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Kung Pao Chicken (Healthy!)

This Kung Pao Chicken Recipe is savory, saucy, and sensational. It’s one of our favorite healthy and fast chicken recipes for any busy weeknight. This amazing Kung Pao Chicken is doubly delicious over a bowl of fluffy rice. 

Kung Pao Chicken in a Bowl with Rice
Homemade Kung Pao Chicken is so much tastier and healthier than takeout.

What is Kung Pao Chicken?

Kung Pao Chicken is now a popular dish on the menu at most Chinese restaurants. It may have originated from the province of Sichuan, where flavors are bold and spicy. Today’s kung pao chicken recipes tend to include cut-up bite size chicken that is stir fried with onions, and dried chili peppers.

This Kung Pao Chicken recipe has been modified to be mildly spicy, and balanced out with bell peppers for color and texture. This is one of those chicken recipes that your family will gobble up as quickly as you dish it up. It’s fast, healthy, and way better than takeout.

Watch Us Make Kung Pao Chicken

How to Make Kung Pao Chicken

Popular Chinese takeout items like Orange Chicken and Kung Pao Chicken may have a less than healthy reputation. However, you can absolutely serve up these mouthwatering takeout dishes at home in just 30 minutes and feel great about what you’re serving up.

There’s zero need for excess grease, added MSG, or unwanted fat. Here are a few pantry staples we use:

  • Use boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, fully trimmed.
  • Add fresh bell peppers, which give this dish a crisp vegetable boost.
  • Use Tamari soy sauce, which is known for its deep umami flavors, with less sodium than regular soy sauce and is typically gluten-free.
  • Use real, raw honey instead of sugar.
  • Use olive oil for quickly stir frying.
Kung Pao Chicken in a Pan
Kung Pao Chicken is packed with bold flavors; this saucy dish is amazing over jasmine rice.

What you’ll love about Kung Pao Chicken

We think your family will sprint to the kitchen when they smell the savory aroma of kung pao chicken wafting through the air. Here’s what else they (and you) will love:

  • This dish comes together quickly and easily, once you have all ingredients ready.
  • The sauce can be made days in advance and chilled until ready to use.
  • Kung pao chicken boasts aromatic, bold flavors with just the right amount of kick.
  • It’s loaded with veggies and protein all in one.
  • This saucy dish is amazing over a bed of fluffy rice.
  • Because kung pao chicken can be made ahead of time, it’s ideal for meal prep.
  • This Kung Pao Chicken recipe happens to be gluten free and dairy free, so everyone can enjoy.
Kung Pao Chicken in a Bowl with Rice
Serve saucy Kung Pao Chicken with a bed of fluffy Jasmine rice.

Kung Pao Chicken
Commonly Asked Questions

What does kung pao chicken taste like?

Kung pao chicken is famous for its deeply savory, umami flavors and spicy kick. It typically has a fragrant sauce that’s infused with garlic, ginger, and green onions.

What chili peppers are in kung pao chicken?

We love dry Sichuan red chili peppers, which have a medium-spicy kick to them. Use as many or as little as you like, depending on taste.

What vegetables are in kung pao chicken?

This dish classically contains brown or yellow onions, but sometimes includes bell peppers. This recipe uses bell peppers and green onions.

Where did kung pao chicken originate?

This dish has its origins commonly traced back to the province of Sichuan in China.

Can I make kung pao chicken in advance?

Like most stir fry dishes, kung pao chicken is great for meal prep. You can make a big batch and keep them in airtight containers in the fridge for up to several days.

More to Eat

Did you make this?

Please give us a rating and comment below. We love hearing from you!

Kung Pao Chicken in a Bowl with Rice

Kung Pao Chicken

4.98 from 71 ratings
This Kung Pao Chicken Recipe is savory, saucy, and sensational. It’s one of our favorite healthy and fast chicken recipes for any busy weeknight. This amazing Kung Pao Chicken is doubly delicious over a bowl of fluffy rice.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 9 minutes
Total Time: 24 minutes
Servings: 6
Author: Amy Dong


For Chicken Marinade:

For the Sauce:

To Cook:

  • 4 TB olive oil
  • 5-6 dried chili peppers, preferably Sichuan style
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tsp freshly minced ginger
  • 1 large bell pepper, red, yellow, or orange seeded and chopped
  • ¼ cups green onions, thinly sliced
  • Optional: 1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts, for garnish


  • Towel dry chicken pieces to remove excess liquid. Place chicken in a bowl and add all Marinade ingredients, stirring until all cornstarch is fully dissolved. Set aside.
  • In a bowl, combine all Sauce ingredients and stir well until cornstarch is fully dissolved. Set aside.
  • In a large wok or large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until oil is hot. Add chilies, garlic, and ginger, continually stirring 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add marinated chicken and keep stirring until no longer pink in center, 3-5 minutes. Add bell pepper, stirring 1 minute. Add your Sauce, stirring to coat well and heat through, about 2 minutes.
  • Sprinkle on the green onions and transfer to serving dish or individual plates. Garnish with roasted peanuts if desired. Serve over cooked white or


Sauce can be made 1-2 days in advance. Warm it up a bit and stir prior to using. 
Feel free to use reduced sodium tamari soy sauce, if you’re watching salt intake but enjoy the umami flavor of soy sauce. 
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and give it a rating ♡

Nutrition (per serving)

Calories: 368kcal | Carbohydrates: 11.6g | Protein: 35.5g | Fat: 19.7g | Saturated Fat: 3.1g | Cholesterol: 110.4mg | Sodium: 448.4mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 7.2g
Course: chicken, Main Dish
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese
Diet: Gluten Free, Low Fat
Method: Stovetop

4.98 from 71 votes (44 ratings without comment)

Add a comment

Recipe Rating


    • Ty
    • 5 stars

    Fantastic!! Added a touch of coconut aminos and a bit of broccolini and green beans.

      • Amy Dong

      Great job, Ty! 🙂

    • Hayley Dhanecha
    • 5 stars

    I shared this recipe with my friend who is on low fat diet currently, already she made twice in a week. Thanks for sharing!

      • Amy Dong

      Yay, love that! 🙂

    • Dennis
    • 5 stars

    your recipe made one of the best kung pao chickens I’ve ever had!

      • Amy Dong

      Yay, thank you, Dennis!

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