My husband loves kung pao chicken. It’s his go-to order for takeout, or at least it was until I started making this kung pao chicken recipe for him. In less time than it takes for takeout to arrive, you’ll have this Chinese restaurant classic on the table much to the delight of your family!
Best Kung Pao Chicken Recipe
Cubes of chicken, peanuts, peppers, and chilis unite in this spicy Chinese stir-fry dish. It’s so delicious you’ll wonder why you never made it yourself. I know why…different cuisines can be daunting. But this dish is so easy, you’ll earn your chef badge!
Kung Pao Chicken Ingredients
- Chicken – Use boneless skinless breasts and cut them into cubes.
- Marinade – Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, baking soda, and cornstarch help you get that restaurant-style taste and texture.
- Garlic ginger paste – Adds that Chinese flavor.
- Bell peppers – Use red and green. It makes it pretty!
- Dried chilis – Here comes the spice!
- Szechuan peppercorns – These add a lemony flavor with a slight numbing heat.
- Peanuts – Use roasted unsalted ones.
- Celery – Adds more texture and crunch.
- Sesame oil – Completes the stir-fry.
- Green onions – A must in Chinese cuisine!
- Kung pao sauce recipe – You’ll make the Kung pao sauce from chicken stock, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, Shaoxing wine, dark soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sugar, and cornstarch.
Easy Kung Pao Chicken Recipe
Yes, the ingredient list looks long. It is, but it all comes together quickly. And most of these things will be in your pantry or fridge anyway. In all, it takes 30 minutes to make this delicious dish!
Yes – but first, kung pao chicken.
How do you Make Kung Pao Chicken from Scratch
You’ll put together the marinade and add the chicken, letting it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. You’ll also combine the stuff for the stir-fry sauce. Then heat cooking oil in your wok or skillet over high heat and cook the chicken until the edges are browned. Remove the chicken and add more oil plus the garlic ginger paste, bell peppers, and peppercorns for about 2 minutes. Then add your stir fry sauce. Let it boil and thicken, then add your chicken in again. After a few minutes, add peanuts, sesame oil, and green onions and it’s ready!
Expert Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Kung Pao Chicken Every Time
- Use boneless thighs if you prefer. We love chicken breast, but if all you have are boneless thighs in your kitchen, you can use them instead. The key is cutting the meat into small cubes for quick cooking.
- Don’t skip the Sichuan peppercorns. They are the signature item in this revered dish. However, if you can’t find them anywhere, a half teaspoon of white pepper will suffice.
- Make time to marinate the meat. Trust me, it makes the texture amazing!
What is Kung Pao sauce made of?
Kung pao sauce is a heavenly creation made by using chicken stock, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, Shaoxing wine, dark soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sugar, and cornstarch. It also gets its distinct flavor from Sichuan peppercorns and chilis added during cooking.
How do you make kung pao sauce from scratch?
Simply follow this recipe and you’ll see how soy sauce, dark soy sauce, chicken stock, Shaoxing wine, balsamic vinegar, hoisin sauce, sugar, and cornstarch come together to make kung pao chicken!
What is the difference between kung pao and Szechuan chicken?
Szechuan or Sichuan is technically a style of food though you’ll see this listed on menus of Chinese restaurants in America. Typically, kung pao is spicy yet sweet while Szechuan chicken is bolder and stronger in spice.
What does kung pao chicken taste like?
It’s sweet yet savory and spicy all at once. The other ingredients add crunch and texture too.
Do you eat the peppers in kung pao chicken?
While you can eat the bell peppers, don’t eat the whole chilis!
How to Cook Kung Pao Chicken
Kung pao chicken is cooked on the stovetop in one wok (or skillet if you don’t have a wok). It is very simple to make!
What goes well with Kung Pao Chicken
I think steamed white rice is a must for kung pao chicken simply because it soaks up all that sauce and it’s SO good! If you have time to make eggrolls, they’ll go great. If not, an Asian-style chopped salad made with a coleslaw salad kit is a quick and easy side.
How to Store Kung Pao Chicken
If any leftovers remain, package them up in airtight containers and stash them in your fridge.
How Long Does Kung Pao Chicken Last?
Plan on using your refrigerated kung pao chicken up within 3 days. If not, you can and should put it in the freezer to enjoy another time.
Can You Freeze Kung Pao Chicken?
Yes and it’s so good! I pour it into freezer bags and lay them flat. Then I have a super-fast and delicious meal for the family any time!
How to Reheat Kung Pao Chicken?
If frozen, let it thaw in the fridge overnight. You can then bake it at 350F in a baking dish covered with foil for about 15 minutes.
Watch How To Make Kung Pao Chicken (Video)
Kung Pao Chicken Recipe
- 1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (cut into 1-inch cubes)
- 1/2 tbsp shaoxing wine
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
- 4-5 tbsp cooking oil (divided)
- 2-3 tbsp garlic ginger paste
- 1/2 red bell pepper (seeded and diced)
- 1/2 green bell pepper (seeded and diced)
- 10-12 dried chilis (cut into 1/2 inch pieces)
- 1 1/2 tbsp Szechuan peppercorns
- 1 cup celery (diced)
- 6 green onions (cut into 1 inch pieces)
- 3/4 cup roasted unsalted peanuts
- 3 tsp sesame oil
Kung Pow Sauce
- 3/4 cup chicken stock
- 6 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 1/2 tbsp shaoxing wine
- 3 tsp dark soy sauce
- 3 tsp hoisin sauce
- 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp corn starch
- Whisk together the shaoxing wine, soy sauce, baking soda, and corn starch in a small bowl and add the cubed chicken. Cover and allow to marinate for 10-15 minutes. While the chicken marinates, combine the stir- fry sauce ingredients together and set aside.
- Once the chicken has fully marinated, heat 2-3 tbsp of cooking oil in a wok on high heat. Add the chicken and cook for about 4-5 minutes, or until the edges are browned. Remove the chicken and set aside. Then, add 2 tbsp of cooking oil into the wok. Fry the garlic ginger paste, bell peppers and peppercorns for 1-2 minutes before adding in the stir fry sauce. Bring the stir fry sauce to a boil, and once it begins to thicken, add the chicken back in. Stir everything until the chicken has been evenly coated. After about 2 minutes, add in the scallions, peanuts, and sesame oil, mixing well. Serve hot with white rice.
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