Kung Pao, Szechuan Style Chicken With Peanuts

Whether sitting in a beautifully decorated Chinese restaurant in a cosmopolitan city or ordering from the takeout menu of your local Chinese restaurant around the corner, Kung Pao, Szechuan Style Chicken With Peanuts is probably one of the most popular dishes ordered in American Chinese restaurants today.

Kung Pao Szechuan Style Chicken With Peanuts
Kung Pao, Szechuan Style Chicken With Peanuts

If you don’t have a good Chinese restaurant just right around the corner from where you live, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have Kung Pao at home as it is very easy to prepare yourself. It is a dish typically prepared by stir frying chicken with garlic, ginger, soy sauce, chili peppers and peanuts. Don’t like chicken, use beef, shrimp or tofu. Can’t eat peanuts, you can substitute cashew nuts instead. If you like vegetables in your stir fry, no problem. Add the veggies you like, that is the pleasure of being a cook in your own home.

Kung Pao is a recipe that can be put together very quickly so make sure you have all your ingredients prepped and ready before you start cooking. The mincing and dicing will always takes longer than the actual cooking of stir fry meals.

Kung Pao, Szechuan Style Chicken With Peanuts

Serves 2, adjust the recipe accordingly

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or 2 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp. rice wine, sherry, or white wine

Combine chicken, cornstarch and wine in a bowl, stir to coat and refrigerate 30 minutes.

  • 1 Tbsp. Chinese black vinegar, if available, or use balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 3 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
  • 2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp. ground Szechuan pepper, or to taste
  • 3 Tbsp. rice wine, sherry or white wine

Combine the vinegar, soy, hoisin, ginger, sesame oil, pepper and wine in a small bowl.

  • 2 Tbsp. peanut oil, more if needed
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped (optional)
  • 6 – 8 dried chili peppers (more or less depending on how hot you want the dish)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 green onions, sliced (optional)
  • 1/4 c. roasted peanuts

Heat the oil in a wok or skillet until hot but not smoking. Add the chopped red bell pepper and onion and cook until just softened. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Add the chicken and cook for about 1 minute, stirring until the chicken turns white. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the peppers and onions. Add the dried chili peppers and the garlic and cook about 15 seconds then add the sauce and stir. Add the chicken, bell peppers, and onions and cook about 1 or 2 minutes until the chicken is done. Add the green onions and peanuts, stir to coat and serve.


This spicy Chinese dish is full of flavor and doesn’t take too long to prepare. When I serve a dinner that can be basically brown like this one, I like to add color where I can so I added red bell pepper which is not always typical to the dish. I also served stir fried broccoli that was cooked with garlic and a little sesame oil along with brown rice. I believe that Kung Pao prepared at home can be a healthier dinner compared to one that you might get at your favorite restaurant that may have been deep fried. I hope you will try making Szechuan style chicken with peanuts and that you will enjoy it as much as I do.

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188 thoughts on “Kung Pao, Szechuan Style Chicken With Peanuts

  1. I’ve been looking for a recipe for this! Can you tell me what kind of dried chili peppers you buy? Whenever I see a recipe calling for them, there seem to be so many varieties at my store, most of them Mexican, that I don’t know which to buy. Are they usually in the Asian aisle?

    1. Hi Liza, I appreciate your visit and nice comment. As for the chili peppers, I use dried Japones (hot Japanese) chiles that it buy in little cellophane packages. The are used a lot in Chinese and Japanese cooking. In my small market, they were in a section of the produce department where they carry dried mushrooms, etc. Another suggestion is dried Tabasco chili peppers…I hope that helps.

  2. Phil would have loved to be at your table the evening you served this. When we go out for Chinese, he never varies, it’s always Kung Pao chicken he orders. I’m betting yours is much better!

    1. Hi Linda, Thank you for your compliment. You will have to tell Phil that I think he has good taste, this is one of my favorite dishes at a Chinese restaurant but I like to make it at home because I really do think it is better. 🙂

    1. Hi Tin Man, I’m very happy to know that you like my version of Kung Pao and that it has inspired you to make the dish. It is so good, I can’t believe that you haven’t ever made it. Enjoy!

  3. I don’t make much Asian food and I don’t really know why because I love it so much. I guess that P.F. Changs is just so close that I give their kitchen that job. I really like Kung Pao, so this is on my list to make soon. Thanks for this recipe.

    1. Hi Karen, I’m happy to know that you like my recipe…thank you. I’m surprised that you haven’t made much Chinese food but having a P.F. Changs probably explains it. Every time we are in Florida visiting our family, we always get together for one meal there. 🙂

  4. It’s one of our favorites too, Karen, and you are right about it being so easy to prepare and healthier when you can manage the ingredients. I like that you added a little color, which always makes a meal more appealing ~ looks delicious!

