This Easy Kung Pao Chicken Recipe is so much better than take-out! Loaded with spicy chicken, peanuts and vegetables in a delicious Kung Pao sauce, this easy weeknight dinner never disappoints.
What’s in this Kung Pao Chicken Recipe
Don’t be put off by the list of ingredients in this recipe because they are all really simple, and many of the sauce and marinade ingredients cross over.
- Chicken Broth: You can use water instead if you’d like. I prefer using my favorite homemade chicken broth for the best flavor.
- Soy Sauce: You can use tamari or coconut aminos instead if preferred.
- Chili Garlic Sauce: This spicy, tangy ingredient creates the best flavor!
- Balsamic Vinegar: This adds a complex sweetness to the chicken.
- Rice Vinegar: You can use red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar instead if that’s what you have on hand.
- Cornstarch: You’ll need this to thicken the sauce.
- Brown Sugar: This adds just enough sweetness to balance out all of the other bold ingredients.
- Sesame Oil: Don’t swap this with any other oil! You really can’t get the same nutty flavor with anything else.
- Salt and Pepper: Use kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper for the best flavor.
- Chicken: You can use breasts or thighs. Just make sure they’re chopped into small, bite-sized pieces.
- Vegetable Oil: You can use canola oil instead if needed.
- Vegetables: Kung pao chicken calls for red and green bell peppers, onions, ginger and garlic.
- Roasted Peanuts: These provide that signature crunch that just can’t be beat!
PRO TIP: If the sauce tastes too salty, add some more sugar and water. If it’s not salty, add a little salt to taste.
The main difference between the two chicken recipes is that general tso chicken is deep fried and kung pao chicken is seared in a wok. General tso chicken is also on the sweeter side.
Kung pao chicken is a delicious balance of bold sweet and spicy flavors. It’s also a little tangy and savory… It’s got a lot to offer!
You can use chicken breasts or thighs – either work very well!
How to Store and Reheat
Once cooled to room temperature, you can store leftover kung pao chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave or right back in the wok.
How to Freeze
You can freeze kung pao chicken for up to 3 months. I recommend letting it slowly thaw in the fridge before reheating.
Serve this is over cooked rice such as jasmine rice or basmati rice. You could also serve it over noodles. A sprinkle of chopped green onions on top is great!
Top Reader Review
- “ This turned out amazing! I will definitely being making it again.” – Holly
Kung Pao Chicken Recipe
For the Marinade/sauce
- 1/2 cup chicken broth or water
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons corn starch
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Dash of salt and pepper
For the Chicken and Vegetables
- 20 ounces boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs chopped into small pieces
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil divided
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1 green bell pepper diced
- 1/2 onion diced
- 1 knob 1-inch ginger, minced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 cup roasted peanuts
- In a bowl, whisk together the marinade/sauce ingredients. Place the chicken in a separate bowl. Pour 3 tablespoons of the marinade over the chicken and mix together. Reserve the remaining sauce for later.
- Add 1 tablespoon to a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Stir fry the chicken until browned on all sides and cooked through. Remove from the chicken from the pan and set aside on a clean plate.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Add in the onions, cooking for a few minutes until soft. Stir in the ginger and garlic, cooking for a minute until fragrant. Stir in the peppers, chicken, peanuts, and remaining sauce. Stir fry until the sauce thickens.
- Serve with rice and a sprinkle of chopped green onion.