Kung Pao Chicken

Skip take-out and make this Kung Pao Chicken at home! This spicy, sweet Chinese stir-fry is made with hot chilis, Szechwan peppercorns, garlic, ginger, and unsalted peanuts. Serve with rice for a weeknight meal.

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4


For the marinade:

  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sherry, or Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

For the sauce:

  • 3 teaspoons Chinkiang vinegar, or 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

For the chicken:

  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 8 dried chili red peppers (preferably Tien Tsin variety)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon whole Szechwan peppercorns (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 2/3 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts


1 Marinate chicken: Mix together the marinade ingredients. Chop the chicken into bite sized pieces, toss them in the marinade, and set aside.

2 Whisk together sauce ingredients: Combine all the ingredients for the sauce, whisking well to ensure the cornstarch is fully incorporated. Set aside.

3 Prep the seasonings: Break the chilies open and discard the seeds inside, then cut them into a few large pieces (the dish will already be very hot, keeping the seeds will make it near inedible).

4 Stir-fry chilies and peppercorns: Place the 2 1/2 tablespoons of sesame oil in a wok or large sauté pan and place over medium-high heat. Add the chilies and Szechwan peppercorns, if using. Stir-fry for a few second until they become fragrant being careful not to burn them.

5 Add the chicken and aromatics: Add the chicken. As soon as the pieces have separated, add the ginger, garlic, and green onions. Stir-fry for a few minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

6 Finish the stir fry: Add the sauce and toss. When the sauce becomes thick, add the peanuts, toss, and serve.