Easy Cashew Chicken

Quick and easy Cashew Chicken! Chicken breast pieces marinated in peanut oil chili powder, tamari, and honey, then fried with cashews, onions, and mushrooms.

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

This cashew chicken recipe is one of my favorites on the site, and not just because it hails from my friend Marc.

Marc loves sharing stories of his famous cashew chicken, his trademark dish, tested and perfected over decades of crashing at the homes of old and new friends in exchange for his cooking.

One of the things I like so much about this cashew chicken is that it is a good base recipe from which one can easily expand. Several people suggested the addition of some ginger and onion greens, which I agree works well and I’ve added in this updated version as an option.

I’ve also enjoyed it with some fresh chopped pineapple thrown in, giving it some sweetness. Others have added vegetables such as broccoli or snow peas.

Note that the amounts are all approximate. But with these ingredients, in approximately the right proportions, it’s hard to go wrong.

Easy Cashew Chicken Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 35 minutes
  • Marinating time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6

You can whip this up pretty quickly if you first start with the marinade, then chop the vegetables and cook the cashews while the chicken is marinating.

Ingredients

  • 4 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds total), cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Peanut oil (about 3/4 cup, can substitute other vegetable oil)
  • Chili Powder (about 3 Tbsp)
  • Tamari (about 1/2 cup) (if you don't have access to tamari you can substitute soy sauce, use Wheat-free tamari or soy sauce if you need to cook gluten-free)
  • Honey (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 cups raw cashews
  • Salt
  • 3 cups roughly chopped onions (about 2 medium large onions)
  • 3 cups roughly chopped mushrooms

Optional

  • 1-2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion greens

Method

1 Marinate the chicken: Place the cubed chicken in a medium bowl. Add the oil. Add the tamari until the marinade turns dark brown (about 2 Tbsp per breast).

Sprinkle the chili powder over the chicken pieces while stirring, so that each piece of chicken gets well coated with the chili powder and marinade.

Stir in the honey, about 2 tablespoons for each breast. Add chopped ginger if using. Marinate for 1/2 hour to several hours, the longer the better.

2 Toast the cashews: Heat a skillet on medium high heat. Spread the cashews in a single layer over the bottom of the pan. Stir until lightly browned, remove from heat.

3 Sauté the chicken: Heat a large skillet on medium high heat. Working in batches if needed so you don't crowd the pan, use tongs to remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and place them in the pan, reserving the extra marinade.

Sauté the chicken pieces until just cooked through, remove from the pan and set aside.

Place any extra marinade back in the pan and simmer for several minutes (to kill any bacteria). Pour off all but 1 Tbsp of the marinade into a separate bowl and reserve.

4 Sauté onions and mushrooms: In the same pan, sauté the onions on medium high to high heat for several minutes.

Add mushrooms and continue to sauté until onions are translucent and mushrooms are cooked, several minutes more. Add some reserved marinade to the pan if necessary.

5 Combine chicken, mushrooms, onions, with the cashews. Stir in onion greens (if using) right before serving. Serve over rice.

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Showing 4 of 51 Comments

  • Jenny C

    I just made this recipe this afternoon for tonight’s dinner. I marinated the chicken the night before and added more of the reserved marinade then I was suppose to and this dish came out wonderful. Elise, again, thank you for a great dinner!

  • Jarrett

    Great recipe! I made some adjustments because the chicken I bought was closer to 1 1/4 lb. To others: try 1/2 cup of oil. I also used agave instead of honey, and less of it.

    I think the cashews should be added per serving.

    Just to get this right, the reserve marinade is to be used as extra “cooking oil” for the onions and mushrooms, not to be completely added later?

  • Steve Southard

    I too tried this recipe just last night. OMG! When I saw the honey and tamari I knew it was going to be good. Just had leftovers for lunch at work and tossed the plate. Embarrassed to say I’m looking longingly at the plate in my cubicle trash can wishing I had licked off the sauce before tossing. LOL! I added a pound of chopped asparagus and it went really well with it. Thanks Marc and Elise! I’ve made Cashew Chicken many times over the years concocting my own creation but have always opted for a lighter sauce. When I saw the picture I though, “Ooo, that looks good!” Glad I tried it.

    Steve

  • Chris Lewis

    This is the most awesome recipe I’ve acquired in years. I ate it three days straight. I’m allergic to soy and substitute Bistro gravy powder whenever soy is called for and no one knows the difference. Used canola oil instead of peanut oil. Fresh ginger and green onions, a MUST in my book. Thank you for sharing Marc’s recipe.

  • AskthatGirl

    This is a great recipe. I did make some adjustments though to suit my Latina and my husbands Filipino tastes. We love spice so before I cooked the chicken, I cooked about 1 tsp. of red pepper flakes in a little oil until the flakes got black, then I cooked the chicken in that. Also, you can use jarred/canned cashews. I just gave them a good rinse to take the salt out. I toasted the cashews instead of boiling them, and it does bring out the flavor and gives the meal a lot of crunch, which I think is much better than a soft nut texture. Instead of mushrooms, I added a can of cubed pineapple to compliment the spiciness. Oh my gosh, this came out soooo delicious. The mixture of flavors and textures is definitely a party in your mouth! We made white rice to go with it, but the next day, we still had some left, so I kept it cold, mixed in some mayo and turned it into an AWESOME chicken salad! :) Lastly, I wouldn’t marinate it for more than an hour or so. You don’t want the flavor of the chicken to take away from all the other great things you are putting in there. Happy Cooking!

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