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
- Chinese Lemon Chicken
- Shrimp Fried Rice
- Chicken Lo Mein
- Mongolian Chicken
- Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry
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.
My husbands all-time favourite meal. Maybe I’ll treat him on Valentine’s Day to this fabulous recipe!
Kung Pao chicken is one of my favourite things to order in restaurants, but I have never thought of making it at home! This is genius! Bookmarked to make this weekend 🙂
Really great kung pao recipe. I love making chinese take out style dishes at home and this recipe will be added in to the rotation now!
This is a delish recipe that’s easy enough for weeknights! I’m loving the flavors and the colors – delish!
I’m a novice cook – can you give me some guidance on the salt amount?
I’d use 1/2 teaspoon!
Great recipe. Fast, easy and really good. Perfect combination of meat and vegetables and the sauce is perfect.
Easy, quick and really tasty. Will be using this recipe again and again! Thanks!
This recipe was straight forward, easy to make and was absolutely delicious! It’s definitely a recipe we will be adding to our “regular rotation”.
YUM! Thank you, I have anew dinner to rotate that the hubby and son gobbled up.
Oh yum! I have a big soft spot for Kung Pao chicken! This looks and sounds incredibly delicious! I can’t wait to try!
My husband is crazy for Chinese food and one of his favorite dishes is Kung Pao Chicken. This healthy version looks like a fantastic way to enjoy one of his favorites.
I am going to make this and I know it will be yummy like all the other recipes I’ve tried of yours.
This looks so nice and juice, and I love all the colors! Perfect weeknight meal 🙂
The chicken with that sauce just sounds so flavorful and delicious.
OMG If you only KNEW how much time I spend calling in this order to our local Chinese joint *facepalm* This looks SO amazing, my family will love it. And I like knowing what goes in my family’s tummies… so much MSG and sneaky chemicals in lots of take-out food. Thanks so much for this great recipe!
This quickly became a favorite meal at my house!
I love the fact that I can make this at home and don’t have to go out to enjoy one of my restaurant favorites. I am always looking for new ways to serve chicken to my family, so I am excited to try this!
Kung Pao Chicken is our favorite take out! I am so thrilled that I can now make it at home!
This is the perfect recipe for a busy weekend dish! I too love making my favorite fast foods in my home, so I’m excited to give this one a try!
Love this recipe! I’ve added other veggies and love how versatile it it! So far our favorite recipe! ❤️