Top view of stir-fry chicken dish with bell peppers and cashews in a round serving bowl.

Thai Cashew Chicken

5 from 1 reviews

A quick and easy stir-fry that’s incredibly delicious! Garlic, chilies, onion, bell peppers, roasted cashews, and tender chicken pieces get tossed in a lip-smacking and tasty garlicky sauce!



For the Chicken:

For the Sauce:

For the Thai Cashew Chicken:



  1. Marinate the chicken: Clean and pat-dry the chicken breasts, then thinly slice into bite-sized pieces. Combine the chicken and sweet dark soy sauce in a large bowl. Mix until the chicken is fully coated in the sauce, then set aside to marinate for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Make the sauce: Combine the light soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, tamarind paste, brown sugar, corn starch, and water in a measuring cup (for easier pouring) or small bowl. Mix until thoroughly combined, then set aside.
  3. Prepare the fresh ingredients: Prepare/chop the onion, garlic, red chilies, red and yellow bell peppers, and spring onion as indicated in the ‘Ingredients’ section. Rinse the Thai dried red chilies and pat-dry with a paper towel. Remove the stems and set aside.

For the Thai Cashew Chicken:

  1. Fry the dried red chilies: Heat ½ tablespoon of canola oil in a large nonstick wok over medium high-heat. Once hot, add the Thai dried red chilies and sauté for 20-40 seconds until they crisp up and are fragrant. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a paper towel lined plate to drain. (No need to wipe out the oil in the wok.)
  2. Cook the chicken: Lightly toss the marinated chicken with the all-purpose flour (it will be sticky). Add 1.5 tablespoon of canola oil to the wok and heat over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the chicken and quickly spread the pieces out around the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes, stir-frying constantly, until the chicken pieces have cooked through on both sides. (Note: The pieces will be a bit sticky at first, but they will loosen up as you stir-fry in the oil.) Switch off the heat and use a slotted spoon to transfer to a clean bowl. Wipe out the wok with a paper towel.
  3. Cook aromatics: Heat the remaining 1.5 tablespoons of canola oil in the wok over high heat. Once hot, add the onion, garlic, and red chilies. Stir-fry for 30 seconds until fragrant.
  4. Stir-fry bell peppers: Add red and yellow bell peppers and toss for 30 seconds to combine.
  5. Add cashews and dried red chilies: Add the cashews and Thai dried red chilies and stir-fry for 30 seconds until everything in the wok is combined well.
  6. Add chicken and sauce: Add the chicken and pour the sauce over everything in the wok. Toss for 1-2 minutes, until everything is coated well in the sauce and it has slightly thickened.
  7. Toss through spring onion: Add the spring onion and toss through for 20 seconds to combine, then switch off the heat.
  8. To Serve: Transfer to a serving bowl/dish and serve with warm steamed rice.


Ingredient Notes, Cook’s Tips, and FAQs

  1. Chicken: Boneless and skinless thighs or fillets will work too.
  2. Tamarind Paste: This sour and sweet Thai paste is also known as tamarind concentrate or puree. You can find this at your local Asian or Thai grocery store or purchase it online. Note that different brands will have varying levels of acidity. If yours is very sour, use less than the amount I’ve indicated. I use Talad Thai Tamarind Paste, which is made up of 70% tamarind and 30% water.
  3. Thai Dried Red Chilies: Use as many or as few as you like of these hot chilies depending on your heat level preference. You could also use large Thai dried red chilies (which are milder) instead of the small hot ones that I’ve used. Omit them (and the fresh red chilies) to make this dish mild. While you can eat these if you like, I don’t normally and just use them to flavor the dish.
  4. Unsalted Roasted Cashews: If you only have raw cashews on hand, you can roast them in the oven. Place on a parchment paper lined baking tray and bake for 5 minutes in a preheated oven at 350°F/175°C. Alternatively, you can sauté them for 1-2 minutes in a bit of oil before you fry the Thai dried red chilies. Transfer them to a paper towel lined plate using a slotted spoon to drain.
  5. Be careful not to burn the marinated chicken when you stir-fry. The sweet dark soy sauce has molasses in it, so it is prone to burning if cooked in too little oil. Make sure that there’s at least two tablespoons oil in the wok before you add the chicken, and stir-fry constantly to prevent burning.
  6. Can I make it lighter/healthier? Substitute corn starch for the all-purpose flour. Serve with brown rice, cauliflower rice, or quinoa instead of steamed white rice.
  7. Can I make it vegetarian/vegan? Use mock chicken or other imitation meat such as Quorn, or crispy pan-fried tofu. Also, use a vegan fish sauce, and a vegetarian mushroom flavored oyster sauce.
  8. Can I make it gluten-free? Use corn starch instead of all-purpose flour for the chicken. Also use a gluten-free soy sauce, gluten-free oyster sauce (or gluten-free vegetarian oyster sauce if making this veg), and a gluten-free kecap manis in place of the sweet dark soy sauce. Double check that your fish sauce is GF certified.
  9. Can I make it ahead? You can make the sauce a day in advance. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. However, I recommend preparing everything else just before cooking.
  10. How long will leftovers keep? This dish tastes best when eaten immediately after (or at least on the day of) cooking. However, leftovers will keep well in the fridge for 3-4 days in a sealed airtight container. To reheat, microwave on high for 1 minute, stir, then microwave for another 1-2 minutes until hot throughout.
  11. Recipe adapted from The Complete Thai Cookbook (affiliate link) by Srisamorn Kongpun.

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