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Three Cups Chicken

Three Cups Chicken

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Note: This was first posted in Jan 2009, now updated with new photos and improved recipe.

Three Cups Chicken (San Bei Ji; 三杯鸡) is a popular chicken dish in Taiwanese cuisine. The name is catchy and fancy – in layman terms, it is basically chicken simmered in the trio combination of sesame oil, soy sauce and Chinese wine.

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Despite being called “3 cups”, it does not necessary mean adding one cup each of the condiment – rather, equal parts (1:1:1) of each condiment depending on the amount of chicken you have. One cup of soy sauce and sesame oil, for example, is really too much if you are only cooking for two. 

Three Cups Chicken

Although equal parts is a general rule, one can (and should) be flexible and adjust the ingredients to your liking – for example I generally use lesser light soy sauce to reduce the saltiness, and more Chinese wine and sesame oil for added aroma. What makes this dish quintessentially Taiwanese style is that it is cooked entirely in a Chinese claypot, however you can still cook this either in a wok or other cookware you normally used if you do not have a claypot. Fresh sweet basil is also added at the end as a fragrant finishing touch to this homely dish.

48 comments on “Three Cups Chicken”

  1. We like to put dried chilli peppers in ours to spice things up. Recipe will be posted soon at our site, but I have to say your pics are very good.

  2. I have never heard of this dish but it does look really good.

    Will be trying this one soon.

  3. I’m glad i found your website…. I can cook more food for my hubby!!! hehe

  4. did you use claypot to fry the chicken?
    i tried this recipe today but i added my water so that we can add the gravy onto our rice and the gravy taste good! i love sesame oil taste

  5. Hi i tried this dish and it taste great!!

  6. I just tried making this dish! its soo awesome. thanks wiffy :)

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  8. Hi

    May I know where can i buy fresh basil leaves?
    Is it a neccessary to add them when I am cooking?


    • The Taiwanese version has fresh basil leaves, however it is up to you whether you want to add them. You can always substitute with spring onions. I bought my fresh sweet basil leaves at NTUC/NTUC finest in SG (fridge section selling fresh herbs). You can find at other supermarkets too.

  9. Hey, I just cooked this last night also based on your earlier recipe. First time, didnt turn out well but last night much better but havent post it.

  10. I’ve seen this recipe being posted in the past in a few blogs and have always wondered what it taste like. It seems like a relatively easy recipe to make especially the ingredient measurents. I like the fact that it has chinese wine, ginger and garlice … my fav ingredients in a chix dish.

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