30 Minute Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao chicken, a classic Chinese takeout dish of stir-fried chicken, peanuts, and vegetables, is easy to make at home. Today’s recipe is spicy chicken with peanuts, similar to what is served in Chinese restaurants. It is easy to make and forgiving. Add a vegetable like broccoli, substitute cashews for peanuts, or bamboo shoots for the water chestnuts. Use half the crushed red pepper for a milder sauce. It’s still a great quick meal.

Traditionally made with hard- to-find ingredients, like Sichuan peppercorns, Chinese black vinegar, Chinese rice wine, and whole dried red chilies, my Americanized recipe uses common ingredients in most grocery stores. It has the same spicy, sweet, and sour flavor that Kung Pao lovers crave and works well for a 30 minute weeknight meal. Remember to do all the prep work before cooking as it’s a fast stir-fry. The chicken marinates for 15 minutes. Put that in a bowl first and chop your vegetables and make the sauce. Sauté the vegetables and the chicken should be ready to brown. Do not crowd the pan and sauté 1/2 of the chicken cubes at a time.

Kung Pao Chicken

Use organic when available. Serves 4


Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao chicken, a classic Chinese takeout dish of spicy stir-fried chicken, peanuts, and vegetables, is easy to make at home.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Chinese
Keyword chicken recipes, Kung Pao Chicken, stir fry
Servings 4



  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp dry sherry or dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 lb chicken breast cut into cubes


  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce like Kikkoman
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes for hot sauce – 1/4 for mild sauce
  • 1/4 tsp  ground ginger
  • 1/3 cup water

Stir Fry

  • 2 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large red bell pepper diced
  • 4 green onions or scallions chopped
  • 2 stalks celery chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic diced
  • 4 oz roasted unsalted peanuts or cashews
  • 8 oz can water chestnuts
  • salt to taste


  • In large bowl whisk wet ingredients for marinade
  • Add chicken and stir – marinate on counter for 15 minutes with occasional stir
  • In medium bowl whisk together sauce ingredients
  • In large skillet over high heat add 1 tbsp oil and swirl to coat pan
  • Add bell pepper, celery, and salt
  • Stir frequently for about 5 minutes until slightly softened
  • Transfer to large bowl and set aside
  • Add 1/2 tbsp oil to same pan and add half the chicken
  • Brown on one side for about one and a half minutes
  • Turn chicken and cook for another minute
  • Remove chicken to large bowl of celery mix
  • Add 1/2 tbsp oil to pan and add rest of uncooked chicken
  • Cook for 1 1/2 minutes until golden on one side
  • Turn chicken and cook for another minute
  • Add last 1/2 tbsp oil with green onions and garlic
  • Stir and mix onions and chicken for a half a minute
  • Drain can of water chestnuts and add to pan
  • Add bowl of chicken and vegetables to pan and top with sauce
  • Warm for a few minutes and add nuts
  • If sauce is too thick add a tbsp or 2 of water if necessary
  • Serve warm with rice

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I was raised in Tennessee but have lived in Florida for many years. Love my small home in the Tampa Bay area and its developing garden. My decorating style is eclectic - some vintage, some cottage, all with a modern flair. Pursuing a healthier lifestyle. Spent many years in social services but am happily retired.

10 thoughts to “30 Minute Kung Pao Chicken”

  1. When we were in college, boyfriend (now my spouse of many years) and I sed to eat Chinese out a lot and this was one of our favorite dishes. We, also, would add cashews but this sounds yummy and brings back memories. Alana ramblinwitham

  2. Love chicken, and love stirfry – pinned this one to try out soon.
    Visited you via Grace at Home party.
    If interested, please hop over and come and share your posts with us at Senior Salon Pit Stop. See my entries: #34-35…. and navigate to the bottom of my page for SSPS linkup, we hope to virtually meet you there.

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