Grace Young’s Kung Pao Chicken

published Aug 8, 2020
Kung Pao Chicken
Jump to Recipe
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
kung pao chicken
Credit: Steven Mark Needham

Of the many versions of kung pao chicken that I’ve eaten, this is one of my favorites. The dark, rich sauce clings to the chicken and peppers, with just an undertone of heat and aromatic flavor from the chilies and Sichuan peppercorns. For the dried chili peppers, use kitchen scissors to snip 1/4-inch from one end to release the seeds during cooking. Use 4 chilies for mild heat and 8 or more for maximum heat. If you cannot find unsalted roasted peanuts, buy raw peanuts in the shell, shell them, remove the skins, and dry stir-fry them in a dry wok over medium heat for a few minutes until light golden.

Grace Young’s Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge is Kitchn’s August pick for our Cookbook Club. See how you can participate here.

Kung Pao Chicken

Serves 2 to 4

Nutritional Info


  • 1 pound

    boneless, skinless chicken thigh or breast, cut into 3/4-inch cubes

  • 2 tablespoons

    minced ginger

  • 1 tablespoon

    minced garlic

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons


  • 1 teaspoon

    soy sauce

  • 1 teaspoon

    plus 1 tablespoon Shao Hsing rice wine or dry sherry

  • 2 teaspoons


  • 3/4 teaspoon


  • 2 tablespoons

    chicken broth

  • 1 tablespoon

    Chinkiang or balsamic vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon

    dark soy sauce

  • 1 teaspoon

    sesame oil

  • 2 tablespoons

    peanut or vegetable oil

  • 4 to 8

    dried red chili peppers, snipped on one end

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    roasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns

  • 1

    large red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares

  • 3/4 cup

    unsalted roasted peanuts

  • 1/2 cup

    minced scallions


  1. In a medium bowl combine the chicken, ginger, garlic, cornstarch, soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of the rice wine, 1 teaspoon of the sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1 teaspoon cold water. Stir to combine. In a small bowl combine the broth, vinegar, dark soy sauce, sesame oil, and the remaining 1 tablespoon rice wine.

  2. Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch skillet over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil, add the chilies and ground Sichuan peppercorns, then, using a metal spatula, stir-fry 15 seconds or until the chilies just begin to smoke. Push the chili mixture to the sides of the wok, carefully add the chicken, and spread it evenly in one layer in the wok. Cook undisturbed 1 minute, letting the chicken begin to sear. Then stir-fry 1 minute or until the chicken is lightly browned but not cooked through.

  3. Swirl the remaining 1 tablespoon peanut oil into the wok. Add the bell peppers and stir-fry 1 minute or until the peppers begin to soften. Swirl the broth mixture into the wok and stir-fry 1 minute or until the chicken is just cooked through. Add the peanuts and scallions, sprinkle on the remaining 1 teaspoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and stir-fry 30 seconds or until the scallions are bright green.

Recipe Notes

From Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge: The Ultimate Guide to Mastery, with Authentic Recipes and Stories by Grace Young. Copyright © 2010 by Grace Young. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Credit: Courtesy of Simon & Schuster