You’ll dive right into the spicy, nutty, sweet, and savory sauce in this Kung Pao Chicken. Packed with veggies, tender 10-minute marinated chicken, and dried chilis, serve over rice or noodles for an easy, filling, delicious 30-minute meal!
I often find myself alone in my spicy-food-loving world, eating bite after bite of delicious, hot peppers and/or hot sauces atop basically any hot meal (and even sometimes cold ones). I’m mopping sweat off my brow and drinking gallons of water while the rest of my family low-key chuckles at me while they enjoy their mild (yet flavorful) meals of their own.
Usually to make everyone happy, I add spice to just my own dish. But this Kung Pao Chicken is meant to be spicy. So basically I can’t make this Asian chicken recipe and call it Kung Pao if it doesn’t contain dried chili peppers, but you can totally skip them or de-seed them before adding if that’s your preference!
Why this Recipe Works
From the flavors to the way it freezes, these reasons and more make this Kung Pao chicken dish a real winner!
Bold flavors — The combination of Asian condiments like hoisin, rice vinegar, and soy sauce, plus garlic, chicken broth, and red peppers really make this a stand-out dish.
Pantry staples — You really don’t need a lot of fancy ingredients to pull together an authentic Kung Pao chicken. Most of these can be found in the international foods aisle of your grocery store. Buy things like hoisin once, and have it on hand for a long time as a little goes a long way!
Freezes well — Want to double or make this dish ahead of time for a future quick meal? This meal can be stored in the freezer for up to three months in an air-tight container. Just add rice or noodles the day you are ready to thaw and reheat.
Budget-friendly — You can make many typical take-out dishes like this Kung Pao chicken for half the price at home, and with inexpensive ingredients. (And it’s healthier, too!)
One-pan — Cook the chicken, sauce, and veggies in one pan for easy cleanup!
Here’s How We Make It
Ready to tackle this spicy dish? It’s easy-peasy!
Making the marinade
- Whisk together the rice vinegar, baking soda, corn starch, and soy sauce.
- Either add the chicken to the marinade (if your bowl is big enough) or pour over the chicken in a Ziploc baggie.
- Set it aside to marinate for 10 minutes.
Preparing the sauce
- In another bowl or a larger liquid measuring cup, whisk together the sauce ingredients: chicken broth, soy sauce, hoisin, sugar, rice vinegar, corn starch, garlic, and red pepper flakes.
- Set the sauce aside.
Putting it all together
- In a large skillet, add 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat.
- Add the chicken pieces and sautee them over medium-high heat for 2-4 minutes or until browned. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon, put in a bowl, and cover the bowl to keep the chicken warm.
- Add the other 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan. Put in the red peppers, garlic, peanuts, and dried chili peppers, and cook for 2 minutes.
- Pour in the Kung Pao sauce and stir.
- Add the chicken back into the pan and cook for another 2-4 minutes. Sauce should be thicker and the chicken will be all the way cooked through when it is done.
- Toss in the green onions, stir. Serve over rice or noodles.
What Does Kung Pow Mean?
Kung Pao (pronounced Kung Pow), is an Asian dish that’s stir-fried (or even deep-fried) and comes with peanuts, a spicy sauce, and typically chicken (though you can substitute other proteins if you like).
- Peppers are highly suggested but optional. While the name of this dish implies spicy, it’s totally up to you if you want to use them or not. You can omit the peppers from the chicken Kung Pao or shake the seeds out before using the peppers to make the dish more mild.
- I find dried chili peppers in the International/Latino/Asian grocery aisles. If you can’t find them you can substitute crushed red pepper flakes or another pepper you enjoy instead.
- The great thing about Kung Pao chicken is you can really use any veggies you like in it. Consider adding a variety of bell peppers, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, eggplant, edamame — anything you like! Just make sure you have made enough sauce to cover it all. Double if you’re going for extra veggies!
- We like to eat this dish over steamed white or brown rice. But you could also serve it over fried rice or any kind of noodle you have on hand. Udon and rice noodles are a favorite here, but you can also use egg noodles or fettuccine.
More Asian-Inspired Meals
- Chicken Satay Skewers with Peanut Sauce
- Japanese Rice Omelet
- Thai Chicken Coconut Curry
- Instant Pot Broccoli Beef
- Teriyaki Steak Stir Fry
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Kung Pao Chicken
kung pao sauce
- ½ cup low sodium chicken broth
- ⅔ cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 3 teaspoons corn starch
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
10 minute chicken marinade
- 1 ½ pounds chicken - breasts or tenderloins, cut into 1-inch pieces
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons corn starch
- 4 tablespoons oil - divided
- 1 red bell pepper - chopped
- 1 teaspoon garlic
- ½ cup peanuts
- 8 dried chilis - chopped into 1 inch pieces, see note
- 3 green onions - chopped
marinate the chicken (10 minutes)
- In a medium bowl whisk together the rice vinegar, baking soda, corn starch, and soy sauce.
- Add the chicken, stir to coat, and set aside for 10 minutes.
prepare the sauce
- In a medium bowl or in a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the sauce ingredients. Set aside.
make the stir fry
- Add 2 tablespoons to a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add chicken and saute over medium-high heat for 2-4 minutes until browned on the outside. (Chicken may not be completely cooked through yet - that's okay). Use a slotted spoon to transfer chicken to a bowl and cover to keep warm.
- Add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan. Stir in red bell peppers, garlic, peanuts, dried chili peppers, for 2 minutes.
- Add sauce and stir.
- Return chicken to the pan and cook 2-4 minutes longer until sauce is thickened and chicken is cooked through all the way.
- Stir in green onions, serve over rice or noodles. Enjoy!