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Kung Pao Chicken

Posted by Denise on August 12, 2011

kung pao chicken in black bowl

Kung Pao Chicken is easy, fast and delicious.

Many Asian stir fry recipes have an ingredient list a mile long and each item on the list has to be sliced, diced and otherwise prepared. It’s enough to wear me out just reading about all the prep work! Some recipes are worth the effort, but I save those meals for special occasions. The nice thing about most stir fry dishes is that a lot of the work can be done beforehand and the actual stir fry is done quickly.

The good news is that our Kung Pao Chicken does not take lots of preparation to fix. The entire meal can be on the table in less than an hour. It’s easy enough to fix on a week night. And we love the taste, so this is one of our favorite go-to chicken recipes.

Even though the ingredient list in this recipe is a little longer than what I would normally do on a work night, there is very little prep time needed and what does need to be done can be accomplished quickly.

I use a wok for stir frying, but if you don’t have a wok you can use a skillet. Just be sure to watch it closely and stir it more frequently to avid burning the ingredients.

I have a confession to make. Ready? Ok, I was one of those naïve people who went to the State Fair, fell for a sales pitch, and bought my wok and a bunch of accessories. You know, the bamboo steam baskets, bamboo-handled strainer, wire warming rack, the whole works. I mean this wok was outfitted to the max. J At that time I was fresh out of college and working for a company that had a booth at the fair. I was assigned to work the booth. As I was leaving to go home one evening I decided to look around at the other booths. The next thing I know, I’ve written a check for more than I’d spend on groceries for a week and was happily carting a big box under one arm and a bag under the other the half mile out to my car. I had a nagging feeling at the time that I probably paid too much for my purchase, but since I’ve used it for over 25 years I think I did fine!

                wok photo

Back to the recipe. The good news is that there is not much to prep. You will need to wash and slice the green onion, mince the garlic and peeled ginger, then slice the chicken. That’s it. Easy, huh?

I either make the rice right before I stir fry and keep it warm, or I ask Glenn to make it while I do the rest. Once I start cooking the Kung Pao Chicken, it comes together so fast that I don’t have time to make the rice. And I want to serve it immediately while the chicken is hot and the vegetables don’t have time to get soggy.

The dried red chili peppers can be purchased in many grocery stores, normally near the Asian ingredients. If you cannot find them, you can use crushed red pepper flakes. Just add them after you thicken the sauce.

We think you will enjoy our Kung Pao Chicken!




Kung Pao Chicken

Makes 4-6 servings 

kung pao chicken ingredients 


Note:  Make sure you don’t use re-use anything that the raw chicken touches before it is washed. The raw chicken may contaminate other ingredients. Always wash your hands, the knife, cutting board, and anything else raw chicken touches in hot sudsy water before using it again. If you cut the onion, garlic, and ginger first, then the chicken, you will be fine.



2-4  Cups rice, cooked according to package directions

4-6        Boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into
             even bite-sized peices

2           Tablespoons peanut oil

3-5         Dried red chili peppers

6-8         Green onions, white and firm green parts cut into ½ to ¾ “ lengths

2            teaspoons corn starch

4           Tablespoons soy sauce

1           Tablespoon sugar

2           Tablespoons rice vinegar

1-1/2     Tablespoons cold water

3           Tablespoons sesame oil

1           Clove garlic, chopped

1           teaspoon minced pared fresh ginger root

1           Cup roasted peanuts, more for garnish

             Green portion of onions sliced into thin strips for garnish (optional)





1.  Prepare rice according to package instructions.


2. Cut the green onions and set aside. Chop the garlic and mince the fresh ginger. Cut the chicken into pieces.


cutting green for kung pao chicken

cutting chicken for kung pao chicken



3.  In a small bowl, combine the corn starch with the cold water until blended. Mix in the soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and rice vinegar. Set aside until needed.


making kung pao sauce


4. Put the peanut oil in the wok. Turn heat to medium high until hot, about 30 seconds, and add the red peppers. Let the peppers turn from bright red to a dark red color, making sure the peppers don’t burn. This flavors the oil as well as toasts the peppers.


kung pao chicken adding red peppers to oil



5.  Add the ginger and garlic and stir fry quickly, for about 10 seconds. Increase the heat to high. Immediately add about ¼ of the chicken pieces and cook for about 30 seconds, then add another ¼ of the chicken pieces, repeating the process until all of the chicken is in the wok. Cook for about 1 minute longer.


adding chicken for kung pao chicken



6.   Add cornstarch mixture to wok. Cook until thickened and chicken is cooked through, about 1 more minute. If the sauce is too thick, add more water and stir in. Add green onion to chicken and stir fry for about 30 seconds. Add peanuts and stir into chicken mixture. Serve immediately over rice.

               adding sauce to kung pao chicken in wok


kung pao chicken thickening sauce                    

                          kung pao chicken adding peanuts




 kung pao chicken in blue bowl

kung pao chicken in green dot bowl




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