Kung Pao Chicken Recipe (2024)

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This Copycat Kung Pao Chicken Recipe is filled with tender chicken and veggies in a slightly spicy sauce that rivals the popular Panda Express restaurant chain!

We love to serve this tender chicken stir fry up with my Crispy Chicken Egg Rolls, Egg Drop Soup or Quick Fried Rice for a complete meal.

Kung Pao Chicken Recipe (1)Kung Pao Chicken Recipe (2)Don’t be afraid of the word spicy when it comes to this Kung Pao Chicken recipe. You have complete control of the spice level! You can make it hotter or tame it way down based on your preference.

Easy Kung Pao Chicken Recipe

No matter where you go, there are some distinct ingredients that you’ll find in a kung pao chicken that differentiate it from other Asian recipes.

Those ingredients are: dried chili peppers, peppers and onions, a slightly sweet and spicy sauce and peanuts.

Other ingredients can bulk up the recipe, but those listed above are mandatory for a true Kung Pao Chicken.

Ingredients Needed for Homemade Kung Pao Chicken

Here’s a basic list of the ingredients you’ll need in order to make this kung pao chicken from scratch. As always, you can find the full list of ingredients in the printable recipe card below.

  • Chicken Thighs – I prefer thighs for this recipe, but you can also use chicken breast
  • Egg White
  • Corn Starch
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Onion
  • Zucchini
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Whole Dried Chili Peppers
  • Sesame Oil
  • Roasted, Unsalted Peanuts

Ingredients for Kung Pao Sauce:

Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make a delicious kung pao sauce…

  • Water
  • Light Soy Sauce
  • Balsamic Vinegar – or Chinese Black Vinegar (if you can find it)
  • Chinese Shaoxing wine – or dry sherry
  • Tamari –or dark soy sauce
  • Hoisin Sauce
  • Sugar
  • Cornstarch

Kung Pao Chicken Recipe (3)

How To Make Kung Pao Chicken

This recipe may contain a handful of ingredients, but it actually comes together quite quickly.

  • Start by making a quick coating for the chicken with the beaten egg white, cornstarch, salt and a little sesame oil. Let this sit in the fridge for about 20 minutes while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
  • Cook the chicken in batches in some hot oil until it’s nice and crisp on the outside, then move to a plate to keep warm.
  • Toss the veggies in the pan and cook until nice and tender, then remove those as well.
  • Finally, stir in the garlic, ginger, peppers and green onions and cook until fragrant. Then pour in the sauce ingredients and cook until thickened.
  • Add the chicken and veggies back to the pan with the sauce and toss to combine.

Kung Pao Chicken Recipe (4)

What Is the Difference Between Light Soy Sauce and Dark Soy Sauce?

You’ll notice that in the sauce ingredients I call for both light and dark soy sauce.

Dark Soy Sauce is a dark colored soy sauce used mainly for adding color and flavor to dishes. It’s richer, slightly thicker, and less salty than other types of soy sauce.

Light Soy Sauceis light in color, almost a see through reddish-brown, and thin in viscosity. It’s salty and adds a delightful flavor to the kung pao sauce.

How To Adjust Spice Level

Not ready for the spice power of Kung Pao Chicken? Not to worry! This recipe is easily adjustable to every taste palate.

Reduce or remove the amount of whole dried chili peppers (really, I just add them in for an overall spice, but I usually push them aside when I eat the dish).

You can also reduce the amount of crushed red peppers added, which will really reduce the spice level of the recipe.

Do I Have To Use a Wok?

No, you do not have to use a wok for this recipe, but it sure makes it easier!

A wok is a large, thin pot that is great for stir fries because it heats up quickly, has lots of space and keeps everything contained.

I picked up mine from IKEA years ago for like $15, but here is a similar one on Amazon!

Kung Pao Chicken Recipe (5)

I’ve had this recipe for Kung Pao Chicken on my site for quite some time now. It was one of the first recipes I ever made, back in 2010! Yikes, don’t look at those photos!

I took the same base recipe, but substituted zucchini for the green bell peppers, and adjusted the sauce for a more rich and flavorful taste.

