Kung Pao Chicken is a famous Chinese stir-fry dish that is crisp-tender and very easy to make at home! It has the perfect combination of salty, sweet and spicy flavor.
The Best Kung Pao Chicken
Kung Pao Chicken has its roots in the Szechuan province in China where cooking continues to flourish. Lately, it has grown so popular that it has spread its presence throughout the world, including in the US.
We love this dish and order it quite often every time we go to a Chinese restaurant. Although there had been changes to the traditional recipe, what remains is the distinct spiciness and the way that the meat is cooked.
For this recipe, we marinate the meat in a cornstarch mixture that makes it silky and velvety. What we are after is to make it tender. Learn how to make this flavorful recipe so you can make it anytime you crave for that intense heat!
What is kung pao chicken?
It is made of tender and tasty chunks of white meat with a sauce that is sweet, salty, spicy, and sour all at the same time.
Also, it is so easy to make as it is just stir-fried. Vegetables like bell peppers and aromatics accompany the white meat. All these add flavors and another dimension to the dish.
What does kung pao chicken taste like?
It has the right balance of everything starting from sweet to salty. However, the main distinction of this dish is that it is quite spicy. The authentic recipe one has Szechuan peppercorns that are mouth-numbing after all.
But this recipe was already adjusted to fit the American taste to make it sweeter. It has hoisin sauce that is like the Chinese barbecue sauce. Also, it contains lots of chilis which make it spicy and nuts that add texture and the nutty flavor.
How to make kung pao chicken
- Marinate the meat: Cut the white meat into cubes then, marinate in a mixture of dry sherry, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and cornstarch. Cover it and allow it to sit for 30 minutes.
- Make the sauce: In a bowl, combine all the ingredients for the sauce then, set aside.
- Fry the meat: Heat oil in a pan, then, brown the slices of meat, set aside. This will take about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Stir-fry: Add in more oil in the same pan, then, sauté the garlic, ginger, bell peppers, dried and fresh chili peppers. Then, stir in the sauce. Once the consistency starts to thicken, add in and stir-fry all the other ingredients aside from the green onions and peanuts.
- Serve: Once every piece of the meat is coated, you may then serve this dish with rice!
What is kung pao sauce made of?
All you need are the following ingredients:
- low-sodium chicken broth
- soy sauce
- dark soy sauce
- balsamic vinegar
- dry sherry
- hoisin sauce
- brown sugar
What is the difference between kung pao chicken and General Tso’s chicken?
There are a few key differences although both recipes have meat that was pre-cooked before incorporating with the sauce. General Tso’s Chicken does not have peanuts, has a sweeter sauce, and it is not an authentic Chinese dish.
How many calories in kung pao chicken?
According to the USDA, this comfort food will set you back by 381 kcal for one package.
How to store it?
- Refrigerate: Store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Freeze: You can put this in freezer bags and store frozen until 2 months. Make sure to remove any excess air and flatten the bags.
- To reheat: Simply thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat in a skillet over medium heat until heated through. You can also reheat using the microwave.
- To make ahead: Follow this recipe except for adding the cornstarch in the sauce as its thickening power degrades when stored or frozen. Reserve the garnishing, too. When it is time to serve, then, add in the cornstarch to thicken the sauce.
- You can follow the same recipe but use other types of meat like shrimp, pork, or fish.
- Add more fiber by adding crunchy veggies like cucumbers and celery.
- For a vegetarian take, you can opt for mushrooms or tofu as a meat replacement.
Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes Total time: 30 mins
- 2 pounds boneless/skinless chicken breast (cut into 1-inch cubes)
- 1 tablespoon dry sherry
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 cup chicken broth (low-sodium)
- 1/4 cup soy sauce (low-sodium)
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce (low-sodium)
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoon dry sherry
- 2 teaspoon hoisin sauce
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil (divided)
- 4 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 tablespoon ginger (grated)
- 1/2 red bell pepper (seeded and diced)
- 1/2 green bell pepper (seeded and diced)
- 10 dried chilies (cut into ½-inch pieces)
- 2 fresh red chiles (cut into rounds)
- 1 stalk green onions (cut into 1-inch pieces)
- 1/2 cup peanuts (roasted and unsalted)
- Combine all ingredients for the Marinade in a shallow bowl; add sliced chicken cover and marinate for 30 minutes (if you have time).
- Whisk sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl until sugar dissolves and set aside.
- Heat a large skillet or wok over high heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil, once hot, add the marinated chicken. Fry it for 3-5 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Add remaining oil into the same pan. Add garlic, ginger, bell peppers, dried and fresh chili peppers and stir fry for 3-5 minutes.
- Give the prepared SAUCE a mix, and add it to the pan. Sir and bring mixture to a boil while stirring.
- Once it begins to thicken slightly, add back the chicken and stir all of the ingredients with the sauce to coat. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the sauce, thickens more.
- Stir in green onions, peanuts. Cook for another 2 minutes.
- Serve with rice.