Kung Pao Chicken Recipe

This content originally appeared here. Republished with permission.

This Whole30 approved homemade kung pao chicken recipe is made with fresh, whole ingredients and loaded with tons of veggies. It’s a super easy recipe that has amazing flavor and is perfect for a quick meal on a busy evening.

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Kung Pao Chicken Recipe

In typical teenager fashion, my friends and I would go to this amazing hole-in-the-wall Chinese food restaurant and order big tubs of all the classic takeout dishes growing up… all the time. Of course I always had lots of fried rice and a big fountain soda with it. And it was DELICIOUS.

But these days, even though I’m not really into eating a ton of grains, sugar, or soy — yet I still really love classic takeout favorites, like orange chickenbeef & broccoli, and Kung Pao chicken!

So here’s my totally non-traditional version of Kung Pao chicken, made Whole30 compatible and low carb friendly! P.S. If you’re looking for a traditional and authentic recipe, please see this Kung Pao Chicken recipe.

I sometimes make my Kung Pao chicken with a traditionally spicy heat, but other times I make it more family friendly. I’ve given you options to do both, so the choice is yours!

But whichever spice level I’m at, I like to keep the classic delicious flavor as authentic as possible. I always used sichuan peppercorns. Szechuan peppercorns are really important to giving Kung Pao chicken its amazing flavor. Using them in this recipe really makes it taste like authentic kung pao chicken!

Why You’ll Love this Recipe

This saucy chicken dish is a hit for a reason! So much flavor and just as good as the stuff you’d get from the Chinese restaurants:

This classic Chinese dish is absolutely perfect for meal prep. It stores well and reheats perfectly, so you can make it ahead of time and eat it later in the week.
Homemade kung pao chicken tastes just as good as your favorite Chinese restaurant, but is more affordable. Many of these everyday ingredients will make multiple batches of this delicious chicken.
It doesn’t take long at all to make this dish. This easy stir-fried chicken can be done in just over a half hour, and then dinner is on the table and done!

Ingredients

boneless skinless chicken breasts
Sichuan peppercorns
red bell pepper
green onions
zucchini
garlic
ginger
dates
olive oil
coconut aminos
cashews
sesame seeds
rice wine vinegar
arrowroot powder
tomato paste
salt and pepper
optional: hot sauce

Substitutions and Variations

You can also substitute chicken thighs if you prefer! I’d recommend using boneless skinless thighs.

Unlike other peppercorns, these are not hot or spicy at all. They’re actually more lemony and aromatic and are known to numb your mouth a bit — it’s one of the spices in Chinese Five Spice blends, too. I’ve found that Sichuan peppercorns are pretty easy to come by in pretty much any large grocery store, but they’re available on Amazon, too.

For a more hot and spicy flavor you can use chili peppers in place of the red bell pepper.

While I prefer the distinct flavor of rice wine vinegar, you can use apple cider vinegar in its place. The flavor may change slightly, but will still be just delicious!

Easy Whole30 compatible swaps:

If you’re new to Whole30 cooking, here are a few rule-of-thumb easy swaps to make when cooking Asian cuisine.

Instead of regular soy sauce, use coconut aminos.
Instead of white rice, use cauliflower rice.
Instead of peanuts, use cashews or almonds.
Instead of thickening agents like flour or cornstarch, use arrowroot powder!

How to Make Kung Pao Chicken

First things first, you need to marinate the chicken. Make the chicken marinade, then cut up the meat into bite sized pieces and allow it marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, add all of the sauce ingredients into a blender or food processor. Pulse until broken down, then blend until smooth and well incorporated.

Some Kung Pao Chicken recipes will call for the peppercorns to be added whole to this chinese stir fry dish, but I like toast them and then blend them to add into the sauce. I mainly like to do that so that my kids don’t pick them out individually when we’re eating!

Toast Sichuan Peppercorns:

Add the peppercorns to a hot large skillet.
Stir frequently and allow them to toast for about 1 minute. Keep an eye in them, because sometimes they don’t even need an entire minute.
Once they are fragrant, remove them and set aside to cool completely. If you see any black seeds mixed in with the peppercorns, be sure to remove them.
Grind the peppercorns with a mortar and pestle and set to the side.

Then, cook the chicken and vegetables in a large skillet, stirring in the spicy kung pao sauce to coat it fully. Add the finishing touches and stir in cashews and then sprinkle with sesame seeds.

I like to serve my Kung Pao Chicken over raw zucchini noodlesIt has a nice texture to it that really holds up against the crunchy cashews and tender chicken. If raw isn’t your thing, then just sauté them in hot oil first! You can also serve over rice or cauliflower rice.