You guys… this recipe is a keeper!

Kung Pao Chicken Recipe (6)

More Asian Recipes To Try:

Craving more? Here are some of our favorite Chinese take-out recipes that you can easily make at home.

  • Beef With Broccoli
  • Honey Sesame Chicken Stir Fry
  • Easy Mongolian Beef Recipe
  • The BEST Orange Chicken Recipe
  • General Tso’s Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken Recipe (7)

You’re going to love this easy recipe!

Kung Pao Chicken Recipe (8)

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5 from 16 votes

Copycat Kung Pao Chicken

This Copycat Kung Pao Chicken Recipe is one of my all time favorite dinner recipes. It's filled with tender chicken and veggies in a slightly spicy sauce that rivals the popular restaurant chain!

Prep Time30 minutes mins

Cook Time20 minutes mins

Total Time50 minutes mins

Course: Dinner

Cuisine: Asian

Servings: 6

Calories: 311 kcal

Author: Shawn


For the Chicken:

  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs, or breasts cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil, divided

For the Sauce:

  • ½ cup water
  • 4 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar, or Chinese Black Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Chinese Shaoxing wine, or dry sherry
  • 1 tsp Tamari , or dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch

For the Stir Fry Veggies:

  • 1 large zucchini, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 10 whole dried chili peppers, I found mine in the dried herbs section
  • 1/4 cup green onion, white parts only (1/2 inch pieces)
  • 2 tsp ginger, minced
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes, crushed
  • 1/2 cup peanuts, unsalted

US Customary - Metric


For the Chicken:

  • Combine the chicken with the salt, lightly beaten egg white, cornstarch, sesame oil and 1 tbsp vegetable oil, until coated. Chill for about 20 to 30 minutes. Heat a large wok over medium high heat and add 1 tbsp vegetable oil. Cook the chicken until browned and cooked through (cook in batches to avoid over crowding of pan). Remove chicken from wok and set aside.

For the Sauce:

  • Combine the sauce ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine, until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

For the Stir Fry Veggies:

  • Add the remaining 1 tbsp vegetable oil to the wok and turn heat up to high. The wok should be really hot when you add in the veggies. Stir fry veggies for just 2 to 4 minutes, until slightly charred and glistening. Remove from wok and keep warm with the chicken.

  • Heat 1 tsp sesame oil in the wok over medium high heat. Toss in the dried chili peppers, green onion, ginger, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes and peanuts and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

  • Stir the sauce mixture again and immediately add it to the pan and bring to a small boil, then cook until the sauce thickens.

  • Finally, add the chicken and veggies back into the sauce and stir to coat. Enjoy!


You can use a large, heavy bottomed skillet if you do not have a wok.


Calories: 311kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 1025mg | Potassium: 560mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1343IU | Vitamin C: 47mg | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 2mg

Keywords: Chicken, copycat, Kung Pao, Skillet, Spicy

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?don't forget to share a picture and mention @iwashyoudry on Instagram or tag #iwashyoudry!


Kung Pao Chicken Recipe (9)

Last updated on February 27, 2024 11:07 pm

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Kung Pao Chicken Recipe (2024)


What are the ingredients for Kung Pao Chicken? ›

What Is In Kung Pao Chicken? This Kung Pao chicken recipe consists of cubed chicken breasts soaked in a marinade (made with cornstarch, water, white wine, soy sauce, and sesame oil) and tossed in a sweet-savory sauce (made with hot chili paste, brown sugar, white vinegar, water chestnuts, peanuts, onions, and garlic).

How was kung pao made? ›

In today's Chengdu, kung pao chicken is made by tossing cubes of breast meat in a hot wok with dried chiles, Sichuan peppercorns, white spring onion, ginger, garlic, crisp peanuts and a glossy sauce mixed to a particular degree of sweet-and-sour known as “lychee-flavored” because of its resemblance to the fruit.

What is a fact about Kung Pao Chicken? ›

As the most ardent fan of Kung Pao chicken, the dish was named after him. Ding Baozhen loved to cook and especially liked chicken, peanuts, and spicy peppers. Using those ingredients, he created Kung Pao chicken. Originally a home dish of the Ding family, guests loved it so much that the popularity spread.

