Kung Pao Chicken Stir Fry – the perfect easy ONE PAN dinner recipe for busy weeknights. Best of all, this popular takeout favorite is made healthier with option for paleo & keto friendly ingredients with the same classic sweet & spicy flavors as your local Chinese restaurant. Plus recipe video.
Kung Pao Chicken (宫保鸡丁 Gong Bao Ji Ding) is a popular stir fry in North America and also a much-loved Szechuan (Sichuan) dish. My husband is a huge fan of anything spicy so this is one of his favorite takeout dishes.
Since we already have Slow Cooker Kung Pao Chicken, Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken (Pressure Cooker) and Sheet Pan Kung Pao Chicken recipe versions, I thought it was time to share the classic stir-fry version.
Kung Pao Chicken Stir Fry has got so many flavors going on: tangy, sweet, and salty with just enough of a fiery kick. The best part about making this Asian chicken recipe at home is that you can totally customize the level of heat.
Don’t love chicken? Feel free to sub in shrimp or beef or pork or even tofu.
Not a fan of bell peppers? Use whatever veggies are in season — asparagus, green beans, broccoli…whatever you like. Allergic to nuts? Feel free to leave them out.
HOW DO I MAKE KUNG PAO CHICKEN STIR FRY?
- Start making this Kung Pao Chicken by whisking together the sauce. It’s made with low sodium soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil and has all of those signature restaurant flavors: tangy, sweet, and salty with just enough of a fiery kick. The best part about making this recipe at home is that you are free to customize the ingredients with what you have. For a low carb keto friendly version, leave out the Hoisin sauce and use a low carb sweetener instead
- Next, you’re going to season the chicken with 1 tablespoon of the sauce (reserve the rest for later) and some cornstarch to give the chicken that tender and crispy coating.
- Once the chicken is cooked, you’re going to add the zucchini, bell peppers and dried red chili peppers into the pan and cook until tender crisp. Pour in the remaining sauce and allow to bubble and thicken up.
- Serve over your favorite rice, quinoa, zoodles or cauliflower rice for a lower carb and keto/paleo friendly option.
Meal Prep Tips for Making Kung Pao Chicken Stir Fry
- Kung Pao Chicken would be great for leftovers or make a batch on Sunday meal prep and pack for your weekly school or work lunch bowls
- For easier weekly meal prep – chop all the vegetables ahead of time and store in an airtight container the night before.
- Serve with your favorite side – Jasmine rice, brown rice, quinoa, cauliflower rice or spiralized vegetables or zoodles
- Make lunch the day before and store in an air-tight container – These are the ones I use —-> lunch container
Nobody can resist the sweet and spicy goodness of a classic Kung Pao Chicken stir fry. This takeout sensation is even tastier when you make it from scratch – and it only takes 20 minutes! Gluten-free and refined sugar-free with paleo and keto options included.
- 3/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 inch pieces
- sea salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot starch (almond flour for low carb)
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil
- 1 medium red bell pepper chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1 medium zucchini chopped into halves
- 2 dried red chilis optional (add more to increase spice level)
- 2/3 cup roasted cashews or roasted peanuts
- Sesame seeds and chopped green onions for garnish (optional)
- 6 Tablespoons gluten free tamari or low sodium-soy sauce or coconut aminos for paleo version
- 1 Tablespoon hoisin sauce (use gluten free if necessary or leave out for keto or paleo)
- 2 Tablespoons honey, coconut sugar or low carb sweetener
- 2-1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch (or arrowroot starch for paleo - leave out for low carb if desired)
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more or less, to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh minced ginger
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 cup water plus more as needed to thin out sauce
- Cooked rice quinoa or noodles
- Lunch containers
- In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients for the sauce. Set aside.
- Season chicken with salt, pepper, cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of sauce/marinade.
- Add oil to a wok or a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the chicken and stir-fry for 5-6 minutes, or until brown. Transfer to plate and set aside.
Return the pan back to medium heat and add more oil as needed. Toss in the zucchini, bell peppers and dried chili peppers (if using) and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the vegetables are crisp-tender.
Pour in the remaining sauce and add the cashews along with the cooked chicken. Toss everything together and allow sauce to bubble and thicken. Season with salt, pepper or additional red pepper chili flakes as needed.
Remove from heat and serve warm on a large platter or over zoodles, cauliflower rice( paleo), quinoa or regular rice or noodles. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions if desired.
- For Meal Prep/Storage: Cook rice/noodles/quinoa and divide evenly into lunch containers. Add cooled stir fry, cover and store in fridge for up to 4 days.
- Reheating: Reheat stir fry over low heat or microwave single servings for 20 seconds at a time. Add a splash of chicken broth or water before reheating to re-hydrate dish.
- Freezing: Transfer cooled stir fry to a heavy-duty freezer bag and squeeze out all the air. Seal bag and freeze stir fry for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge before reheating.
If you love the Kung Pao chicken stir fry recipe, try these versions, too!