Cashew chicken is a classic takeout dish that is super easy to make at home. It is sweet, sticky, and super flavorful.
Look no further if you are looking for a recipe to make delicious cashew chicken at home! This cashew chicken is perfectly sweet and savory with just the right amount of acidity.
It’s one of those dishes that disappears quickly once served. So be sure to prepare a few extra servings when you try this cashew chicken recipe!
Cashew Chicken Ingredients
To make cashew chicken, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Chicken thighs: Boneless skinless chicken thighs are recommended as they stay super juicy and tender when they are being stir-fried. You can use chicken breasts if you make sure that you don’t overcook them.
- Vegetables: To make classic cashew chicken, you’ll need bell pepper and celery. I used red bell pepper, but green bell peppers are also commonly found in cashew chicken.
- Aromatics: To make this stir fry flavorful and delicious, you’ll need to use green onions, garlic, and ginger.
- Cashews: You’ll also need plenty of whole raw cashews. They are later roasted in the recipe which makes them extra tasty.
- Cashew chicken stir fry sauce: For the sauce, you’ll need light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, hoisin sauce, Shaoxing wine, rice vinegar, honey, chicken broth or water, cornstarch, and white pepper. They are typical Chinese condiments that can be reused for other recipes such as chicken yaki udon, kung pao chicken, and shrimp chop suey. You can find them in most Asian grocery stores or online.
How to make cashew chicken
Making cashew chicken is super quick and easy. Here are the steps to follow:
- Marinate the chicken: First, add the chicken thigh pieces to a bowl with some light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, cornstarch, and white pepper. Then toss and set aside.
- Prepare the sauce: Next, whisk together all sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
- Roast the cashews: Now preheat some vegetable oil in a pan over medium heat. Roast the cashews until they start to turn golden brown. Remove them from the pan.
- Sauté the vegetables: Next, sauté the bell pepper and celery over medium-high heat until they start to soften. Remove from the pan.
- Sear the chicken: Add the marinated chicken thigh pieces to the pan and sear them over medium-high heat until they are browned and cooked through. Remove them from the pan and set aside.
- Sauté the aromatics: Now add more vegetable oil to the pan if needed. Lower the heat and sauté the green onions, garlic, and ginger until fragrant.
- Combine and serve: Add back the chicken pieces, cashews, celery, and red bell pepper. Pour the sauce into the pan, season with white pepper, toss and simmer until the sauce thickens. Serve with white rice and enjoy!
Tips & Notes
Here are a few quick notes to read through before you make this cashew chicken for the first time.
- Prepare all ingredients in advance. As stir-fries are cooked very quickly, there won’t be much time to chop any of the ingredients. So prepare all ingredients in advance to make the process stress-free and enjoyable.
- Adjust the heat while cooking. Some of the ingredients, such as cashews and aromatics, burn very quickly. That’s why I’d recommend sautéing them on lower heat. Just make sure to adjust the heat when needed and you’ll be fine. 😃
- Thicken or thin the sauce to your liking. If you want to thicken the sauce even more, you can make a cornstarch slurry by combining equal parts of cornstarch and water in a small bowl. You can add it to the stir-fry to thicken the sauce. If you want to thin the sauce, you can add some water or chicken broth.
If you’re looking for delicious ways to switch up the flavor of this dish, you can try one of the following variations:
- Protein: Other types of protein like shrimp, beef, and tofu taste great in this dish. So if you want to try one of those, feel free to do so!
- Vegetables: You could also use more vegetables when making this cashew chicken. Broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, and green beans are delicious options!
- Heat level: This cashew chicken recipe is very mild. If you want to make it spicier, feel free to add some chili flakes, dried chilies, or fresh chili peppers.
How to serve cashew chicken
You can serve cashew chicken alongside a variety of side dishes to turn it into a filling and tasty meal. Here are some of my personal favorites:
- Rice: White rice is a common side dish for dishes like cashew chicken. You can use any type of rice you like. I always use short-grain or medium-grain white rice.
- Vegetable sides: Vegetable sides like Korean cucumber salad, kimchi, garlic bok choy, or edamame are great additions to your meal. Feel free to pick something you like or just serve the cashew chicken as is.
- Dumplings: Dumplings are another favorite! There are great frozen options or you could make some at home. I personally love Japanese gyoza, but other types of dumplings taste great, too.
- Spring rolls: You could also make your own spring rolls or use store-bought spring rolls to complement this dish. Spring rolls taste delicious and go really well with cashew chicken.
Frequently Asked Questions
Cashew chicken is rich in umami, slightly sweet, and a little bit sour. Its flavor should be well-suited for most people’s taste as it’s mild yet flavorful and delicious.
No, this cashew chicken is very mild and doesn’t use spicy ingredients. So if you prefer mild dishes, this is the one for you! And if you want to spice things up, you can certainly add ingredients like chili flakes or fresh chili peppers.
You can store leftovers in an airtight container in your refrigerator for 3-4 days. You can reheat them in the microwave or on the stove. Make sure to add some water if needed to thin the sauce again.
More quick and delicious stir-fry recipes
If you want to try more stir-fried dishes, I recommend checking out the following recipes. They are super simple and very delicious.
Chicken Marinade Ingredients
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- ½ tablespoon dark soy sauce
- ½ tablespoon Shaoxing wine
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- pinch of white pepper
Stir Fry Sauce Ingredients
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 1 ½ tablespoon hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
- ½ tablespoon rice vinegar alternatively Chinese black vinegar
- 1 ½ tablespoon honey
- ⅓ cup chicken broth or water
- 1 ½ teaspoon cornstarch
Stir Fry Ingredients
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup cashew nuts
- 1 red bell pepper cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 celery stalk cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 green onions cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- white pepper to taste
- First, add all chicken marinade ingredients to a bowl. Toss until the chicken pieces are evenly covered in sauce. Set the chicken aside.1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, 1 tablespoon light soy sauce, ½ tablespoon dark soy sauce, ½ tablespoon Shaoxing wine, 1 teaspoon cornstarch, pinch of white pepper
- In a small bowl, whisk together all cashew chicken sauce ingredients. Set the sauce aside.2 tablespoons light soy sauce, 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce, 1 ½ tablespoon hoisin sauce, 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine, ½ tablespoon rice vinegar, 1 ½ tablespoon honey, ⅓ cup chicken broth or water, 1 ½ teaspoon cornstarch
- Preheat some vegetable oil in a large pan or wok over medium heat. Then roast the cashews until they turn golden brown. Remove the cashew nuts.2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1 cup cashew nuts
- Next, sauté the bell pepper and celery over medium-high heat until they start to soften. Remove from the pan.1 red bell pepper, 1 celery stalk
- Now sear the marinated chicken pieces over medium-high heat until they brown and are cooked through. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- If the pan needs more oil, add some. Then sauté the green onions, garlic cloves, and minced ginger over medium to medium-low heat.2 green onions, 2 garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- Next, add back the chicken pieces, cashew nuts, celery, and red bell pepper. Give the stir-fry sauce a quick stir and pour it into the pan. Season with white pepper to taste. Then toss until the stir fry sauce has thickened.white pepper
- Serve alongside white rice and enjoy!