Spicy Kung Pao Chicken

5 from 3 reviews

Tender pieces of diced chicken stir-fried with aromatics, peanuts, and dried red chilies in a deliciously spicy, sweet, and savory sauce. Serve it over warm steamed rice and a side of stir fried veggies for a tasty Chinese dinner!




  • 7 cloves Garlic – minced
  • 2 TBLS Ginger (about 1.5″ chunk) – minced
  • 58 Fresh Red Chilies (Thai/Bird’s Eye Chili preferred, and to taste depending on your heat level preference) – chopped into small pieces
  • 3 Spring Onions (Scallions) – chopped into 1-inch pieces, separate the whites & greens
  • 2 Chicken Breasts (about 400g), boneless, skinless – diced into bite sized cubes



  • 1 TSP Corn Starch
  • 2 TSP White Sugar
  • 4 TSP Low Sodium Light Soy Sauce (see notes)
  • 1 TSP Light Soy Sauce (see notes)
  • 4 TSP Shao Xing Rice Wine
  • 2 TBLS Black Rice Vinegar Sauce
  • 1 TBLS Sichuan Hot & Spicy Sauce (I use Lee Kum Kee’s, substitute with any Sichuan or chili fermented bean paste if unavailable)
  • 1 TBLS Gochujang Hot Pepper Paste (I use Chung Jung One’s Sunchang Gochujang)
  • 3 TBLS Water




  1. Chopping: Prepare and chop all the “CHOPPING” ingredients. Add the garlic, ginger, and spring onion whites to a small bowl. Add your fresh red chilies and spring onion greens into two separate small bowls.
  2. Sauce Bowl: In a medium bowl, add the corn starch, white sugar, low sodium light soy sauce, shao xing rice wine, black rice vinegar, Sichuan Hot & Spicy Sauce, and gochujang. Mix thoroughly and set aside.
  3. Chicken Marinade: Mix together the corn starch, low sodium light soy sauce, shao xing rice wine, a dash of sesame oil in a large bowl. Add the diced chicken and mix to coat them well with the marinade. Set aside to marinate while you prepare the other ingredients.
  4. Prep for Dried Red Chilies: Heat the wok on the stove – about 20-30 seconds. Add about 3 tablespoons of peanut oil to the wok (you will use this same oil later to semi-fry the chicken). Lift the wok and swirl it in a circular motion so that the oil spreads around the perimeter and then place it back on the stove to let it heat up. Add the dried red chilies and gently stir them around the wok until they get crispy – about 20 seconds. Be careful not to burn them! Remove them to a strainer and hold the strainer above the wok to let any oil drain back into it. Empty the chilies into a small bowl. Once they are not too hot to handle, cut each dried red chili up into two or three pieces with cooking scissors (cut the longer ones into three pieces and the shorter ones into two).
  5. Prep For the Marinated Chicken: Turn on stove again and add a dash of sesame oil to the peanut oil already in the wok. Lift the wok again and rotate it in a circular motion so that the oil spreads around and then place it back on the stove to let it heat up. Once heated, add the chicken and spread evenly in the wok. Let the chicken cook and brown for about 1 minute before starting to toss and flip the pieces. Once they are about three fourths of the way cooked, remove the chicken pieces to the fine mesh strainer and hold above the wok to let the oil drain. (You can gently shake the strainer to speed up the draining process, but be careful not to shake with too violently as that’ll cause some of the cornstarch to come off and make the chicken a bit mushy.) Remove the chicken into another clean large bowl and set aside. Discard the oil in the wok and wipe with paper towels. Set back on stove.

Spicy Kung Pao Chicken:

  1. Turn on the stove and set to medium high heat. Add the remaining 1 & TBLS peanut oil, chili oil (if using), peppercorn oil, and sesame oil.
  2. Once the oil is hot (not smoking hot), add in the garlic, ginger, and spring onion whites. Give it a quick stir to prevent the garlic from burning.
  3. Add in the roasted unsalted peanuts and dried red peppercorns. Let the peanuts brown in the wok for about 20 seconds before tossing again.
  4. Add in the fresh red chilies and press them down with your spatula to release their oils. Continue stir-frying to incorporate them with the other ingredients.
  5. Add the diced chicken and dried red chilies and toss everything together to combine.
  6. Give the bowl of sauce a stir (to loosen up the corn starch) with a spoon and pour in the sauce in a circular motion to cover as many of the chicken pieces. Stir-fry and toss continuously to coat all the chicken pieces with the sauce.
  7. At this point and if it looks too dry, stir in a tablespoon of water.
  8. Add the spring onion greens and toss for 30 seconds more to combine.
  9. Turn off the heat and remove to dish. Serve with steamed white rice.


  1. I use both Kikkoman brand (a Japanese brand) light soy sauces – one with less sodium and one with the regular level of sodium. I use them both because I find the regular one a bit too salty for my liking to use only it. Feel free to adjust the levels for both to your preference. Another option is to use a teaspoon of Thai Dark Soy Sauce (which is thicker, sweeter, and darker) if you prefer a sweeter and milder flavor. You can also use Chinese Dark Soy Sauce, which is darker and slightly less salty than your typical Chinese Light Soy Sauce. It’s generally used to add a darker color to dishes and often used in various stir fried dishes such as stir-fried noodle dishes like my Stir-fried E-Fu Noodles with Shrimp. Use whatever you feel comfortable with and feel free to experiment with this recipe to find the best combination for your taste buds and future stir-fries because either option can work!
  2. Some people don’t prefer the pungent taste of Sichuan red peppercorns and find them too strong on the tongue. Go easy on them and don’t use more than ½ teaspoon of them if it’s your first time trying them! If you’re a fan of Mala food go ahead and add your desired amount.
  3. You can serve Spicy Kung Pao Chicken with quinoa, brown rice, or cauliflower rice. It is traditionally eaten with white rice as are most dishes in China, but feel free to have it with either one of the healthier grains mentioned if you like.
  4. For Spicy Kung Pao Shrimp, prepare the dish with the same ingredients and method but you will need about 500g of tail-on large shrimp. Remove tails & skin, devein if your prefer (optional as it’s not harmful to not, but just alters the taste slightly if you don’t), and clean & wash properly before preparing as above.


Keywords: quick and easy, stir fry, chinese chicken