This Kung Pao Chicken recipe is so much better than takeout! The sauce is spicy and sweet, with tender chicken that’s crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. This Chinese chicken dinner is so good, your family won’t believe you made it at home!
My Favorite Kung Pao Chicken Recipe
I love Chinese food! When I order Chinese take-out, my go-to orders are always hibachi chicken with teriyaki noodles. But when I’m feeling extra, I get me some kung pao chicken! It’s spicy, savory, and sweet, and with the hot chili sauce, sugar, and Tamari, it’s a real roller coaster for the taste buds. And, with a blend of juicy chicken, veggies, and a zesty sauce, this spicy, sweet, and savory rendition of mine is every bit as lip-smacking as what you’d get at a restaurant.
Why You’ll Love Homemade Kung Pao Chicken
- Homemade Over Takeout: I enjoy the satisfaction of mastering a classic takeout dish right in my kitchen.
- Balanced Flavors: The combo of spicy, sweet, and savory flavors delivers a perfect taste with each bite.
- Better Choice: By controlling the ingredients, you ensure a lighter option than most restaurant versions – less oil, less sodium, and all the deliciousness.
Ingredients For Kung Pao Chicken
- Chicken breasts cut up into cubes.
- Salt & Pepper to enhance the chicken’s flavor.
- Tamari/soy sauce to add that savory umami taste.
- Dry sherry/Shaoxing wine deepens the flavor.
- Granulated sugar to balance the spice.
- Cornstarch helps in velveting the chicken and thickening the sauce.
- Vegetable oil is used for stir-frying the chicken and veggies.
- Red bell pepper to add color and a slight sweetness.
- Sugar snap peas bring a needed crunch to the dish.
- Garlic & Ginger are essential aromatics that elevate the flavor.
- Hot chili sauce to dial up the heat.
How to Make Kung Pao Chicken
- Marinate: Marinate the cubed chicken in a blend of salt, pepper, soy sauce, dry sherry, sugar, and cornstarch. Let it sit for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Prepare the Sauce: Whisk together soy sauce, sherry, vinegar, chicken broth, hot chili sauce, sugar, and cornstarch. Set it aside.
- Cook the Chicken: In a hot pan or wok with vegetable oil, sear the chicken until fully cooked. Remove and set aside.
- Veggie Stir Fry: In the same pan, stir-fry red bell peppers and sugar snap peas. Add in minced garlic and ginger shortly after.
- Combine: Return the chicken to the pan, pour the prepared sauce, and stir until everything is well-coated and the sauce thickens.
Tips for Success
- Cut the chicken and veggies about the same size so they’ll cook evenly.
- Heat your wok or pan fully before adding your chicken or veggies. You want it hot to start; you don’t want it coming to heat while stir-frying.
- Be sure to continually stir and toss your ingredients while you stir fry.
- Adjust the hot chili sauce to your taste. Remember, it’s easier to add than to take out.
- Experiment with other proteins like beef or shrimp, or add nuts like cashews for a twist.
When considering side dishes to complement the robust flavors of Kung Pao Chicken, for starters, a bowl of fluffy instant pot jasmine rice acts as the perfect base to soak up the rich sauce. If you’re looking for something lighter, consider Asian cucumber salad. Steamed broccoli or baby bok choy can add a refreshing crunch. If you’re in the mood for more protein, these air fryer spring rolls make a nice pairing.
Make Ahead and Storing Instructions
- Prep Ahead: Both the marinade and the kung pao sauce can be made in advance and stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator. The chicken can marinate for up to 4 hours.
- For Storage: You can store your leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw before reheating.
More Takeout-Inspired Recipes
- Shrimp Cauliflower Fried Rice
- General Tso’s Chicken
- Skillet Egg Roll in a Bowl
- Pork Chop Suey
- Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Easy Kung Pao Chicken
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- 1 teaspoon Tamari or low sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon dry sherry or Shaoxing wine
- ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon corn starch
- 1 tablespoon Tamari or low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon dry sherry or Shaoxing wine
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- ¼ cup low sodium chicken broth
- 1 to 2 tablespoons hot chili sauce, use only if you like your Kung Pao spicy
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
- 2 cups sugar snap peas
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil, for garnish
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the cubed chicken, salt, pepper, soy sauce (or Tamari), dry sherry, sugar, and cornstarch; toss to combine, cover, and set aside for 20 to 30 minutes.
- In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sherry, vinegar, chicken broth, hot chili sauce, sugar, and cornstarch. Set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large pan or wok over medium-high heat.
- Add the chicken to the hot oil in one single layer; cook on all sides until done, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove chicken from the pan and return the pan to the burner.
- Add the remaining vegetable oil to the pan and heat over high heat. Stir in peppers and sugar snap peas; cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until just tender. Stir in the minced garlic and ginger; cook for 20 seconds.
- Add the chicken back into the pan and toss to combine.
- Stir previously prepared sauce and then pour it over the chicken; toss to coat all the ingredients. Cook and toss for another minute or two or until the sauce thickens.
- Remove from heat.
- Drizzle with sesame oil and serve.
- Even Cuts: Ensure chicken and vegetables are about the same size for consistent cooking.
- Hot Pan: Always preheat your wok or pan for best results in stir-frying.
- Keep It Moving: Toss your ingredients in the pan to prevent burning and ensure even cooking.
- Spice Control: Adjust the hot chili sauce to your taste. Remember, it’s easier to add than to subtract!
- Mix It Up: Experiment with beef or shrimp instead of chicken, or add nuts like peanuts or cashews.
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.