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 minutes
Cook 25 minutes
Total 35 minutes
Save Recipe

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

For the Sauce:

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. 5 stars
    Made this recipe many times and my kids love it.

    This is our favorite recipe for Kung poa, easy simple and delicious.

  2. Definite favorite for me. Can adjust the spicy or sweetness as you like.thanks for leaving it posted. I’ll freeze it for lunch at work with rice.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

    1. 5 stars
      I always go to your website for dinner inspiration and every dish I’ve ever made has turned out so well! This one was so flavourful and delicious. My whole family loved it and we will be putting it in our rotation. Thank you for providing consistently great recipes!

  7. 5 stars
    My husband loved this recipe! He told me I need to save it so I can make it all the time. I am not sure if your website has the capability to save favorite recipes but I would definitely use that feature! Also, just wanted to say I love your meal plans! I actually enjoy planning dinners and cooking which I never have enjoyed so thank you for turning that around for me!

  8. 5 stars
    This is great! I added about a teaspoon each of oyster sauce and shaoxing cooking wine to the sauce the second time I made this, you should give that a try!

  9. I made this kung pao recipe and would tell everyone to leave out the red wine vinegar. I have never made kung pao chicken with red wine vinegar and was hesitant it ruined the whole dish. It waste of chicken and ingredients sadly.

  10. 5 stars
    Amazing! Followed the recipe to a T and it was soo good! Everyone loved it! Definitely one to add to our regular menu!

  11. 1 star
    I’m sorry to say but I must… This was not good at all… my son who absolutely loves Kung Pao had about 3 bites then refused to eat any more… I’m not sure what happened I definitely followed recipe… seemed overly vinegary…

  12. 5 stars
    The best Kung poa chicken recipe. And easy. I have searched and made many other recipes, this is our family favorite. Made it many times and my kids love it
    We add more pepper and reduce suger as we love spicy food and I also add fresh crushed garlic in merinade and sauce.

  13. I don’t know what I did wrong 🙁 maybe I used the wrong pan because all the juice came out of the chicken so that when I added the sauce it never thickened and it was a lot of liquid in the pan 🙁

  14. 5 stars
    One of my favourite recipes ever! Far better than most takeaways! An absolute must for people to try!

    1. 5 stars
      Yes, peanut oil for sure – if you don’t have use vegetable or canola before your resort to olive oil as really it should be a non resort.

  15. 5 stars
    I made this today. I didn’t have a red bell pepper, so put in broccoli. It was great!! My husband loved it. It is in his top ten list!! Thank you.

  16. 5 stars
    Delicious! I only added red pepper flakes as i did not have paste or Siracusa. I also cut up the peanuts and added garlic. Will make again!

  17. 5 stars
    The best!!! I followed the recipe to a “T” except for tripling the sauce, and adding sliced red peppers. Seriously, the very best Kung Pao Chicken I have had, including restaurants. Served over the recommended “fluffy” rice. FAMILY LOVED IT!! By the way, this is my first review, that’s how good this is!!

  18. 3 stars
    Based on all the reviews, I have to wonder what I missed?? Followed the recipes and while it was good, it needed more flavor and sauce. Added broccoli and some zucchini. Will make it again and doctor it.

  19. 5 stars
    This is SO delicious and easy to make! I love mine extra spicy so I added diced jalapeno and other vegetables I had on hand. Thank you for such a fabulous recipe.

  20. 5 stars
    Wow! This was delicious. I followed the recipe exactly and was very pleased with the result! Thank you so much for sharing!

  21. 5 stars
    I’ve been trying other kung pao chicken recipes and nothing turns out quite right until I found yours.
    I and my husband are a fan of Kung Pao Chicken. We always order this dish every time we go out for Chinese food. Finally I’ve tried this last week and my husband said ” oh this is good”. 🙂

  22. 5 stars
    Just made it and it is wonderful! A friend of mine from China told me the first rule of Chinese cooking was cook what you have. I did that hear with the vegetables. Added 2 carrots, 2 bunches of broccoli. I was out of ginger so left it out ☹ but otherwise followed the recipe. It is wonderful!

