Kung Pao Shrimp
Ready for the goodness that is Kung Pao Shrimp? A zesty, flavorful crunchy Chinese shrimp (some would call it prawn) dish with a bit of heat that will blow your mind and make your tastebuds very happy!
This Kung Pao Shrimp recipe takes 30 minutes to make and is so much healthier and tastier than Asian takeout versions!
Similar to our Kung Pao Chicken recipe, Kung Pao Shrimp has all the amazing flavor and texture, but shrimp is quicker to prepare and does not require marinating because shrimp by itself is typically salty and pretty flavorful.
So if you want a quick and delicious dish to scratch that Chinese takeout itch, this is perfect!
What is Kung Pao Shrimp?
Kung Pao is a traditional stir fry dish/method from the Sichuan province of China. The authentic Sichuan version is typically less sweet, with some heat (due to the Sichuan peppercorns used), the sauce is thinner, and it doesn’t have as much veggies added to it.
Because the traditional version requires ingredients that are hard to find in regular grocery stores, we are going to make a simpler, more accessible, but just as tasty, version.
This Kung Pao Shrimp version is similar to what you typically get at most Chinese restaurants across the U.S.
It is crunchy, savory, zesty, slightly spicy, and filled with is amazing in every way.
What appliances do you need to make Kung Pao Shrimp?
To make Kung Pao Shrimp, you can use a wok or a skillet to make it (affiliate links are attached to the wok and skillet I use).
Non-stick appliances will make stir frying most Asian dishes easier, but it is not necessary.
If you are not using a non-stick appliance, use more vegetable oil so that ingredients don’t stick to it.
This Kung Pao Shrimp recipe is made with simple, easy-to-find ingredients. There are three primary parts to this popular Asian dish:
- Shrimp (or prawns) – use fresh raw shrimp (not cooked shrimp). I always prefer fresh to frozen shrimp. In my experience, the freshest shrimp can be found at the seafood counter in the grocery stores, instead of the pre-package ones in the refrigerator or freezer. Sometimes also called prawns. In the U.S., you’ll almost never hear ‘Kung Pao Prawns’, but prawns and shrimp are very similar.
- Veggies and seasonings/spices – bell peppers, zucchini, bamboo shoots, peanuts, green onions, red chilies, ginger, garlic
- Kung Pao Sauce – my homemade Kung Pao Sauce that is easy, delicious and BETTER THAN TAKEOUT!
Kung Pao Sauce
The beauty of Kung Pao Shrimp lies in the sauce.
That saucy and brilliant Kung Pao Sauce.
Sure, we need to not overcook the shrimp (it doesn’t become rubber-y or tough), and the same applies to the veggies, but without this amazing sauce, this Kung Pao Shrimp dish would not be what it is.
The stir fry sauce is consisted of
- light soy sauce/soy sauce
- dark soy sauce
- rice vinegar
- sesame oil
- granulated sugar
- corn starch
Most of these ingredients can be found in regular stores, the only one that might be harder to find is dark soy sauce. I typically get that from Asian grocery stores.
If you cannot find dark soy sauce, feel free to omit it or substitute it with soy sauce. You can also substitute rice vinegar for white vinegar if you are in a pinch.
The dried red chiles are what contribute to the spiciness of this dish. If you do not want this to be super spicy, feel free to omit this! If you cannot find this but still want the spicy, feel free to substitute with red pepper flakes.
Tips and tricks
As you can probably tell, Kung Pao Shrimp is quick and fairly simple to make. Take note of the tricks below and it will make the process even smoother and easier!
- Always always always completely defrost the shrimp and pat dry them before cooking them to avoid a puddle of water at the bottom of your wok and skillet when cooking. Puddle of water = not cool. 😉
- Prep/chop all the ingredients and lay them out next to the stove before beginning the stir frying because stir frying goes fast!
- Use a wok or skillet that retains heat well as we will be stir frying this on high heat
- Make sure your wok or skillet is large enough to move the ingredients around to cook the items evenly. If you are doubling the recipe, cook in two bathes so you do not overcrowd the pan or wok.
If you are looking for more general stir fry tips, check out my 8 Tips to a Great Stir Fry article!
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely! Check out my Kung Pao Chicken recipe for more information!
Use red pepper flakes. And if you don’t like your food spicy, simply omit it completely.
You can simply omit this if you cannot find it!
Yes! Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and when ready to eat, heat it in the microwave.
Honestly, use whatever veggies you have at hand! Baby corn, cucumber, squash, carrots, broccoli, green beans, or other crunchy veggies works really well too!
Please do yourself a favor and stuff your face with this delicious homemade Kung Pao Shrimp! I highly recommend serving it with some white or brown rice.
