My Recipe Box

Kung Pao Chicken


Serves 4

It's easier than ever to reproduce your favorite Chinese dishes without smoking up the house or running across town to pick up specialty ingredients. Kung Pao chicken is an iconic Sichuan stir-fry; this version of the classic requires only a large skillet and everyday supermarket ingredients. The dish comes together in about a half hour, plenty of time to steam some white rice.

  • 3/4 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 2 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbs. cornstarch
  • 2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1-1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3 small hot red dried chiles, such as Thai chiles or chiles de arbol, split lengthwise (reserve the seeds)
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
  • 6 scallions, thinly sliced, whites and greens kept separate
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 inner ribs celery, cut crosswise 1/2 inch thick
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped salted peanuts

Whisk the chicken broth, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, 1 Tbs. of the cornstarch, sesame oil, and sugar in a measuring cup. In a large bowl, toss the chicken with 3/4 tsp. salt and a few generous grinds of pepper. Add the remaining 1/4 cup cornstarch and toss with the chicken (you may want to use tongs as the cornstarch has a chalky texture), shaking off any excess cornstarch.

Heat 3 Tbs. of the canola oil in a large (12-inch), heavy-based skillet over medium-high heat until it's shimmering hot. Sauté the chicken, flipping after 2 minutes, until it's lightly browned on two sides, about 4 minutes total (it's all right if the chicken sticks slightly and if the sides of the chicken are still raw). Add the remaining 1 Tbs. canola oil to the skillet. Add the chiles and their seeds, the ginger, and the whites of the scallions and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the red pepper and celery and cook, stirring, until they soften slightly, about 2 minutes. Add the sherry and cook until it almost completely reduces, 30 to 60 seconds, scraping the bottom of the pan to incorporate any browned bits. Give the chicken broth mixture a quick whisk, stir it into the chicken and vegetables, and bring to a boil (the sauce should immediately thicken). Slice into one of the thicker pieces of chicken to see if it's cooked through. If still pink, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook a few minutes more. Serve immediately, ­sprinkled with the peanuts and scallion greens.

Serving Suggestions

Serve the chicken with Basic White Rice.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on four servings, Calories (kcal): 470, Fat (kcal): 26, Fat Calories (g): 230, Saturated Fat (g): 3.5, Protein (g): 40, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 13, Carbohydrates (mg): 20, Polyunsaturated Fat (mg): 8, Sodium (g): 1090, Cholesterol (g): 95, Fiber (g): 3,

Photo: Scott Phillips

Terrific recipe! But very hot with 3 Thai dried chiles - will use 1 or 1 1/2 next time. Other reviewers mentioned this lacked depth - usually means it needs garlic, which I added. (Every other recipe I saw for Kung Pao had garlic, why not this one?) As other reviewers did, we added extra vegs. Took the advice of an earlier reviewer and set the chicken aside when it was cooked, added at the end. Kept it nice and crispy. Really enjoyed this dish, will add it to my favorites. I recommend serving a cooling side - we had a fruit salad with yogurt - helped offset the heat.

This is perfect! My husband, who loves spicy Chinese food, thought it was wonderful! The flavours combine so well and the heat is just right.

The best Kung Pao Chicken I've ever eaten!!!

Love this recipe. Have made it many times as it is written. Everyone loves it.

This is the best Kung Pao recipe I have ever found. I make it at least twice a month (and would make it more often if my family would allow it). Ever since I started making Kung Pao at home the restaurant versions just aren't up to snuff. This recipe yields moist velvety chicken, lots of depth of flavour and is a total comfort meal.

I agree with the earlier comment - this recipe does lack flavor. Very disappointng.

Loved this recipe and will definitely make again. Agree with other reviews that it lacks depth and not sure what would help? Also, be sure to cook your chicken in batches so not to steam the pieces. The cornstarch really does give them a great crispy texture! I left the chicken out while preparing through adding the sherry, as I wanted to be sure the pieces retained some of that crispiness when all was done. Additionally, these little peppers are super hot (and we love spicy food). However, to be safe, I only cut up 1 whole pepper and threw 2 others into the pot whole. Still gave it the heat, but easy to remove so that the bites weren't overwhelming. Definitely recommend making this dish. And agree - be sure to have everything chopped and ready to go!

A go-to recipe. Easy & delicious. I often throw in a few more vegetables - particularly some mushrooms.

This recipe is in our regular rotation. It is easy to prepare quickly on a weeknight and we always have the ingredients on hand. We can make it more or less spicy depending on our "audience" and we vary the veggies we put in depending on what we have available. Always a hit in our house!

Delicious! I would add a bit less sugar or use brown sugar... I also tried this recipe "Chicken Hunan Kung Pao from Earl's restaurant" Which was excellent but WAY too spicy, 8 peppers is just 5 too many.

Fast and tasty! I prefer this to take out any day. Preparing this recipe only takes about as long as a pot of rice does to cook. Just have everything prepped before you start the stir fry.

Sadly this recipe really lacks flavor. I make a lot from Fine Cooking and this one was a real disappointment. Kung Pao Chicken should have much more depth than this. I wish someone would get the recipe for Chicken Hunan Kung Pao from Earl's restaurant, it is terrific.

A great week night staple - even my kids love it. Be sure to have everything chopped and ready to go before you start cooking. I sometimes add water chestnuts or bamboo shoots and I always use more celery than called for.

Love this recipe. Easy to make, and easy to get the incredients. A go to in a pinch type of recipe.

This was very good and easy

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