Barefeet in the Kitchen Presents Quick and Delicious Kung Pao Chicken

Roasted Peanuts, Ginger, Garlic, and Spicy Red Chilies: Easy Kung Pao Chicken Recipe

Roasted peanuts, ginger, garlic, and spicy red chilies give this easy kung pao chicken a unique kick. The dish is both savory and sweet, with customizable spiciness levels. The addition of peanuts adds a nutty flavor that brings it all together. Even my husband and kids enjoyed the dish, including the peppers. However, I prefer a milder heat, so I left the peppers on my plate. This recipe has been a family favorite for over ten years, and I always double it since it’s so popular. The recipe below is already doubled, but if you prefer a smaller size, you can adjust the serving size to 3 using the slider in the recipe card.

Easy Kung Pao Chicken

Asian flavors have become my current favorite, and I’m always looking for new stir fry ideas. While I enjoy ready-made freezer meals from Trader Joe’s like their Kung Pao Chicken and Orange Chicken, I decided it was time to try my hand at making authentic kung pao chicken. I was thrilled to find this easy recipe that comes together quickly, despite the long ingredient list. Although the ingredients may differ from what you’re used to, they are all readily available in Asian markets or online. If you prefer a visual before shopping, I’ve provided links to similar products.

Kung Pao Chicken Ingredients

Most of the ingredients in kung pao chicken can be adapted based on what you have on hand. Black soy sauce is ideal, but regular soy sauce can be used as a substitute without compromising the flavor too much. Chinese black vinegar can be replaced with balsamic vinegar in equal proportions. It’s a recommended substitution since only a small amount is used in the recipe.

Kung Pao Sauce

The sauce for kung pao chicken consists of two parts. First, you’ll marinate the chicken in a mixture of rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and oil. Then, when you’re ready to cook the chicken, you’ll need the following ingredients for the sauce: low sodium soy sauce, dark or black soy sauce, sugar, Chinese black vinegar or balsamic vinegar, water, and cornstarch.

Peppers Used in Kung Pao Chicken

The dried red chiles used in kung pao chicken are small, about one inch in size. These should not be mistaken for the larger dried Mexican red chiles. Personally, I prefer using spicy dried Thai chili peppers, but milder dried Szechuan Chinese red chili peppers can also be used. The choice of peppers depends on your preference.

Is Kung Pao Chicken Spicy?

The spiciness of kung pao chicken can be adjusted to your liking. While the peppers can add some heat, the recipe is easily adaptable. If you enjoy spice, opt for Thai chili peppers. However, if you prefer a milder flavor, Szechuan Chinese red chili peppers are a better choice. Both versions of this kung pao chicken recipe are delicious and don’t usually leave any leftovers.

Chicken Stir Fry Recipes

Here are some other chicken stir fry recipes you might enjoy:

  • Chicken and Bok Choy Stir Fry: bites of chicken tossed with crispy tender bok choy and diced jalapeno.
  • Stir Fry Noodles with Chicken and Vegetables: saucy noodles, crisp hot vegetables, and tender chicken bites.
  • Honey Sriracha Chicken Stir Fry: sticky sweet chicken chunks with a hint of spice, served over rice.
  • Bacon and Bell Pepper Chicken Stir Fry: chicken, bacon, and bell peppers in a sweet and spicy sauce.
  • Barbecue Zucchini Chicken Stir Fry: zucchini and peppers tossed in a savory barbecue sauce.

Chicken Marinade Instructions

  1. Place the chicken in a bowl and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. Toss to coat.
  2. Add the remaining marinade ingredients: rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and olive oil. Toss again to coat.
  3. Place the chicken in the fridge to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Sauce Instructions

While the chicken is marinating, whisk together the sauce ingredients: soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar, balsamic vinegar, water, and cornstarch. Set aside next to the stove.

Stir Fry Instructions

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned and almost cooked through, about 3 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  3. Remove the chicken to a bowl and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the skillet.
  4. Add the ginger and garlic to the pan and stir to coat. Add the chilies and stir fry until aromatic, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the chicken back to the skillet, along with the peanuts. Pour in the sauce and toss to coat. Stir until the chicken is well-coated.
  6. Cook for 1-2 minutes to slightly reduce the sauce. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water only if needed to help scrape up the browned bits from the pan.
  7. Add the green onions, stir to combine, and serve the dish warm.

I hope you enjoy this easy kung pao chicken recipe as much as my family does. It has become a staple in our household, and I’m sure it will become a favorite in yours too.

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