A takeout style cashew chicken recipe that teaches you how to make restaurant-style cashew chicken with super juicy and tender meat and crisp pepper and cashews, all brought together with a rich, gingery, garlicky sauce. It is very easy to make and you don’t need a wok!
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 pepper and nutty cashews. Scoop a spoonful with some hot steamed rice. Oh my, it’s like an amusement park in your mouth!
Cashew chicken ingredients
What cut of chicken to use
The authentic Chinese version uses chicken breast, and so does the recipe below. But if you like a richer flavor and texture, boneless, skinless chicken thighs work perfectly, too.
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 get 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.
The sauce uses oyster sauce as a base, with a small amount of Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, Chinkiang vinegar and a touch of sugar to create a rich and complex sauce that is savory, sour and slightly sweet.
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.
Mise en place
Once you’re ready to cook, your table should have:
- Mixed sauce
- Marinated chicken
- Diced pepper
- Aromatics (green onion, garlic, ginger)
How to cook cashew chicken
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 cooking. Plus, since the cashew chicken sauce contains vinegar, it will unseason a cast iron or carbon steel wok. So a large flat non-stick pan is your next best choice.
Cooking cashew chicken step-by-step
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.
- Sear the chicken
- Take out the chicken once it’s just cooked through
- Saute the aromatics
- Reduce the sauce slightly
- Cook the pepper briefly
- Add back the chicken and mix everything together
Once done, the chicken will be just cooked through, tender and juicy, and the pepper still crisp. Everything is brought together by the sticky sauce that is savory, sour and sweet. Top it on your rice and you’ll have a satisfying and healthy meal in no time!
That’s all for today! Happy cooking and I hope you enjoy the dish 🙂
More delicious Chinese takeout recipes
- Mongolian Beef (Without Using a Wok)
- Chicken Lo Mein (Restaurant Style Without A Wok)
- Crispy Sesame Chicken (without Deep Frying)
- Orange Beef (Crispy Beef Using Cheap Cut)
- Real-Deal Kung Pao Tofu
- Chinese Eggplant with Garlic Sauce
Cashew Chicken (腰果鸡丁)
- 1 lb (450 g) skinless boneless breast , cut into 2/3-inch (1 cm) pieces (or thigh)
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
- 1/2 tablespoon light soy sauce (or soy sauce)
- 1 tablespoon Chinkiang vinegar
- 1/3 cup chicken stock
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1/8 teaspoon white pepper powder
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
- 4 cloves garlic , sliced
- 2 teaspoons ginger , finely chopped
- 2 green onions , chopped
- 1 bell pepper , seeded and diced
- 1/2 cup roasted unsalted cashews
- 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 together in a small bowl.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of 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 pepper. Stir and cook until the pepper just turns 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 as a main dish.
Questions and Reviews
I’m so happy to have come across your cooking blog Maggie! Thank you for sharing your recipes with us
Thanks for your note, Merienda. We appreciate the feedback and hope you find the blog helpful.
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!
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.
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.
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.
May I ask how to make this dish spicy? What ingredient to add and at which step? Thanks!
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.
Thank you so much for our reply!
The best. The only thing I am sorry is that I didn’t double the recipe.
This is delicious. As good as the best Chinese restaurants. My family absolutely loved it
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!!!
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 🙂
The absolute best, and I have tried hundreds of varieties from all walks.
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.
Eager to try this. I’ve tried many of your recipes and have never been disappointed!! Sesame chicken is a favorite of my granddaughter!
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.
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!
Glad to hear you enjoyed the dish! Looking forward to hearing what you’ll cook the next 🙂
You are my star, Maggie. What a taste! I think that turns into my most favourite dishes. Absolutely fantastic. Easy and fast made.
Made this tonight for my wife. She loved it! Thank you so much!
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.
Amazon has all the ingredients you need.
Love love love this dish. It tastes so authentic. My husband and I love to cook. Found Sake instead of the wine and we added broccoli too. The peppers and broccoli we cut a bit bigger so they had a wonderful crunch. And the cashews added so much. Thank you, I look forward to all your dishes….
Awesome recipe! My family and I love it so much! I swap out the white pepper with half a teaspoon of Chinese 5-Spice and everybody loves it.
This is the first dish I’ve made from this site. It was absolutely delicious! I’ll be back for more
My husband grew up in the States and really missed good Chinese food which is quite difficult to get here in Germany. So it was no less than a gift from up above that I found your blog. Absolutely loved every recipe I cooked so far (both preparing and it course eating it). Most favorite foodblog ever!
We all loved this. Even the “no vegetables guy”! 🤣
The flavor was excellent. I wished i had doubled the broth – everything got absorbed by the chicken.
Great recipe. I have tried many of your recipes and have always been very pleased at the outcome.The only reason I go out to asian fusion restaurants now is for sushi.
Hi. May I know if the chicken stock you use is salted, store-bought or plain broth? Thank you 🙂
The stock I used was store bought chicken broth.
I just received your cookbook. I am Asian/American. I miss all the recipes from my childhood. The recipes for tofu are delicious! I am a big fan of eating vegetarian recipes 3-4 times a week. I am a big fan of tofu and will be trying some of your recipes soon.
I just made this and it is so good! Next time I would put a little more ginger in it as I like a little more kick. I am so excited to have recipes for some of my favorite Chinese dishes. Thank you for all the recipes.
One of my favorite take out dishes. This was sooo good! I had to make it immediately. You never let me down M. I know this is probably a lot of work, but I am requesting a recipe for winter melon moon cakes! LOL I used to live near SF Chinatown, and every weekend I’d hightail it to my favorite bakery and buy them to have during the week, and also the wonderful crumbly almond cookies. Of course, I was walking everywhere so I rewarded myself with these. If you have a recipe for the almond cookies–please share! Would they be in your cookbook?
P.S. Another favorite was at this little hidden Asian restaurant–curry chicken lo mein! I do miss my Asian food adventures there. LoL
I do have a almond cookie recipe: https://omnivorescookbook.com/chinese-almond-cookies/
Although I did quite a bit of changes so it has a soft texture, which I really like.
I’d love to work on a winter melon mooncake recipe some time! It’s one of my favorites too. The layered pastry will be challenging to make though, that’s why I haven’t posted it yet. I wasn’t sure if anyone would try it 😛
Love Cashews & Chicken, gathering all ingredients now. Cannot wait to try this particular one. My last recipe of cashew/chicken was rather bland! You have the best recipes!!!
Thank you for a true Asian deliciously flavoured dish! My family loves Asian cuisine but we can’t go out to eat it as my son is allergic to gluten, eggs and peanuts. Instructions were on point and easy to prepare. I used lots of sesame oil and found gluten free sauces, I also used fortified wine in place of Shaoxing cooking wine. It was better then a restaurant! I also made it with Vegetable Chow Fun.
Foolproof and tastes just like quality restaurant cashew chicken! I love recipes with chinkiang vinegar
Fantastic! Great recipe! I couldn’t imagine a way to make it better. The white pepper was perfect.