The best Indonesian sweet soy chicken – Ayam Kecap

Ayam kecap - Indonesian sweet soy chicken

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Indonesian sweet soy chicken/ Ayam Kecap Manis

This Ayam Kecap Manis (literally means chicken in sweet soy sauce) has been my go-to Indonesian dish for years now. The chicken is succulent with sticky and slightly spicy sweet soy sauce all over it. 

It’s always a hit whenever I cook it for family and friends. And it’s so easy to cook as well.

This soy chicken recipe is based on the popular Ayam Goreng Mentega which means fried chicken in butter. But I tweak the recipe so it will be easier to make but with more flavour. 

Ayam kecap

In essence, the dish is just fried chicken that is covered with soy sauce. But the way we prep and pre-cook the chicken is what makes the dish delicious.

Because let’s be honest, chicken can smell, can’t it? And also, if we don’t cook it right it can either be rubbery hard or mushy soft. Plus, you want the cooked poultry to have flavour right to the bone as well, don’t you? Or, it will be like a sponge without any taste.

The key ingredients

Ingredients for chicken sweet soy sauce

You only need chicken, Indonesian sweet soy sauce, onions, garlic, fresh chillies, tamarind and cooking oil.

Of all these ingredients, sweet soy sauce is the one you want to put the effort into. Please choose the Indonesian sweet soy sauce. Because the taste and flavour of Indonesian sweet soy sauce are what makes this dish very much close to authentic. 

You only need about 2-3 tablespoons of Tamarind juice, or sauce if you can get the ready-made tamarind sauce.

I’ve tried several non-Indonesian sweet soy sauces in the past, they all don’t taste close enough to the kecap manis I know.

Did you know that sweet sauce is originally from Indonesia? So let’s stick to the source.

As for other ingredients, tamarind is probably the item that may not be easily available for you. If that’s the case, you can substitute it with lemon juice or lime juice. 

Note: In Indonesia, the original and most traditional way to marinate chicken or fish is by using tamarind paste and salt. You can get it in the form of paste, block or sauce.

If you get tamarind paste or block, and it is a bit hard and slightly dry, you can just cut it to an equal amount of 2-3 tbsp then soak it in 3-4 tbsp of hot water. Let the tamarind get softened and release its juice. What you want is this tamarind juice and salt for a marinade.

You can also marinate the chicken with:

  • Lemon/lime juice with salt.
  • Ginger and garlic paste (or powder) with salt.
  • Garlic powder, ground pepper (black or white), with salt.

How to make Indonesian sweet soy chicken 

Rooted in my mom’s recipe, this Indonesian Ayam Kecap Manis is so easy to make. If you like a sweet and spicy flavour, then this recipe will be your next favourite stir-fry chicken.

And the following is how I make my soy chicken.

photo collage of how to make sweet soy chicken

Preparing your chicken

I understand that there is a lot of advice and suggestions on how to prep your chicken. Here in the UK, we are told not to wash raw chicken to prevent the risk of food poisoning.

But, I’m so used to watching my mom washing and cleaning every meat before she cooks. What I mean with cleaning is taking off all unnecessary fat, membrane, grizzle, etc. And then wash the poultry. 

I find this prepping chicken is what makes my chicken dish taste fresher and smell-less. 

So, if you’re like me, you will prefer to wash your raw chicken too. Just make sure the area near the sink where you clean the chicken is clear. And make sure you clean and wipe the area with antibacterial wipes or spray when you’re done washing your chicken. Then dry it properly with a cleaned dry cloth or kitchen towel.

Marinate the chicken

Once your poultry is ready, pierce all over it with a skewer or a fork. This little trick helps the flavouring go right inside the meat. And I always do this whenever I cook chicken, meat or fish. Because I find this little step makes a huge difference in the taste. 

Next, you marinate the chicken with 2-3 tablespoons of tamarind juice and one teaspoon of salt. Let it rest for at least 20 minutes. Ideally, you want to leave the marinade for at least 30 minutes. 

Deep-fry the chicken

When you’re ready to make the dish, cook the chicken by either deep-frying it or steam-frying it. The latter is what I now do more often than not. For health reasons. 

To steam-fry, you heat 2 tablespoons of oil on a frying pan with the lid. Then place the chicken pieces on the pan and cook at moderate heat until the poultry looks opaque. Put the pan lid on and turn the heat down. Steam the chicken for about 10-15 minutes until it’s cooked through. Set aside.

Make the sauce and put the chicken in sweet soy sauce 

Heat about 4 tablespoons of oil on a large frying pan/ wok. Fry the sliced onions until lightly golden, then add in the garlic and chilli slices. Continue cooking until it releases an aroma.

Pour in the sweet soy sauce to the onion mix together with ground pepper and salt according to your taste. Cook further for about 5 minutes until all the chicken pieces absorb the sauce and they’re well-coated with the sticky sweet soy sauce. 

Menu to go with Ayam Kecap Manis

One of the ideas of menu spread for this soy chicken is as follow:

It’s an easy menu that I often do whenever I invite family or friends over. 

