Spicy Garlic Cashew Chicken

Updated, from the recipe archive. First posted July 2007.

My father first found this recipe in the New York Times in 2007. We thought the combination of cashews, garlic, cilantro and jalapenos intriguing and worth a try. When my 9-year old visiting nephew proclaimed, “Hey, this chicken is good!,” we knew we had a keeper. I’ve since made this recipe several times, with great results. Note the reader comments. People have subbed almonds and walnuts for the cashews, and parsley for the cilantro. Great for a summer cookout!

Spicy Garlic Cashew Chicken Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4.

Taste the jalapenos first, before using. Jalapenos vary in heat and sometimes you need more, sometimes less to get the desired heat level. If you want to take it up a notch in heat, leave in more of the seeds. Use gloves when handling jalapenos (or a plastic sandwich bag), or coat your hands with a little oil first, before cutting the peppers, and then wash hands with warm soap and water after.



  • 1 cup roasted (salted or unsalted) cashew nuts
  • 6 Tbsp roughly chopped cilantro (leaves and stems)
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed or olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (use gluten-free for gluten-free version)
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, stems and most seeds discarded, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice, plus lime wedges for garnish
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs


1 In a food processor or blender, add the cashews, cilantro, oil, garlic, soy sauce, brown sugar, jalapeno, lime juice, and 2 tablespoons of water. Pulse or blend until the mixture is a smooth paste. Add salt and pepper to taste. Reserve a third of the marinade for serving with the chicken. Use the rest for coating the chicken.

2 Sprinkle the chicken thighs all over with salt and pepper. Coat the chicken pieces with the marinade. At this point if you want, you can make ahead, and chill for several hours or overnight until ready to cook. Bring to room temperature before cooking.


3 Preheat broiler or prepare grill for medium direct heat. Broil or grill chicken, turning frequently, until golden and crisp and a meat thermometer reads 170°F when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh (not touching a bone), or when the juices run clear (not pink) when cut into with a knife. This will take about 25 to 35 minutes for a grill on medium heat, or about 10-20 minutes under a broiler, depending on how far the chicken is from the heat. Serve with lime wedges, reserved marinade, and cilantro.

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Adapted from New York Times Spicy, Garlicky Cashew Chicken published July 11, 2007.


Chinese Cashew Chicken - from Rasa Malaysia
Roast Chicken with Cilantro and Lime - from Kalyn's Kitchen


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Showing 4 of 71 Comments

  • Lizzi

    If you happen to be one of those individuals who doesn’t enjoy cilantro, what other herb would you recommend that would balance well with the cashews and the soy sauce?

    I might try mint, parsley, or skip it all together. ~Elise

  • LDubs

    Can this be baked in the oven, instead of grilled or broiled? Or would it work on a grill pan?

    I use a grill pan frequently, should work just fine. Baking should work too, if you bake at a high enough temperature to brown the skins (450°F). ~Elise

  • Paul Shipman

    Elise, this looks tasty. I assume you’re talking about fresh, not canned or proceessed, Jalapeno Peppers?


    Yes, fresh jalapenos, though canned would work too. ~Elise

  • Kelly C

    Do you suppose this would be tastey without the jalapenos? That’s definately not up my alley! Or could something still a little spicey but more mild than jalapenos be used? This looks tastey but my tastebuds would scream at that spice. I know, it’s sad.

    You could try a poblano, it’s typically milder than jalapeno. ~Elise

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