Kung Pao Chicken

Come try my mouthwatering Kung Pao Chicken recipe, a quick and delightful stir-fry that combines tender chicken, fresh squash, and a homemade Kung Pao sauce! This dish brings together sweet, savory, and spicy flavors, all in just 15 minutes, making it the perfect choice for anyone craving authentic Kung Pao chicken at home!

Kung pao chicken severed in a white bowl topped with green onions, chopped macadamia nuts and green pepper being picked up with a pair of red chopsticks.

Why I Love This Recipe

What sets my Kung Pao Chicken recipe apart from the rest is its simplicity and speed! This Asian-inspired dish features chicken thighs, crisp squash, and a flavorful homemade sauce all stir-fried, bypassing the need for marination much like my popular Black Pepper Chicken and Japanese Pork Stir Fry dishes. It’s a quick and easy way to enjoy the classic taste of Kung Pao chicken right in your own kitchen!

The dish boasts a blend of sweet, savory, and spicy notes, making it a delightful option for those seeking a satisfying lunch or dinner that’s bursting with flavor. Give it a try, and let your taste buds taste the goodness of this recipe!



  • Chicken – boneless and skinless chicken thigh.
  • Squash – fresh green squash and cut into cubes.
  • Salt – sea salt preferred.
  • Black Pepper – ground.
  • Roasted Macadamia Nuts – lightly salted and Roasted Macadamia Nuts. 
  • Green Onion – finely chopped green onion scallions.
  • Neutral Oil no taste or flavor with high cooking temperature. Some choices are sunflower oil, peanut oil, sallower oil, vegetable oil, and canola oil. 
  • Garlic– freshly grated garlic.
  • Soy Sauce – low-sodium Soy Sauce preferred. Can also use tamari for gluten-free.
  • Chicken Broth – chicken stock that comes in a can or tetra pack found at grocery stores. Can also use low sodium chicken broth if preferred.
  • Japanese Sake – typically will come in a large bottle labeled junmai sake. Can also substitute with dry sherry wine or Chinese cooking shaoxing wine, found at local grocery stores or Asian markets. 
  • Sweetener – use your preferred sweetener.
  • Red Wine Vinegar – vinegar made from red wine and red in color, can be found at grocery stores.
  • Sriracha – Asian style chill sauce.
  • Toasted Sesame Oil – 100% Toasted Sesame Oil that should have a dark brown color.  
  • Thickener – corn starch slurry, Xanthan Gum for low carb, or thickener of choice.

Additional Add Ins

Infuse your Kung Pao sauce with Ginger, Red Pepper, and Hoisin Sauce to elevate its flavor profile while maintaining its authentic taste.

🍗 Chicken Note

Feel free to opt for Chicken Breast as a substitute if that’s your preference.

Kung pao chicken severed in a white bowl topped with green onions, chopped macadamia nuts and green pepper, top down shot.

Essential Kitchen Equipment


☑ Before Getting Started

Use a spacious Wok or Deep Skillet accompanied by High-Temperature Cooking Oil. This combination ensures efficient heat distribution and allows you to achieve the perfect stir-fry texture and flavor.

Step 1 Pulse macadamia nuts until broken into small chunks.

Macadamia nuts in a food processor.

Step 2 Prepare the sauce by combining grated garlic, soy sauce, chicken broth, Japanese sake, sweetener, red wine vinegar, sriracha, toasted sesame oil, optional add-ins and a thickener in a saucepan. Simmer under low heat until thickened, then set aside.

Kung pao sauce being cooked in a frying pan.

🥄 Corn Starch Pro Tip

If using Corn Starch Slurry as a thickener, prepare a mixture of 1 Tablespoon of Corn Starch and 2 Tablespoons of Water in a mixing bowl. Gradually add this mixture to your sauce until it reaches the desired thickness.

Step 3 In a wok or deep skillet, add cubed chicken to an oil-coated pan, season with salt and black pepper, and cook for 4-5 minutes until the chicken turns golden brown.

Chicken in a frying pan.

Step 4 Adjust the heat to medium, add in the squash and the prepared sauce, and cook while combining.

Kung pao sauce mixed with chicken in a frying pan.

Step 5 Transfer the cooked dish to a serving plate and garnish with green onions and macadamia nuts or peanuts.

