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Paleo Red Cooked Chicken


Paleo Red Cooked Chicken: A Whole New Twist on the traditional Eastern Chinese dish.

With red-cooking, or red-braising, a.k.a Hong Shao, meat is traditionally braised in a clay pot with soy sauce, sugar, and rice wine. The soy sauce gives the meat its distinctive red color.

I made this recipe paleo-friendly by substituting coconut aminos for the soy sauce, as well as by swapping maple syrup for brown sugar, and balsamic vinegar for rice wine. Without the soy, my chicken was more like reddish-brown chicken than red-chicken, but it still looked appetizing and it was delicious.

I also don’t have a clay braising pot, so I used my Le Creuset Dutch oven.

Some of the sauce may bake onto the bottom of your pan. Don’t eat it, just toss your chicken in the liquid sauce, and leave the rest of the baked on bits for the sink.

This is actually a pretty simple dish to make, and it reheats beautifully, so feel free to double the recipe and save some leftovers!

red-cooked-chicken-pan 1

If you do double the recipe, brown the chicken in two batches.  Note: If your chicken thighs release a lot of moisture while browning, wipe out the pan with paper towels and then add an additional Tbs of coconut oil. This insures proper searing of the second batch. Also, the oven cook time may be closer to 40 minutes, but check it at 30.

My youngest son, who is not usually a big chicken fan said, “Mom this chicken is awesome! You have to make this again!” Love that 🙂

We served this Paleo Red Cooked Chicken with Cauliflower Rice:

cauliflower rice

You could also serve it with an Asian slaw, or stir fried vegetables.


Paleo Red Cooked Chicken

Servings: 4


  • 1/4 cup chicken broth or water
  • 1/2 cup coconut aminos
  • 2 Tbs pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp unsulfured blackstrap molasses
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbs sesame oil
  • 1 tsp fine grain sea salt
  • 1 tsp Chinese five spice blend
  • zest and juice of one clementine or tangerine
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • finely ground sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbs coconut oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 Tbs minced garlic about 4 cloves
  • 1 & 1/2 Tbs fresh ginger grated
  • ¼ cup scallions chopped for garnish


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • In a medium-sized mixing bow, whisk together the sauce ingredients: chicken broth, coconut aminos, maple syrup, molasses, Chinese five spice, and 1 tsp sea salt. Set aside
  • Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper to taste.
  • In a wide ovenproof pot, such a Dutch oven, brown the chicken thighs in 1 Tbs coconut oil over medium heat, 3 minutes per side. Remove thighs and reserve.
  • Add chopped onion to the pan. Sauté until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes.
  • Lower the burner to medium-low, and sauté the garlic and ginger for 1 minute.
  • Add the sauce mixture and deglaze the pan. Return browned chicken thighs to the pan and coat well in the sauce mixture. Raise heat to high and bring contents just to a boil.
  • Transfer pan to a 400-degree oven. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and toss the chicken to coast in the reduced sauce. Avoid any charred or baked on bits.
  • Serve over cauliflower rice, if desired.


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Hi, I'm Caroline

About Caroline

I love adding a whole, unprocessed and healthy twist to classic recipes.  My food is often grain-free, usually gluten-free, and always unprocessed.

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