Cashew Chicken

5 stars based on 5 votes

cashew chicken

If your family likes Chinese food, they’ll be singing your praises for this: tender chunks of stir-fried chicken, crispy roasted cashews and bright green scallions in an authentic brown garlic sauce. It tastes just like take-out, only better — much better.

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You don’t need a wok — just a large, nonstick skillet — and, aside from the chicken, the only chopping involves some garlic and scallions. The rest, I kid you not, comes out of bottles and jars.

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The only way to mess it up is to overcook the chicken, so be sure not to cut the chicken pieces too small (they will cook too fast), have all your ingredients prepped before you start cooking and, obviously, don’t cook the chicken too long.

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Also, be sure to use a good quality hoisin sauce; it makes all the difference. I like Kikkoman (I found it at Whole Foods) or Lee Kum Kee (I found it at Giant, my local grocery store).

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You’ll be amazed how much better it feels to eat fresh, homemade Chinese food — and it won’t take you any longer to cook than it would to call it in and wait for it.

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Serve with white rice and steamed broccoli…Enjoy!

Cashew Chicken

Servings: 4
Total Time: 30 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup roasted, unsalted cashews
  • 1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenderloins, cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 scallions (1 bunch), white and green parts separated, each cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons hoisin sauce, best quality such as Kikkoman or Lee Kum Kee
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon Asian sesame oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Place the cashews on a baking sheet in a single layer. Toast in the oven until fragrant, about 5 minutes. (They will crisp up as they cool.)
  3. Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat evenly.
  4. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil over high heat until very hot. Add half of the chicken to the skillet and stir-fry (stir as you cook) until lightly browned but not cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  5. Add the remaining tablespoon vegetable oil to the skillet; then add remaining chicken, garlic and white parts of the scallions. Stir-fry until the chicken is lightly browned but not cooked through, about 3 minutes. Return the first batch of chicken to the pan. Turn the heat down to medium and add the rice vinegar; cook until evaporated, about 30 seconds.
  6. Add the hoisin sauce, soy sauce and water; cook, tossing, until the chicken is cooked through, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Stir in the scallion greens, cashews and sesame oil. Serve immediately.

Reviews & Comments

  • 5 stars

    I have tried numerous Cashew Chicken recipes but this one is by far the best! Thank you for sharing it.

    - Joan on October 20, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    SO GOOD! And so fast and easy. Great recipe! Thanks!

    - Tricia on August 17, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Love this quick dish. Usually when I stir fry it’s just playing it by ear. . .throw it all in, stir and serve.
    This recipe shows me that order matters. (ie, working the chicken in batches, letting the vinegar cook off before the hoisen/soy sauce, etc).

    I’ve added this recipe to muscle memory so I can pull it together quickly. In addition to the salt and pepper for seasoning the chicken, I sprinkled some corn starch in to coat it as well. I like how it gives it more texture, and browning. I serve it in a bowl, over rice, with edamame squeezed out of the pods on top. Dash of sriracha for a lil spice, and it’s become a favorite –into the rotation!
    PS. This is the first main dish I’ve tried from the site, but I also have enjoyed the chai-spiced banana bread, the black bean and corn salad with chipotle/honey vinaigrette, an the strawberry and orange salad with citrus syrup and mint!

    - Jason Gagliardi on July 17, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I love this recipe! I added vegetables (broccoli, sliced carrots, peppers, mushrooms and onions) to it so it was a “complete” meal (nutritionally speaking). Will add this recipe to rotation!

    - Stephanie N on July 15, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This is a handy recipe to have when there’s not much in the fridge to whip up a meal: it’s quick and easy to make, and there’s so few ingredients required to make it. My toddler kids and husband really like this dish, and also makes for a great leftover lunch as well.
    I find the sauce is a little on the thin side, so I add some potato starch dissolved in water to thicken the sauce a little, and also decrease the amount of water that’s called for in the recipe.

    - ponyo on July 7, 2014 Reply
  • Something is definitely not right with the sauce on this Cashew Chicken recipe. I eat Thai food all the time and was expecting something similar to Thai Cashew Chicken but the sauce was way too sweet and cloying.

    - Kim on May 13, 2014 Reply
  • Please tell me where and how to locate your other recipes. If all are great as this Chinese stir fry one then your other recipes are a must for me. I am 80 yrs old and still enjoy finding new recipes.
    Thank you for your help.
    Regards, Dorthy

    - Dorthy Owen on January 29, 2014 Reply
  • This is on my menu for this week!!! Could you make extra and freeze it?

    - Mandy on January 28, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Mandy, I hope you enjoy the chicken. To be honest, I’ve never tried freezing it but I think it’s probably best made fresh.

