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!
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
- 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…
- 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
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.
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 Sauce is 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!
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!
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
You’re going to love this easy recipe!
Copycat Kung Pao Chicken
For the Chicken:
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
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!
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