine too.
- Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, cook for 30 seconds.
- Decrease to medium heat, add the chicken and cook until browned on both sides and cooked through, 10-15 minutes.
- Heat the remaining marinade in a small saucepan until warmed through.
- Serve chicken and drizzle sauce over top
- Sprinkle with green onions, if using.
- Cook the chicken at medium heat. If you cook the chicken at too high of a heat, the honey will cause your chicken to burn – you may alternately brown the chicken, and then place in a baking dish and cook until the chicken reaches 165°F
- Marinate a day ahead and let the flavors really deepen.
- Discard the marinade you used on the chicken, we will make a sauce out of the reserved marinade that HASN’T touched raw chicken.
- Ramp up the hot sauce if you like it spicy, dial it back if you prefer flavor over heat.
Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.