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    Kung Pao Chicken Recipe

    Published June 23, 2023. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

    This delicious Kung Pao Chicken recipe with stir-fried chicken in a spicy sour-sweet sauce with chiles and peanuts is better than takeout. The balance of flavors in this is perfect, and it will quickly become one of your new favorite quick-to-prepare dishes.

    We love quick Asian-Inspired weeknight meals that are jam-packed with flavor. If you do, too, then check out my Thai Drunken Noodles or Mongolian Beef.

    kung pao chicken in a bowl


     

    Kung Pao Chicken

    Kung Pao chicken is a classic Sichuan recipe consisting of marinated and stir-fried chicken in a zesty sweet and sour sauce that is garnished with green onions and fried peanuts. The dish can also be served with shrimp or vegetables and is commonly served with cooked long-grain rice.

    This dish was created by a man named Ding Baozhen, who served as the governor of the Sichuan province and was later given the title Gong Bao, which is someone who helps protect the prince and translates to “palace guardian.” There are several stories about how this dish came to be, from him showing gratitude to a family for saving him as a child, to Ding supposedly loving to cook, then finally to Ding having personal chefs create dishes based on his preferences. Whatever the exact story is, this palace guardian, Gungbao, would eventually turn into kung pao, which is the dish we know today.

    Ingredients and Substitutions

    ingredients to make kung pao chicken
    • Chicken – Classically boneless skinless chicken breasts are used. However, you can use de-boned and skinless thighs or drums.
    • Eggs – 2 large eggs will work for this recipe.
    • Wine – You can use Shaoxing, mirin, or rice wine.
    • Vinegar – Black vinegar should be used, but you can substitute it with distilled white vinegar or rice wine vinegar.
    • Chiles – Sichuan chiles are the common chili to use. You can also use a chili de arbol if you cannot find any Sichuan peppers.
    • Pepper – Sichuan peppercorns are what is traditionally used. For a substitute, use 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper and ½ teaspoon of whole crushed coriander seeds.
    • Soy – Use a good shoyu or tamari.
    • Garlic – Either finely minced or very thinly sliced.
    • Ginger – I like to slice It thinly, but you can also finely mince it.
    • Sugar – I think brown sugar is best for this recipe, but regular granulated sugar can be used.
    • StockChicken stock is what is needed. You can also use water or vegetable stock.
    • Nuts – You can use either peanuts or cashews in this dish.
    • Corn Starch – This will help thicken up the sauce and provide a gentle coating on the chicken for stir-frying.

    How to Make Kung Pao Chicken

    1. Add the cubed chicken to a large bowl with an egg white, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, corn starch, and salt and pepper and thoroughly mix until combined. Keep it uncovered and in the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes.
    2. Sauce: In the meantime, whisk together the chicken stock, soy sauce, brown sugar, Shaoxing wine, black vinegar, and cornstarch in a medium-sized bowl until mixed and smooth. Set it aside.
    3. Pour 3 tablespoons of cooking oil into a wok over medium-high heat until smoke begins to roll off the wok, and then add the peanuts and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or just until lightly fried. Set them aside on paper towels to drain.
    4. Next, replace the oil with 2 tablespoons of new cooking oil over high heat and add the chicken to the wok and immediately push the chicken up the sides of the pan using a large stir-fry spoon to sear it. Cook it for a total of 30 to 45 seconds.
    5. Next, hold the handle of the wok in one hand while placing your cooking spoon in the center of the pan. Rock the wok handle back and forth while moving the spoon in a small circular motion to stir-fry the chicken. Do this for 50 to 60 seconds until the chicken is cooked throughout. Set it aside on a plate.
    6. Return the wok to the cooktop over high heat, pour in the sesame oil, and stir fry the garlic and ginger for 1 to 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Add in the dried chiles and peppercorns.
    7. Add in the sauce and cook until it becomes thick, like syrup, which only takes about 30 to 45 seconds.
    8. Put the cooked chicken back into the wok and the green onions and gently mix until combined. Serve.
    kung pao procedures

    Make-Ahead and Storage

    Make-Ahead: This recipe is meant to be eaten as soon as it’s finished cooking. You can keep it warm for up to 15 minutes before serving.

    How to Store: Cover and keep the Kung Pao chicken in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Freeze and cover for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the refrigerator for 1 day before reheating.

    How to Reheat: Add the desired amount of Kung Pao Chicken to a medium size pan and add 2 tablespoons of water. Stir and heat over medium heat until warm.

