Skip takeout and make Kung Pao Chicken at home! This easy, spicy and salty dish will be ready in just 30 minutes!

overhead shot of kung pow chicken with white rice

30 Minute Kung Pao Chicken

What is Kung Pao Chicken?

First of all, I’ll admit that in all my recipe notes I wrote Kung Pow (how you pronounce it) and not Kung Pao. Oops. I’m also not using a wok for this recipe but I promise it turns out beautifully in a skillet, even if not totally authentic.

Anyway, kung pao chicken is a spicy, stir-fried Chinese dish made with chunks of chicken, peanuts, vegetables, and chili peppers.

The classic Sichuan dish originated in the Sichuan Province of south-western China and includes Sichuan peppercorns. This is my take on the original.

Serve it over white rice, noodles, or chicken fried rice and yum yum sauce!

For more Chinese inspired dishes, try orange chicken or salt and pepper chicken.

closeup of kung pao chicken in skillet

What does Kung Pao Chicken taste like?

Kung pao chicken is spicy but you can easily adjust the heat by how much chili paste and how many peppers you include. It is a savory dish that is salty with a touch of sweetness. The peanuts add a nutty crunch. If you don’t like spice, you can totally omit the peppers.

To make this dish even faster, I use CHEF’S CRAFT® Grilled Chicken Breast Chunks. They come frozen but are fully cooked and when added to the skillet, they’re ready in just minutes.

chef's choice grilled chicken chunks bag


“Easy to find ingredients” is my thing around here but this recipe may require a trip to the market for a few specialty items. They should be readily available at any market.

Below is an overview of the key ingredients, some helpful tips, and possible substitutions. Scroll down for the full recipe card with instructions.

  • CHICKEN – I am using frozen chicken to make this dish super-fast but you can saute chicken breast pieces.
  • SOY SAUCE – Low-sodium soy sauce to add saltiness and umami.
  • MIRIN – Mirin is a rice wine popular in Japanese cooking and it pairs well with soy sauce. If you don’t have any, you can use a dry sherry or a sweet marsala wine.
  • SAMBAL OELEK – Sambal oelek is an Indonesian chile paste made up of crushed raw red chiles, a little vinegar, and salt. After you use it for this dish, add it to your macaroni and cheese to take it up a notch.
  • ZUCCHINI – I like to add chopped zucchini to my kung pao chicken. I use half of a medium zucchini, chopped into moon shapes. If you don’t have zucchini (or like it), you can sub snap peas, baby corn, broccoli, green beans…most veggies will work.
  • BELL PEPPERS – Chop up half each of a red and green pepper, or use whatever combination you have on hand. You’ll want about a cup total, chopped.
  • DRIED CHILIES – If you can’t find dried red chilies at your market (you should be able to), you can even order them from Amazon. They are very hot – I dice two up to use in this dish. Add more or less to your taste. You can sub cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes if you have that on hand.
overhead shot of ingredients laid out to make kung pao chicken

Equipment you’ll need

  • Large Skillet – Though a wok would traditionally be used, I don’t have one, and a skillet works just fine.
  • Wooden Spoonula – I love using a wooden spoon for stir frying so you don’t scratch up your pan.
  • Santoku Knife – A high quality knife for chopping up your veggies.
overhead shot of black bowl filled with kung pao chicken and white rice

How to make shortcut Kung Pao Chicken

  1. STEP ONE: Make the sauce by whisking together the soy sauce, chicken broth, mirin, and sambal oelek in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. STEP TWO: Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and drizzle in olive oil (or sesame oil). Add the chopped zucchini and peppers and stir fry for approximately 3 minutes. Add in the chopped garlic and chilies and continue to cook for 2 minutes.
  3. STEP THREE: Pour in the frozen CHEF’S CRAFT® Grilled Chicken Breast Chunks and stir fry for approximately 6 minutes. Cover with a lid and continue cooking for another 3 minutes. Check chicken to ensure it is fully cooked through and your veggies are tender.
  4. STEP FOUR: Pour the sauce and peanuts into the pan and stir to distribute.
  5. STEP FIVE: Make a slurry to thicken the sauce by whisking together the cornstarch and rice wine vinegar to a small bowl. Pour into the sauce, stir, and let simmer for a couple minutes to thicken.

