Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken is a popular Chinese restaurant takeout dish for good reason.  Make a batch of this tasty stir fry at home!

Kung Pao Chicken is a popular Chinese restaurant takeout dish for good reason.  Make a batch of this tasty stir fry at home!Let’s talk about dexterity.  I’ve always considered myself to have decent dexterity.  I’m a pinball wizard with such a supple wrist…  Ok, maybe not so much pinball, but I can stomp the heck out of some Goombas on Super Mario Bros.  But when it comes to chopsticks, let’s be clear: my dexterity hits a brick wall.

Kung Pao Chicken is a popular Chinese restaurant takeout dish for good reason.  Make a batch of this tasty stir fry at home!We didn’t eat a lot of Asian foods growing up, so it wasn’t until college when I learned how to use chopsticks.  I’m decent with ’em.  I mean I can pick up sushi or pieces of chicken.  But rice?  Yeah, right.  I have yet to figure out how people can use chopsticks to pick up a tiny piece of rice.  When Laura and I made this Kung Pao Chicken for dinner the other night, I was in charge of setting the table.  I grabbed a fork for me while Laura opted for the chopsticks.  She’s a chopsticks wizard with such a supple wrist for sure.  Me?  Not so much.

Kung Pao Chicken is a popular Chinese restaurant takeout dish for good reason.  Make a batch of this tasty stir fry at home!Kung Pao Chicken

No matter how you choose to eat this Kung Pao Chicken, I can promise you it’ll be delicious.  There’s a reason why Kung Pao Chicken is a staple on westernized Chinese menus.  This spicy stir-fry dish is packed with flavor, and like most stir fries, this one doesn’t take long to cook at all.  Ah, the beauty of the wok, right?  Speaking of woks, we have a traditional carbon steel wok, but I’ve found myself reaching for this Calphalon nonstick wok (affiliate link) quite often lately.  It gets screamin’ hot like the carbon steel version, and it’s super easy to clean.

Kung Pao Chicken is a popular Chinese restaurant takeout dish for good reason.  Make a batch of this tasty stir fry at home!Aside from the short cooking time, another advantage of Kung Pao Chicken is that it’s loaded with veggies.  I do enjoy the chicken in this recipe, but I could totally see making a version with all vegetables.  I love stir-fried zucchini, so I added an extra zuke in this time.  We also had bell peppers in the fridge, so I went with the traditional zucchini + bell pepper combo.  However, carrots and onions are also commonly used in this dish.  Oh, and the peanuts.  The peanuts are a requirement!  The crunch from the stir-fried peanuts adds a fun texture to the finished version.

Kung Pao Chicken is a popular Chinese restaurant takeout dish for good reason.  Make a batch of this tasty stir fry at home!Kung Pao Chicken is a common takeout item on Chinese restaurant menus, but I say make a batch at home instead.  If you’re looking for a fun (and tasty) way to mix up the dinner routine, then put this recipe on the agenda.  It’s packed with flavor…oh, and it makes for some great leftovers the next day, too!

Did you make this Kung Pao Chicken at home?  Leave a comment, or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog).  I’d love to see your version!

Kung Pao Chicken is a popular Chinese restaurant takeout dish for good reason.  Make a batch of this tasty stir fry at home!

Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken is a popular Chinese restaurant takeout dish for good reason.  Make a batch of this tasty stir fry at home!
5 from 8 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 518kcal

Ingredients

For the Chicken

  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into ½” pieces
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp brown sugar

For the Sauce

  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • ½ Tbsp hot chili paste
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 2 tsp brown sugar

For the Stir Fry

  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup chopped peanuts
  • 1 medium zucchini sliced into semi-circles
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • ¼ cup chopped green onions
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 8-oz. can water chestnuts, drained

For Serving

  • Cooked white rice

Instructions

For the Chicken

  • Using a medium bowl, whisk the cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of water. Add the remaining ingredients (chicken, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and brown sugar); toss until well combined. Cover and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes. (Note: This is a good time to cook the white rice for later.)

For the Sauce

  • Using a medium bowl, whisk the cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of water. Add the remaining sauce ingredients (rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, hot chili paste, vinegar and brown sugar); stir until well combined. Set sauce aside.

For the Stir Fry

  • Using a wok or large skillet, add vegetable oil and place over medium-high heat. Once hot, add red pepper flakes and peanuts; stir fry, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Remove peanuts and red pepper flakes from wok and place in a medium bowl.
  • Remove chicken from marinade and place in wok. Stir fry, stirring constantly, for 3-4 minutes, or until chicken is mostly cooked through. Remove chicken from wok and place in bowl with peanuts.
  • Add remaining ingredients (zucchini, bell pepper, green onions, garlic and water chestnuts) to the wok. Stir fry, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add peanuts, red pepper flakes, chicken and sauce; stir until well combined. Stir fry, stirring often, for 3-4 minutes, or until chicken is fully cooked and sauce has begun to thicken.
  • Remove ingredients from wok and serve over cooked white rice.

Kung Pao Chicken is a popular Chinese restaurant takeout dish for good reason.  Make a batch of this tasty stir fry at home!

Looking for more tasty Asian recipes?  Check out these other favorites, too:

This Chinese Chicken Salad is packed with fresh produce, and it's a fun recipe to mix up weekday lunches!Chinese Chicken Salad

Looking for a fun way to use ramen packets?  Grab some veggies and whip up a batch of this tasty Beef Noodle Stir Fry!Beef Noodle Stir Fry

Skip the takeout and make this Sweet and Sour Shrimp at home!  You'll be surprised at how easy (and tasty) this is!Sweet and Sour Shrimp

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28 Comments

  1. Will be making this soon with few subs perfect for my after office meals everyday will dm you if i make this and let you know how it goes Thanks Ramya

  2. How do you think he does it? I don’t know.

    I often think that eating with chopsticks would be healthier, because you’d take smaller bites, which would make eating take longer, which would allow you to register that you’re satisfied before you’ve over-eaten. But then I realize that this is just because I’m not all that good with chopsticks. When I see somneone who knows what they’re doing, it’s incredible.

