Kung Pao Chicken

kung pao chicken in cast iron skillet and a bottle of nam prik chili sauce

I love Chinese takeout, which is where I first tasted Kung Pao Chicken. There is something about the spicy stir fry that makes it so very addicting. Just one more bite! I've also noticed that as time passed by, the restaurants and fast food chains have mellowed out the heat in their dishes quite a bit so that it now all seems very mild to me. (Or maybe I've burned away all my heat receptors, who knows?)

Inspired by my love of easy Chinese food, I decided to tackle this popular dish and see if I could recreate it with a bit more heat. And voila! This recipe is not only flavorful, but also pack a punch. Not to toot my own horn, but I think I like what I made even more than the store bought ones.


WHAT GIVES THIS DISH ITS KICK?  Most recipes will call for the addition of szechuan peppercorn, but I've never been a fan of the pepper's numbing effect. I mean, I can barely taste anything after a couple of bites. So in this recipe, our very own Nam Prik Chili Sauce gives the dish its signature heat that slowly builds as you continue to eat. Not only that, the addition of dried chilies will also give you a surprise burn whenever you come across the well hidden fire bomb.


cutting board with raw chicken breast, a cleaver, assortment of ingredients, and a bottle of nam prik chili sauce


cooked kung pao chicken in cast iron skillet, a bowl of rice, and a pair of chopsticks


a close up of cooked kung pao chicken





  • 1 1/2 lb chicken breast, skinless-boneless, cut into cubes
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tsp cornstarch

Stir Fry Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 4 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp sweet soy sauce
  • 2 tsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Nam Prik Chili Sauce
  • 2 tsp cornstarch

Stir Fry Ingredients:

  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp ginger, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 8 dried chilies, soaked and cut in half
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 3/4 cup roasted peanuts
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

cooked kung pao chicken in cast iron skillet, a bowl of rice with kung pao chicken, and a bottle of nam prik chili sauce


  1. Marinade chicken in vinegar, soy sauce, and cornstarch for 15 minutes.
  2. Mix together stir fry sauce, making sure sugar has dissolved completely.
  3. Heat a large skillet/pan over medium-high heat. Add 1-2 Tbsp cooking oil of choice. Stir fry chicken until browned. Set aside.
  4. Add 1-2 Tbsp cooking oil to same skillet/pan. Add garlic, ginger, and chilies. Cook 1-2 minutes, until herbs are aromatic.
  5. Stir in sauce mixture and bring to boil. Wait until sauce thickens.
  6. Add back chicken and cook for several more minutes.
  7. Stir in green onions, bell pepper, peanuts, and sesame oil. Make sure everything is coated in the sauce. Cook for 2 minutes more.
  8. Serve over steaming hot rice and enjoy!