    1. Hi Judy, I’m glad that your family enjoys this dish as much as we do. I do think color is important when preparing a meal…I’m happy you agree. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  5. This gorgeous photo makes me want to dive into the computer screen, Karen. Just lovely and soooo appealing. Thanks for sharing such a nice recipe for a favorite dish.

    1. Hi Dedy, I’m sure that you make a delicious Kung Pao. I make it often with cashews because they are my husband’s favorite nut but I have never tried it with macadamia nuts as they are very expensive here.

  6. I always loved Kung Pao chicken in college and don’t think I have had it since. I love having the recipe so I can now make it at home. Thanks, Karen!

    PS – I hear it is freezing there again! Stay warm and cozy – I bet the Kung Pao warms you up inside!

    1. Oh my goodness David, I can’t believe that you haven’t had Kung Pao since college. You are definitely going to have to gather up all the ingredients and make this dish soon. Yes, it is very cold here in New Hampshire…down in the single digits at night and in the twenties during the day. 😦 If you have noticed, I’ve been making comforting and spices dishes a lot to warm the body and soul. Thank you for your nice comment and I hope you enjoy the recipe.

  7. This looks beautiful, Karen and although it’s 10:00 in the morning, I’m now craving this lovely, spicy dish. Luckily, I have a very kind mother-in-law who hails from Taiwan and prepares the best food for us when she visits (many dishes I’ve never even heard of), but always with the most wonderful ingredients.

    1. Thank you Allison, for your nice compliment. You are indeed lucky that your sweet mother-in-law prepares meals for you when she visits. I’m sure they must be delicious.

  8. Your post fits me perfectly – love Chinese food; no good restaurants here. I always make my own and I know Kung Pao is not the healthiest of Chinese dishes. So I like your version that is not fried. and will give it a try.

    1. Hi Jovina, I’m happy that you enjoyed the post and that you like my version of Kung Pao. I hope you will enjoy the dish as much as my husband and I do.

      1. Thank you so much Jovina, for letting me know that you made the Kung Pau recipe and that you enjoyed it. Thank if very kind. 🙂

    1. Hi John, Isn’t it funny how we gage a restaurant by certain dishes. If a restaurant doesn’t get a certain dish right, I’m not usually excited about going back…I’ll just make it at home. 🙂

    1. Thank you Lynda, for your nice compliment…I’m happy to know that you like my version of Kung Pao. This is such an easy dish to make and adaptable to what you enjoy. 🙂

  9. It certainly is a lovely looking dish Karen, you’ve added the right punch of colour to make it pop and I’m sure the flavours are exceptional. I like stir frying because it’s relatively healthy and it allows you to maintain a crisp texture for most of the vegetables which I think is essential for a really good stir fry. The bonus of cooking this at home is not only the health benefits but the customization as you mentioned plus there are no chemicals involved — here most Chinese restaurants still use MSG which can be problematic. The brown rice is also quite lovely as it adds a certain texture and more of a sweet flavour than plain white rice.

    1. Thank you Eva, for your nice compliment, I’m glad you like my version os Kung Pao. I think color plays a big part in our enjoyment of a meal. I do think this is a healthy meal when combined with brown rice and broccoli.

  10. This is such a classic dish! And would you believe I’ve never made it? I must be mad. 😉 I do order this in restaurants, but really need to get my act together and make this at home — it’s a pretty easy recipe. And I know how great it tastes! Thanks for this.

    1. Hi John, I’ve been surprised that several of my cooking friends have not made this dish before. I do hope you try making it yourself. It is so good when prepared fresh at home. Thank you for your nice comment.

    1. Thank you Boleyn, for your nice compliment. I agree with you…there are a lot of strong flavors in this meal and they seem to go together very well.

    1. Hi Amy, I’m glad you like Kung Pao as much as I do. The thighs are very good in this dish as it stays very moist. Thank you for your nice compliment.

    1. Hi Laura, I think you will really like Kang Pau and will find it an easy recipe to make at home. It will be delicious made with tofu…enjoy!

  11. Doesn’t surprise me that Kung Pao is so popular, definitely my go to meal at a chinese restaurant. I have made it at home before but not a homemade sauce. This looks wonderful. Going to have to try this one, Karen. You’re right about having more freedom when you cook at home, I totally would add more veggies! Happy St. Pattys Day 🙂

  12. Karen, Don’t you think we have learned to make a better Chinese dish (some of course 😀 ) than some we order at the restaurants? 😀 ))) I like to make the ‘walnut prawns’, the one with the candied walnuts and the mayonnaise sauce. I wonder what is the original sauce before mayonnaise? I shall investigate. 😉 Having said all this, my mouth was watering looking at your ‘kung pao, Szechuan style chicken w/ peanuts’. Mmm

    1. Thank you Fae, for your nice compliment. I’m happy to know that you like my version of Kung Pao. I do agree with you that we can prepare better Chinese food at home than at some restaurants…especially the restaurants that I have tried in our area. 🙂

    1. Hi Sam, I have to agree with you about some of the restaurants. Unfortunately it seems that quantity is more important than quality a lot of time. Thank you for your nice compliment and I hope you will enjoy the recipe. 🙂

  13. Yummy, will definitely be trying this. We don’t have a good Chinese restaurant nearby either so I love attempting my own oriental concoctions, often using lots of veggies from the garden.

    1. Hi Andrea, One of the things about living in a rural area is the lack of good ethnic restaurants. I hope you will enjoy the recipe, it should be very good with veggies from your garden. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  14. LOve the look of this and the taste of this! Prepare stirfries about 3-4 times a week [never the same way twice 🙂 !!] and Szechuan is often the style chosen. Make mine rather similarly, yes, usually have red and yellow peppers in the mix, but the name Kung Pao is totally foreign to me. Perhaps because I never have any form of takeaway, perhaps it is simply called ‘Szechuan chicken’ Down Under? And I too love broccoli with it but that I steam with a tad of sesame oil to go on top!! Lovely recipe Karen . . .

    1. Thank you Eha, for your nice compliment. I’m happy to know that you like Szechuan food and this recipe. I know that dishes sometimes go by different names in different countries but the name Kung Pao is pretty common here in the US.

  15. Karen, the name Kung Pao chicken always makes me laugh for some reason… yours looks absolutely delicious! Bookmarking now!

    1. Hi Lizzy, I’m happy to know that a you like the looks of this dish. Thank you for bookmarking it…I hope you will enjoy the recipe if you get a chance to make it.

  16. Finally I added you to my “Blogs I Love” Pinterest board, it was long overdue! I look forward to keeping up with your delicious posts:-) My hubby and I love love Kung Pao. I added your delicious recipe to my Favorite Pinterest board. We definitely need to make this recipe!!! Yum, Hugs, Terra

    1. I appreciate your lovely gesture and compliment, Terra. It is very nice to know that you enjoy my posts…thank you! I hope you and your husband will enjoy the Kung Pao.

    1. Thank you Stacy, for your lovely compliment. I’m happy to know that you enjoy the recipe. Sorry that it made you hungry so late at night. 🙂

    1. Hi Bam, I’m glad you like my recipe, thank you. Unfortunately you are right about MSG being in lots of food prepared in Chinese restaurants.

  17. This looks fabulous, Karen!I I have to make it soon.

    found a very large Vietnamese market in Denver recently, which made me very happy as now I can find all the ingredients to make varied Asian flavored dishes. I really like the flavors of Thai food the best.

    1. Thank you for your nice compliment, Pat. I’m happy that you like the recipe. It is wonderful that you have a market where you can get good Asian ingredients. Unfortunately, I have to travel to one of the larger cities to get any ethnic ingredients.

  18. This is one of my most favourite dishes to order when I dine in a Chinese restaurant; it has so much flavour. I’ve never made it myself so thanks for providing a recipe xx

    1. Hi Charlie, It appears that this dish is a favorite of a lot of us. I glad I could provide you with a recipe so that you can make it yourself. I hope you will enjoy it.

  19. I’ve never made this at home before, Karen, but you make it sound so easy and versatile. 🙂 I will have to try it. 🙂

    1. Thank you Tanya, for your nice compliment. This is indeed a dish where the ingredients aren’t too hard to find. I hope you will enjoy it. By the way, welcome home. 🙂

  20. You know in all these years I’ve never tried this but based on your description, I certainly will now. I’d definitely go with the cashew nuts, no allergy but I love cashews in a dish. And the broccoli certainly does add nice color.
    We’re going to get some warm weather starting soon – can you feel it?

    1. Hi Diane, You must give Kung Pao a try. The dish has a slightly sweet and spicy sauce mixed with chicken and crunchy peanuts…it is delicious. Yes I am happy that we are going to get a little warmer to help melt this snow. I’m seeing bits of grass in our front yard but the orchard still has between 6″ to more than a foot of snow. The nice thing is, it can’t last much longer. 🙂

    1. Hi Celia, I’m glad you like the black vinegar. A little bit of vinegar seems to enhance all the flavors. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  21. I just picked up some dried Thai chiles over the weekend and I think your recipe for Kung Pao would be just the recipe to try them out! Beautiful dish, Karen!

