This kung pao chicken is a blend of seared chicken breasts, bell peppers, onions and peanuts, all in a savory and spicy sauce. A remake of the take out classic that’s even better than the restaurant version!
I like to recreate my family’s favorite Chinese style foods at home, including egg rolls, hot and sour soup and kung pao chicken. This chicken is so easy to make, and is perfect served over steamed rice.
I have been ordering kung pao chicken at my local Chinese restaurant for many years – I love the combination of the tender chicken and crunchy vegetables in spicy sauce. I’ve since learned to make this dish at home, and now instead of picking up the phone to call for take out, I whip up this classic recipe at home in just 30 minutes.
What is kung pao chicken?
This chicken is a popular Chinese stir fry featuring spicy chilis, savory peanuts and delicious veggies. Kung pao is thought to have come from the Sichuan province in China. Now you can find kung pao in restaurants around the world. You can make this spicy and savory dish at home with this recipe.
How do you make kung pao chicken?
To make kung pao chicken, cut up some chicken breasts and coat the pieces with corn starch, salt and pepper. Cook the chicken in a pan until it is golden brown. Take the chicken out of the pan and cook the veggies and garlic. When they are done. add the chicken back to the pan with the veggies and toss in the chili peppers and peanuts. Make the sauce and pour it over the chicken and veggies. Once the sauce is thickened, serve the dish.
Tips for this recipe
- This recipe works with with other meats such as shrimp or beef.
- Dried red chilies provide the heat and a mild nutty flavor. While several types of dried red chiles can be used in kung pao dishes, I use chiles de arbol. Chiles de arbol are Mexican chili peppers that are commonly found in grocery stores. They also bring a lot of flavor and meld well with the sauce.
- This dish will last in the fridge for up to 4 days which makes it a great candidate for meal prep.
- This recipe uses hoisin sauce. Hoisin sauce has a dark red appearance and a slightly sweet and tangy flavor. Many Chinese dishes use hoisin sauce to provide depth of flavor to the dishes. If you like Chinese food, you have probably enjoyed hoisin sauce numerous times without knowing it. You can find hoisin sauce in the Asian section of your local supermarket.
What is the difference between kung pao chicken and General Tso’s chicken?
While kung pao and General Tso’s chicken are both delicious spicy and sweet Chinese stir fries, they are very different dishes. General Tso’s chicken is breaded and fried and usually does not contain vegetables. Kung pao chicken is not breaded and is pan cooked with delicious veggies like bell peppers and onions. Unlike General Tso’s chicken, kung pao also features peanuts.
Is kung pao chicken bad for you?
This type of chicken is one of the healthier Chinese dishes. It is not breaded or deep fried and it has vegetables. This dish also contains vitamins A, B-6 and K. This dish is a good choice to enjoy delicious, traditional Chinese flavors while making healthier food choices.
There is no need to get take out when you can make your own hot and fresh chicken stir fry at home. This dish is sure to be a hit with all the Chinese food lovers in your life!
More delicious Asian recipes
Kung Pao Chicken
For the stir fry
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil divided use
- 1 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
- 1 red bell pepper cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 green bell pepper cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1/2 cup yellow onion cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 4-6 dried red chilies seeded and cut in half (you can use more or less chilies to adjust the heat level to your preference)
- 1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts
- salt and pepper to taste
For the sauce
- 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 1/4 cup water
- Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a large pan over high heat. Place the chicken in a bowl with the corn starch and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to combine.
- Place the chicken in a single layer in the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes per side until golden brown. You may have to do this step in batches.
- Remove the chicken from the pan. Cover to keep warm.
- Pour the remaining vegetable oil into the pan. Add the onion and red and green bell peppers. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until vegetables are softened.
- Add the garlic to the pan; cook for an additional 30 seconds. Return the chicken to the pan with the vegetables. Stir in the peanuts and chilies.
- While the chicken and vegetables are cooking, make the sauce. Whisk together all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
- Add the sauce to the chicken mixture and bring to a boil; cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until sauce is just thickened. Serve immediately.