This quick and easy Hunan Chicken stir fry recipe pairs juicy chicken and tender vegetables with the best sweet and spicy Hunan Sauce!
An Easy Chinese Stir-Fry Recipe
Are you looking for a fresh dinner idea, that isn’t too complicated, AND includes a zesty kick? Then this is the recipe for you! Hunan Chicken is all of that and more, with its hearty combination of white meat chicken, crisp-tender vegetables, and signature Hunan sauce.
If you’re a fan of Chinese-American food, your probably familiar with Hunan Chicken already. The perfectly balanced sauce is lightly tangy sauce and just a bit sweet. Hunan chicken also features tender, juicy white meat chicken and a variety of veggies. It’s no wonder this saucy stir-fry is a staple on most takeout menus!
Is Hunan Chicken the Same as Szechuan Chicken?
You might be wondering if Hunan Chicken is more or less the same as Szechuan Chicken, but actually, they’re very different. Originally, the recipes come from different regions of China. As you might expect, the two dishes typically contain different ingredients and use a different cooking process, too.
While Szechuan Chicken uses dried chilies (and sometimes special Szechuan peppercorns) for a spicy kick, Hunan Chicken is spicy thanks to a special fermented chili paste.
Also, Hunan Chicken is a tangier, saucier dish, and includes more veggies, while Szechuan Chicken tends to be sweeter and have less (or even no) sauce.
Another difference is in the chicken itself: typically, Szechuan Chicken is made with fried chunks of chicken, while Hunan Chicken is made with sliced, velveted chicken breast.
Everything in this simple ingredient list should be available at your local grocery store. If you have trouble sourcing anything, try asking at an ethnic food store. OR our bestie, Amazon. 😊
For the Chicken and Veggies:
- Oil: For sautéing. You’ll need about two tablespoons of vegetable oil.
- Chicken: Thinly slice about a pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. You can also cut the chicken into 2-inch chunks.
- Cornstarch: To get the right texture, we’re going to sprinkle the sliced chicken with cornstarch before cooking.
- Salt and Pepper: To taste.
- Broccoli: I use two cups of small broccoli florets in this dish.
- Bell Pepper: Dice up one small bell pepper.
- Mushrooms: You’ll need one cup of thinly sliced mushrooms.
- Garlic: Two garlic cloves, minced or pressed, round out the savory flavor of this stir-fry.
For the Hunan Sauce:
- Broth: To make the dish saucy, you’ll need half a cup of chicken or vegetable broth. I usually use low-sodium broth.
- Soy Sauce: A couple of tablespoons of low-sodium soy sauce adds a salty, umami flavor.
- Oyster Sauce: This handy condiment is mild, salty, and has a great seafood-y flavor. It really makes at-home stir-fries taste like the real thing!
- Rice Vinegar: Light and fragrant, rice vinegar is useful for stir-fries and lots of other recipes, too. I love having it on hand.
- Chili Paste: Hunan Chicken usually includes Doubanjiang paste, but you can substitute sambal oelek or gochujang if they’re easier to find.
- Cornstarch: To thicken the sauce, you’ll need two teaspoons of cornstarch.
- Sugar: A little sugar gives this sauce the finishing touch. Feel free to substitute honey, if you prefer.
- Sliced Green Onion: For garnish.
How to Make Hunan Chicken
If you’re familiar with making stir-fry, you’ll probably recognize this simple method! Cooking the chicken first, then the veggies, and finally the sauce is guaranteed to make this Hunan Chicken turn out just right. Word of advice: PREP all the ingredients before you start cooking.
- Prep the Chicken. Place the cut up chicken and two tablespoons of cornstarch in a zip-top bag. Seal the bag and shake everything around to coat.
- Cook the Chicken. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or a large skillet set over high heat. Add the chicken slices to the heated oil in one single layer, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 7 minutes, turning once or twice, until done. You’ll need to cook the chicken in batches if your skillet isn’t big enough.
- Cook the Vegetables. Remove the chicken from the wok or skillet, and set aside. Cook the broccoli, pepper, and mushrooms for 4 to 5 minutes, or until they are tender. Stir in the garlic, and cook for 20 seconds or so.
- Make the Sauce. While the veggies are cooking, whisk together the chicken broth, soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice vinegar, chili paste, cornstarch, and sugar in a small bowl.
- Combine All the Ingredients. Return the chicken to the skillet. Pour the sauce over the chicken and veggies, and bring it to a simmer. Continue to cook for a couple minutes, or until the sauce is thickened.
- Enjoy! Remove the finished stir fry from the heat. Garnish with green onions, if using, and serve.
Tips for Success
I hope you’re excited to try this spicy stir-fry recipe! I promise, Hunan Chicken is so good and very easy to make. But, before you pull out that wok, let me share a couple of helpful tips for making awesome stir-fry, with great crisp veggies and the juiciest chicken!
- Mise en Place: This French cooking term means “everything in its place,” and it’s super helpful to remember when making stir-fry! Having all of your ingredients chopped, measured, and ready to go makes the cooking process a breeze.
- Hot Wok: Or skillet, of course. Here’s the thing about stir-fry—to get the ingredients tender and perfectly cooked, you need to have the pan nice and hot. The ingredients should sizzle (and keep sizzling) when they hit the oil.
I could gobble up this easy main course as-is, but I gotta admit, it’s even better with a good side! Jasmine rice is awesome, or you could do one of these:
- Cauliflower Rice: Homemade cauliflower rice is the perfect low-carb accompaniment for Hunan Chicken!
- Fried Rice: Speaking of rice, how about some classic shrimp fried rice to go with your main dish? My original Shrimp Fried Rice and this Cauliflower Shrimp Fried Rice are pretty darn delicious.
- Noodles: You can go with lo mein, or try these easy stir-fried Zucchini Noodles. They’re a natural choice to pair with Hunan Chicken. I do it all the time.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
- To store leftover stir-fry, place in airtight containers and refrigerate for up to three days.
- To reheat, place leftovers in a covered skillet and heat on low until just heated through. Do not overcook.
Can I Freeze Hunan Chicken
- I advise to not freeze Hunan Chicken once it’s all cooked together because the vegetables will get mushy due to the sauce.
- What you can do is freeze the prepared chicken and the sauce separately.
- Then, thaw when ready to finish cooking the dish.
For the Chicken and Veggies:
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 cups bite-sized broccoli florets
- 1 small red bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Place sliced chicken and 2 tablespoons cornstarch in a ziploc bag; seal and shake to coat.
- Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a wok or a large 12-inch skillet set over high heat.
- Add chicken to the heated oil in one single layer; season with salt and pepper and cook for about 6 to 8 minutes, or until cooked and browned on all sides. Cook chicken in batches if your skillet isn’t big enough.
- Remove chicken from the wok/skillet and set aside.
- To the same skillet add remaining oil, broccoli, pepper, and mushrooms; cook for 4 minutes, or until veggies are tender.
- Stir in garlic and cook for 20 seconds.
- Add chicken back to the skillet.
- In the meantime, in a small bowl whisk together the chicken broth, soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice vinegar, chili paste, cornstarch, and sugar.
- Pour the sauce over the chicken and veggies and bring to a simmer.
- Continue to cook for a couple minutes, or until sauce is thickened.
- Remove from heat.
- Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds.