Cashew Chicken (腰果鸡丁)

5 from 13 votes
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Learn how to make restaurant-style cashew chicken with super juicy and tender meat, a rich, thick, gingery, garlicky sauce, crispy peppers, and cashews. {Gluten-free adaptable}

Restaurant style cashew chicken with pepper

On the dinner table of a Chinese family, it’s quite important to serve food that is nutritious, balanced with veggies and grains, bursting with flavor, and beautiful to the eyes. Cashew chicken is no doubt a winner by these metrics.

The chicken breast is briefly marinated, resulting in juicy, tender bites that are very flavorful. The sauce is made from rich oyster sauce, a touch of vinegar, some soy sauce, some sugar, and tons of aromatics, which combine to make the sauce very fragrant, gingery, and garlicky. Then you finish up the dish with colorful peppers and nutty cashews. Scoop a spoonful with some hot steamed rice. Oh my, it’s like an amusement park in your mouth!

Restaurant style cashew chicken served with rice

Cooking notes

1. No wok required!

If you, like me, don’t own a gas stove, the best way to cook this dish is to use a large nonstick pan. Not only does it create juicy chicken with less oil, but the finished dish will taste as great as if you had cooked it in a wok. I wrote a lengthy post (wok vs. stir fry pan) to explain the reasons behind this. Long story short – your home stove usually cannot generate enough heat for wok cooking. So a large flat non-stick pan is your next best choice.

2. What cut of chicken to use

The authentic Chinese version uses chicken breast, and so does the recipe below. But if you like a rich and fattier texture, boneless, skinless chicken thighs work perfectly, too.

3. Marinating

I cannot emphasize this enough. This key step takes an extra three minutes but will make such a difference to your dish. Using Shaoxing wine and salt makes the chicken so much more flavorful. The cornstarch protects the chicken from the hot pan so it won’t be overcooked. It’s especially important for chicken breast because it can dry out so easily if you leave it in the pan a bit too long.

4. The sauce

I believe you should always use high-quality oyster sauce (such as LKK oyster sauce) in this dish instead of hoisin sauce, to create a richer taste. If you cannot find oyster sauce, a good hoisin sauce (such as LKK hoisin sauce) will be the next best choice.

5. How to make the dish gluten-free

Making this dish gluten-free is a bit challenging, but not impossible.

First of all, you need to find gluten-free oyster sauce or hoisin sauce. For example, you can find the LKK gluten free oyster sauce and the Wok Mei gluten free hoisin sauce on Amazon. Or you can choose to make a vegetarian oyster sauce (using mushrooms) at home.

The rest of the substitutions are typical:

  • Use dry sherry instead of Shaoxing wine
  • Use tamari or coconut aminos instead of soy sauce
  • Use rice vinegar instead of Chinkiang vinegar

Restaurant style cashew chicken in a pan

6. Before you start cooking

Make sure you have all the ingredients ready near your stove. Chinese stir fry is a very fast-moving process. Once you heat up the pan, the cooking won’t take more than 4 to 5 minutes. So it’s very important that you’ve got everything ready to go and that you’ve read through the recipe.

7. Bonus tip – make prep faster

As a creature of habit, I use tons of aromatics, such as fresh ginger and garlic, in all my cooking throughout the week. I’ve found these ingredients to be the best way to boost the flavor of a dish without adding tons of salt. So on the weekend, I usually chop a LOT of them (like 1 to 2 bulbs of garlic and 1 big ginger root) and save them in small airtight containers. They stay good for quite a few days and having them ready speeds up my prep time tremendously.

That’s all for today! Happy cooking and hope you enjoy the dish 🙂

More delicious Chinese takeout recipes

Restaurant style cashew chicken served with rice close up

If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and take a picture and tag it @omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with.

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Cashew Chicken (腰果鸡丁) - Easy stir fry recipe that teaches you how to make restaurant-style cashew chicken with super juicy and tender meat, a rich, thick, gingery, garlicky sauce, crispy peppers and cashews. #chinese #healthy #glutenfree #authentic #takeout

Cashew Chicken (腰果鸡丁)

5 from 13 votes
Learn how to make restaurant-style cashew chicken with super juicy and tender meat, a rich, thick, gingery, garlicky sauce, crispy peppers, and cashews. {Gluten-free adaptable}
Author: Maggie Zhu
Course: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: takeout
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (450 g) skinless boneless breast (or thigh) , cut into 2/3-inch (1 cm) pieces

Marinade

  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

Sauce

Stir fry

  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves garlic , sliced
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
  • 2 green onions , chopped
  • 1 bell pepper , seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup toasted unsalted cashews

Instructions

  • Combine chicken, Shaoxing wine, salt, and cornstarch in a medium-sized bowl. Mix well so the chicken is evenly coated with a thin slurry.
  • Mix all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Spread the chicken with minimal overlapping. Let cook until the bottom side is light golden, 1 minute or so. Turn to the other side and cook until light golden. Stir a few times until all surfaces turn white. Transfer the chicken to a big plate.
  • Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, garlic, ginger, and green onion. Stir a few times to release the fragrance.
  • Add the peppers. Stir and cook until the peppers just turn tender, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Stir the sauce again to dissolve the cornstarch completely. Pour into the pan. Quickly stir a few times until the sauce thickens. Return the chicken to the skillet and mix again.
  • Add the cashews, quickly give it a stir and immediately transfer everything to a plate.
  • Serve hot over steamed rice as a main dish.

Notes

See the cooking notes in the blog post above for information on how to make this dish gluten-free.

Nutrition

Serving: 4g, Calories: 335kcal, Carbohydrates: 16.2g, Protein: 28.6g, Fat: 18.7g, Saturated Fat: 3.5g, Cholesterol: 65mg, Sodium: 598mg, Potassium: 206mg, Fiber: 1.4g, Sugar: 5.7g, Calcium: 20mg, Iron: 2.2mg
Did You Make This Recipe?Don't forget the last step! Tag me @OmnivoresCookbook and #OmnivoresCookbook on Instagram!
Cashew Chicken (腰果鸡丁) - Easy stir fry recipe that teaches you how to make restaurant-style cashew chicken with super juicy and tender meat, a rich, thick, gingery, garlicky sauce, crispy peppers and cashews. #chinese #healthy #glutenfree #authentic #takeout

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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Merienda says:

    I’m so happy to have come across your cooking blog Maggie! Thank you for sharing your recipes with us

    • Thomas says:

      Thanks for your note, Merienda. We appreciate the feedback and hope you find the blog helpful.

  2. Danielle says:

    5 stars
    I love dishes made with oyster sauce, it just has such a wonderful flavor. And cashews….yum. What great tip on prepping too! I use garlic constantly, and am not sure why I never thought to prep it for the week. Great idea!

  3. Emil says:

    5 stars
    Best Cashew Chicken recipe I’ve tried; even better than the one in Phaidon’s China The Cookbook. Great work! Instead of rice, I put over shredded, wok fried cabbage; good low-carb, high-fiber option.

  4. Tom says:

    5 stars
    Didn’t have oyster sauce so went with the hoisin sauce. It was very good, but now I can’t wait to try it with oyster sauce and see the difference. Either way I think this one is a keeper.

  5. Ms Emerson Reiff says:

    5 stars
    This was good. I mean really good. Did I say good? After bringing home a blah stir-fry from a local restaurant, I decided to look for a sauce that could save this dish. I wanted edible, but, YUM! Delucious and authentic. I chose this recipe because I was excited to see Shaoxing wine and Chinkiang vinegar which I can be a bit intimidated about using. This recipe not only saved my $15 stir-fry, but had me in Cashew Chicken Heaven. Not too sweet. Nice depth of flavors. I really enjoyed and cannot wait to try other recipes, especially the bitter melon. I always see at Asian Market, but this time, I am going for it. Thank you.

  6. M Chan says:

    May I ask how to make this dish spicy? What ingredient to add and at which step? Thanks!

    • Maggie says:

      There are quite a few ways to make this dish spicy. Such as:
      (1) Add cayenne powder (I would start with 1/4 teaspoon) or mild Chinese chili powder (start with 1 teaspoon) in the sauce
      (2) Add whole dried chili pepper on step 4 after you added the oil, along with the aromatics. It takes 2 to 3 spicy peppers (such as Thai peppers) or a handful of mild peppers (such as Chinese lantern or bullet-head peppers) to make the dish spicy.
      (3) Or you could add some doubanjiang (fermented chili bean paste) to the sauce, which is a great way to add rich savory flavor too.

      • M Chan says:

        Thank you so much for our reply!

  7. esti says:

    The best. The only thing I am sorry is that I didn’t double the recipe.

  8. Sue says:

    5 stars
    This is delicious. As good as the best Chinese restaurants. My family absolutely loved it

  9. Mike says:

    5 stars
    After trying this once, I don’t think I can ever go back to take-out. Substituted vegetarian Lee Kum Kee stir-fry sauce for the oyster sauce. The results were wonderful. And the process was so easy!!!

  10. Jelena Grabeljsek says:

    5 stars
    What a great recipe! The chicken is tender, peppers and cashews add a lovely crunch and the sauce is on point! Thank you for sharing this quick and easy recipe 🙂

  11. Scott Stone says:

    5 stars
    The absolute best, and I have tried hundreds of varieties from all walks.

  12. Lucy Chou says:

    5 stars
    Fantastic recipe! Followed the recipe exactly. It was absolutely delicious. Used Murrays Chicken thighs and I toasted raw unsalted cashews. There isn’t anything I would change to improve upon it.

  13. Bob Johansen says:

    Eager to try this. I’ve tried many of your recipes and have never been disappointed!! Sesame chicken is a favorite of my granddaughter!

  14. Ann says:

    Another super super delicious recipe that is easy to cook on a weeknight. I had seconds even though I was full.:) thank you for sharing.

  15. Laura Foray says:

    5 stars
    Wow, this was better than Chinese takeout!!! I followed the recipe exactly but had to use sherry wine, couldn’t get shaoxing. I am amazed how good this meal was. Cant wait to try more recipes! Love cooking fresh food of various ethnicities right in my own kitchen. Thank you for the recipe!

    • Maggie says:

      Glad to hear you enjoyed the dish! Looking forward to hearing what you’ll cook the next 🙂

  16. Elisabeth says:

    5 stars
    You are my star, Maggie. What a taste! I think that turns into my most favourite dishes. Absolutely fantastic. Easy and fast made.

  17. Dave says:

    5 stars
    Made this tonight for my wife. She loved it! Thank you so much!

  18. Allison says:

    5 stars
    This recipe is fantastic. The depth of flavor and tenderness of the chicken in stir fry has always escaped me until now. I have made this recipe at least 10 times since I found it. I have never found the correct vinegar or wine but rice vinegar and dry sherry are great substitutes. If I ever find the proper ingredients I imagine it would be even more glorious.

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