This Kung Pao Chicken Skillet, with the most delicious, spicy kung pao sauce, you’ll return to it over and over! Make this with chicken breasts or thighs for a quick and easy dinner.
This Kung Pao Chicken is one of my favourite quick and easy dinners. It’s ready in just 15 minutes! It also uses pretty simple pantry items, so I know I can always whip this up. And it’s just the thing when I’m feeling the need for a little spice.
When it comes to Kung Pao Chicken, it’s all about the sauce and this kung pao sauce is a winner! I’ve used it here with boneless, skinless chicken breast cubes, but it’s also great with boneless, skinless chicken thighs, pork or shrimp. So tuck it away and use it any time you’d like a quick and easy dinner.
I cooked this one up in my cast-iron skillet, as the cast iron is perfect for quick cooking over high heat. If you don’t have a cast-iron skillet, any skillet, or a hot wok will work just fine, as well.
Cook’s Notes for 15 Minutes Spicy Kung Pao Chicken
I love to use fresh Thai red chili peppers in this dish, though you can substitute dried, small peppers and omit the crushed chili flakes. Do note though that the cooked Thai red peppers are not intended to be eaten, as they are extremely hot, even when cooked. You can eat around them or simply discard before serving.
There is lots of sauce here, so plenty to serve over noodles or rice. I like to serve simple steamed or quick, sauteed vegetables on the side with this one. Greens like bok choy, pea pods or spinach are all nice.
As noted above, change this up by using chicken thighs, pork or shrimp, as you like.
15 Minute Spicy Kung Pao Chicken Skillet
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into 1-inch cubes (about 2 medium)
- 3 Tbsp Chinese black vinegar or substitute good-quality balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp hoisin sauce
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
For Stir fry:
- 2 Tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
- 6-8 fresh small, thin red chili peppers, whole (Thai)
- 1/4 - 1/2 tsp dried crushed chili flakes
- 3 green onions white and green parts separated, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger minced
- 1/4 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
- Black or yellow sesame seeds for garnish
- In a medium bowl, stir together the marinade ingredients. Add chicken cubes and toss to coat. Let sit on the counter while you prepare the sauce.
- In a small bowl, combine all the sauce ingredients and stir well until smooth. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add fresh red peppers and cook, stirring, until they start to brown in spots. Add red pepper flakes, white part of green onion, garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring, until onion softens, about 45-60 seconds. Add chicken and cook, stirring regularly, until chicken is just cooked through and no longer pink. Stir sauce and then add to the hot skillet. Cook, stirring, until sauce thickens. Add peanuts and 1/2 of the green part of the green onion. Stir to combine.
- The red peppers aren't intended to be eaten, as they are extremely hot, even after cooking. Their role is to infuse the heat in to the dish only. You can eat around them or simply discard before serving.
- Serve over noodles or rice, if you like, with vegetables on the side. Garnish with remaining green onion and sesame seeds.