    This sounds like something I’d love to make at home, David! Thanks for the inspiration, and the recipe!

    1. Touché, sir. Touché.

      It truly is incredible when you see someone use chopsticks properly. And then there’s me. I think I’d have better success stabbing the food with the end of the chopstick – aka, caveman style.

  3. David, I’ll let you in on a little secret, in all my 30 odd trips to China I never seen anyone picking up rice with chopsticks. Instead they eat their rice in a small bowl and hold the bowl up to their mouth and use the chopsticks to rake the rice into their mouths. Now, it could be that some do pickup the rice, but I go with the rake into the mouth method.
    Now, with that said, a great looking stir fry my friend. We can’t do nuts, but baked pumpkin seed make for a dandy crunch on a stir fry for us.

    1. Interesting! The secret is out. I feel like using chopsticks to pick up rice is nearly impossible. Also, 30+ trips to China!? Holy cow, Ron!

      I think baked pumpkin seeds would be totally fine in this dish – you’re mainly just looking for the crunch. Sunflower seeds would probably work, too, if those are ok in your house.

      1. Sunflower would work well. I traveled a LOT to China during my paid workdays. It left me with some good memories and some not-so-good memories, but the food was almost always good.

  4. 5 stars
    You wanna talk about dexterity David? Well, graceful people don’t use the name “havoc” too often, do they? And don’t even mention these chopsticks. As you, I am pretty decent with sushi (Hey, if sushi start falling apart in the air, that’s not me – they weren’t made properly, right? haha). But rice and even noodles – gosh I am so jealous when people can eat it gracefully. That’s why when chopsticks are involved, I prefer to order a delivery! This Kung Pao Chicken looks and sounds so tasty. I should definitely make it soon – just promise you won’t tell anyone I would be using my fork 🙂

    1. Haha – fair enough, Ben. Although I haven’t heard any ‘havoc’ stories on your site lately. Perhaps you’re not as much havoc anymore? Or you are just hiding the stories from us?

      I totally get you about sushi falling apart mid-air…that’s the worst! And it does happen to me on occasion. And, yes, I always blame the fact that the sushi wasn’t made properly. Never my fault. Never. Haha!

  5. 5 stars
    Kung Pao chicken is one of my favorite Chinese dish. The American takeout style is somewhat different than authentic Chinese style but it has its own unique flavor. I like how you made it so simple. Looks delicious!

    1. You know, that doesn’t surprise me that the American takeout version of Kung Pao chicken is different than the authentic version. That’s the way with a lot of things – like the entire Olive Garden menu! But, yes, it is quite tasty…even if it has changed a bit from the original version. Thanks, Holly!

  6. these flavours sound great david.. i don’t think i’ve heard of this particular dish tho. i don’t think our chinese restaurants have it- not by this name anyway. I love using chopsticks and yes i can pick up a grain of rice with them. years of practice i guess:) Happy easter.

    1. I believe Kung Pao chicken is an Americanized Chinese restaurant dish – I could be wrong there, though. All I know is it’s quite popular on Chinese takeout menus here – and for good reason. It’s tasty! And Happy Easter right back at ya, my friend!

  7. 5 stars
    It’s fun to try to eat with chopsticks, but I can’t say that I’m good at it. It does make me eat slower though, lol! This dish looks totally irresistible and I’m sure we’d love it with the chicken or a vegetarian version like you mentioned.

    1. Eating with chopsticks definitely is fun, Marissa…it adds a challenge to the meal (at least for me). Of course, sometimes I’m not up for that challenge! No matter what utensil you use, stir fries are always a tasty and easy dinner option – we’ve been enjoying this one quite a bit lately. Thanks so much, my friend!

  8. 5 stars
    Looks delicious David! You are so right, there’s a reason why Kung Pao Chicken is so popular. And yours and Laura’s homemade recipe here sounds and looks particularly amazing! I am so intrigued by this nonstick wok, I definitely need to get one! Cleanup is something I’m always looking to make easier. 😄

    1. As much as we love takeout, we’ve found that homemade is almost always better – and that’s the case with this Kung Pao Chicken, too. Of course, there is absolutely something to be said for not having to clean up dinner dishes!

      As far as that nonstick wok, I do recommend it. We use it quite a bit here. I know its not the traditional style of wok, but it gets super hot and it’s much (!!) easier to clean that a carbon steel wok. Give it a shot and let me know what you think!

    1. We do love stir fry meals here in our house – but, yes, I have to “cheat” and use a fork. I’d be there all night if I tried to use chopsticks! 🙂

  9. 5 stars
    Yum this kung pao chicken looks amazing David. Lynne always opts for a fork when we have Asian foods but I like to use chopsticks to give it a more “authentic” feel. I might be tempted to use a fork here though just to get it in my mouth quickly. Ha ha!

    1. Haha – I respect that you try to use chopsticks here. You and Laura have the same determination. Me? I fall on Lynne’s side! 🙂 Thanks, Neil!

  10. HAHAHA – I got a good chuckle of you “stomping the heck out of some Goombas on Super Mario Bros!” Sude – dexterity problems or not, you have one heck of a delicious recipe here and besides, picking up trice with chopsticks can be overrated because they are just the vessel for chunks of veggies and chicken drenched in that sauce! Who needs take-out when you can make this deliciousness at home – while stomping the heck out of some Goombas on Super Mario Bros?

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