Kung Pao Chicken

Classic Chinese stir-fry of chicken with spicy brown sauce, vegetables and peanuts.
Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken

By Sue Lau | Palatable Pastime

This week I am all fired up to share a spicy recipe as part of an event called “Spice is Nice and Some Like it Hot!”

Kung Pao has been a longtime favorite of mine. It is perhaps fitting that I share it on Mother’s Day. Let me explain.

Back in the 1980’s, I worked for awhile running “The Factory” at Bloomin’ Flowers in St. Louis, and my Mom came to work  with me there for awhile during the holiday season. At the factory I dried a lot of flowers from wedding bouquets and made  a lot of floral arrangements out of everlastings, and Mom did a lot of work sewing lace and other things we used (the 80’s were big on lace and we use a ton of seagrass boxes embellished with dried flowers). But while at the factory, when we went out to lunch, there was a Chinese take-out nearby that we would get food from, and one of my favs was the kung-pao chicken. So this is quite a Mom memory for me, especially the time they must have spilled red pepper into my kung pao because it was blazing hot and she just laughed and laughed (because usually I complained about it not being spicy enough!)

But I don’t have to worry too much about that anymore, since I make my own. Occasionally I do  get it out, but have to special order to get the veggies I want in it (which are celery, carrot and onion)(because because because that’s the way it was always made in the old days) (and no I don’t want green pepper in it thank you, but yes please can you put more than one tiny dried pepper in it?). A place near me now make his sauce with what I suspect is sweet and sour sauce with a few squirts of sriracha. And that is just not right.

But I guess there is a way for every cook out there.

You can be the judge of whether or not you find my version worthy. Let me know if you like it in the comments and tell me about the ways it has been made for you. (I am curious about where that red sweet and sour version got its start!!!)

And be sure to check the other recipes the Sunday Supper TasteMakers have shared below.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms, Moms-to-Be and Unofficial Moms out there from Palatable Pastime!

Kung Pao Chicken #SundaySupper

Kung Pao Chicken

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Kung Pao Chicken

  • 1  pound boneless chicken breast, diced
  • cornstarch
  • 1 cup diced carrot
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1  cup  chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup unsalted peanuts
  • 1/4 cup  small dried  hot red peppers
  • peanut oil

Spicy Brown Sauce:

  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1  teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon hot chili oil  (Lee  Kum Kee Chiu Chow Chili Oil)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch


  1. Mix ingredients for spicy brown sauce in a small bowl and set aside until needed.
  2. Velvet the chicken by coating in cornstarch and shaking off excess.
  3. Heat oil in wok or large skillet (enough to adequately fry the chicken, and stir-fry the chicken until lightly browned; remove chicken from the wok.
  4. Drain off excess oil and leave one tablespoon of it.
  5. Heat oil and stir fry the vegetables until crisp-tender.
  6. Stir in the peanuts and hot chili peppers, cooking about half a minute, then stir in the sauce mixture and cook until thickened.
  7. Serve with steamed rice.

From the kitchen of palatablepastime.com

Kung Pao Chicken


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16 responses

  1. I love Kung Pao Chicken and your post reminded me of the first time I made it and my father in law was at our house for dinner! He was a sport and ate as much as he could, but apparently his heat tolerance is not as good as mine! 🙂

    • Well, you can leave the dry peppers out. I still remember the time I cooked Chinese for a party and my brother was there spooning the hot mustard over his stir-fry like soy sauce and I said “Mike, maybe you should taste it first” and he went all testosterone on me. My cousin and I sat back and watched his brain explode. LOL! And that was just mustard! Ha!

    • That’s funny because if I don’t get at least three of them to eat, I might just cry. But I am a chile head like that. The dry ones are not nearly as hot as the fresh red Thai chilies. Those wicked little things I don’t usually eat more than one of any more.

  2. I love, love, LOVE Kung Pao chicken and the only time I made it at home, didn’t quite match the yummy version that I enjoyed in restaurants. I’d love to try your recipes and like you, it has to be super hot!

    • I was very happy with the way it turned out. If you don’t like eating the dry fried peppers you can always add a bit of toasted chili oil, although that tends to make the stirfry a little oily.

  3. Wow- this looks amazing! To be honest I never order Kung Pao, but I think I will make this before I order it, based on your review of some recipes out there!

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