    1. Hi Jan, I think our timing was perfect…I posted the recipe and you bought the chilies. Thank you for your nice compliment, I’m glad you like the recipe.

  22. You are totally speaking Mr.N’s language right now. He loves this dish! We all enjoy it too, but he is the biggest fan. 🙂 I know he would love for me to make this. Thanks Karen!

    1. Hi Kristy, I’m happy to hear that Mr. N. would enjoy this dish. You will have to tell him Kung Pao is my favorite Chinese dish too. 🙂

  23. I don’t eat at Chinese restaurants anymore, just too many preservatives and bad soy. All my Chinese cooking is done at home these days. I think I’m finally getting better at it! I’ve never tried making this at home and it looks pretty simple! I always add vegetables so your dish looks perfect to me.

    1. Hi Nanzeen, I agree with you that cooking Chinese at home is a healthier way of eating. I’m happy you like my Kung Pao dinner…thank you.

    1. Thank you for your lovely compliment, Laura. It is nice to know that what I prepared reminds you of the Kung Pao you had while in China.

  24. What I love about you .. is that you are so versatile when cooking – you try everything .. and it always comes out looking great … I’m ready to dive into this plate.
    I have missed my cooking, but I need better light in my kitchen .. to take photos of the ready dish, because I eat in the evening – but we change the clock the last weekend in this months .. and I will be back – and I want sunshine in my plate too, back to sepia again now.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Viveka…they are very much appreciated. I do like to cook a variety of foods and hope to show readers that anyone can prepare dishes that they may never have tried before but are easy to make. All my photos are taken at night as it is the meal that goes directly to the table. Actually, the dish is always mine as it is a little cool after the photos are made. I keep my husband’s dinner under the warming lights above my stove. I thought you were using and happy with your light box…I like your photos. 🙂

      1. Karen, my mini studio is great – haven’t used it for a while, because I can’t find the right bubls for the lights – so the light isn’t right. Not anywhere to be found.
        I did photos for a post yesterday – had dinner a so I could use the balcony light. My meal was far from warm when it was time to eat. *smile
        I’m following a fantastic “chef” – he take the most fantastic images and his blog is so beautiful done, but he just make the dish – but don’t eat anything of the dishes he is post ????!!!!
        Karen, you’re on the right track … and you have fantastic blog.

      2. It is too bad that you can’t find the proper bulbs for your light. Thankfully the days are getting longer and you should get more light soon.

      3. Yes, the bubls I can get has a soft light … but I need white cold. -10C something. I think I can get them from Germany.

  25. Wow Karen, you sure perfected this dish…looks delicious, and the colors so vibrant…I am bias…I love Chinese food!
    Hope you are enjoying your week 😀

    1. I appreciate your lovely compliment, Juliana. It is nice that someone that is biased to Chinese food likes my recipe for Kung Pao…that means a lot and I thank you. This has been a very busy but nice week…I hope yours has been nice as well.

    1. Hi Susan, It seems that Chinese food has been calling both our names. I hope you will enjoy the Kung Pao as much as I know I will enjoy your Mu Shu Pork. Thank you for your nice compliment.

    1. Thank you Meg, for your nice compliment. I’m happy to know that you like the recipe. Kung Pao is one of my favorite Chinese dishes as I love the spicy sauce and the crunchy peanuts mixed with the chicken…it is so good. 🙂

    1. Hi Christin, I’m happy to know that you like Kung Pao as much as I do. I hope you will enjoy the recipe if you get a chance to try it. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  26. Kung Pao chicken has been on my bucket list for so long…I don’t know why I’ve never made it at home! Your recipe looks terrific, but I’m sure I’ll have to take your suggestion of lightening up on the peppers for my family 🙂

    1. Hi Liz, I do hope you try Kung Pao…it is not only simple to prepare but delicious. The nice thing about this recipe is that you can adapt it to your own taste. Using whole died chilies means that you can control the heat as you can take them out before serving if you wish to compared to fresh chilies that are chopped up in many spicy dishes.

    1. Hi Wieczora, I appreciate your stopping by to visit my blog and your lovely compliment. I’m always happy to meet readers from Germany as I visit there almost every year. I’m glad that you like my recipe, thank you. 🙂

    1. Hi Maureen, I’m happy to know that you like the Kung Pao recipe and are going to try it. Thank you, and I hope you enjoy it as much as my husband and I do. 🙂

    1. Thank you Kristy, for your nice compliment. I do think this is a healthy meal. I’m happy to know that you like Kung Pao as much as I do.

