What Is Kung Pao Chicken?
Kung Pao Chicken is from the Sichuan province in China. The Chinese name is 宫保鸡丁 (gong bao ji ding) but some restaurants spell it as Gong Bao Chicken or Kung Po Chicken.
This is a spicy chicken dish with a mouthwatering Kung Pao Sauce. It is popular at Chinese takeouts or restaurants here in the United States.
Other Chinese Recipes You Might Like
- Kung Pao Shrimp
- General Tso’s Chicken
- Hunan Chicken
- Broccoli Beef
- Orange Chicken
- Sweet and Sour Pork
Is Kung Pao Chicken Authentic?
Authentic recipe calls for Sichuan peppercorn for the numbing flavor and loads of dried red chilies for the “mala” (spicy and numbing) flavors.
The Americanized version we get here is not authentic but delicious.
Vegetables such as carrots, water chestnuts, celery, zucchini and broccoli are part of the dish.
Kung Pao Sauce
Kung Pao Sauce is the soul of Kung Pao Chicken. The sauce is brown in color, mildly spicy and dangerously addictive. It tastes salty, sweet and vinegary.
The secret ingredient is Chinese black (dark) vinegar and below is the list of ingredients of the sauce:
- Soy sauce
- Dark soy sauce
- Corn Starch
The spiciness of Kung Pao Chicken comes from the dried red chilies in the stir-fry and not from the sauce. You may use rice vinegar, red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar for equally delicious results.
How Do You Make Kung Pao Chicken
This is a stir-fry chicken dish in a work or skillet. First, you cook the ginger and garlic with heated oil, then you add the dried red chilies to bring out the spiciness.
Add the chicken, peanuts and the Kung Pao Sauce and cook until the chicken is done.
Tips on How to Stir-fry Kung Pao Chicken
- Heat the wok or skillet before stir-frying.
- Cut the chicken into uniform pieces so they cook evenly.
- Prepare the Kung Pao Sauce in advance by mixing all the ingredients together.
- The spatula plays an active role in stir-frying so use it to continuously stir and toss the ingredients in a back and forth, circular, turning and flipping motions.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the Meaning of Kung Pao?
Kung Pao or Gong Bao derived from Chinese words 宫保。According to Baike, a Chinese online encyclopedia, the dish was invented by a Sichuan General Ding Baozhen.
He loved chicken and peanut in a spicy sauce, and hence he created the recipe.
The name Kung Pao came from his honorary title and hence the name origin of this famous dish.
How Many Calories Is This Recipe?
This is a healthy recipe and only 360 calories. Serve the chicken with steamed rice, fried rice or noodles.
What Dishes to Serve with This Recipe?
For a wholesome Chinese dinner, make the following dishes.
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Kung Pao Chicken (The Best Recipe!)
Kung Pao Chicken is a Chinese takeout loaded with spicy chicken, peanuts, vegetables in a mouthwatering Kung Pao sauce.
- 12 oz. boneless & skinless chicken breasts
- 3 tablespoons roasted peanuts
- 6-8 dried red chilies seeded and cut into halves
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 5 slices peeled fresh ginger
- 2 cloves garlic sliced diagonally
- 1 stalk scallion cut into rings
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Chinese Shaoxing rice wine optional
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon Chinese black vinegar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon corn starch
Cut the chicken meat into small cubes, rinse in water, pat dry with paper towels and marinate with the ingredients above for 30 minutes.
Mix the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
Heat up a wok with one tablespoon of oil and stir-fry the marinated chicken until they are 70% cook. Dish out and set aside. Clean the wok and add in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil until it's fully heated. Add in the ginger and garlic slices and do a quick stir before adding in the dried red chilies.
Stir-fry the dried red chilies until aromatic and smell spicy, then add in the chicken meat. Do a few quick stirs before adding in the roasted peanuts.
