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Kung Pao Chicken

You guys. This Kung Pao Chicken. THIS Kung Pao Chicken. I AM IN LURVE.

The flavors, the textures, the way the ingredients and spices come together… it is a mind-blowing adventure for your tastebuds.

And the best part? This classic Chinese dish so doable in your very own kitchen. I kid you not, it tastes better than takeout, and not to mention, WAY healthier!

Kung Pao Chicken

I love many things about this dish, but if I have to pick two, here it is:

The SAUCE. Your truly is Ms. Sauce Queen (my husband actually gave me that nickname) . I love my sauces, and let me tell you, this sauce is way up there in my sauce-ranking-meter.

It has so much going on – savory, sweet, slightly sour, and a teeny-tiny spicy kick (which you can eliminate easily if needed). A sauce with complex flavors has my heart!

The Textures. I should probably call myself “Ms. Texture Queen” too because I am all about textures in my food. You get the crunch from the peanuts, zucchinis, and bell peppers that goes perfectly with the juicy chicken, all smothered with that sticky, sticky sauce.

Also, let’s be real here – it’s great to be able to incorporate veggies that are good for you AND makes the dish tastes amazing.

Always trying to kill two birds with one stone. ALWAYS.

Kung Pao Chicken

The version of Kung Pao Chicken I am sharing today is the American-Chinese Kung Pao Chicken. If you live in the United States, this is the version you would have encountered the most. It is widely served and thoroughly enjoyed access most Chinese restaurants in the country. It’s simply lovely.

Long before it is served all over the world, Kung Pao Chicken was birthed in the Sichuan province of China. The authentic Sichuan version is typically less sweet, a lot spicier (due to the Sichuan peppercorns used), the sauce is thinner, and it doesn’t have as much veggies added to it.

The truth is, I thoroughly enjoy both versions. They taste slightly different and have their own uniqueness, and somedays I crave for one more than the other.

Maybe one day I will share the authentic Sichuan version, but today, we are cooking up the American-Chinese version that I think you will LOVE!

Kung Pao Chicken

How to make Kung Pao Chicken

To begin, cut chicken breast into cubes. I like to keep the cubes 1 – 1 1/2 inches long per sides, but more importantly, keep the chicken pieces around the same size so they cook evenly.

Marinate the chicken with light soy sauce/soy sauce (this is basically your regular soy sauce, just that some brands call it “light soy sauce”),  rice wine, sesame oil and corn starch for ~15 minutes.

While waiting on the marinate, create the stir fry sauce by mixing light soy sauce/soy sauce, dark soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, water, and corn starch. I attached affiliate links so you can see the brands I use.

As I mentioned earlier, I love adding veggies and other ingredients to this dish, incorporating zucchinis, bell peppers, peanuts, water chestnuts (I use canned), and green onions. Along for the ride, and equally important, are minced garlic, sliced ginger, dried red chillies (remove seeds) and peanuts.

Chop/prep these ingredients and set them next to the stove within arm’s reach when stir frying as that process goes fast.

Ingredients for Kung Pao Chicken

Heat up vegetable oil in wok/skillet under high heat. Once wok/skillet is heated up, add chicken pieces and cook until almost done. Next add minced garlic, sliced ginger, dried rep chilis and stir fry sauce. Let it simmer for a minute as we are trying to get the heat from the red chilies to infused into the sauce.

The dried red chilies sound super spicy but it really just gives the dish a slight kick in the sauce. However, don’t bite into it as it will be truly spicy then. If you don’t want any spice at all, then you can remove the dried red chilies completely. If you want the sauce super spicy, add red pepper flakes.

Next, throw in the zucchinis, and bell peppers, cook for a minute to soften the veggies (avoid overcooking), then add water chestnut, peanuts and green onions. Stir fry for another 30 seconds, then remove promptly.

Kung Pao Chicken

Garnish with additional green onions if desire. Serve it over white or brown rice.

