An absolute classic! I've been making this chicken ala king for years. The recipe was handed down to me from my mum, who used to make it for me when I was growing up. It's a great way to use up leftover chicken (or you can use rotisserie chicken).
I’ve always loved the way the sauce sinks into the rice, making every bite taste creamy, savoury and delicious.
I was amazed when I first learned that the recipe called for milk and sherry.
I mean eugh!
Up until the last couple of years, I think the only times I’d ever had sherry have been:
- Mixed with a blue WKD alcopop as a teenager (I think it was called a Cheeky Vimto – quite nice actually, but anything that’s alcoholic, full of sugar and blue in colour is going to be nice when you’re first experimenting with after college pub crawls!). Actually, that could be Port. Falls into the same category though...
- In my Nanna’s trifle. Mmmm sherry trifle - sooo 80’s.
Mixing the sherry in the milk-based sauce does sound a little bizarre I know, but without it, the whole dish just tastes bland. The sherry seems to cause some kind of reaction that just lifts the whole flavour. You don’t even need much (in fact too much is horrible), but you do need it.
What do we need?
- Chicken - I use 2 large cooked chicken breasts to serve 4 people. You can use any of the leftover chicken from cooking a roast chicken, or you can use rotisserie chicken if you like.
- Mushrooms - I use baby chestnut mushrooms, but you can use cremini, baby portobello or white mushrooms. I find white mushrooms have the least flavour, so use brown mushrooms if you can.
- Chicken stock - homemade is good, but hot water and a couple of stock cubes works great too.
- Milk - you can use full-fat or semi-skimmed.
- Dry sherry - you only need 2 tablespoons for plenty of flavour.
How to make it
Full recipe with detailed steps in the recipe card at the end of this post.
- Fry off some chopped mushrooms in a little oil, then transfer to a bowl.
- Soften sliced onion in a pan with oil, then stir in flour and cook whilst stirring for one minute.
- Add in a splash hot stock and mix into the onion/flour with a whisk. It should form a thick paste. Add the rest of the stock a large splash at a time, keep stirring with the whisk to ensure your sauce doesn’t go lumpy.
- Once all the stock is incorporated, add in milk and thyme. Stir until thickened.
- Add sherry, salt and pepper, then add in cooked shredded chicken and mushrooms and heat through.
Can I make it ahead?
I don't recommend making this recipe ahead. The recipe uses cooked chicken that is essentially being reheated in the ala king sauce. It's not recommended to reheat food more than once.
You can swap out the shredded chicken breast for cooked thigh meat.
Try adding peas or chopped green peppers to the dish (fry them up with the mushrooms, then add them back into the sauce with the mushrooms at the end).
How to scale up and scale down this recipe
You can halve or double this recipe using the same ingredient ratios.
Watch how to make it
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Chicken ala King
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 12 baby chestnut mushrooms - sliced in half (you can swap for button mushrooms, or 5-6 regular-sized sliced mushrooms)
- 1 large onion - peeled and sliced
- 2 tbsp plain (all purpose) flour
- 280 ml (1 cup + 3 tbsp) hot chicken stock - hot water and a couple of stock cubes is fine
- 200 ml (¾ cup + 1 tbsp) semi-skimmed or full fat milk
- ½ tsp dried thyme - or a tsp of fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tbsp dry sherry - *carefully measured (too much will make the sauce taste of sherry)
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 2 large cooked chicken breasts - chopped into bite sized chunks (about 250g/9oz)
- chopped fresh parsley
- boiled rice or pasta
- Heat 1 ½ tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan/skillet over a medium-high heat.
- Add the chopped mushrooms and cook for about 3-4 minutes until the mushrooms are golden brown. Scoop out of the pan, and put in a bowl.
- Heat the remaining 1 ½ tbsp of oil in the pan and add the onion. Fry for 5-6 minutes on a medium-high heat until the edges of the onions wedges start to brown slightly. Move the onions around the pan to ensure they don’t burn.
- Stir in the 2 tbsp of flour and cook whilst stirring for one minute.
- Add in a splash of the hot stock and mix into the onion/flour with a whisk. It should form a thick paste. Add the rest of the stock a large splash at a time, keep stirring with the whisk to ensure your sauce doesn’t go lumpy.
- Once all the stock is incorporated, add in 200ml (¾ cup + 1 tbsp) milk and the ½ tsp thyme. Keep stirring and the sauce will thicken as it heats up.
- Once thickened, add the 2 level tablespoons of sherry and the ¼ tsp each of salt and pepper. Give it a taste and add a little more seasoning if needed.
- Add the cooked chicken and mushrooms and stir. Cook for a couple of minutes to ensure the chicken is hot throughout.
- Serve on top of some fluffy white rice and finish with a sprinkling of parsley.
This recipe was first published in January 2015. Updated in January 2021 with new photos, video and tips.
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