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Kung Pao Chicken

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Try this kung pao chicken today! It’s a delicious one pan dish packed with flavour.

Kung pao chicken is a Chinese restaurant favourite around our house. It’s hugely popular all over China and the world and there are many amazing recipes for it. This is my quick and easy version of kung pao chicken that you can whip up in less than 30 minutes.

kung pao chicken

Ready in under 30 minutes. This one pan kung pao chicken just plain gets it!

Getting this kung pao chicken right for you.

All of the ingredient used in my kung pao chicken are the same as you would find at some of the best Chinese restaurants and takeaways. If you love this spicy Chinese takeaway dish as much as I do, you might have your own idea about how it should taste and look.

You might want to finely chop the peanuts, for example instead of lightly crushing them. If you really like a spicy kung pao chicken, cut the dried red chillies in half to expose the seeds and perhaps use more dried chilli flakes.

The chicken pieces are also often cut much smaller. All of these things are in your hands. The ingredients are correct, feel free to adjust so that you get the right look and combination of sour, sweet, spicy and savoury flavours for your own personal preferences.

Working ahead…

You can easily work ahead if that is more convenient for you. The chicken is best marinated overnight so that can definitely be done a good day ahead of cooking.

You could also cook the complete recipe and leave it in the fridge for a couple of days. The flavours will develop and taste out of this world amazing. 

Marinating the chicken

This is an important step, not only for flavour but to achieve super tender chicken. If you must, you could simply mix the chicken with the marinade ingredients and start cooking. A longer marinating time will benefit the flavour though.

Preparing the sauce

This too can be done ahead of time. Taste it before adding to ensure you are happy with the flavour. Although kung pao chicken is not necessarily as sweet dish, you could add a pinch of sugar or more hoisin sauce to make it sweeter to taste.

Velveting the chicken

Veleveting is a term used for the way the chicken is cooked for this kung pao chicken recipe.

The marinated chicken is first fried until about 80% cooked and then transferred to a plate to rest. 

Then the chicken is added back to the dish at the end. This achieves really tender meat and is a must for this kung pao chicken recipe.

Can Kung pao chicken be frozen?

You bet! This recipe will freeze really well for up to 3 months.

Useful cooking equipment…

The following cooking equipment will come in handy but not all are essential. Just make do with what you have if you want to make this kung pao chicken recipe now.

  • A good wok: I like to use a carbon steel wok when cooking Chinese and other Asian recipes. You will find it much easier to prepare kung pao chicken with one. Don’t let that stop you if you don’t have one. A good frying pan will do the job fine.
  • A good chefs knife: A sharp knife will come in handy for whatever you happen to be cooking. Slicing the chicken and vegetables for this recipe will be much easier if you have one. I recommend investing it one good quality chefs knife rather than purchasing a set of knives.
  • A cutting board: This is of course obvious but it is really nice to have a good, sturdy chopping board for cooking.
  • A measuring jug: This will come in useful for measuring the sauce ingredients and also to store the prepared sauce before pouring it into the wok.

Step by step photos of making kung pao chicken

Ingredients for kung pao chicken

Don’t let the number of ingredients scare you off. Get them all together before starting cooking.

Marinade prepared for the chicken

Whisk the marinade ingredients together until smooth.

Chicken marinating

Mix the chicken pieces with the marinade. Use immediately or allow to marinate longer for better results.

Sauce for kung pao chicken

Stir the sauce ingredients together and taste it. You should adjust flavours at this point.

Frying chicken in a wok

Fry the chicken until about 80% cooked through. This should be done in batches. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Frying aromatic ingredients in the wok.

Add a drop more oil if needed and fry the garlic, ginger and spring onions (scallions) for about a minute.

Adding Szechuan peppercorns and chilli flakes.

Stir in the Szechuan peppercorns and chilli flakes, if using.

Adding dried whole chilies to the wok

Stir in the dried whole chiles.

Adding diced bell peppers to the wok

Then add the diced bell peppers and fry for about a minute.

Adding chicken stock to the wok and bringing to a simmer.

Stir in a little water or chicken stock. This will deglaze the wok and also assist cooking.

Bring the prepared sauce to a simmer in the wok.

Then add the prepared sauce and bring to a simmer.

Returning the par-cooked chicken to the wok.

Return the par-cooked chicken to the wok. Toss everything around until the chicken is cooked through.

Kung pao chicken

Garnish with sliced spring onions (scallions) and optional chili flakes and dig in!

If you like this kung pao chicken recipe, be sure to try some of these…

You can check out all of the Chinese recipes on my site here.

You might also like to try some many more of the South East Asian recipes on my blog such as Thai and Vietnamese. You’ll find those here.

My blog started as a British Indian restaurant recipe blog. You’ll find chicken tikka masala and all the curry house favourites.

The curry house favourites are all prepared with a curry base sauce but you can also prepare them without a base sauce by using these recipes.


Yield: 4 - 6

Kung Pao Chicken

kung pao chicken
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing) or dry sherry
  • 1 ½ tsp corn flour (corn starch)
  • 750g (1 ¾ lbs) chicken breasts or thighs, skinned and cut into 2.5cm (1 inch) pieces
  • 70m (1/4 cup) unsalted chicken stock or water
  • 70ml (1/4 cup) light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp Chinese black vinegar
  • 1 tsp corn flour (corn starch)
  • 3 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil
  • 2 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
  • 3 spring onions (scallions) finely chopped
  • 12 – 15 Chinese or bird’s eye dried red chillies, cut in half and seeds removed
  • 2 tsp Szechuan peppercorns, lightly crushed
  • ½ red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large handful roasted peanuts, lightly crushed
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced
  • Dried chilli flakes (optional)


  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk the marinade ingredients together until creamy smooth and the stir in the chicken pieces, ensuring that the chicken is nicely coated with the marinade. Set aside while you prepare the sauce or up to 12 hours if more convenient.
  2. Whisk the sauce ingredients together in a jug or bowl and set aside.
  3. When ready to cook, heat a large wok or frying pan over medium high to high heat. Your wok is hot enough when a drop of water evaporates immediately on contact. Swirl in the oil and when visibly hot, add the chicken and fry, stirring regularly until the exterior is white and the chicken is about 80% cooked through.
  4. Transfer the par-cooked chicken to a plate and set aside.
  5. If your chicken released a lot of water, pour it out and wipe your wok clean. Add a little more oil if you need to do this. When the oil is visibly hot, stir in the chopped garlic, ginger and the spring onions (scallions) and fry, stirring continuously for about a minute.
  6. Add the Szechuan peppercorns and dried chillies and give it all a good stir and then add the diced bell peppers and the par-cooked chicken fry for another couple of minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the bell peppers are cooked but still fresh looking.
  7. Stir in the lightly crushed, roasted peanuts and drizzle with the sesame oil. To serve, divide between 4 bowls and garnish with the sliced spring onions and dried chilli flakes, if using. This is good on its own or served over white rice.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 388Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 62mgSodium: 2188mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 3gSugar: 8gProtein: 21g

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