Kung Pao Chicken Recipe

Kung Pao Chicken Recipe

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This is an authentic recipe from our team in China, featured in our Sichuan Recipe Box. The ingredients labeled with a * below are hard-to-find ingredients that we’ve sourced from China and are all included in our recipe box which is available for shipping throughout the USA and China. For more information and to purchase online, click here.

The Story of Kung Pao Chicken​

Did you know Kung Pao is actually a person’s name? Kung Pao Ding Baozhen accomplished so many amazing things during his lifetime, and yet we remember him for his love of fried chicken. Kung Pao is a title awarded to a guy named Ding Baozhen for his performance as the governor of the Sichuan Province, such as the reconstruction of the ancient Dujiangyan Irrigation system. It is still in use today and seen as one of the most important irrigation systems in the world. China’s last imperial dynasty did not allocate funds for taming the Yellow River, so Kung Pao Ding took on this impossible task himself, paying for it by selling his wife’s jewelry, accruing debt, and fundraising door-to-door.

Meaning “Tutor of the Crown Prince,” Kung Pao Ding was a progressive visionary who set up printing houses, improved access to texts in classrooms, and re-wrote national curriculums to train young people in STEM and social sciences before it was even cool acronym. He was famous for challenging the corruption of the Imperial family, rescuing Chengdu’s salt industry from the mafia, and recovering embezzled money from corrupt officials at all levels – saving large amounts for the already depleted national treasury. What a man.

And what do we remember him for? Chicken. That’s how much this guy loved this dish. It is now perhaps one of his greatest legacies The American President was served Kung Pao chicken on his state visit to China in 2017; Chinese astronauts now eat the dish in space. It’s perhaps one of the most internationally recognized Chinese dishes in the world.

In his early days as a public servant, Ding had a reputation for gastronomy, hiring expert Shandong chefs in his home kitchen, who eventually invented Kung Pao chicken following Ding’s affinity of flash-fried chicken cubes and fresh peanuts. Ding served it whenever he had important guests, including General Zuo Zongtang, the real General Tso, at one point.

Below, we’ve provided you with Kung Pao Ding’s very own take on the dish, which will be different from the imported versions you may have tried before.

Serves 4
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Skill Level: Beginner


Items marked with a * are included in our Sichuan Recipe Box.

For the Peanuts:

¾ cup or 180ml vegetable oil (we always use canola oil, but peanut oil also works very well)

1.5 cup roasted peanuts, about 10 ounces; 300g

For the Chicken and Seasoning:

4 medium boneless skinless chicken breasts/ chicken thighs, about 12 ounces or 340g each, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 Tbsp cooking oil (we always use canola oil, but soy or peanut oil also works well)

1 tsp cooking wine

2 tsp dark soy sauce

2 Tbsp soy sauce

2 Tbsp cornstarch

2 tsp white pepper powder

1 tsp salt

For the Sauce:

4 Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp cooking wine

4 Tbsp soy sauce

⅓ cup Chinese dark vinegar*

2 Tbsp cornstarch

1/2 cup water

For the Stir-Fry:

1/3 cup or 80ml vegetable oil (we always use canola oil, but peanut oil also works very well)

12 to 24 small dried red chilies*, carefully cut into 1/2-inch pieces with scissors. (adjust the amount base on your spice level)

2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns*

6-8 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced

4-inch knob ginger, peeled and cut into fine matchsticks or grated

4 large/thick green onions, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1.5 cup roasted peanuts, about 10 ounces; 300g


  1. For the peanuts: Heat up your wok over low heat, and make sure it’s completely dry. Add oil and the peanuts at the same time. Keep stirring continuously for about 5 minutes until the peanuts get really fragrant. Don’t stop stirring, or they may burn. Turn off the heat and take the peanuts out. Let the peanuts cool completely, they get really hot during the cooking process, so handle with care! After they’ve cooled off, the peanuts will become crunchy.
  2. For the Chicken: Combine chicken and its seasonings in a small bowl and turn until well mixed and chicken is evenly coated in a thin film of the cornstarch paste. Set aside.
  3. For the Sauce: Combine all ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl. Stir well with chopsticks until no clumps of cornstarch remain.
  4. To Stir-Fry: Pour about 4 Tbsp of oil into a wok or saute pan and make the oil cover the pan evenly to prevent sticking. Place over high heat until gently smoking. Add the prepared chicken, fry until the chicken is cooked, about 5-7 minutes. Take the chicken out and set aside.
  5. Add chilies, Sichuan peppercorns, ginger, garlic, and green onion to the wok over medium-high heat for about 10-15 seconds. It should start smelling fragrant. Now add the chicken back, mix well for about 20 seconds.
  6. Add the sauce. Make sure the sauce is mixed well and there are no clumps. Mix well until the chicken is all coated with the sauce.
  7. Add pan-fried peanuts. Mix well for about 15 seconds.
  8. Ready to serve.


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