Published on 08 Jan 2024

Kung Pao Cashew Chicken Recipe

In the heart of a bustling kitchen, a symphony of flavors and aromas comes to life. Picture a skillet sizzling on the stove, the air filled with the tantalizing scent of soy sauce and honey mingling together. The star of this culinary performance? An irresistible recipe for Kung Pao Cashew Chicken recipe.

This dish is a celebration of contrasts, where the robust flavor of soy sauce dances with the sweet notes of honey, creating a harmony that tantalizes the taste buds. It’s the kind of meal that takes an ordinary day and turns it into a feast for the senses. Ground ginger adds a hint of exotic spice, while red pepper flakes provide a fiery kick, making each bite an exciting surprise.

But it’s not just about taste – this dish is also a nutritional powerhouse. The lean protein from the chicken works hand-in-hand with fiber-rich bell peppers to offer a filling, wholesome meal. The addition of cashews doesn’t just bring a delightful crunch to every bite; they’re also a fantastic source of healthy fats.

The magic of Kung Pao Cashew Chicken Stir Fry lies in its fusion of flavors and textures. Each ingredient contributes something unique, creating a dish that’s more than the sum of its parts. It’s a testament to the power of culinary creativity, where simple ingredients are transformed into a dish that’s both delicious and nourishing.

The anticipation builds as the stir fry comes together, the ingredients melding and transforming under the heat. The final result? A dish that’s as pleasing to the palate as it is to the eye, a colorful medley of ingredients that promises a taste adventure with every bite.

This Kung Pao Cashew Chicken recipe is more than just a meal. It’s a journey anyone can embark on, right in the comfort of their own kitchen. So why not give it a try? This recipe is waiting to be discovered, a hidden gem in the world of home cooking.

How to Make Kung Pao Chicken with Cashews

The Kung Pao Cashew Chicken Stir Fry is a culinary delight that serves four, each serving bringing in a total of 329 calories. On the Nutrisystem plan, you can log it as two PowerFuels, three Extras and one Vegetable in the NuMi app.

The marinated chicken is the star of this dish. One pound of chicken breast is cut into bite-sized pieces, then coated with a mixture of two teaspoons of cornstarch and one tablespoon of low sodium soy sauce. This marinade is left to seep into the chicken on the counter for ten minutes, infusing every bite with an intense flavor.

While the chicken is marinating, the Kung Pao Sauce is prepared. This involves whisking together three tablespoons of low sodium soy sauce and one tablespoon each of sesame oil, balsamic vinegar, honey and cornstarch. To add a punch to the sauce, a quarter teaspoon each of red pepper flakes and ground ginger are added. A third of a cup of water is also mixed in, creating a sauce that’s both tangy and spicy.

Once the sauce is ready, it’s time to start cooking. A large nonstick skillet is heated over medium heat, and one tablespoon of canola oil is added. The marinated chicken is then added to the pan, browned on all sides, and cooked until fully done. Once cooked, it is set aside.

Another tablespoon of canola oil is added to the pan, followed by a diced red bell pepper and a diced yellow bell pepper. These are cooked until soft, which takes about five minutes.

The cooked chicken is then returned to the pan with the vegetables. The sauce is poured in, followed by the addition of minced garlic, thinly sliced scallions and a quarter cup of cashews. This mixture is cooked for about thirty seconds, or until warm.

Customizing Your Kung Pao Chicken

The beauty of the Kung Pao Cashew Chicken Stir Fry lies not just in its delicious taste, but also in its versatility. There are several ways you can customize this recipe to suit your preferences.

Experiment with Proteins

While chicken is the traditional choice for this dish, you can easily substitute it with other proteins. Tofu can be a great vegetarian option. If you prefer seafood, shrimp or diced fish can be used. For a different kind of poultry, try turkey or duck.

Play with Vegetables

While this recipe uses red and yellow bell peppers, feel free to add in or substitute with other veggies. Carrots and celery, as pictured above, are some of our favorite additions. However, snow peas, broccoli and mushrooms would all work well in this stir fry. The key is to choose vegetables that retain some crunch after being cooked, to complement the texture of the cashews.

Adjust the Spiciness

If you like your food spicier, increase the quantity of red pepper flakes or add some hot peppers. Conversely, if you’re not a fan of heat, you can reduce it or leave it out altogether.

Switch Up the Nuts

While cashews provide a delightful crunch and buttery taste, you can certainly experiment with other nuts. Peanuts are the classic choice, while almonds could add a different flavor profile and texture to the dish. A sprinkle of sesame seeds would also add a nice touch!

Modify the Sauce

For a gluten-free version of this meal, use tamari instead of soy sauce. If you’re watching your sugar intake, you could substitute the honey with a low-glycemic sweetener like stevia.

Ideal Side Dishes for Cashew Chicken Stir Fry

The robust flavors of Kung Pao Cashew Chicken make it a versatile main dish that pairs well with an array of side dishes. Here are some ideas for sides that will complement your meal:

Rice Dishes

Rice is a classic accompaniment to any stir fry. You could go traditional with steamed jasmine or basmati rice, which will help soak up the flavorful sauce. Alternatively, try brown rice for a healthier option, or fried rice for added flavor and texture.

Noodle Dishes

Asian noodle dishes, such as chow mein or pad Thai, can also pair delightfully with Kung Pao Cashew Chicken. The noodles add a different texture, and the flavors can complement the spicy and savory notes of the Kung Pao.

Vegetable Sides

Stir-fried or steamed vegetables can provide a healthy, colorful addition to your meal. Consider bok choy, broccoli, or a medley of bell peppers and snow peas. A cucumber salad with a light vinaigrette can also offer a refreshing contrast to the heat of the Kung Pao.


Dumplings or potstickers can serve as a satisfying side, offering a comforting bite that pairs well with the bold flavors of the stir fry.


A light soup, such as egg drop or hot and sour soup, can be a warming start to your meal and will not overpower the taste of the Kung Pao.

Remember, cooking is an art, and every artist is unique. Feel free to make this Kung Pao Cashew Chicken Stir Fry your own by adding your personal touch. Refer to the Nutrisystem Grocery Guide for more information on counting add-ins!

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