I’ll tell you this. One bite into this thing, and I was hooked. I was amazed by how good it tasted, and how much BETTER it tasted than Chinese takeout. Then I told my husband I will be making this in the future instead of getting take out.

Unless I really want to be served and not cook. You know that feeling? You are tired and just want SOMEBODY to serve you food…

But for the actual taste of the food itself, oh friends, THIS IS SO MUCH BETTER!!

Kung Pao Chicken

Sticky, sticky goodness, so much flavor, so much crunch, so addictive!

I made multiple batches (the process of perfecting a recipe) and had so much leftovers, we had it for days, for multiple meals in a day, and I swallowed each plate like a hungry woman every…single…time. Something about it just kept me going back for more!

All this stir fry business

We do a lot of stir fry around here. In fact, we do so much stir fry I wrote a whole article about it! Everything you need to know about making an awesome stir fry right in your home is here -> 8 Tips to a Great Stir Fry

Also check out our other delicious Asian stir fry recipes on the blog!

DID YOU ENJOY THIS RECIPE? Please comment below and give us a 5-star rating! This will help others find this recipe on Google and Pinterest. We very much appreciate your help! 🤍

A plate of chicken in kung pao sauce

Kung Pao Chicken

Delicious chicken stir fried tossed in a homemade Kung Pao sauce, combined with yummy veggies. Sooo much yummier AND healthier than Chinese takeout!
5 from 5 votes
Print Pin
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: asian, Chinese
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Marinade time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 3 people
Calories: 382kcal
Author: MinShien


  • 1 lbs chicken breast cubed
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp garlic minced
  • 1/2 tbsp ginger chopped
  • 1/4 cup zucchini cubed
  • 1/4 cup red bell peppers sliced
  • 10-12 dried chilies
  • 1/8 cup canned water chestnuts drained
  • 1/8 cup green onions chopped
  • 1/3 cup peanuts


  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp rice wine
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp corn starch

Kung Pao Sauce

  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp corn starch


  • Marinade cubed chicken breast in all the marinade ingredients for 15 minutes.
  • In the meantime, prep all the other ingredients for the stir fry, and combine all the Kung Pao Sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Heat wok or skillet with vegetable oil under medium high heat. Add chicken to wok or skillet. Stir continuously.
  • Once chicken is almost done, add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant (do not burn them, ~1 minute). Then add chilies and Kung Pao sauce.
  • Let the sauce come to a boil, then add zucchini and red bell peppers. Continue to stir for a few minutes until zucchinis are soft.
  • Add water chestnut, green onions and peanuts. Stir for another minute.
  • Once everything is cooked, remove from heat.
  • Serve and enjoy!


Calories: 382kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 97mg | Sodium: 855mg | Potassium: 777mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 938IU | Vitamin C: 22mg | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 2mg
Did you make this recipe?Take a pic and tag me at @joyous.apron, or hashtag #joyousapron on Instagram!

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I don’t have a wok, so used my electric frying pan (I think I might put a wok on my Christmas list, thanks to MinShien) but even so, it turned out so delicious. MinShien’s tips on this and other recipes are so helpful. I couldn’t find red chilies or rice wine at the store, so used some red chili paste I had on hand. It probably could have used a bit more chili paste, but was still delicious. This was simply SO GOOD. Can’t wait to try this again when I have all the proper ingredients.

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Woohoo! I am so thrilled you enjoyed this! Woks are awesome (I LOVE mine!), but you are absolutely right, it is totally doable with a skillet too! Thank you for your comments and feedback! I appreciate it!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. 5 stars
    Amazing!!! Love getting to try out your recipes. They are so easy to follow and always taste fantastic.

    The sauce is sweet enough to where you can add hot chili oil to make it the perfect level of spiciness. Brava!!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Thank you so much , Samantha! I am so glad you are enjoying the recipes! I really believe the secret is in the sauce in this one! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. 5 stars
    Wow this was delicious! We also snuck in some carrots and onions for extra veggies. Thanks!!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Yum! Love the veggies you added to it!