A staple of any Chinese restaurant across the country, Kung Pao chicken is one of the most popular takeout items.
Unlike other takeout favorites like Sweet and Sour Chicken or Orange Chicken, Kung Pao got a peppery kick that always leaves you craving for more.
Like many Chinese dishes, it’s saucy, savory, and a little fiery with bursting flavors.
It makes a perfect weeknight dinner that goes with simple sides like brown rice and cauliflower rice.
While most restaurant-style recipes fry chunks of chicken thighs, this recipe is a healthier version with no deep-frying.
It’s a one-skillet dish that’s perfect for a no-fuss family dinner.
If you are into a lazy, quicker, yet healthier version of your favorite Asian takeout dish, this kung pao recipe is the one for you.
If you’ve never had a kung pao chicken and wondering what the dish is all about, here is the dish in a nutshell.
What is Kung Pao Chicken?
Kung Pao Chicken is an Asian garlicky stir-fried chicken dish that’s savory, sour, and spicy.
Chicken chunks in this stir-fry are powdered in starches which makes them crisp and tender.
They also help them absorb the vinegar-based salty sauce to make the dish extra juicy and flavorful.
The flavors combine garlic, ginger, vinegar, and chicken broth. Together, it makes an incredibly rich, savory sauce that’s also spicy, vinegary, and garlicky.
But it’s not just the flavor that incorporates multiple elements.
This favored dish is both crunchy and munchy. While peanuts offer good chunks, juicy chicken thighs are crisp and tender.
Topping that with dried Sichuan red chili peppers, it’s a perfect dish that has all the best of Asian stir-fry recipes.
The dish is typically served with a bowl of rice, but if you are looking for a healthier option, cauliflower rice works just as well.
What’s more, this Kung Pao Chicken comes together in less than 30 minutes.
For picky kiddos in the house, feel free to switch up veggies to suit their taste.
Any veggies from onion, carrots, celery, to eggplants work so well with the tangy and salty marinade. Chilli is a must in my book, but you can easily adjust to make it more or less spicy.
My family loves this dish and would go for seconds every single time. I hope it’ll be a favorite in your household too.
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 bunch green onions, sliced
- 2 red bell peppers, cut into small chunks
- 6 whole dried Sichuan red chile peppers
- 1/2 cup peanuts (or cashew nuts)
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 1/2 tbsp garlic, chopped and peeled
- 2 tbsp avocado oil (to cook)
- 1/8 cup soy sauce (tamari for GF)
- 2 tbsp corn starch (arrow starch for GF)
- 1/8 cup cooking unsweetened sake
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Stir together the marinade ingredients in a mixing bowl. Save half for later.
- Combine the remaining marinade with chicken and let it marinate for 20 minutes.
- In a skillet, heat half of the avocado oil (cooking oil) over medium-high heat until shimmering, about 1 minute. Add the nuts and chiles and stir-fry until toasted but not burnt. Remove and set aside.
- Add the remaining 1tbsp of avocado oil and throw in the onion, bell peppers, green onions, ginger, and garlic. Cook for 3 minutes or until the veggies are tender. Add chicken and cook until fully cooked through.
- Add the marinade you saved in step 1 and stir occasionally. Add back in the nuts and chile and stir some more until well coated.
- Serve with a bowl of steamed rice or cauliflower rice.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 401Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 184mgSodium: 988mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 41g