Kung Pao Chicken (Better than Take Out!)

Kung Pao Chicken is a quick and easy Asian inspired meal made right at home. This quick stir fry recipe has chicken and peanuts in a sweet and spicy kung pao sauce, served over steamed rice for an easy dinner that’s way better than takeout!

chicken with kung pao sauce, broccoli, black wok, green onions

Takeout Chinese or stir-fry recipes are a go-to for me on busy weeknights. I love the flavors of Chinese takeout but it adds up and is packed with salt so making it at home lets me make it a little healthier and save money. This kung pao chicken recipe is a favorite at my house. We love the flavor and it takes just a few minutes to whip up start to finish. Other Asian inspired recipes that we love include Egg Fried RiceCrockpot Orange Chicken and Beef and Broccoli.

What is Kung Pao Chicken?

Kung Pao Chicken is a popular Chinese takeout dish here in the US. This spicy chicken stir-fry is actually an authentic Sichuan (or Szechuan) dish that has been around since the late 19th century.

It’s a simple stir-fry of chicken breast in a kung pao sauce that is both spicy and a little sweet with lots of savory Umami flavor.

How to Make Kung Pao Chicken

Cook the chicken: Cut chicken breasts into 1-inch pieces. Heat sesame oil in a wok or large skillet and cook the chicken, flipping it to brown evenly. If you don’t have sesame oil, canola or vegetable oil will work. If you want a crispy, breaded chicken, follow the optional directions below.

black wok, chicken pieces, peanuts, red pepper flakes, sauce

Make the kung pao sauce: Mix together minced garlic, ground ginger, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, water, and cornstarch pour into the pan with chicken along with peanuts and chilies. The mixture will bubble and thicken and coat the chicken in a silky, spicy sauce.

If you want a more traditional kung pao sauce, then use the dried chilies but if you like a more mellow, less spicy version, then use red pepper flakes. Feel free to adjust the amounts to your taste – both are included in the recipe below.

Kung Pao Chicken: Cook the chicken, chiles and peanuts in the sauce for a few minutes while the chicken finishes cooking and the sauce.

black wok, kung pao chicken, broccoli, wooden spoon, green onions, peanuts

For crispy chicken:

Mix ¾ cup of all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons of ground ginger, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of 1 teaspoon of garlic powder in a medium size bowl. Beat an egg in another bowl. Mix chicken with the egg until coated, then transfer to the bowl with the flour and toss to coat. Cook the chicken using one of them methods below, then continue to step 3 of the full recipe.

There are two options for cooking the crispy chicken:

  1. Option one: Arrange on a foil lined baking sheet and spray chicken with nonstick cooking spray. Bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes, then broil for 2 minutes. Flip chicken, spray with nonstick cooking spray and broil for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  2. Option two, coat chicken with egg and then flour, then pan-fry in a skillet with canola oil.

Stir Fry Variations

Easily turn this recipe into a stir-fry by adding some of your favorite vegetables. I will often add broccoli, baby corn, carrots, mushrooms, bok choy, water chestnuts, asparagus, etc. Just add them in with the chicken and let them cook until tender. You can also saute them separately and add them in at the end.

bowl of rice, kung pao chicken, broccoli, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds

How to Serve Kung Pao Chicken

My favorite way to serve kung pao chicken is over white rice but Asian style noodles, ramen or brown rice would be fantastic too. The recipe makes extra sauce so there is plenty to coat your rice/noodles with.

Top with garnishes like thinly sliced green onions and toasted sesame seeds.

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Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken is a quick and easy takeout meal made right at home! Spicy kung pao sauce over chicken and peanuts is great served over rice!
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Dinner
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 4 servings
Calories 338kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes or 6 dried red chili peppers
  • 1/4 cup unsalted peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil can use canola/vegetable oil instead
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar or white wine
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • For garnish: sliced green onions, sesame seeds

Instructions
 

  • In a small mixing bowl, whisk together minced garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, water, and cornstarch. Set aside.
  • Heat sesame oil in a Wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken pieces and cook until almost cooked through, turning occasionally to brown evenly; about 2-3 minutes
  • Pour sauce into the skillet with the chicken along with peanuts and red chili pepper. Cook for 2-3 more minutes, stirring occasionally, or until chicken is fully cooked through.
  • Serve over rice topped with sesame seeds and green onions (optional).

Notes

Stir Fry Variation: Add veggies and make this a stir fry. Add broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, bok choy or other veggies. 
To make the optional crispy breading for the chicken:
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  1. Mix flour, ginger, salt and garlic powder in a medium size bowl. Beat egg in another bowl. 
  2. Mix chicken with the egg until coated, then transfer to the bowl with the flour and toss to coat.
  3. Option one: Arrange on a foil lined baking sheet and spray chicken with nonstick cooking spray. Bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes, then broil for 2 minutes. Flip chicken, spray with nonstick cooking spray and broil for an additional 2-3 minutes. 
  4. Option two, coat chicken with egg and then flour, then fry in a skillet with canola oil.
  5. Continue to step 3 of the full recipe.

Nutrition

Calories: 338kcalCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 40gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 109mgSodium: 1221mgPotassium: 747mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 348IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 23mgIron: 1mg
Keyword chicken stir fry, kung pao chicken

Madison

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Comments

  1. Second time making this and just as amazing as the first time (even though in all my prep I forgot the ginger tonight…oops!). This is such a delicious, quick, filling meal! I served with rice noodles and it was amazing. Thanks for all the great recipe ideas.