Paring Recommendations

Consider serving it with your preferred bowl of rice, which makes for a satisfying pairing that allows you to soak up all the delicious juices from the sauce. For a delicate and light option, a bowl of Egg Drop Soup, known for its comforting qualities, pairs exceptionally well with the hearty Kung Pao sauce of the chicken. If you’re looking to incorporate some veggies, tender stir-fry vegetables like Baby Bok Choy Stir Fry can bring freshness and balance to the meal. And if you happen to have any leftover Kung Pao sauce, why not drizzle it over some Brussels Sprouts and whip up a quick batch of Spicy Garlic Sauteed Brussels Sprouts for a flavorful side dish.

Kung pao chicken severed in a white bowl topped with green onions, chopped macadamia nuts and green pepper, top down shot.

Frequently Asked Questions

What sweeteners can I use in the sauce?

You can use sugar or your preferred sugar substitute in the sauce.

Can I prepare the sauce in advance and store it for later use?

Yes, you can. The sauce will hold well in the fridge for 14-21 days if stored in an airtight container.

Is there a way to make this dish less spicy if I'm sensitive to heat?

You can adjust the spice level by using less Sriracha sauce. Simply add it according to your heat preference to make the dish milder.


Kung pao chicken severed in a white bowl topped with green onions, chopped macadamia nuts and green pepper, close up shot.

Storage Tips

To store leftovers, place them in an airtight container and refrigerate. The leftovers will stay fresh for approximately 5-7 days. When ready to enjoy again, simply reheat them in the microwave.

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Watch How To Make It

Kung pao chicken severed in a white bowl topped with green onions, chopped macadamia nuts and green pepper.

Kung Pao Chicken

Discover the perfect Kung Pao Chicken recipe, a delightful blend of flavors that will delight your taste buds and satisfy your cravings.
4.72 from 14 votes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese
Keyword: kung pao chicken recipe, kung pao stir fry
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 2
Print Recipe
Calories: 525kcal


Stir Fry

  • 3/4 lbs Chicken Thighs can sub with chicken breast
  • 1/2 Whole Squash
  • 1/8 tsp Salt
  • 1/8 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/4 Cup Macadamia Nuts or dry roasted peanuts
  • 1 Stalk Green Onions
  • 1 tbsp Cooking Oil neutral, no flavor or taste


  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 1/2 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Chicken Broth
  • 2 tbsp Japanese Sake can substitute with dry sherry wine or Chinese cooking wine
  • 1 tbsp Sweetener your preferred sweetener
  • 2 tsp Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha
  • 1 tsp Toasted Sesame Oil
  • 1/8 tsp Xanthan Gum or thickener of choice


  • Gather all the ingredients.
    Kung pao chicken ingredients.
  • Place roasted macadamia nuts into a food processor and pulse until broken into small pieces. Note - if you don't have a food processor, place macadamia nuts into a zip lock bag with a towel covered over to gently crush with a mallet.
    Macadamia nuts in a food processor.
  • Cut squash into 1/2 inch thick slices and then cut each slice into 1/4th.
    Chopped squash.
  • Thinly slice green onions and set aside.
    Chopped squash.
  • Pat chicken dry with a paper towel and cut into small bite-size pieces, about 1/2 x 1/2 inch and set aside.
    Cubed chicken.
  • Finely mince garlic and add into a mixing bowl along with soy sauce, chicken broth, Japanese sake, red wine vinegar, sweetener, Sriracha, toasted sesame oil and mix well.
    Kung pao sauce in a mixing bowl.
  • In a small fry pan, add sauce mix on medium heat and bring to light boil. Once boiling, gently mix in xanthan gum or corn starch slurry and mix until dissolved. Lower heat to simmer for 2-3 minutes until sauce is thickened and set aside.
    Kung pao sauce being cooked in a frying pan.
  • In a deep fry pan or wok, add neutral cooking oil on high heat. Once the oil is preheated, add in chicken and reduce to medium heat. Sprinkle salt and pepper and keep stirring/mixing until chicken is nearly cooked through, about 4-5 minutes.
    Chicken in a frying pan.
  • Next, reduce heat to medium-low and add in squash and sauce. Continue cook for an additional minute while coating the chicken and squash with the sauce.
    Kung pao sauce mixed with chicken in a frying pan.
  • Remove from heat and mix in green onions and crushed roasted macadamia nuts. Transfer to serving plate.


Calories: 525kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 43g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 22g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 167mg | Sodium: 461mg | Potassium: 464mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 223IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 45mg | Iron: 2mg
*Values Based Per Serving
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