Related Posts

Thank you for reading this Chicken in sweet soy sauce recipe. Hope you are now thinking of cooking this easy to make and tasty sweet soy chicken dish. When you do, please share what you think about the recipe in the comment below so that others will know too. 

And please follow me on Facebook, Instagram and/or Pinterest to sneak a peek at what’s cooking in my kitchen.

Lastly, don’t forget to check my other recipes that you may also love.

Happy cooking.

All the best.

Yield: 8

The Best Indonesian Sweet Soy Chicken - Ayam Kecap

Ayam kecap

The best Indonesian chicken in sweet soy sauce that you'll ever make. You can't go wrong to serve this easy-to-make chicken dish. Because everybody will just love it ?.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Additional Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 48 minutes


  • 800 gram Chicken boneless or with bones. Cut in pieces.
  • 3 tbsp Tamarind juice
  • 1 tsp Salt for the marinade.
  • 2 Onion medium size. Sliced
  • 2 cloves Garlic Finely sliced
  • 2 Red or green chilli Sliced diagonally
  • 1/2 tsp Coarse black pepper
  • 1/3 cup Indonesian sweet soy sauce (see the note).
  • Cooking oil.


  1. Marinade the chicken with tamarind juice and salt. Pierce the meat by using a skewer or fork. Set aside and leave it to rest for about half an hour.
  2. When you're ready to cook, heat the oil on a wok or frying pan. And start deep-frying or steam-frying the chicken. For the latter one, you heat two tablespoons of oil on a frying pan and fry the chicken pieces until they turn opaque. Then turn the heat down and put the lid on the pan to steam-cook the poultry. 
  3.  If you use boneless chicken, it will normally take about 12-15 minutes to deep-fry. If you use chicken with bone, it may take slightly longer. Around 20-25 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Then, fry the onions in a pan with 4-5 tablespoons of cooking oil until it's light golden in colour. Add in the sliced garlic and chillies. Continue to fry for about 3 minutes before you put the sweet soy sauce, black pepper and salt in.
  5. Cook further about 3-5 minutes until you see the sauce bubbling. Lastly, add in the fried chicken. Stir until all the meat coated with soy sauce. Let it cook and simmer for about 3 minutes before you turn the heat off. 


I normally multi-task things to save time. So, I would prepare the chicken first. When I start frying it, I will then get the sauce ready. Normally, the fried chicken will be ready at the same time the soy sauce ready.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 424Total Fat 25gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 17gCholesterol 107mgSodium 1776mgCarbohydrates 18gFiber 1gSugar 11gProtein 31g

The nutrition calculation you find here is just a guide provided by online nutrition calculator. You should not use to substitute advice from nutritionists or health practitioners.

Did you try the recipe?

Share how you like the recipe in the comments below and show a picture of your creation


  1. Jenny deRemer says:

    I am originally from the New York City area where I had access to all kinds of food from all over the world. Since moving to South Carolina, not so much! You are introducing me to ‘cooking’ the food from the one part of our little planet that I LOVE THE MOST. I am all over this recipe. I will share my success pics with you if I do not wreck it!

    1. Aww that’s so sweet of you.

  2. This recipe looks really great. I love the addition of the tamarind to marinate the chicken I think thats a brilliant idea. The recipe has a great amount of detail in instruction which is incredibly helpful when following a recipe thank you!

    1. You’re welcome. I thank you too. Hope you try the recipe. Let me know how it goes.

  3. Hey, your recipe looks great & i want to give it a go. Unfortunately we do not have any tamarind juice in our supermarkets. What is a good substitute for that ?

    1. Thank you. The idea of marinating the chicken is to get rid of its smell. So, you can use lime/ lemon with salt, or ginger garlic powder with salt, or garlic powder with black pepper and salt. Happy cooking

  4. Jessica Formicola says:

    Oh my goodness, this chicken looks like it’s full of flavor! I will definitely be making this for dinner soon!

  5. I love chicken dish. This ayam kecap looks incredible and sweet! Yum!

  6. jacque hastert says:

    I bet the flavor of this chicken is out of the world amazing! I will be making this Indonesian dish very soon. I have pinned it and will add it to my menu soon.

    1. I’m glad you think so. Hope you like it when you tried it

  7. Can’t wait to try this! A lovely introduction to other cultures.

    1. Yes, please try. It’s like you’re going abroad from your kitchen 😉

  8. So many lovely flavors in this dish!

  9. I have made this dish several times and each time it has turned out delicious. The recipe is easy and well explained. My 4 year old and 1 year old eat it with their hands it’s THAT delicious ☺️☺️

  10. Absolutely delicious. I did not have tamarind paste so marinated the chicken in lime juice mixed with a bit of brown sugar, salt and garlic salt. It had a wonderful flavour and the sauce coating it was pan licking good. The onions were the best part

    1. Aww thank you so much for sharing. You made my day. I’m so happy the recipe works for you and you even take it to a different level with your marinade.

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