Sichuan Kung Pao Chicken

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Dinner, Main Course Chinese
By America's Test Kitchen Serves: 2-4
Prep Time: 30 Minutes Cooking Time: 10-12 Minutes Total Time: ~40 Minutes

This classic Sichuan dish is wonderfully spicy and tingly, and so flavorful. Crunchy toasted peanuts and scallions, fresh celery, and tender chicken all coated in a light sauce. An easy one-pan recipe – it's all about the prep!


  • Chicken Marinade and Sauce
  • 1 ½ lbs. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs, trimmed and cut into ½-inch cubes
  • ¼ cup Soy Sauce, divided
  • 1 tbsp. Cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp. Chinese Rice Wine or Dry Sherry
  • ½ tsp. White Pepper
  • 1 tbsp. Chinese Black Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. packed Dark Brown Sugar
  • 2 tsp. Toasted Sesame Oil
  • Stir-Fry
  • 1 tbsp. Minced Garlic
  • 2 tsp. Grated Fresh Ginger
  • 2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. Grapeseed or Vegetable Oil, divided
  • ½ cup Dry-Roasted Peanuts
  • 10-15 Dried Arbol Chiles, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 1 tsp. Sichuan Peppercorns, ground coarse
  • 2 Celery Ribs, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 5 Scallions, white and light green parts only, cut into ½-inch pieces


Prep and measure out all ingredients before cooking

Chicken Marinade and Sauce


Combine chicken, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, cornstarch, rice wine, and white pepper in medium bowl and set aside.


Stir vinegar, sugar, oil, and remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce together in small bowl and set aside.



Stir garlic, ginger, and 1 tablespoon oil together in second small bowl.


Combine peanuts and 1 teaspoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until peanuts just begin to darken, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer peanuts to plate and spread into even layer to cool.


Return now-empty skillet to medium-low heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, arbols, and peppercorns and cook, stirring constantly, until arbols begin to darken, 1 to 2 minutes.


Add garlic mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until all clumps are broken up and mixture is fragrant, about 30 seconds.


Add chicken and spread into even layer. Cover skillet, increase heat to medium-high, and cook, without stirring, for 1 minute.


Stir chicken and spread into even layer. Cover and cook, without stirring, for 1 minute more.


Add celery and cook uncovered, stirring frequently, until chicken is cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes.


Add soy sauce mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened and shiny and coats chicken, 3 to 5 minutes.


Stir in scallions and peanuts.


If you cannot find Chinese black vinegar, you can use sherry vinegar.