This Kung Pao Chicken recipe includes stir-fried chicken, peanuts, and green onion in a delicious sweet and spicy kung pao sauce, served over hot cooked rice. It’s my copycat attempt at my favorite Chinese take-out dish!

If you’re interested in more take-out style creations from my website, try my Mongolian Beef, General Tso’s Chicken, or Sweet and Sour Chicken.

I can’t say that any of my Chinese-inspired recipes are authentic, so check out Red House Spice or China Sichuan if you’re looking for really authentic Chinese food recipes!

Kung Pao Chicken served on a plate with white rice.

Why I love this recipe:

  • Restaurant Quality – Kung Pao Chicken is my favorite thing to order at Chinese resturants in America, and I think this recipe is a big winner!
  • Adaptable – The great part about cooking from home is adding and using ingredients you have on hand, and like! I often throw in more veggies, like zucchini, mushrooms, snow peas, carrots and baby broccoli.
  • The Sauces – we’ve got two flavor enhancers at play here: the chicken marinade, and the sauce. Both help to give the dish a big boost of Kung Pao sauce flavor and taste.

How to make Kung Pao Chicken:

Make Marinade and Sauce: In two separate bowls, make the chicken marinade and the sauce ingredients. Set the sauce aside.  Add the chicken to the chicken marinade and set aside.

Chicken marinade and kung pao sauce in two separate bowls, next to another photo of chicken pieces added to the marinade.

Sauté Peanuts: Add 1 tablespoon of oil to wok or frying pan and heat to medium. Add red pepper flakes and peanuts and stir-fry until peanuts are golden (about 2 minutes). Remove peanuts and pepper flakes to a bowl.

Peanut sautéing in a skillet, to make Kung Pao chicken,

Cook Chicken: Add 1 Tablespoon of oil to the pan and bring heat to medium-high. Use a slotted spoon to scoop half of the chicken (allowing excess marinade to drip off) into the hot pan, in a single layer. Cook chicken for 1-2 minutes on each side, flipping only once, until golden (chicken does not need to be completely cooked through). 

Marinated chicken pieces sautéing in a hot skillet.

Make Stir-Fry: Add ginger, bell peppers or other vegetables, green onion and peanuts to the pan. Stir-fry for 2 minutes.

Chicken, veggies and peanuts sautéing in a wok.

Add the Sauce: Stir, and cook for a few minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and the sauce begin to slightly thicken. 

Serve: Remove from heat and serve with hot cooked rice.

Kung Pao Chicken cooking in a wok.

Make Ahead and Freezing Instructions:

To Make Ahead: The kung pao sauce and marinade can be prepped ahead of time and kept in an airtight container in the fridge. You can leave the chicken in the marinade for up to 4 hours.

To Freeze: While it’s best served fresh, this easy kung pao chicken can be frozen after it’s cooled. Place in a freezer safe bag or container and place in freezer for up to 2 months. Allow to thaw completely in refrigerator before heating to serve.

Recipe Variations:

  • Veggies: Add your favorite veggies like mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, snow peas and zucchini.
  • Szechuan Peppers: Add them to cook with the sauce for an extra kick, just be sure to take them out before serving or else it will be very spicy. You can leave them out if you can’t find them, or if you want it more mild.

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Recipe

Kung Pao Chicken served on a plate with white rice.
Prep 10 mins
Cook 25 mins
Total 35 mins
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Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts , cut into small pieces
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more to increase spiciness)
  • 1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 green onions chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper , chopped
  • 6 whole dried Szechuan Peppers , optional

For the Marinade

  • 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

For the Sauce:

  • 2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoon chili paste with garlic (or use sriracha hot sauce mixed a little minced garlic)
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 3 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3-4 cups hot cooked rice , for serving

Instructions
 

  • In two separate bowls, make the chicken marinade and the sauce ingredients. Set the sauce aside. Add the chicken to the chicken marinade and set aside.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a wok or frying pan and heat to medium. Add red pepper flakes and peanuts and stir-fry until peanuts are golden (about 2 minutes). Remove peanuts and pepper flakes to a bowl.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan and bring heat to medium-high. Use a slotted spoon to scoop half of the chicken (allowing excess marinade to drip off) into the hot pan, in a single layer.
  • Cook chicken for 1-2 minutes on each side, flipping only once, until golden (chicken does not need to be completely cooked through). 
  • Remove chicken to the bowl with the peanuts. Repeat with cooking remaining chicken. Return peanuts and chicken to the pan. Add dried chilies, ginger, bell peppers or other vegetables and green onion. Stir-fry for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the sauce. Stir, and cook for a few minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and the sauce begin to slightly thicken. 
  • Remove from heat and serve with hot cooked rice.

Notes

Veggies: Add your favorite veggies like mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, snow peas and zucchini.
Szechuan Peppers: Add them to cook with the sauce for an extra kick, just be sure to take them out before serving or else it will be very spicy. You can leave them out if you can’t find them, or if you want it more mild.

Nutrition

Calories: 440kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 43gFat: 25gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 109mgSodium: 536mgPotassium: 889mgFiber: 3gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 1193IUVitamin C: 41mgCalcium: 30mgIron: 2mg

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*I first shared this recipe in April 2013. Updated July 2018 and February 2022.

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Recipe adapted from Williams Sonoma Cookbook.

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Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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Comments

  1. To be clear, people should look for Japanese dried red chilies. These are narrow little chilies. If you want the dish MUCH hotter, break them in half before cooking.
    Sichuan peppercorns are a totally different thing, looking like a smaller, red version of a black peppercorn. They give a tingly sensation. There’s no way to remove them from the dish once added, anymore than you can take black pepper out.

  2. 5 stars
    This is in my dinner rotation at least once every couple weeks. I always use the toasted sesame oil because I love the flavor. Thank you for this great recipe!

  3. 5 stars
    I made this for dinner using chicken thighs as that’s what I had. It turned out really well, I used up broccoli and asparagus that needed to be eaten, sneaking loads of vegetables into my husband! I will definitely be making this again, it’s so easy when you have all of the soy sauce, rice wine etc in the cupboard. I much prefer making these sauces from scratch.

  4. In the recipe for the sauce, it says “1/4 cup tablespoon low sodium soy sauce”, does this mean 1/4 cup, or 1/4 tablespoon? It’s a big difference and I don’t want to ruin the sauce! Thanks for clarifying!

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