Do you eat the peppers in Kung Pao Chicken? ›

Kung Pao Chicken is meant to have a kick from chilies, ginger and garlic. That being said, it is very EASY to customize the heat of this recipe. MILD KUNG PAO CHICKEN: Stir fry 15 Thai chili peppers without cuttings any of them open (and of course, don't eat the whole chilies!).

What is Kung Pao sauce made of? ›

Kung pao sauce has two layers of flavor, one is from spices and the other one is from a balance of soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar. Firstly, we fry garlic, ginger, and scallion with dried red pepper. This taste is called “胡辣味”, which means fried chili pepper taste.

What does kung pao mean in English? ›

adjective. ˈkəŋ-ˈpau̇ ˈküŋ-, ˈku̇ŋ- : being stir-fried or sometimes deep-fried and served in a spicy hot sauce usually with peanuts.

What is hoisin sauce made of? ›

Ingredients. The key ingredient of hoisin sauce is fermented soybean paste. Some hoisin sauce ingredients include starches such as sweet potato, wheat and rice, and water, sugar, soybeans, sesame seeds, white distilled vinegar, salt, garlic, red chili peppers, and sometimes preservatives or coloring agents.

What does kung mean in Chinese? ›

The term is made up of two characters: the first, Kung (功), can mean skillful work, hard training, or endeavor. The second, Fu (夫), means time spent. Together they mean time spent at skillful work, endeavor or hard training.

What is the real name of kung pao chicken? ›

Kung Pao chicken - or gōngbǎo jīdīng in the pinyin transliteration of the original Mandarin (宮保雞丁) - is named for a 19th century official who was held in high esteem by the local populace in Sichuan and hence by the ruling Qing dynasty overall. The name literally means 'palace guardian cubed chicken'.

What does traditional kung pao chicken taste like? ›

Our classic kung pao recipe brings together the warmth of chilli and ginger, the sweetness of honey and sherry, the saltiness of soy sauce, the sourness of vinegar, the nuttyness of peanuts and peanut oil, plus plenty of other flavourful ingredients that come together in delicious harmony.

Is Kung Pao chicken actually Chinese? ›

Kung pao chicken is Chinese-style stir-fried chicken cubes with dried chili peppers. It's a Sichuanese staple that was brought over to America and reinvented for local flavors and tastes. The Sichuanese version is a tad more complex, seasoned with Chinese peppercorns and a large heap of dried chili peppers.

What is kung pao three flavor? ›

Qty: A combination of chicken, shrimp and scallops with mushrooms, water chestnuts and peanuts in a spicy kung pao sauce.

What is a substitute for kung pao peppers? ›

If you're unable to find Sichuan peppercorns for your Kung Pao chicken recipe, there are a few common substitutes you can use to replicate their unique flavor and aroma. Here are some options: Black Peppercorns: Black peppercorns can be used as a substitute for Sichuan peppercorns in a pinch.

What's the difference between General Tso's and Kung Pao chicken? ›

General Tso's is sweeter with a milder spice, featuring deep-fried battered chicken. Kung Pao is spicier with stir-fried chicken, vegetables, and peanuts. Also, General Tso's has Chinese-American roots, while Kung Pao hails from Sichuan cuisine.

What's the difference between General Tso's and Kung Pao Chicken? ›

General Tso's is sweeter with a milder spice, featuring deep-fried battered chicken. Kung Pao is spicier with stir-fried chicken, vegetables, and peanuts. Also, General Tso's has Chinese-American roots, while Kung Pao hails from Sichuan cuisine.

What is the Flavour of kung pao? ›

Our classic kung pao recipe brings together the warmth of chilli and ginger, the sweetness of honey and sherry, the saltiness of soy sauce, the sourness of vinegar, the nuttyness of peanuts and peanut oil, plus plenty of other flavourful ingredients that come together in delicious harmony.

What is in Kung Pao Chicken at panda? ›

Kung pao chicken

A Szechwan-inspired dish with chicken, peanuts and vegetables, finished with chili peppers.

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