Spicy Kung Pao Chicken

Do you remember anything from the speeches said at your graduation? Probably not. Most people don’t. However, Mr. Maebell and I remember one thing very clearly from our high school graduation. Chinese food makes you smarter.

Our class Valedictorian was the daughter of the couple that ran the very best Chinese restaurant in town. When speaking to her success, she said it was actually very simple. Chinese food makes you smarter so everyone should go eat at Hong Kong Chinese Buffet.

Of course, this got a big laugh from the crowd and years later it still proves to be one of the most memorable moments of the night. However, now anytime I make anything even remotely Asian inspired, we always joke we are getting smarter by the bite.

So make this and see what happens!

Kung Pao Chicken

This has become the most requested meal in our house. I absolutely crave it! It has a bit of spice to it and a rich flavor from the sesame oil. It is really a guest worthy dinner. The flavor is spot on to Pei Wei’s Kung Pao chicken, and it is gluten free!

Don’t shutter when you see the ingredient list. It does call for a couple things you may not keep in your pantry, however if you like Asian food I highly recommend taking the plunge and keeping these around. They aren’t expensive and you only need a couple tablespoons so they last forever. You can use this sauce for anything!

Kung Pao Chicken

For this dish I cut up a couple chicken breasts, tossed them in corn starch, and fried them in a little oil. I find that by breading them you get that crunch and the sauce tends to stick to it a bit better. However, if you want to lighten it up you can definitely do grilled or baked chicken or shrimp. The possibilities are endless!

The sauce is really simple. You just mix your main ingredients together in a small bowl, then in another bowl mix one tablespoon of cornstarch with one tablespoon of water. When you’re ready to coat your chicken with the spicy sauce you just mix the two together and it thickens up beautifully! Just like what you find in a restaurant.

Kung Pao Chicken

So, the next time you have a hankering for Kung Pao skip the take out and try this version!

Spicy Kung Pao Chicken
Recipe type: Dinner
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 1 pound chicken breast, cut into small pieces
  • ¾ cup corn starch + 1 tablespoon
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce (La Choy is gluten free)
  • 2 tablespoons sriracha (You can half this amount if you don't like spicy things. I'm looking at you, Mom!)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon water
  1. Cut up your chicken breast into bite sized pieces, place in a large plastic bag with ¾ cup of corn starch, lightly shake until all of the chicken is coated well.
  2. Heat a large 12 inch skillet or dutch oven over medium high heat, pour in just enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan.
  3. Cook chicken in batches, take care not to over crowd your skillet. I cooked about 4 minutes on each side. Remove chicken from pan and place on a paper towel lined baking sheet in order to drain off as much oil as possible. Continue until all chicken is cooked.
  4. Combine the next 6 ingredients in a small bowl or measuring up to make your sauce. Set aside.
  5. Combine one tablespoon of water with one tablespoon of corn starch and mix well.
  6. Drain off any oil that is in your pan and wipe clean, heat to medium, add in soy sauce mixture and corn starch mixture, add in chicken and stir until mixture is evenly coated and heated through.
  7. Garnish with green onions, sesame seeds, and crushed red pepper if desired.

Just a Tip: Normally you can find sesame seed oil in the ethnic food section and in the baking section next to the regular oils, check both places. Chances are one is much cheaper than the other! 

Other Easy Dinner Recipes:

Asian Steak Rolls! Healthy, easy and loaded with flavor! www.maebells.com

Asian Steak Rolls

Crazy easy Five Ingredient Steak Rolls! An impressive dinner ready in just 20 minutes! #glutenfree www.maebells.com

Steak Rolls

Smoked Drumsticks with Sriracha and Honey Lime Sauce, an awesome game day snack! #glutenfree

Drumsticks with Sriracha Honey Lime Sauce

Steak Lo Mein

Steak Lo Mein


  1. says

    This looks SO good! I’ve always been a little intimidated about making Asian food, but this looks pretty easy and I think my husband would also love it! I think that I have all of these ingredients at home right now, so I will be making this soon!

    • says

      Good! I was exactly the same way, I would stand in the ethnic food section at the super market and feel so overwhelmed because I didn’t know how to use any of those ingredients! But this really is easy! If you make it I would love to hear what you think!

  2. Tim says

    Be careful with adding gluten free labels. Regular soy sauce is not gluten free. This looks great and I’m sure will work just fine with gf soy sauce.

    • says

      Hi Tim, All La Choy sauces are gluten free. So just regular soy sauce from that brand is fine.
      That is what I use for this recipe. All recipes on this site are 100% gluten free.

  3. Ceil G. says

    My husband and I enjoyed this tonight. Served over cooked rice. Very good. Will make again. However, I would double or triple the sauce next time.

  4. Cinnamon Flowers says

    We happen to be allergic to corn as wel has have celiac. Can this be thickened with anything else? Like potato starch? Sounds amazing and I would love to make it:)

    • says

      Hi! Yes! Absolutely! You can use potato starch, I might start with two teaspoons instead of a full tablespoon because I usually find potato starch to thicken things a bit more than cornstarch. Alternatively, you can just leave out a thickner all together and let the chicken sit and simmer in the sauce a bit longer, it won’t “cling” to the meat quite as well but the flavor will be just the same. I think you will love this!! :)


  1. […] of course soy sauce. It was this group of ingredients, plus a few extra that I used to create the Spicy Kung Pao Chicken that I shared a while back. This Steak Lo Mein uses those ingredients but the sauce is richer and […]

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