And trust me, you will be saying goodbye to Chinese takeout before you know it! 🙂
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! 🤍
Other shrimp recipes
- General Tso Shrimp
- Blackened Shrimp Pasta
- Shrimp and Snow Peas Stir Fry with Savory Sweet Sauce
- Shrimp Stir Fried Noodles
- Honey Lemon Garlic Shrimp
- Crispy Shrimp Bowl
- Orange and Honey Glazed Shrimp (by Kim from Give it Some Thyme)
Kung Pao Shrimp
- 3/4 lbs shrimp
- 1/2 cup zucchini cubed
- 1/3 cup red bell peppers sliced
- 1/3 cup canned water chestnuts
- 1/3 cup peanuts
- 10-14 dried red chiles
- 1/4 cup green onions chopped
- 8-12 slices ginger or use 1/4 tsp ginger powder
- 1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil or more if needed
Kung Pao Sauce
- 2 tbsp soy sauce/ light soy sauce
- 2 tsp dark soy sauce
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 4 tsp rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 tsp corn starch
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- Pat dry defrosted shrimp. Cube zucchinis, mince garlic, cut up red bell peppers. Slice green onions and ginger. Drain water from canned water chesnuts.
- Create stir fry sauce by combining all the stir fry sauce ingredients. Mix well and set aside.
- Remove seeds from dried red chiles.
- Place all the ingredients needed for the stir fry next to wok/skillet as the stir fry process will go fast! When ready, add vegetable oil to wok/skillet and heat up wok/skillet under high heat.
- Once wok/skillet is heated up, add shrimp and cook for a minute or so. Shrimp should not be completely cooked before proceeding to the next step.
- Add dried red chiles, minced garlic, sliced ginger and stir fry sauce. Cook very briefly, for 30-60 seconds.
- Add zucchini and red bell peppers, and cook for another minute or so to soften veggies. Avoid overcooking.
- Add water chestnuts, peanuts and green onions. Cook for ~30 seconds or so.
- Remove promptly. Serve with white or brown rice. Enjoy! 🙂
This was exceptional!
I used red pepper flakes, ground ginger, & added bamboo shoots.
It was excellent & I can’t wait to try more of your recipes!
Yay! I’m so glad Tracy! Thank you for the review! And I love your adding of bamboo shoots! SO YUM!! 🙂
My family would die over this recipe! Thanks for sharing/
I hope you try it, Melissa! 🙂
I made this tonight, and wow, it was amazing! My husband and I gobbled up every bite. I’ll be making this again, and soon! And I love the fact that it’s so healthy. I don’t eat sugar so I used monk fruit sweetener instead, and I added some broccoli florets. Wonderful!
I’m SO glad, Diane! Love the substitution and addition you made! Thank you so much for sharing! 🙂
I added mushrooms, red/orange/yellow bell peppers, and marinated the shrimp in chili garlic sauce instead of adding Chile peppers. My family loooooved this dish. So easy to make and so delicious. You can add or omit veggies to tailor to your families taste!
Yes! So versatile and customizable! 🙂 So happy to hear that you all enjoyed it!
EXCELLENT!! Szechuan is my favorite, but since moving to the Midwest, the only time I get it is when I visit my sister in Los Angeles. However, being stuck at home these past few months, I’ve had time to be a bit adventurous with my cooking – venturing into cuisines I’ve not cooked before, and yours made me believe I could create my favorite dish! A couple veggie substitutions, cashews instead of peanuts, and doubled the sauce (the most important part) and wow – great flavor – my husband loved it, too! Thank you so much for sharing!
That’s wonderful! Love hearing that! Thank you for your kind review!
Hi..can i substitute cashew nuts instead for the regular peanuts? I don’t have them for now…thanks.
Sure! That would be just fine!
Am yet to try this lovely recipe but just wondering what to do with the sauce once you have mixed it and set it aside. Do you add it to the stir fry or cook it separately? Thanks
Yes! You add it back in when you stir fry (see Step 6)! 🙂
Absolutely delicious! My husband prefers it to takeaway. Me too!
Yay! Love hearing that!!
Couldn’t get enough of it – will be making it again soon!
That’s is great!! ENJOY!
I don’t have to order in any more! This was better than takeout! Thanks for the recipe!
Yay! That’s what I love to hear!
Made this the other night for dinner and I couldn’t believe how easy and crazy flavorful it was!
Thank you! I’m so glad you liked it!
This kung pao shrimp puts any I have ever had a restaurant to shame!! It is pure perfection!!
Yay! And now you can make it at home anytime you want! 🙂
One of my very favorite dishes! I’m so excited to find a version to make at home!
I just love your recipes. I just love this kung pao shrimp. You’ve made it so easy to make at home.
Aw thank you so much Julie. Made my day to hear that!
This was SO GOOD! Followed your recipe to the dot and am so excited because everyone loved it.
That’s great, Erin! Thanks for letting me know how it went!
I made this for dinner last night and it was delicious! I can’t believe how quick and easy it was to make!! This will definitely be a regular in our house. I’m trying to have more veggie based meals and this one is perfect!
Thanks for sharing, Lori! I’m so glad you all enjoyed it! 🙂
Wow, this tasted better than what I’ve had at restaurants! I usually get chicken king pao, but the shrimp is going to be my go to dish now. The sauce is easy to make too. This one is a keeper!
Aw yay – love hearing that. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
Made this for company last night. Followed recipe exactly but added a can of baby corn cobs. Was AMAZING. Will definitely make again. Thank you for a great recipe.
So happy to hear you all enjoyed it! Thanks for sharing, Brenda!