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Easy Kung Pao Chicken Recipe

This simple 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 that your family won’t believe you made it at home!

Skillet of Kung Pao Chicken


I love Chinese food! When I order Chinese takeout, my go-to orders are always hibachi chicken with teriyaki noodles. When my cravings hit for something truly indulgent, I turn to my easy Kung Pao Chicken recipe. Though not completely authentic, this dish is a flavor explosion, blending spicy, savory, and sweet notes with ingredients like hot chili sauce, sugar, and Tamari for a taste adventure. Featuring juicy chicken, vibrant vegetables, and a sauce enriched with balsamic vinegar and sesame oil, my version delivers restaurant-quality taste with every bite, but it’s also easy to make and it’s delicious! For those who love to explore different flavors, my hunan chicken recipe offers another adventure into the spicy, savory, and sweet notes characteristic of Chinese cuisine.

What Is Kung Pao Chicken?

Kung Pao Chicken, also known as Gong Bao or Kung Po, hails from China’s Sichuan province. It’s thought to be named in honor of Ding Baozhen, a Qing Dynasty governor of Sichuan. This flavorful recipe features chicken pieces, peppers, scallions, and sometimes peanuts tossed in a flavorful sauce.

Homemade kung pao chicken served in a bowl.

Why We Love This Kung Pao Stir Fry

  • Homemade Over Takeout: I enjoy the satisfaction of mastering a classic Chinese restaurant 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 of Chinese recipes – less oil, less sodium, but all the deliciousness.

What You’ll Need

Drawing inspiration from the spicy, savory flavors that have made it a takeout favorite at Chinese restaurants, here’s the list of ingredients you’ll need to recreate this beloved dish at home.

  • Chicken thighs or skinless chicken breasts, cut into small cubes for a tender and flavorful base.
  • Salt & Pepper to enhance the chicken’s flavor.
  • Tamari or soy sauce to add that savory umami taste.
  • Dry sherry or 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 or green bell peppers to add a slight sweetness to the dish.
  • Sugar snap peas bring a needed crunch and color to the dish.
  • Garlic & Ginger are essential aromatics that elevate the flavor.
  • Hot chili sauce to dial up the heat.
  • Green onions and red pepper flakes are optional but they are great here as a garnish.

How to Make Kung Pao Chicken

Just like all other stir fries, make sure to get all your prep done upfront since the cooking part happens super fast.

  1. Marinate: To make the chicken marinade, in a large bowl, combine the salt, pepper, soy sauce, dry sherry, sugar, and cornstarch; add in the cubed chicken and let it sit for 15 to 30 minutes.
  2. Prepare the Sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sherry, white vinegar or balsamic vinegar, chicken broth, hot chili sauce, sugar, and cornstarch. Set it aside.
  3. Cook the Chicken: In a hot large skillet or wok with vegetable oil, sear the chicken in a single layer until fully cooked. Remove and set aside.
  4. Veggie Stir Fry: In the same pan, stir-fry the peppers and sugar snap peas. Add in minced garlic and ginger shortly after.
  5. Combine: Return the chicken to the pan, pour in the prepared sauce, and stir until everything is well-coated and the sauce thickens.

Recipe Tips And Variations

  • 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.
  • Toss in your preferred veggies such as mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, and zucchini for more color and texture.
  • For the spicy food lovers, incorporate Szechuan peppers or Sichuan peppercorns for an additional zing while cooking the sauce. I suggest to remove them before serving to avoid excessive heat.
  • Sprinkle in some peanuts or cashews to introduce a satisfying crunch.
Skillet filled with homemade kung pao chicken

Serving Suggestions

When considering side dishes to complement the robust flavors of Kung Pao Chicken, for starters, a bowl of fluffy white rice, like my 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

Skillet of Kung Pao Chicken

Easy Kung Pao Chicken

Katerina | Diethood
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.
5 from 12 votes
Servings : 4 serves
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes


For the 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
For the Stir Fry
  • 1 tablespoon Tamari or low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry or Shaoxing wine
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons hot chili sauce, use only if you like spicy foods
  • 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
  • chopped green onions, for garnish, optional


  • 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, garnish with green onions and red pepper flakes if you like, 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.


Calories: 306 kcal | Carbohydrates: 11 g | Protein: 26 g | Fat: 17 g | Saturated Fat: 10 g | Cholesterol: 73 mg | Sodium: 140 mg | Potassium: 602 mg | Fiber: 2 g | Sugar: 7 g | Vitamin A: 1498 IU | Vitamin C: 69 mg | Calcium: 31 mg | Iron: 2 mg

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.

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: chinese chicken recipes, chinese takeout, easy kung pao chicken
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