Easy Cashew Chicken

ChineseGluten-FreeCashewChicken

Skip the Chinese takeout and make this Cashew Chicken at home! Marinate the chicken in peanut oil, chili powder, honey, and tamari, and then cook with onions and mushrooms.

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.

What is Cashew Chicken?

Cashew Chicken is a takeout standby that you can easily make at home. The chicken is marinated in a sauce with peanut oil, tamari (or soy sauce, if you can’t find tamari), honey, and chili powder. It’s cooked with mushrooms, onions, and, of course, cashews.

How to Make Cashew Chicken

The chicken marinates for at least a half hour while you toast cashews in a skillet. Then, the cashews cool and you cook the chicken, remove it from the pan, and then cook the onions and mushrooms together. Then, everything gets combined in the pan. It’s great served with rice.

Ways to Adapt this Cashew Chicken

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

Steps to Make this Cashew Chicken Ahead

You can marinate the chicken the night before you are going to make it if you would like, or at least a few hours ahead of time. The minimum it needs is a half an hour.

MORE TAKEOUT FAVES TO MAKE AT HOME!

Updated August 26, 2019 : We spiffed up this post to make it sparkle. No changes to the original recipe.

Easy Cashew Chicken Recipe

  • 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

For the chicken:

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds total), cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3/4 cup peanut oil or other vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 cup tamari (or soy sauce; use wheat-free tamari or soy sauce if you need to cook gluten-free)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 cups raw cashews
  • Salt
  • 3 cups roughly chopped onions (about 2 medium large onions)
  • 3 cups roughly chopped mushrooms

For garnish, optional:

  • 1 to 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions or green onions, green parts only

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 tablespoons 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 tablespoon 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 all the ingredients. Add the chicken and cashews back to the pan with the mushrooms and onions. Stir to combine.

6 Serve: Stir in onion greens (if using) right before serving. Serve over rice. This will keep for about 5 days in the refrigerator, covered.

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

53 Comments / Reviews

No ImageEasy Cashew Chicken

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Evelyn in Vancouver

    Wow, this is a great recipe! I had to use sriracha sauce because I was out of chilli powder but otherwise made it exactly according to the recipe. I marinated the chicken for about 6 hours. I ended up putting quite a bit of the marinade back into the dish because it makes a nice sauce. I served it over brown rice, & will serve the leftovers tomorrow night and maybe toast some sesame seeds to sprinkle on top. This is a really tasty and nutritious dish & I will definitely make it again!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  2. Cook73

    They were out of soy sauce and Tamari at TJ’s so I used coconut aminos and it was good! I used 1 onion, red pepper, 1/2 jalapeño, added toasted cashews at the very last minute to maintain a little texture.

  3. 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!

    xxxxxyyyyy

    Show Replies (1)
  4. 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?

    Show Replies (1)
  5. 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

    xxxxxyyyyy

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