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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 Healthier

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

Kung Pao Chicken in a Bowl with Rice

Kung Pao Chicken

5 from 48 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 mins
Cook Time: 9 mins
Total Time: 24 mins
Servings: 6

Ingredients  

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

Instructions

  • Dry the Chicken: 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.
  • Make Sauce: In a bowl, combine all Sauce ingredients and stir well until cornstarch is fully dissolved. Set aside.
  • Cook and Stir: 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.
  • Serve: Sprinkle on the green onions and transfer to serving dish or individual plates. Garnish with roasted peanuts if desired. Serve over cooked white or brown rice.

Notes

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

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
Method: Stovetop

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Recipe Rating




41 comments

    • Amanda Mason
    • 5 stars

    Made this for dinner….so good and easy to make! I added some red pepper flakes. Added some nice heat! I’ll be making this again soon!

      • Amy Dong

      So glad you enjoyed this!

    • Moop Brown
    • 5 stars

    This dish is incredibly flavorful and I love the way it in which it combines veggies and protein in such a tasty manner.

    • Amy Casey
    • 5 stars

    Absolutely delicious! I made this for one of my personal chef clients who loves spicy foods. They loved it!

      • Amy Dong

      That’s awesome!

    • Kristina
    • 5 stars

    What a great recipe! This was my first time cooking with Sichuan style peppers and the flavor they added was awesome. Highly recommend this recipe if you’re looking for something healthy but easy and full of flavor!

      • Amy Dong

      Awww, thank you, Kristina!

    • Leslie
    • 5 stars

    Kung Pao Chicken is definitely one of my go-to’s for takeout! This is a great recipe when I’m craving takeout!

      • Amy Dong

      We love it so much more than takeout, yes!

    • Amanda
    • 5 stars

    This is so much better than take-out. I love how quickly and easily it came together, and that sauce was wonderful. Loved the fresh ginger.

      • Amy Dong

      Thank you!

    • LaKita
    • 5 stars

    I was so excited to give this recipe a try and it did not disappoint, so flavorful and delicious!

      • Amy Dong

      Thank you!

    • veenaazmanov
    • 5 stars

    Definitely delicious. Looks so tempting and juicy. Combination of sauces and toppings definitely make it super yum.

    • Andrea Howe

    Our Family absolutely loved this dish! Prepared it this past weekend and it was a hit! Looking forward to the next time we get to enjoy this delicious and easy meal together!

    • Patricia
    • 5 stars

    One of my favorite dishes! I’m hitting the print button so we can enjoy this soon! Love this over take-out!

    • franckxethee

    I would love the Kung pao chicken. It looks so delicious along with the other meal choices. I’m sure I’m gonna eat a lot with this.

    • Crystal Gareau

    These recipes and photos look so mouth-watering delicious.

    • Heather Barber McMechan

    I don’t know what I like most about the recipe — how simple it is to make or how delicious it looks! I can’t wait to try this over the weekend. Fingers crossed our girls will like it.

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