    1. Hi Mila, Thank you for stopping by for a visit and your nice compliment. This is an easy recipe to make at home, perhaps one day you will give it a try. 😀

  27. Your recipe and photos look delicious! I love making Kung Pao Chicken at home since we only have one Asian restaurant in town and it isn’t very good 🙂 I definitely need to try your recipe it looks great!

    1. Thank you Ann, I’m glad that you enjoyed the recipe and photo and I appreciate your compliment. I hope you will enjoy my version if you get a chance to try it.

    1. Thank you Jason, I’m glad you like the looks of the Kung Pao. I totally agree with you about spicy dishes with peanuts…they are delicious.

  28. Hi Karen, this looks very nice. I once briefly dated a girl from the Szechuan region of China and she said that when she’s visiting home at meal times the only thing you can do is keep eating and eating and eating. Not necessarily because it’s so good, but because if you stop you’ll feel overwhelmed by the spiciness of the food, and I’ve been a bit anxious about anything tagged Szechuan ever since, lol 😀

    1. Hi Charles, I’m glad you like my version of Kung Pao. I can assure you that it is no where near as hot as what you would eat if you were visiting the Szechuan region of China. I like a little spice but I think if someone wants it really spicy, I’ll let me add more chilies to suit their taste.

    1. Hi Kelli, Asian food is really easy to prepare…I hope you give it a try sometime. I’m happy that you like the looks of the Kung Pao, it is one of my favorite Chinese dishes.

  29. Hello there Karen, I love this. I never, ever cook Chinese, nor Vietnamese, nor Thai, Korean…I would have to go on a special shopping trip for ingredients and there are so many restaurants around who do it so well, but I am very impressed with your expertise on this Chinese dish. One of my favorites by the way. Good post.

    1. Hi Teresa, You are lucky to have so many good restaurants nearby. I have to drive several towns over to get just average Asian cooking. I’m glad you enjoyed the post…thank you.

    1. Hola Rosita, Estoy feliz de saber que te gusta el plato y tienes razón, es una comida saludable. Thank you for your nice compliment, I’m glad you like the recipe.

  30. Living in Amsterdam I have tons of great Chinese restaurants just around the corner. Nonetheless this would be a fabulous dish to make at home. Great recipe!

    1. Hi Afra, I’m hoping to travel to Amsterdam again in the next couple of years and can’t wait to try all the good restaurants there. Thank you for your nice compliment, I happy that you like the recipe. 🙂

      1. When you do come over, let me know. I would be happy to let you know my favourite places 🙂

  31. Hi Karen, I love both this style of dish and the name Kung Pao! First time I tried this, was in Shanghai and I’ve sincerely recreated it for friends at home with success. Exactly as you describe (it can) adapted to include all sorts of delicious additions like the veg, bamboo shoots, or (if you can get your hands on them,) tinned lily root bulbs! True, they eat the Lily flower root with this dish sometimes. Tastes similar in texture to water chestnuts!

    1. Hi Alli, I’m glad that you like this dish as much as I do. I haven’t seen lily flower root in my markets but hear it is a good addition to Chinese dishes.

      1. Hi Karen, most of the time I’ve found it in the tinned section of an Asian grocer. Usually amongst the straw mushrooms, water chestnuts etc. they’re pretty inconspicuous (but) not necessary of course!

        Sometimes they’re simply stir fried with celery. One for your next Chinese banquet 😉 Happy Hunting!

    1. Hi David, This is my favorite Chinese dish as well. I’m glad you like my recipe…I know you will make a terrific version. Thanks!

    1. Hi Donna, You gave my a chuckle with your comment. Kung Pao does indeed give a pow to your taste buds. 🙂 Thank you for your nice compliment…I hope you will enjoy the recipes.

    1. Hi Claire, I’m happy that my post has reminded you about how good Kung Pao is. It will be excellent either with prawns or tofu and I hope you enjoy the recipe. 🙂

  32. Kung Pao is definitely one of my favorite dishes to order when we are getting Chinese food. This looks very authentic and the ingredients sound yummy! I have to get some black vinegar next time I am at my Asian market.

    1. Hi Becki, Kung Pao is a dish I like to order the first time I visit a Chinese restaurant…it is how I judge their kitchen. Thank you for your nice compliment, I’m glad you like my recipe. Don’t worry if you can’t find black vinegar, balsamic will give you excellent results.

  33. Never thought kung pao chicken was so easy ! I think it would be good to try and make it at home – to adjust the amount of salt and sugar and oil that you usually get when you order this in a restaurant (or worse – take-out).

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