The Best Indonesian Sweet Soy Sauce Chicken – Ayam Kecap

Ayam Kecap is an Indonesian dish of sweet soy chicken made with kecap manis, the sweet soy sauce. It’s sticky, savory, sweet, and spicy. It’s one of the popular dishes in Indonesia.

Ayam kecap - Indonesian sweet soy chicken

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Indonesian sweet soy sauce chicken aka 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 a 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 (fried chicken in butter) which is an Indonesian take on Chinese chicken soy sauce.  

Ayam kecap

In essence, the dish is just fried chicken that is covered with sticky sauce. The Chinese version uses soy sauce mixed with either honey or brown sugar. 

This Indonesian version uses the Indonesian kecap manis, which is a sauce that tastes sweet and has a thick and sticky consistency. So you don’t need any sweetener such as honey or sugar anymore. 

In this recipe, I’m sharing with you a more simplified recipe that doesn’t require many ingredients. 

The key ingredients

Ingredients for chicken sweet soy sauce

You only need chicken, Indonesian sweet soy sauce/ kecap manis, onions, garlic, fresh chilies, tamarind, and cooking oil.

When it comes to the chicken, you can use whole chicken with bone or boneless chicken. Just make sure you cut the poultry into small pieces.

I use boneless chicken thighs more often than not because my kids don’t like bone-in chicken. Besides it takes slightly longer to cook it than the boneless one. And if you like chicken breast, ensure you don’t overcook it. Otherwise, it will go dry like cardboard. 

As for tamarind, it 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 poultry with lemon/lime juice with salt, ginger garlic paste (or powder) with salt, a mix of garlic powder, and ground pepper (black or white), with salt.

Alternatives for the sauce

If you can not get Indonesian sweet soy sauce, you can try to substitute it with a mix of dark soy sauce with either honey or dark brown sugar. 

For this recipe, you can use ¼ cup/ 60 ml of dark soy sauce with 2 tablespoons of honey of dark soft brown sugar. 

How to make Indonesian sweet soy chicken 

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

And the following is how I make it.

photo collage of how to make sweet soy chicken

1. Marinate

Prepare the chicken and pierce all over it with a skewer or a fork. This little trick helps the flavoring 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, add 2-3 tablespoons of tamarind juice and one teaspoon of salt to the poultry and toss well. Let it rest for at least 20 minutes. 

2. 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. 

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. Cover the pan and lower the heat. Let the chicken cook for about 10-15 minutes until it’s cooked through. Set aside.

3. Make the sauce  

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

Pour the sauce into the onion, followed by ground pepper and salt. Cook further for about 5 minutes until all the chicken pieces absorb the sauce and are well-coated with the sticky sauce. 

What to serve the chicken with

This ayam kecap is best served with steamed white rice and enjoyed along with Perkedel Jagung (sweetcorn fritters), Perkedel Tempe (tempeh fritters), Gado-Gado (mixed vegetable salad with peanut sauce), and Soto Ayam – clear chicken soup.

And if you need something sweet to have after, you can make Kolak Biji Salak (sweet potato balls in coconut milk  Agar-agar milk pudding with raspberries

More Indonesian chicken recipes

If you need more ideas for delicious Indonesian chicken recipes, you can try Ayam Penyet – crushed chicken with chilies, Sate Ayam – chicken satay, Ayam Rica Rica: Indonesian Manadonese Spicy Chicken, Kari Ayam (chicken curry, or Ayam Goreng Bumbu (spicy fried chicken),   

Thank you for checking this sweet soy sauce chicken recipe. Hope you will try it. When you do, please share what you think about the recipe in the comment below. I really appreciate it. 

Lastly, please follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. To sneak a look at what’s cooking in my kitchen. 

Take care and all the best.

Ayam kecap
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4.70 from 46 votes

The Best Indonesian Sweet Soy Chicken – 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 ?.
Author: Devy Dar
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Additional Time3 minutes
Total Time48 minutes
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Indonesian
Servings: 6


  • Mixing bowls.
  • Large frying pan
  • Slotted spoon


  • 1 ¾ pounds chicken. Boneless or with bones. Cut in pieces.
  • 3 tablespoons tamarind juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt for the marinade.
  • 2 onion medium size. Sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic Finely sliced
  • 2 red or green chilli Sliced diagonally
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • 1/3 cup Indonesian sweet soy sauce see the note.
  • Cooking oil.


  • 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.
  • 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. 
  •  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.
  • 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.
  • 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. Usually, the fried chicken will be ready at the same time the soy sauce is ready.
  • If you can not get Kecap Manis, you can mix ¼ cup of dark soy sauce and 3 tablespoons of honey or dark soft brown sugar/ dark muscovado sugar.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 272kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 67mg | Sodium: 686mg | Potassium: 280mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 270IU | Vitamin C: 27mg | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 1mg


Nutritional info in this recipe is only estimate using online calculator. You should refer to it as a guide only. Please verify with your own data if you seek an accurate info.

Author: Devy Dar

Title: Food Writer, Recipe Developer, and Digital Content Creator.


Devy Dar founded So Yummy Recipes and Drizzling Flavor to share her love of food after exploring various cultures and cuisines for more than two decades. Her mission is to help others easily recreate traditional and non-traditional food with readily available ingredients. Her works have been featured in Reader’s Digest, Al Jazeera, MSN, Yahoo, Bon Appetit, and more. 

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  1. 5 stars
    All my family loved this and we will definitely be making it again!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. Jessica Formicola says:

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

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

  7. 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

  8. 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 😉

  9. So many lovely flavors in this dish!

  10. 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 ☺️☺️

  11. 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.

  12. Susan Garrett says:

    Excellent! I made this exactly as in recipe except I added Black mushrooms. The rice I made was sweet with coconut milk. Very easy and now. my new favorite. Thank you!

    1. Fabulous. I’m glad to hear you like it and yes I agree that adding black mushrooms can enhance the taste. After all chicken and mushrooms are a good matching pair. You’re most welcome.

  13. Do you remove the skin from the chicken. It looks like the skin was removed from what it looks like in the photo of ingredients you have provided.

    1. Hi, yes I use skinless chicken most of the time. But feel free to use the ones with skin if you prefer.

  14. does this work with chicken breasts?

    1. Yes, of course. You can use any part and type of chicken. I use thighs, breasts, boneless, skinless, with skin, with bones. All work fine. Just bear in mind that chicken breast is rather firm and dry so try not to overcook it.

  15. Linda Couvee says:

    Hi Devy. I’m new to your webside and the recipes sounds terrific. I was wandering, do you have a recipe how to make those steamed white fluffy buns with a chicken and veg. In side called BAPAUW, not sure if I spelled that right. Many thanks Linda 🙋‍♀️

    1. Hi Linda, welcome. Those steamed buns are called BAKPAO….you were close ;-). Unfortunately, I haven’t done the recipe for Bakpao YET. It’s on my to-do list. So if you’re subscribed to my newsletters, you will find out when it’s out.

  16. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for this recipe! I made it for my family tonight and everyone went back for seconds!

    1. You’re most welcome. Love that your family like this Ayam Kecap.

  17. Wilma van der Giessen says:

    5 stars
    Dear friend, i am from Hollland and my passion is Indonesian food, i just made nassi goreng (with terassi!) acar ketimoen and this ayam kecap dish.

    terima kassi banjak for your wonderful website!
    sampai jumpa


    1. Awww, you’re very kind. I thank you too for reading and trying out my recipes. It makes my day when others enjoy those recipes as much as I do. Yes, sampai jumpa, Wilma. All the best.

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