Kung Pao Chicken

One of the staple meals at our house is Kung Pao Chicken. I’ve adapted this recipe from the lovely Kristin atΒ Iowa Girl Eats, one of my fave food bloggers (she’s adorable). We usually make it with brown rice, and I just throw in whatever veggies I have on hand – broccoli, bell peppers, zucchini, onions, carrots, snow peas, etc. The sauce is made from several asian-food staples, and it’s really not complicated (plus, a single bottle of each of the sauce ingredients will go a long way). Since we eat this so often, I actually quadrupled the sauce recipe the last time I made it and just stashed the extra in a sealed container in the fridge. All the ingredients keep well when refrigerated, so the sauce lasted for quite a while.

Between cutting all the veggies and doing the actual cooking, I’d say this recipe takes about 45 minutes to prepare. Having the sauce pre-made really cut my prep time (and dishes!) by about a third, and if you bought pre-cut veggies at the store it’d probably only take 20 minutes. Unfortunately, not much will shorten the cooking time of brown rice, unless you buy the cooks-in-90-seconds pouches (which I’m personally not a fan of) so make sure you start the rice before the Kung Pao!

Kung Pao Chicken – Serves 2

For the Sauce:

Sauce Ingredients

Sauce Ingredients

2 Tbsp. Low Sodium Soy Sauce

2 Tbsp. Rice Wine Vinegar

2 Tbsp. Sugar

1 Tsp. Ground/Powdered Ginger

2 Tbsp. Chili-Garlic Sauce (like Sriracha) – We like our Kung Pao really spicy (;-)) so I usually add closer to 6 Tbsp. worth, but 2 is good for a mild spice.

Mix all ingredients and set aside.

kung pao sauce 4x recipe

This is the quadruple (4x) batch of Kung Pao sauce.

For the rest of the Kung Pao:

1 Heaping Tbsp. Cornstarch

1 Chicken Breast, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 Tbsp. Sesame Oil or Vegetable Oil

1 Medium Zucchini, peeled and cut into small chunks

1 Bell Pepper, any color, cut into pieces

1/2 Yellow Onion, cut into pieces

1/4 cup Unsalted Peanuts

Toss the chicken pieces in the cornstarch until coated. Heat a large skillet on medium-high with the sesame or vegetable oil. Add the chicken and cook until browned on both sides, about 5-7 minutes. Remove the chicken to a bowl and set aside. Next, add the onion, bell pepper, and zucchini to the pan and lightly brown (if the chicken left lots of bits stuck to the pan, add a Tbsp. of water to deglaze the pan and get up all the flavor – watch out when you add the water to the pan though,when it hits the hot pan it’ll create steam, so you want to be sure your hands/arms aren’t in the way). When the veggies are done, add in most of the peanuts and toast them with the veggies for about 1 min.

So many veggies! Yum!

So many veggies! Yum!

Pour the sauce over the veggies and peanuts, and add the chicken back into the pan. Heat through until everything is hot (if you want it spicier, you can also add more Sriracha, to taste). Serve the Kung Pao Chicken on top of rice cooked according to package directions, and top with remaining peanuts.


If you liked this recipe, feel free to switch up the vegetables or try it with shrimp, beef, or tofu. If I’m feeling ambitious, I also mince 2-3 cloves of garlic and add it to the pan right before the veggies.

Anyone else have a weeknight staple meal that they want to share? I’m always looking for more ideas πŸ™‚

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