How to Store Leftover Kung Pao Chicken

Transfer chicken to an airtight container and store in the fridge for 4-5 days. You can also freeze leftover kung pao chicken! Just store it in an airtight container or freezer bag, and freeze for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw completely before reheating.

To reheat, add it to a hot skillet with just a little bit of oil, or in the microwave until warmed through.

What to Serve with Kung Pao Chicken

Serve this tasty chicken with so many fun side dishes. Aside from zucchini noodles, rice, or cauliflower rice, you can serve this dish with a quinoa arugula salad or another leafy green dish. This chopped Asian orange salad would be tasty. Some delicious egg rolls would be a great side as well!

If you’d like some more veggies, serve this dish with broccoli or flavorful air fryer roasted green beans. Or, you could change things up a bit with air fryer mushrooms!

Tips for Success

This easy kung pao chicken recipe is sure to become a new favorite. Check out these tips to ensure you have the best dish possible:

Cut the chicken into evenly sized pieces so that they all finish cooking at the same time. It is important not to cut chunks that are too large.
If you are unsure whether the chicken is done or not, use an instant read meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. Chicken should be 165 °F (73.9 °C) when fully cooked.
Allow the chicken to cool completely before storing it! I also recommend that you store the zoodles or rice separately from the chicken.

FAQ

Is kung pao very spicy?

Traditionally, a delicious Kung Pao chicken recipe would have a pretty spicy heat. However, it is very easy to adjust the heat level to your personal preference.

What is a Whole30 substitute for soy sauce?

Even though there is low sodium soy sauce out there, it’s still not a whole 30 swap. For something that is Whole 30 compliant, use coconut aminos! The flavor is very similar and it is a more healthy option.

More Chicken Recipes

BBQ Chicken & Ranch Sliders
Butter Chicken Meal Prep
Chicken and Bacon Caesar Salad
Orange Chicken Meatballs & Broccoli

If you like this recipe, please drop a star rating below! And be sure to tag me on Instagram @cookathomemom!

Print

Kung Pao Chicken

This Whole30, paleo, keto & gluten free Kung Pao chicken is a game changer. So full of robust flavor!
Course Dinner
Cuisine Chinese
Keyword Chicken, Gluten-Free, Ketogenic
Prep Time 15 minutes minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes minutes
Total Time 35 minutes minutes
Servings 6
Calories 391kcal

Ingredients

Kung Pao Chicken

2 lb chicken breasts2 Tablespoon olive or avocado oil1 red bell pepper or substitute chili peppers (for a hot & spicy, more traditional flavor!)1 cup cashews raw & unsalted2 green onions1 teaspoons toasted sesame seedssalt and pepper2 small zucchini

Marinade

2 Tablespoon coconut aminos1 teaspoons rice wine vinegar or substitute apple cider vinegar1/2 teaspoons arrowroot powder

Sauce

2 medjool dates1/4 cup coconut aminos1/2 – 2 1/2 teaspoons hot sauce depending on how spicy you’d like it1 teaspoons rice wine vinegar or substitute apple cider vinegar1/2 teaspoons arrowroot powder2 cloves garlic2 teaspoons ginger minced2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns toasted and ground into powder1 teaspoons tomato paste

Instructions

Marinate the Chicken

Add all marinade ingredients together in a small bowl and whisk together.
Cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel and place in a bowl. Pour the marinade over the chicken, gently mix, then cover and marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Make the Sauce

Add all ingredients to a blender and pulse until incorporated. Start with less hot sauce, taste the sauce to test how spicy it is, and add more if desired.

Prep the Veggies

Cut the red pepper into bite-sized slices. Slice the green onions, separating the white parts from the green. Spiralize the zucchini and set it aside.

Cook the Dish

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the hot skillet, stirring occasionally, and cook about 2-3 minutes.
Stir in the red pepper and whites of the green onion. Sauté, stirring occasionally, another 2-3 minutes.
Pour the sauce into the chicken, turning to coat. Bring it just to a simmer, then remove the pan from the heat.
Stir in the cashews (and zucchini, if you prefer it cooked a bit), and season to taste with salt and pepper, if desired. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and the green parts of the sliced onion. Serve over zucchini noodles or with cauliflower rice.

Notes

To make Keto Kung Pao Chicken, simply omit the dates and substitute a small amount of keto-friendly sweetener like Stevia or Monk Fruit sweetener to taste. Easy peasy!

Nutrition

Sodium: 592mg | Calcium: 35mg | Vitamin C: 37mg | Vitamin A: 812IU | Sugar: 9g | Fiber: 2g | Potassium: 923mg | Calories: 391kcal | Protein: 37g | Carbohydrates: 20g | Iron: 2mg


Please note that the nutritional information may vary depending
on the specific brands of products used. We encourage everyone to check specific
product labels in calculating the exact nutritional information.

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