  23. 5 stars
    Love this recipe! Absolutely delicious. I made one small tweak-I added more chili paste. I have a pretty dull sense of smell, so adding a bit extra really put this over the edge for me. I was honestly skeptical of the marinade-I’ve never made an Asian marinade before, and the few ingredients just sounded kind of odd to me, but I was 100% wrong. When I was taking the chicken out of the marinade, it smelled absolutely wonderful.

    I’m going to preface my one negative comment with THIS IS A GREAT RECIPE! But, if I could give this a 4.9 I would, because this doesn’t really taste like Kung Pao chicken I’ve had in the past. I would more call it a very good stir fry. This is definitely not a sweet dish, but it’s maybe a touch sweeter than I feel Kung Pao should be? BUT! As that preface says, it really is delicious and I fully intend to make it again. Thank you for this!

    Things I’d like to try: I’m not the biggest peanut fan so I have two ideas- 1) less peanuts. I think they are wonderful in this dish, but I maybe wanted 1/2-3/4 the amount of peanuts in it; or 2) maybe a touch of peanut butter in the sauce? Maybe put in 1/2 the peanuts and MAX a 1/4 cup (probably less-1/8 cup? Tablespoon?) peanut butter. The second one I’m particularly curious what you (or anyone) thinks about this idea

    Sorry for the maybe slightly disjointed review, but thank you for this wonderful recipe!

    Cheers,
    David

  24. Just bought all the ingredients for less than $35.00. Way less then we normally spend on Chinese takeout. Our grocery store didn’t carry the paste so we went with the siracha. Chicken is marinading & the sauce smells delicious. Can’t wait!

  25. 5 stars
    How can you make this with tofu or tempeh? Have you tried it with either as substitutes for chicken? Woukd you still use egg? I prefer not to use any chicken or egg. Thoughts?

    1. I haven’t tried this with tofu, but I would not use the egg, and use extra firm tofu. Hope you enjoy it!

  26. 5 stars
    A go to recipe in our family! We absolutely love it and make it often when family is in town visiting. It’s delicious!

  27. I tried this recipe a little while ago and I found that it was not quite as authentic as I had hoped. I liked it okay but felt that it needed more. Upon further research I found that it lacks some of the main ingredients that Kung Pao chicken requires. You definitely need dark and light soy sauce, black vinegar, and Shaoxing wine (chinese rice wine). These ingredients are hard to find unless you go to an Asian market or even use the internet. Total game changer in the flavor department.

  28. We love homemade Chinese food and this was amazing! It was so easy and fresh. Will be making again soon.

  29. 5 stars
    This meal has become a family staple! We love it. I cheat and freeze my ginger root and grate it (peel and all) when its time to add it to the dish. It still tastes fresh and helps with throwing dinner together on a busy night insead of heading to the store for just some of the ingredients.

      1. I actually chop the entire root in a food processor and then freeze it in ice cube trays (I have a little 1tsp one) and totally still tastes fresh

  30. OMG!!! Made this yesterday for lunch….amazing!!!! My husband raved over it and then shared his leftovers with friends at work and everyone was asking for the recipe. Wishing I had more of it right now! Another one of your recipes to keep in my rotation!

    1. This is one of Jeff’s favorite too! Love it! Thanks for commenting, I seriously love hearing what you try 🙂

  31. Lauren, this recipe for Kung Pao chicken sounds amazing. It is one of my favorite Asian dishes. I never make Asian food because I am daunted by the quantity of ingredients. Thanks for posting this; it doesn’t look as difficult as I thought it would be.

    Regards,
    Analida

    1. Hi Sandy, I have big eaters in my home so I kind of err towards bigger serving sizes but this could easily be stretched to 4 servings.

  32. Hi! I absolutely love your site and was trying this recipe out for the first time. However, I had a question concerning when you would add the fresh veggies into the cooking process?
    Thanks!!!

    1. Hi Liz, Thank you! I would saute the fresh veggies after you’re finished cooking all of the chicken. Once they’ve sautéed for a minute or two you can add the chicken and peanuts back to the pan and follow the directions from there!

  33. My husband and I always order Kung Pao Chicken when we go out for Chinese. I’m SO excited to be able to make it at home, and healthier! This looks fantastic!