This easy Kung Pao chicken recipe is a quick and easy weeknight dinner to feed your family.
It’s better than takeout and uses ingredients that you can actually find at your local grocery store. No need for obscure ingredients. This version tastes just like the traditional Kung Pao recipe you get at Chinese take out restaurants.
Chinese food doesn’t have to be hard to make at home or use obscure ingredients. With this easy recipe you can make it yourself with good quality ingredients that are healthier and taste just as good.
My kids love a good stir fried chicken dish and Kung Pao chicken is cooked in a delicious full bodied sauce that just keeps you wanting more. It has soon become their favorite take-out-fake-out dishes.
What Is Kung Pao Chicken:
Kung Pao chicken is a Sezchuan style stir fry dish. Also known as Gong Bao or Kung Po this delicious Chinese dish is packed full of flavor and can have a spicy kick. It’s typically made with chicken, dried chilies, vegetables, peanuts and aromatics.
Today we are making a non-traditional version similar to one that you will find at Chinese restaurants.
Ingredients For Easy Kung Pao Chicken:
Traditionally Kung Pao chicken is made with Chinese black vinegar, Sichuan peppercorns and Chinese rice wine, but we are going the easy route and only using ingredients that we can find at our local grocery store.
Here are the ingredients we will be using for our easy Kung Pao chicken.
Chicken: You can use chicken breast or chicken thighs. I prefer chicken breasts for this recipe. Make sure they are boneless and skinless and cut into bite size pieces.
Egg White: The egg white is used as a tenderizer and coating for the chicken. Typically many recipes will call for marinating the chicken, but I prefer this method.
Corn Starch: Used in the coating and in the sauce. The corn starch coats the chicken to create a crispy crust. It is also used in the sauce as a thickening agent.
Long Grain White Rice: I prefer long grain rice for this recipe. You can also use short grain rice if you have that on hand.
Peanuts: Use the dry roasted and salted peanuts for ultimate flavor.
Arbol Chilis: So many Kung Pao chicken recipes do not tell you what type of chilis! You can find Arbol chilis at most grocery stores. Even Walmart sells them and they give similar flavor.
Bell Peppers: I like to use the mini bell peppers and use a variety of colors but you can use any bell peppers you like.
Shitaki Mushrooms: Adds a delicious meatiness to the dish. You can also use regular button mushrooms if needed.
Green Onion: You can utilize both green and white parts of the green onion.
What is Kung Pao Sauce Made Of?
This rich, delicious sauce is so packed with flavor. Here are the sauce ingredients for our easy Kung Pao Chicken.
Frozen Ginger Cubes: I use the frozen ones you can find at most markets.
Frozen Garlic Cubes: I use the frozen ones you can find at most markets.
Soy Sauce: I prefer low sodium for this dish but you can also use regular.
Dark Soy Sauce: This may be the one ingredient that you may not be able to find at your local grocery store depending on where you live. If you can’t find dark soy sauce substitute regular soy sauce.
Rice Wine Vinegar: I like to use the seasoned rice wine vinegar.
Hoisin Sauce: You can find this in the Asian section of your grocery store.
How To Make Kung Pao Chicken:
Step one is to add the chicken pieces to a medium bowl. Coat the chicken in the egg white thoroughly. Then coat in cornstarch until a thin batter is formed on the outside. Let sit for 20 minutes.
I like to use plastic gloves for easy clean up for this step.
Next prep your vegetables and chilis. If you prefer a less spicy chicken remove the seeds from the chili pods. You can even take these out after you have cooked them if desired. I remove them for my kids.
Prep the sauce my mixing all ingredients together.
Next preheat a large cast iron skillet over high heat and add the oil. Make sure the oil is ready by placing one of the bell peppers into the hot oil. If the pepper starts to bubble around the edges your oil is ready.
Cook the chicken in batches making sure to not crowd the pan. You will want to place the pieces in individually to prevent sticking.
Once the chicken is slightly golden you can remove the pieces with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate.
Once the chicken is all removed add the peanuts and chilis to the oil to toast for 1-2 minutes. Remove those with the slotted spoon to the plate with the chicken.
Remove any excess oil at this point.
Then add the vegetables to the pan and saute for a few minutes.
Add the chicken, peanuts and peppers back into the pan and saute for 1-3 minutes.
Add the sauce and stir to combine to fully coat the chicken and thicken the sauce. If the sauce becomes too thick you can thin it out with 1/4 cup of water.
Serve the easy Kung Pao chicken over the rice and enjoy!
Other Delicious Take Out Recipes To Try:
If you are a fan of healthier take out try these other delicious recipes.
Thai Yellow Curry With Chicken and Potatoes
Hibachi Chicken With Fried Rice And Vegetables
Easy Kung Pao Chicken Recipe:
Easy Kung Pao Chicken Recipe
Easy Kung Pao Chicken is full of flavor and is better than the take out stuff!
- 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes (about 1.5 pounds)
- 1 egg white
- 1/4 cup corn starch
- 3 cups long grain white rice, rinsed
For The Sauce:
- 6 ginger cubes (I use the frozen ones)
- 6 garlic cubes (I use the frozen ones)
- 2 tablespoons low sodium or regular soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce or add 1 additional tablespoon regular soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 2 teaspoons corn starch
For The Stir Fry:
- 1/4 cup avocado oil
- 2/3 cup dry roasted and salted peanuts
- 6 Arbol chilis, cut into 1 inch pieces (remove seeds for a less spicy option)
- 6 mini red, yellow or orange bell peppers (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 3.5 oz shitaki mushrooms, sliced
- 1/4 cup green onion, sliced thin
- In a mixing bowl combine the chicken breast cubes with the egg white and mix to fully combine. Then add the 1/4 cup corn starch and mix to fully combine. Let sit for 20 minutes or so in the fridge.
- Cook the rice according to package directions.
- Combine the sauce ingredients in a small mixing bowl and whisk to fully combine. Set aside.
- Preheat a large cast iron skillet over high heat. Add the oil and quickly add the chicken in batches making sure to carefully add one piece at a time to prevent sticking together.
- Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate.
- Add the peanuts and chilis and toast for 1 minute or so until fragrant and golden. Remove to the plate.
- Remove excess oil and then add the bell peppers and mushrooms and saute for 1-2 minutes.
- Add back the chicken, peanuts and chilis and saute for an additional 1-2 minutes.
- Add the sauce and cook to combine everything and thicken the sauce. Stir consistently. If the sauce becomes too thick you can thin it out with 1/4 cup water.
- Add the green onion stir and serve over rice.