Kung Pao Chicken

Spicy Kung Pao Chicken with arbol chiles and roasted peanuts served over white rice for a deliciously spicy and savory meal.

This Kung Pao Chicken recipe is a deliciously spicy and savory dish with tender chunks of chicken, crunchy peanuts, and a mix of aromatic spices. The chicken is first marinated in a soy sauce and cornstarch mixture, then cooked with garlic, ginger, celery, and Sichuan peppercorns for a bold flavor. The sauce, made with soy sauce, black vinegar, and brown sugar, is drizzled over the chicken and vegetables, creating a mouthwatering glaze. The addition of arbol chiles adds a fiery kick to the dish, while the scallions add a subtle sweetness. This dish is perfect for anyone who loves a bit of heat in their meal and pairs well with fluffy white rice.



Prep Time

30 minutes

Cook Time

40 minutes

Total Time

1 hour 10 minutes


  • 20 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 6 scallions, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry or Chinese rice wine
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, coarsely ground
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar, packed
  • 4 dried arbol chiles, sliced lengthwise and seeded
  • 1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts

For the Rice:

  • 1 cup white rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


Chicken Marinade: Trim excess fat from chicken thighs and cut into bite-sized pieces. In a bowl, mix together 1/4 cup soy sauce, cornstarch, rice wine, and white pepper. Add chicken, ensuring each piece is coated, and set aside to marinate.

Sauce Preparation: In a small bowl, combine the Chinese black vinegar, brown sugar, sesame oil, and 2 tablespoons soy sauce. Set aside.

White Rice: In a pot, combine rice, water, butter, and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until rice is cooked.

Cooking the Chicken: In a skillet or wok over medium-low heat, add 1 teaspoon peanut oil and the peanuts. Toast until peanuts are slightly darkened. Remove and set aside. Increase the heat to medium. Add 2 tablespoons peanut oil, arbol chiles, and Sichuan peppercorns. Sauté until the chiles darken. Add minced garlic and grated ginger, sautéing until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add marinated chicken in a single layer. Let it sear for 2 minutes without stirring. Stir and continue cooking for another 2 minutes. Mix in diced celery and cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Pour in the sauce mixture, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the scallions and toasted peanuts.

Serving: Serve the Kung Pao Chicken over the prepared white rice.

Trim fat from chicken thighs and cut into half inch chunks

Combine 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 1 tablespoon rice wine, and 1/2 teaspoon white pepper to mix with the chicken and set aside.

Dice celery into half inch pieces. Slice the scallions. Slice and de-seed the arbol chiles.

Stir 1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar, 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, and 2 tablespoons soy sauce together in a small bowl and set aside.

Prepare 2 minced garlic cloves and 2 teaspoons grated ginger root.

Begin preparing white rice: 1 cup dry rice and 2 cups water plus 1 tablespoon butter and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Heat to boiling, cover and simmer on low for 15 minutes while cooking chicken mixture.

Heat skillet or wok over med-low and add 1 teaspoon peanut oil and 1/2 cup peanuts. Cook and stir constantly until the peanuts begin to darken in a few minutes. Transfer peanuts to a plate to cool.

Prepared ingredients ready for cooking!

Add 1 tablespoon oil, arbol chiles, and Sichuan peppercorns to skillet and stir constantly until arbol chiles begin to darken.

Add garlic and ginger and stir constantly until fragrant in about 30 seconds.

Add the chicken and spread into a layer. Increase heat to med-high and cover without stirring for a minute. Add celery and cook uncovered until chicken is cooked in another 2-3 minutes.

Add soy sauce mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened in about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the scallions and peanuts.

Stir steamed white rice.

Serve over white rice.