Authentic Kung Pao Chicken Recipe: Easy and Delicious Meal!

This classic Sichuan stir-fry is a flavour bomb of savoury, spicy, and slightly numbing goodness with a zingy tang and addictive crunch from the peanuts. Best of all, it’s super quick and easy to whip up on any weeknight!

In this recipe, I’ll show you how to make the real deal Kung Pao chicken, straight from the streets of Chengdu. Once you master this authentic version, you’ll never go back to the Americanized takeout kinds.

Now let’s talk about when to enjoy this dish. Like most stir-fries, Kung Pao chicken tastes sublime when it’s fresh out of the wok. The flavours and textures are just perfection.

That said, I get it – sometimes you need to prep dinner ahead of time. I’ve made this in the late afternoon and reheated it later, and it’s still mighty tasty. But is it as mind-blowingly good as when it’s freshly cooked? No, not quite.

So if you can, try to time it you’re eating this Kung Pao chicken right after stir-frying. That’s when the real magic happens! But in a pinch, those delicious numbing, savoury, and crispy nutty flavours will still shine through when reheated.

Authentic Kung Pao Chicken Recipe

Authentic Kung Pao Chicken Recipe

One of China's most famous dishes, Kung Pao chicken, is becoming a real hit in restaurants worldwide. And you know what? You can easily whip it up in your own kitchen! Tender chicken chunks seared with fragrant spices and coated in a lip-smacking sauce – it's a real treat.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 3
Calories 520 kcal


  • Cutting Board
  • Sharp Knife
  • Bowls
  • Wok or Large Skillet/Frying Pan


For the Chicken:

  • 11 oz Boneless skinless chicken thighs (or breasts)
  • 1 tsp Cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp Water
  • 1 tsp Sesame oil

For the Nuts:

  • 1/3 cup Peanuts or cashews

For the Sauce:

  • 1 tsp Light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Dark soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Black rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • 2 tsp Sugar
  • 2 tsp Cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp Water

For Stir-Frying:

  • 2 tbsp Neutral oil like vegetable or canola
  • 10 dried Red chilies halved and deseeded
  • 1 tsp Whole Sichuan peppercorns
  • 6 Scallion stalks cut into chunks
  • 3 Garlic cloves sliced
  • 8 slices Fresh ginger


Marinate the Chicken:

  • Cut the chicken into 2cm cubes and put in a bowl. Add the cornstarch, water, and sesame oil. Mix well until coated.

Toast the Nuts:

  • In a pan over low heat, toast the peanuts (or cashews) until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

Make the Sauce:

  • In a bowl, mix all the sauce ingredients together. Easy

Time to Stir-Fry!

  • Heat a wok over high heat and add the oil. Throw in the dried chilies and Sichuan peppercorns. As soon as you get a whiff of those spicy aromas, add the marinated chicken. Stir-fry for 30 seconds.
  • Next, toss in the scallions, garlic, and ginger. Keep stir-frying until the chicken is cooked through (cut one piece open to check). Don’t overcook!
  • Give the sauce a stir and pour it into the wok. Stir everything together until the sauce thickens up. Then turn off the heat.
  • Finally, toss in those toasted nuts and serve it up hot with steamed rice. Delish!


  • Don’t be scared of the dried red chilies! They add a blazing kick of heat but you can control the spice level by deseeding them or using fewer chilies.
  • The sauce can be mixed up to 3 days in advance and stored covered in the fridge. The chicken can also be marinated up to a day ahead of time.
  • Kung Pao chicken is fantastic over steamed white or brown rice to soak up all that delicious sauce. Or serve it with Chinese hot mustard or chili crisp on the side for an extra kick!

Nutrition Facts:

Calories520 kcal
Sodium536 mg

Is Kung Pao Chicken Good For Dieting?

Is Kung Pao Chicken Good For Dieting?

This spicy stir-fry dish combines chilli peppers, diced chicken, and veggies – which can be a diet-friendly option! Have half a normal restaurant portion with about a fist-sized cup of brown rice, and you’ll stay under 600 calories.

Plus, peanuts provide a nutrient boost of fibre, healthy unsaturated fats, and antioxidants that are good for your heart. So Kung Pao chicken can be a flavorful yet balanced meal when enjoyed in reasonable portions.

How Spicy is It?

Kung Pao chicken can range from mild to extremely spicy depending on the type and amount of chillies used. You can always adjust the heat level to your taste.

Can I Add More Vegetables to This Dish?

Absolutely! While the traditional Kung Pao chicken recipe only calls for scallions, many restaurants these days like to bulk it up with extra veggies, especially in places outside of China. Feel free to toss in things like bell peppers, onions, celery, or cucumber.

Adding more vegetables is a tasty way to stretch the dish and make it even more nutrient-packed. The traditional preparation is meat-heavy, so the extra veggies provide balance and make it more of a complete meal.

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