Hunan Chicken

Tender, juicy chicken is tossed with mixed peppers, ginger, garlic, and a scrumptious savory sauce. This version of Hunan chicken is quick and healthy – a perfect one-bowl dinner.

This Chinese Hunan chicken is quick and healthy - perfect for a one-bowl dinner.

There are two types of Hunan chicken recipes out there:

  1. The American Chinese version: Chunks of chicken breast are deep fried, and served in a hot sauce that is quite sweet.
  2. The authentic Chinese version: A whole chicken is chopped into bone-in bite-size pieces, then cooked with tons of chili peppers and just enough sauce to coat the ingredients.

When I developed the recipe at home, I combined the goodness of both versions and made this Hunan chicken using traditional Chinese ingredients and a modern approach. It results in a recipe that is faster and more practical to prepare in a Western kitchen, is possible to cook in a nonstick skillet, and is healthier and easier to serve with rice to make a one-bowl meal.

This Chinese Hunan chicken is quick and healthy - perfect for a one-bowl dinner.

Why this recipe

Use fresh peppers to spice up the dish

I’ve seen recipes that use hot sauce to season the dish. However, I went with the traditional Chinese way, which uses a bunch of mixed peppers. Not only does it make the dish more colorful, but it also adds a good amount of veggies to your dish and makes the meal more balanced.

In Chinese cooking, a type of long pepper is usually used in this dish. It is a bit spicier than an Anaheim pepper, but slightly less spicy than a jalapeno pepper. It usually comes in both red and green, a combination that makes this dish look really pretty. Living in Austin, I couldn’t find the long peppers, so I used a mixture of Anaheim and serrano peppers. I like the crisp, tender texture of the Anaheim peppers, and the serrano peppers add a ton of spiciness.

If you want a milder dish, you can switch to a mixture of bell pepper and jalapeno, or simply use mild peppers exclusively.

Hunan Chicken Cooking Process

Select whatever cut of chicken you prefer

Although the Hunan chicken in China uses bone-in chicken, I opted for a boneless cut simply because it’s more practical. I used chicken thighs in the recipe, but you can switch to chicken breast, as well. The recipe yields tender and juicy chicken no matter which cut you use.

A saucier version that works great with rice

Although the authentic version uses very little sauce (known as a dry stir fry), I made a much saucier version just because it works so well with steamed rice. The sauce is similar to a basic brown sauce, but I used oyster sauce and sesame oil to add more umami and a bit of sweetness. It tasted SO GOOD that I might consider doubling the amount of sauce next time.

This Chinese Hunan chicken is quick and healthy - perfect for a one-bowl dinner.

That’s it! A traditional Chinese Hunan chicken with a modern twist. It takes 20 minutes to prep and cook. Get your rice cooker going first, then make this stir fry, and you’ll have dinner ready in no time.

Happy cooking!

More delicious stir fry recipes

This Chinese Hunan chicken is quick and healthy - perfect for a one-bowl dinner.

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.

This Chinese Hunan chicken is quick and healthy - perfect for a one-bowl dinner.

Hunan Chicken

This Chinese Hunan chicken is quick and healthy - perfect for a one-bowl dinner.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: takeout
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 2 to 3
Calories: 387kcal
Author: Maggie Zhu


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


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


Stir fry

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4 clove garlic , sliced
  • 2 teaspoons ginger , finely chopped
  • 3 Anaheim peppers (or 2 bell peppers, seeded and sliced)
  • 1 to 2 serrano peppers (or 1 to 2 jalapeno peppers), sliced (Optional) (*Footnote 1)


  • Combine chicken, Shaoxing wine, salt, and cornstarch in a medium-sized bowl. Mix well with your hands, so the chicken is evenly covered with a thin slurry.
  • Mix all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium high heat until hot. Add the chicken. Stir and cook until the all surfaces turn white, but the inside is still a bit pink, 2 minutes or so. Transfer the chicken to a big plate.
  • Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon oil, garlic, and ginger. Stir a few times to mix well.
  • 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. Immediately transfer everything to a plate.
  • Serve hot over steamed rice as a main dish.


  1. Using some spicy peppers will enhance the umami of the dish. Use jalapeno peppers (seeds removed) for a milder taste. For a super spicy taste, use sliced serrano peppers without removing the seeds.


Serving: 3g | Calories: 387kcal | Carbohydrates: 5.5g | Protein: 44.6g | Fat: 19.7g | Saturated Fat: 4.7g | Cholesterol: 135mg | Sodium: 632mg | Potassium: 417mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 0.3g | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 2.2mg
This Chinese Hunan chicken is quick and healthy - perfect for a one-bowl dinner.


Omnivore's Cookbook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to
Meet Maggie

Hi I'm Maggie Zhu! Welcome to my site about modern Chinese cooking - including street food, family recipes, and restaurant dishes. I take a less labor-intensive approach while maintaining the taste and look of the dish. I am originally from Beijing, and now cook from my New York kitchen.

FREE 5-Day Chinese Cooking Crash Course

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

7 thoughts on “Hunan Chicken

    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Beth, I added a small pinch of toasted sesame seeds at the end of the cooking as garnish. You could add or skip them.
      Happy cooking and hope your dish turns out great 🙂

    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Victor, yes it is 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine. I like its taste so I usually use a lot to marinate. If there is still liquid left after the marinating, you could drain and discard any liquid before cooking so it won’t cause splatters.

    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Ben, I’m pretty sure you can directly replace the chicken with shrimp. It might need a bit more cornstarch or reduce the Shaoxing wine to 2 teaspoons for the marinade so it’s a slurry just thick enough to coat the shrimp. The rest remains the same.