This Kung Pao Chicken Recipe is for Chinese Food Beginners

February 16, 2018

If you’re looking to make some Chinese food but are overwhelmed by the plethora of recipes online, then it’s better to start with the basics. Chinese cuisine is a minefield of technique and flavor, and a lot of it can be intimidating. Kung Pao chicken, however, is not that kind of recipe. Adapted from Sichuan cookery into Western canon, the dish has a take-out/delivery reputation that hasn’t been kind to its original roots. If you learn how to make it from scratch instead of buying it over the phone, it can be really simple to make, and will taste fresh.

This take adapts both the Sichuan and Western versions, and keeps things straightforward. It uses chicken breasts, but for more depth of flavor, thighs can also be used. All it needs is some really high heat, and the generally all of the ingredients are dumped together, and poured over the chicken. It creates that distinct sweet, salty, spicy trifecta of taste that Kung Pao is known for, especially when the dried chilies are thrown in. You can add bell pepper, or some soft onions, depending on what works for you–that’s how flexible this recipe can be.

Quick Kung Pao Chicken

Quick Kung Pao Chicken

Chinese new year hangover? We have our basic version of a takeout classic for you.Full recipe:

Posted by on Monday, February 19, 2018
  • Serves: 4 servings
  • Active time: 45 minutes
  • Total time: 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy


Kung Pao Chicken

  • 1-pound chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. Chinese cooking wine
  • 2 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 1 tbsp. ginger, minced
  • 1 tbsp. garlic, minced
  • 1 large bell pepper, diced
  • 6 dried chilies
  • ½ cup roasted peanuts
  • ¼ cup green onion, sliced


  1. In a bowl, combine diced chicken breasts,
    cornstarch, and salt.
  2. Toss until chicken is evenly coated and set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine soy sauce, Chinese cooking wine, rice vinegar, sugar, and sesame oil.
  4. Mix until well combined and set aside.
  5. Set a wok over medium-high heat. Heat oil in the wok until hot, just before it starts
    to smoke.
  6. Add the coated chicken in one layer, and cook
    until slightly brown but not yet fully cooked,
    about 3 minutes.
  7. Add the ginger, garlic, bell pepper, and dried
    chili, cooking for 2 minutes while tossing
  8. Move ingredients to the side of the wok and pour sauce in the center, cooking for about 1 minute, or until boiling and beginning to thicken.
  9. Stir everything together and continue to cook
    until chicken is fully cooked and sauce is sticky, about 2 minutes.
  10. Add in the roasted peanuts and green onion, and stir to combine.
  11. Top with extra green onions and serve.
Note: Make sure all ingredients are ready,
prepped, and diced before beginning the stir-fry.
Pamela Cortez Pamela Cortez

Pamela Cortez writes about food full-time, and has honed her craft while writing for publications such as Rogue, Town and Country, and The Philippine Star. She once rode on a mule for a mile just to eat mint tea and lamb in Morocco, and has eaten a block of Quickmelt in one sitting. Her attempt at food photography can be viewed online @meyarrr.

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