    Chef Billy Parisi

    Chef Notes + Tips

    • You can use any dried chiles in this recipe. In general, the smaller the dried chili, the spicier it is.
    • Substitute the Shaoxing wine with dry sherry or regular cooking rice wine.
    • Feel free to swap out the brown sugar with regular sugar or honey.
    • You may need to cook the chicken in batches. When doing this, add 2 more tablespoons of cooking oil to the wok and repeat the exact same process as the first time.
    • The peanuts do not need to be fried, but I do feel it adds another layer of flavor.
    • Feel free to add things like broccoli, carrots, snow peas, sugar snap peas, and bell peppers to the Kung Pao Chicken while cooking it.
    • I used mild Sichuan chiles in this. Feel free to use as spicy as you’d like.
    • If you really like sauce, add double the amount of chicken stock, Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, brown sugar, and vinegar.

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    Kung Pao Chicken Recipe

    5 from 12 votes
    This delicious Kung Pao Chicken recipe with stir-fried chicken in a spicy sour-sweet sauce with chiles and peanuts is better than take out.
    Servings: 4
    Prep Time: 20 minutes
    Cook Time: 10 minutes

    Ingredients 

    For the Marinade:

    • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into ½” cubes
    • 1 egg white
    • 3 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
    • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
    • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
    • coarse salt and pepper to taste
    • 2 to 4 tablespoons cooking oil

    For the Vegetables and Sauce

    • 3 tablespoons cooking oil
    • ½ cup unsalted peanuts
    • ½ cup chicken stock
    • 3 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
    • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
    • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
    • 3 tablespoons black vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
    • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
    • 4 thinly sliced garlic cloves
    • 1 ” piece of thinly sliced peeled ginger
    • 2/3 cup dried chiles
    • 1 teaspoon roughly minced Sichuan peppercorns
    • 6 green onions, cut into 1” pieces

    Instructions

    • Marinade: Add the cubed chicken to a large bowl with an egg white, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, corn starch, and salt and pepper and thoroughly mix until combined. You can cover or keep it uncovered and marinate in the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes.
    • Sauce: In the meantime, whisk together the chicken stock, Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, brown sugar, black vinegar, and cornstarch in a medium-sized bowl until mixed and smooth. Set it aside.
    • Pour 3 tablespoons of cooking oil into a wok over medium-high heat until smoke begins to roll off the wok, and then add the peanuts and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or just until lightly fried. Set them aside on paper towels to drain.
    • Next, replace the oil with 2 tablespoons of new cooking oil over high heat and add the chicken to the wok and immediately push the chicken up the sides of the pan using a large stir-fry spoon to sear it. Cook it for a total of 30 to 45 seconds.
    • Next, hold the handle of the wok in one hand while placing your cooking spoon in the center of the pan. Trock the wok handle back and forth while moving the spoon in a small circular motion to stir-fry the chicken. Do this for 50 to 60 seconds until the chicken is cooked throughout. Set it aside on a plate.
    • Return the wok to the cooktop over high heat and pour in the sesame oil, and stir fry the garlic and ginger for 1 to 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Add in the dried chiles and peppercorns.
    • Add in the sauce and cook until it becomes thick, like syrup, which only takes about 30 to 45 seconds.
    • Put the cooked chicken back into the wok and add in the green onions and gently mix until combined. Serve.

    Notes

    Make-Ahead: This recipe is meant to be eaten as soon as it’s finished cooking. You can keep it warm for up to 15 minutes before serving.
    How to Store: Cover and keep the Kung Pao chicken in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Freeze and cover for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the refrigerator for 1 day before reheating.
    How to Reheat: Add the desired amount of Kung Pao Chicken to a medium size pan and add 2 tablespoons of water. Stir and heat over medium heat until warm.
    You can use any dried chiles in this recipe. In general, the smaller the dried chili, the spicier it is.
    Substitute the Shaoxing wine with dry sherry or regular cooking rice wine.
    Feel free to swap out the brown sugar with regular sugar or honey.
    You may need to cook the chicken in batches. When doing this, add 2 more tablespoons of cooking oil to the wok and repeat the exact same process as the first time.
    The peanuts do not need to be fried, but I do feel it adds another layer of flavor.
    Feel free to add things like broccoli, carrots, snow peas, sugar snap peas, and bell peppers to the Kung Pao Chicken while cooking it.
    I used mild Sichuan chiles in this. Feel free to use as spicy as you’d like.
    If you really like sauce, add double the amount of chicken stock, Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, brown sugar, and vinegar.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 852kcalCarbohydrates: 55gProtein: 62gFat: 42gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 12gMonounsaturated Fat: 21gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 146mgSodium: 1871mgPotassium: 1895mgFiber: 14gSugar: 27gVitamin A: 10699IUVitamin C: 20mgCalcium: 80mgIron: 5mg
    Course: Main Course
    Cuisine: Asian