Serve over rice or noodles!

process shots of a skillet stir frying chicken

How to store it

Leftovers can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Can you freeze it?

Yes, you can freeze kung pao chicken in freezer bags for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, thaw it in the fridge and then heat either in the microwave or pour it into a skillet to stir fry.

overhead shot of skillet making chicken

Need more easy chicken recipes? Try these:

Crockpot Sweet & Sour Chicken
Stovetop Bourbon Chicken
Spicy Chicken Chipotle Pasta
Chinese Chicken & Broccoli
Buffalo Chicken Bread
Slow Cooker Orange Chicken

Click here for my entire collection of chicken recipes.

bowl of kung pao chicken with title text overlay

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overhead shot of kung pow chicken with white rice
5 from 1 vote

Easy Kung Pao Chicken

Servings: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Skip takeout and make Kung Pao Chicken at home! This easy, spicy and salty dish will be ready in just 30 minutes!


For the Sauce

  • ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 Tablespoons mirin
  • 2 teaspoons sambal oelek or your favorite chili sauce

For the Kung Pow Chicken & Stir-fry

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ medium zucchini cut into half moons
  • ½ large red bell pepper chopped into chunks
  • ½ large green bell pepper chopped into chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 dried red chilies diced
  • 1 lb grilled chicken breast chunks cooked
  • ¼ cup dry roasted peanuts

For the Slurry (to thicken the sauce)

  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar can sub water


To Make the Sauce

  • To a small bowl, add the soy sauce, chicken broth, mirin, and sambal oelek and stir together. Set aside.

To Make the Kung Pao Chicken

  • To a large skillet over medium high heat, add the olive oil.
  • Once warm, add in the chopped zucchini and bell peppers. Cook for 2 minutes while stirring frequently.
  • Add in the chopped garlic & dried chiles. Stir and continue cooking for 2 minutes.
  • Pour in the frozen CHEF’S CRAFT® Grilled Chicken Breast Chunks. Cook for 6 minutes while stirring. Then cover and continue to cook for an additional 3 minutes until heated through (to 145 degrees) and the veggies are tender.
  • Pour in the prepared sauce and peanuts and stir.
  • In a small bowl, make a slurry by whisking together 1 teaspoon cornstarch with 1 teaspoon of rice wine vinegar. Pour into the sauce.
  • Let the sauce simmer for a couple of minutes to thicken then serve over rice or noodles.


If you don’t like zucchini, snap peas, baby corn, or additional bell peppers may be used. Vegetables help neutralize the heat.
If you don’t have sambal oelek, Sriracha may be used. 
If you don’t have mirin, dry sherry may be used.
If you want more heat, increase the amount of diced dried chilies. 
Store covered in the fridge for up to 3 days. 


Serving: 1g | Calories: 327kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 40g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 96mg | Sodium: 755mg | Potassium: 624mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1010IU | Vitamin C: 80mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Did you make this recipe?

Tag me on Instagram @melissa_pplates so I can see!

Thank you to CHEF’S CRAFT® Gourmet Chicken for originally sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are my own.

I am very picky about frozen foods (especially meats) and I was so pleasantly surprised by CHEF’S CRAFT® chicken. It is produced by Wayne Farms with 100% farm-raised, antibiotic-free, vegetarian-fed chickens. The chicken is minimally processed, gluten-free, preservative free, and all-natural.

You don’t have to worry about nitrates, MSG, or artificial ingredients. There are none to be found in this chicken. These chicken breast chunks are perfect to keep in the freezer for salads or just on their own with a side dish. I obviously suggest making this easy kung pao sauce.


My fellow Michiganders (& Midwesterners) will be happy to know that CHEF’S CRAFT® products are in Meijer stores! You can also find them at Walmart and Food Lion. Check their store locator to find the closest location to you. They also make chicken breast fillets and breaded chicken chunks.

5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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  1. How much red pepper flakes to use in place of the dried red chile peppers? Want to try your recipe, we like kung pao chicken a lot. Thanks.