Don’t be surprised by how easy and delicious this Kung Pao Chicken Recipe is!

Everybody loves Chinese food, especially with a recipe this good! And now it’s easier than ever to recreate one of the most popular copycat Szechuan-style recipes in your own kitchen. This easy and healthy kung pao chicken dish comes together so quickly, and the best part is that there are no reservations required. So make this tasty entrée and serve it with Egg Roll in a Bowl for the perfect side dish.      close up of Kung Pao Chicken

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What is Kung Pao Chicken?

Kung pao chicken is one of the most popular menu options at Trader Joe’s, PF Chang’s, and Panda Express! Just like General Tso’s sweet and sour pork and chop suey, kung pao chicken is a dish worth perfecting! Now, anyone can cook it at home! Make in on the stovetop, in a wok. It can be made as mild or spicy depending on the guests!

Kung Pao Chicken on a red plate

Why We Love This Kung Pao Chicken Recipe

  • Kung pao chicken is one of the easiest, best tasting Chinese food entrees that even a novice home cook can perfect!
  • Perfect for serving on a buffet—serve with some crispy Wonton Crisps and a tangy Red Leaf Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette.
  • Prep kung pao chicken in advance and reheat it just in time for a potluck or a party!
  • Keep it low carb and keto by serving without the rice and use a sugar substitute in the sauce (we like Swerve).

ingredients to make Kung Pao Chicken

What’s in Kung Pao Chicken?

MEAT & VEGGIES – Fresh chicken breast and savory veggies including zucchini, bell pepper, and green onion make this dish healthful and loaded with flavor, too. Ginger, garlic, and chili flakes kick the flavor up a notch!

PEANUTS – Crunchy peanuts are cooked in a thickened soy sauce with the other ingredients, and then served over rice. Protein, veggies, and a starch offer up a powerhouse of nutrition with fewer calories than processed fast food. Feel free to substitute almonds or cashew nuts for peanuts, if desired.

KUNG PAO SAUCE – This signature sauce recipe is sweet and zesty, with soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and of course a sweetener for that sweet and savory flavor that is totally crave-able.

Variations

  • This is a great recipe for using up leftovers! Shredded chicken, chopped beef, even ground pork tastes great in kung pao chicken!
  • A frozen medley of vegetables can be added if time and energy are short! Or add some leftover baby bok choy for a delish way to use it up!
  • Add some crunchy water chestnuts, baby corn, or small red chilis for an extra spicy kick and a splash of color!

process of making Kung Pao Chicken

How to Make Kung Pao Chicken

It’s almost easier and quicker to make this at home than it is to order and drive to the takeout restaurant!

  1. Sauté the ginger seasoned chicken (per recipe below) and then add garlic and chili flakes.
  2. Add the vegetables and peanuts, plus ¾ of the sliced green onions.
  3. Whisk sauce ingredients in a bowl. Add half the sauce to the chicken mixture and simmer until thickened. (Add more sauce if necessary).
  4. Serve over fried rice or noodles and garnish with remaining green onions.

Kung Pao Chicken on a spoon

How to Make Kung Pao Chicken the Instant Pot

  1. Sauté ginger seasoned chicken in the Instant Pot.
  2. Add zucchini & bell pepper. Add peanuts and ¾ of the sliced green onions to the chicken mixture.
  3. Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a bowl and add.
  4. Seal the Instant Pot and cook on high for 8 minutes then allow the steam to naturally release.
  5. Serve over fried rice or noodles and garnish with remaining green onions.

Storing Leftovers

Keep leftovers in a covered container and keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat on the stovetop and season with soy sauce before serving. Freeze kung pao chicken in zippered bags with the date labeled on the outside for up to 4 months.

top view of plated Kung Pao Chicken

Delicious Chicken Dinner Ideas!

close up of Kung Pao Chicken
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Kung Pao Chicken Recipe

Kung Pao Chicken is loaded with vegetables, chicken and served over your choice of rice or noodles.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author Candace

Equipment

Ingredients  

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil more as needed
  • 3 chicken breasts chopped (about 1 pound or 3 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic minced (3 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes or to taste
  • 1 zucchini chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper chopped
  • ¼ cup peanuts or to taste
  • 2 green onion green parts sliced (white stems saved for another use), divided

Kung Pao Sauce*

  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar or more to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

Instructions 

  • In a large skillet or wok, heat oil over medium heat.
  • Meanwhile, toss chicken with ginger, salt, and pepper.
  • Once oil is hot, add chicken and cook for 5-7 minutes until browned, stirring occasionally.
  • Add garlic and chile flakes and stir. Cook for 1 minute.
  • Add zucchini and red bell pepper and cook for 5 minutes or until vegetables are slightly charred, stirring occasionally.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together Kung Pao Sauce ingredients. Taste and adjust to taste and set aside.
  • Add peanuts and about ¾ of the green onions to the skillet and stir to combine.
  • Add about half of the Kung Pao Sauce* to the skillet and stir to coat chicken and vegetables. Cook for 2 minutes to thicken sauce. If desired, add more sauce and heat through.
  • Serve over rice. Garnish with remaining green onions.

Notes

*These images used about half of the sauce. Add more sauce as desired (yummy for the rice) or serve extra sauce on the side (boil for 2 minutes to thicken).
Alternatively, sauce will keep for 2 weeks in the refrigerator to make another recipe of Chicken Kung Pao, or if you prefer less sauce as in these images, you could make a half batch:
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons sugar, or more to taste
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
½ Tablespoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon sesame oil
Nutrition Information calculated with half of the sauce.
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Nutrition Information

Calories: 339 | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 40g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 108mg | Sodium: 480mg | Potassium: 942mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1289IU | Vitamin C: 51mg | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information does not include optional ingredients or garnish and is an estimate. It may change based on actual ingredients and cooking methods used.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Chinese

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Kung Pao Chicken in a cast iron skillet with a title

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Kung Pao Chicken served on a red plate with a title

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Kung Pao Chicken cooking in the pan and plated with a title

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About the author

I am a wife, mother of two, and professional accountant. I love fantastic food, and it is so often the center of our lives, from everyday dinner, to family gatherings, and special evenings at fabulous restaurants. I have always loved cooking and baking, with my mom and grandma, and now, with my daughter and son. I love trying new recipes while enjoying my favorites too. I’m so happy to share them with you.
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