Kung Pao Chicken


You can make this recipe for Kung Pao Chicken that tastes better than your favorite Chinese take out version.

Try this delicious stir-fried chicken with hints of salty, sweet, and spicy flavors.

There are so many yummy ways that you can enjoy chicken for dinner.

If you are looking for something new, try one of these grilled chicken recipes for dinner tonight. Learn how long to grill drumsticks for your cookouts, too!

Kung Pao Chicken in a bowl served over rice photo has text that reads Kung Pao Chicken on it.

Kung Pao Chicken

If you aren’t familiar with this Chinese chicken recipe, let me explain. Traditionally, kung pao chicken is a stir fry recipe with a small amount of very flavorful sauce.

Now, if you really love the taste of recipes with kung pao sauce, you can certainly add more.

But, if you want to enjoy it the way you would eat it at your favorite Chinese restaurant, you only want the sauce to coat the meat and the vegetables.

You can always make up a little bit extra to serve on the side if you want to. I find it’s delicious to use as a dip for egg rolls and spring rolls.

What is kung pao sauce?

Each restaurant has its own special kung pao chicken recipe. However, this usually refers to a sauce made of soy sauce, chicken broth, vinegar, cornstarch, and chili paste.

We’ve made a few modifications to the recipe to suit our taste. Instead, we have used crushed red pepper and garlic chili sauce. You can modify it to suit your family.

Traditional kung pao sauce is slightly salty, sweet, and spicy all combined into one dish.

To make this dish even spicier, you can add Szechuan peppers to it. 

These are also referred to as Sichuan peppercorns. You should be able to find them in the international section of your grocery store.

Kung Pao Chicken in a bowl with chopsticks on the side

How can I make this soy and gluten-free?

This kung pao chicken recipe traditionally uses soy sauce which isn’t suitable for people who have intolerances to soy or gluten.

So, if you want an alternative, you can try coconut aminos instead.

This has a very similar taste to soy sauce but it is gluten-free and soy-free.

It’s ideal for someone with allergies or food intolerances.

What is Kung Pao?

You often see it written as kung pow. What it means is that the meat and vegetables have been stir-fried and served in a hot spicy sauce.

This dish is usually topped with peanuts.

Kung Pao chicken recipe served over rice

What should I serve this with?

Typically kung pao chicken is served over white rice or jasmine rice if you prefer. This would be a complete meal with meat, vegetables, and starch. You don’t really need to serve anything with it.

But, if you want to add something else, why not make egg rolls or spring rolls.

Or, you could always make crab rangoons if you are feeling energetic. Here are a few more ideas:

What type of chicken should I use?

The best type of chicken for this dish is boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

It will be easiest to cut into cubes if you buy this type of chicken. But, you could also remove the meat from a thigh if you prefer.

Kung Pao chicken ingredients

Here is a rundown of what you’ll need and how to cook this dish. Find complete instructions, ingredient amounts, and more at the bottom of the page.

  • 8 Boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 Tbs Cornstarch
  • 1 Tbs Olive oil
  • 1 tsp Crushed red pepper
  • 2 Tbs Garlic
  • 2 Tbs Garlic chili sauce
  • 2 Zucchini
  • 2 Bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup Coco aminos or soy sauce (coco aminos is for gluten-free and soy-free)
  • Optional: Peanuts

I do suggest using a wok. If you don’t have one, a deep skillet or saute pan will work just fine. 

If you’d like to get a wok, grab one here!

Best vegetables for kung pao chicken

I’ve used red bell peppers and zucchini in my stir fry recipe. Simply slice them up and follow the instructions to saute them.

Kung Pao Chicken Slices of zucchini on a cutting board for the homemade kung pao chicken recipeKung Pao Chicken Sliced red bell peppers on a cutting board

But, you could substitute other types of vegetables if you prefer. Traditional choices would be miniature corn, onions, chili peppers, and pea pods. 

I find that making a stir fry is an easy way to use up extra vegetables from the freezer or refrigerator.

So, I have also added broccoli, cauliflower, and even carrots when making Chinese recipes.

How To Make Kung Pao Chicken

Slice the chicken

Cut the chicken thighs into thin slices.

Kung Pao Chicken Cutting chicken thighs into thin slices

Roll in cornstarch

Add cornstarch to a bowl and roll the chicken into the cornstarch. Make sure to coat the chicken well.

Kung Pao Chicken Coating chicken in cornstarch in a bowl.

Heat the pan

Using a deep saute pan or a wok if you have one, add the olive oil and crushed red pepper. Bring the pan to a medium heat, stirring the pepper into the oil.

Kung Pao Chicken Olive oil and crushed red pepper in a pan

Add Garlic

Once the pan reaches medium heat, add the garlic to the pan and saute for an additional minute.

Kung Pao Chicken sautéing crushed garlic with red peppers and olive oil in a pan

Cook the chicken

Add the chicken to the garlic and red pepper mixture. Cook for about 6-7 minutes.

Add in the garlic chili sauce, soy, or coco aminos at this point. Mix it all together.

Kung Pao Chicken cooking kung pao chicken in a pan

Cover and cook an additional 12 minutes or until the chicken is done and tender.

Cook the vegetables

When the chicken is done, remove it from the pan. Add your zucchini and bell pepper to the pan and saute for 5 minutes on high. 

After sauteing the vegetables, add the chicken back into the pan and cook for an additional 2 minutes before moving to a serving dish.

Kung Pao Chicken Completed bowl of Kung Pao Chicken

What can I top this dish with?

The traditional topping for this dish is peanuts.

But, if you have someone with a peanut allergy in your home, you can easily top it with chopped green spring onions instead.

Kung Pao Chicken Recipe served over rice

What’s the difference between Kung Pao chicken and General Tsao’s chicken?

These are two of my favorite Chinese recipes. And, while they are similar, there are a few definite differences between these two dishes.

Typically, General Tsao’s chicken is breaded and fried. And, kung pao chicken is not breaded. 

And, General Tsao’s does not usually contain any vegetables at all. When making kung pao chicken, you will normally add onions and red bell peppers.

Kung Pao chicken. A delicious homemade recipe served in a white bowl with chopsticks

5 from 1 vote

Kung Pao Chicken

A delicious Kung Pao chicken recipe that is easy to make right on your stovetop at home.
Servings 6 people
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 30 mins


  • Deep Saute Pan
  • Wok


  • 8 count boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons garlic chili sauce
  • 2 count zucchini cut in half lengthwise and halved or quartered
  • 2 count red bell peppers seeds removed and diced
  • 1/4 cup coco aminos or soy sauce
  • Peanuts - optional


  • Cut chicken into thin slices removing all fat and toss with cornstarch. Slice zucchinis and bell peppers
  • In a deep pan or wok add olive oil and crushed pepper; bring to medium heat
  • Add garlic and saute for 1 minute
  • Add chicken and cook for 6 to 7 minutes
  • Add in garlic chili sauce, soy or coco aminos, and toss well. Cover and cook for an additional 12 minutes or until chicken is done and tender
  • Remove chicken from the pan
  • Add vegetables to the pan and saute on high for 5 minutes.
  • Return chicken back to the pan and cook for 2 minutes
  • Serve with rice and top with peanuts if desired



Make this recipe your own by adding vegetables of your choosing. Simply saute them as instructed in the recipe.
Add peanuts for traditional Kung Pao flavor and texture; leave out if desired.
Author: Scrappy Geek
Cost: $10
Course: Dinner, Main, Main Course, Main Dishes
Cuisine: Chinese

Join the Conversation

  1. 5 stars
    Keep things spicy with this delicious kung pao chicken recipe! We love it and so will you.

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