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Kung pao chicken is a fun to say and full of flavor dish that is often overlooked on menus. It’s a sweet meets spicy dish that is filled with tender chicken, peppers, peanuts, and more!
Asian take out is a must on crazy busy nights, but sometimes, you just want to make it at home. Just like with our Asian BBQ glazed chicken breasts, General Tso’s chicken, and our teriyaki chicken, this kung pao chicken recipe is easy to make and super flavorful!
Although years ago I used to love having recipes that I could throw in the slow cooker in the morning, I’ve lately realized that it is also important to have quick dinners I can throw together at the last minute. This chicken dish with peanuts is one the whole family can get behind. It’s our own version of a classic Asian chicken dish and I hope you love it.
Kung pao chicken is a sweet and spicy chicken stir-fry dish that is made with roasted peanuts, tender chicken thighs, red bell peppers, carrots, and either chili paste or whole dried red chili peppers.
Originally this chicken recipe is from China, but it has taken the world by storm, and you can find it on almost any Chinese takeout menu with each restaurant making its own change with vegetables.
Yes, this chicken uses unsalted raw peanuts that is quickly roasted in a wok with oil, and removed before cooking the rest of the dish. Including peanuts to your recipe gives it a beautiful crunch that makes the dish.
Making this Chinese chicken recipe at home does require a few ingredients, but the stir-fry method makes it an easy dish to create.
First, you marinate your chicken with cornstarch, black pepper, and soy sauce. The cornstarch amount we use is minimal, so it’s not like a General Tso’s chicken that is deep fried before cooking. Cornstarch gives it a light coating and helps with thickening the sauce.
While your chicken is marinating, it is important to make your sauce. You want your flavors to infuse for as long as possible, and this also makes everything easier for an easy chicken recipe.
To make this quickly, you’ll roast the peanuts, remove the peanuts, brown the chicken thighs, and then add in your kung pao sauce with the vegetables. Return the peanuts to the sauce, and stir-fry the chicken for a few more minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
**Pro Tip: Chicken thighs are the preferred cut of meat for kung pao chicken since chicken thighs are tender and don’t dry out as quickly as chicken breasts would. But you’re welcomed to use chicken breasts if desired.**
To make the sauce, you need to mix together soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, and the chili pepper paste.
Once you mix your ingredients for the sauce together, add in your vegetables. Chopped red peppers, thin sliced carrots, a lot of people use leeks, and a generous amount of chives, you leave it to sit until it’s time to add to your stir-fry.
Once your chicken is cooked, to thicken your sauce, you will make a slurry of 1 teaspoon of cornstarch and 1 teaspoon of water. Mix it together in a small bowl to remove any lumps and then you’ll add it right into the pan. Mix it gently and your chicken sauce will thicken, especially if you give it a minute or two.
White rice is the go to side dish to serve with this chicken, but you can also serve it with a Chinese fried rice, noodles, or zoodles for the ultimate low carb kung pao chicken dish.
You can use a traditional skillet to make this recipe, but we think this hammered wok is beautiful!