Add the sauce and stir continuously until the chicken meat is nicely coated with the sauce. Add in the scallions, stir to combine well with the chicken, dish out and serve immediately with steamed rice.
Watch the cooking video on this page for step-by-step guide.
If you like shrimp, you can check out my Kung Pao Shrimp recipe.
You may use rice vinegar, red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar in lieu of Chinese black vinegar.
As different soy sauce tastes differently and has different level of sodium so please adjust the saltiness accordingly. If the sauce tastes too salty, add some more sugar and water. If it's not salty, add a little salt to taste.
What kind of red Chile is used for this recipe
Any dried red chilies are fine.
Tried this recipe today and it was awesome! I marinated the chicken 2 hours before cooking and the results were good. Just wondering, I have added about 12 dried red chillies and it still isn’t spicy enough for me. What else can I add to it to make it even spicier?
Hi Sue Ann, just add more dried red chilies. Make sure you break the chilies off.
You can try to buy toasted dried chilies they come in a plastic bag .you can find them in a Mexican store.those are super spicy
Red pepper flakes
Have you tried red pepper flakes??
Sichuan peppercorns and white pepper
Hi, wondering how to ajdust this recipe for 4 people. From what I gather this serves one person.
Thanks, excited to make this!
This serves 3 people and each person gets 3 oz of chicken with the other ingredients in the recipe. If you want to have a big portion, you can double or triple the recipe.
Tried this today my kids love it. I used Gourmet cooking wine.
Its a great recipe, but instead of using store bought Shaoxing rice wine which has salt in it, I use Pagoda Shaoxing Huadiao Rice Wine (No Salt) with 17% alcohol and has a better favor, although you can’t buy it in Asian stores but you can order it on line. Thank you for your great recipes.
Hi Alfred, thanks for trying my recipe. Please try more recipes on my site: https://rasamalaysia.com/recipe-index-gallery/
I just tried this recipe, and it’s very nice. I did add more salt and dark soy sauce to make the color darker but all the base is using your recipe. Thank you for sharing! The steps are easy to follow even I am a beginner in cooking.
Hi Donna, thanks so much for trying my Kung Pao chicken. All my recipes are very easy and delicious, please try more recipes: https://rasamalaysia.com/recipe-index-gallery/
This looks so yummy! Thanks for sharing it!
Thanks Viki, please try more recipes on my site: https://rasamalaysia.com/recipe-index-gallery/
This is a perfect recipe for kung pao chicken that i am looking for. Love almost every recipe you published and particularly some Chinese recipes are awesome. Is it okay to substitute peanuts with cashew nuts? At our place most restaurant serve it with cashew.
Hi Mobasir, yes you won’t find better recipes elsewhere. Yes you can use cashew nuts.
You mentioned in your preview of the recipe (and your pictured shows) sliced celery, but it is not listed amongst the ingredients. I’m assuming it was just left out as you were typing the ingredients. I’m figuring maybe one celery stalk, thinly sliced? I just sent my hubby out to the Asian market to find the black vinegar and dark soy sauce so I can make it for him tonight! I can’t wait!
Hi Karen, no, there is no celery in my recipe. What you see on the photos are the white parts of scallions. In my post, I said that the Americanized version of Kung Pao chicken is made with celery, etc. The authentic Kung Pao Chicken doesn’t ever have celery.
Good kung pao chicken.
This Kung Pao recipe is absolutely wonderful. Better than what I get in our local Asian restaurants.
Did not have to change a thing. Will definitely be making this a lot. Have already passed it around at work, since I brought it one day for a pot luck Asian theme. They all but begged me for the recipe, so I referred them to your web site so they could enjoy all of the other wonderful recipes you provide us.
Thanks so much for your expertise and willingness to share with all of us.
Hi Terri, thanks so much for your sweet comment. I am so happy to read it. And thanks for passing my website information to them. Much love to you and please try more recipes on my site: https://rasamalaysia.com/recipe-index-gallery/