      - Jenn on January 30, 2014 Reply
  • Maybe it was the hoisin sauce that I used (Dynasty — I couldn’t find the recommended ones), but something was off with the sauce.

    - Adora on January 15, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Adora, I think you’re correct…hoisin sauce has a very powerful flavor and it’s important to use a good one. I have not had great results with the Dynasty brand.

      - Jenn on January 16, 2014 Reply
  • This recipe was amazing! So tasty! My husband and I are fighting over who gets the leftovers for lunch. I will be making this again!

    - Alex Nihmey on December 16, 2013 Reply
  • I just made it…Delicious & so easy to prepare!

    - Karelia Picatoste on November 14, 2013 Reply
  • Fabulous! Just the right amount of sweet and spicy. Thanks for your great site and recipes:)

    - WeeJackie on November 14, 2013 Reply
  • I have made this dish many times and each time tastes better than the last. I use chicken tenders and throw in a few extra cashews, delicious!

    - Jennifer on March 9, 2013 Reply
  • Will definately be adding this dinner rotation. So easy and quick! We loved it!

    - Beth on February 8, 2013 Reply
  • This is my first time at your site – my wife came across this recipe on Metrocurean and I made it for dinner tonight (Jan 2013 – nearly 2 years after the recipe’s debut!).

    The dish was spectacular and came together very easily. I followed it to the letter. Thank you so much.

    I really must applaud the fact that not only did you create a stir-fry without the use of ginger (which is not missed here), but you also didn’t call for dry sherry, which for some reason a lot of stir fry recipes ask for. I don’t know why this is, considering a decent bottle of dry sherry costs $20 in the MD area, and recipes only call for a Tablespoon at most. I’m appreciative of the fact that you found a way around this. The flavor was wonderful.

    Many thanks! Looking forward to trying your other recipes.

    - MD Pastry Chef wannabe on January 7, 2013 Reply
  • came out a lot better than I thought. Usually when you make your own Chinese food( or when I do) it is never close to what you get at a restaurant. This came out very good.

    - sue l on December 7, 2012 Reply
  • Made this tonight. It was delicious & light. I will definitely repeat but will double the entire recipe.

    - Sheilda on September 17, 2012 Reply
  • looking for further recipes – these look wonderful.

    - pat kennedy on September 8, 2012 Reply
  • Made this tonight…. delicious! Thank you for the recipe. I had to use Dynasty Hoisen Sauce because I can’t have gluten. Thanks!

    - Amber on August 25, 2012 Reply
  • Made tonight for the first time. Delicious and kid approved!

    - Julie on July 15, 2012 Reply
  • Great base recipe. I thought the sauce needed more punch so I ended up adding a bit more soy sauce to taste.

    - Becca J on June 20, 2012 Reply
  • Great recipe! My 2 and 4 year old love it! It goes great with basmati or jasmine rice and crip tender steamed brocolli.

    - Becky on June 20, 2012 Reply
  • Tastes just like takeout, only better!

    - Sarabjit Cheema on May 26, 2012 Reply
  • We love Asian food… never thought it could be so quick & easy to make at home! Thumbs up!!

    - Cherie on May 21, 2012 Reply
  • I always prided myself on my own stir fry recipe but this trumps mine. The recipe items are always available in my pantry.

    - Debbie on May 16, 2012 Reply
  • Made this for the first time today. Very easy and good. For some reason mine came out a little sweet. Wondering what caused that so I can avoid it next time. The only hoisin sauce I found was Dynasty brand so I’m guessing that may be it?

    - Jenny on April 23, 2012 Reply
    • Hi Jenny, Hoisin sauce is a little sweet to begin with but there is a big difference between the different brands. I definitely prefer Kikkoman or Lee Kum Kee.

      - Jenn on April 24, 2012 Reply
  • Oh ya – this is good. So full of complex and tangy flavors. I even made a mistake when adding the ingredients to the chicken – I added them all at once (oops – too busy multi-tasking) – And even then my whole family loved it!!! Thank you. (I served your “Big Italian Salad on the side, too – EXCELLENT).

    - Heidi on April 5, 2012 Reply
  • This chicken dish was absolutely delicious! The technique for cooking the chicken was easy and the chicken came out perfect– the best. Will definitely use the technique and make this recipe again. Thank you!

    - Karen Tanenbaum on March 4, 2012 Reply
  • Seriously, every recipe I’ve made from your blog has been delicious, and this was no exception. A perfect blend of flavors!

    - Angie on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • My family loves Chinese food and the Cashew Chicken recipe looks and sounds delicious. Will be making this in the near future.

    - Linda on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • I loved the look of this dish so very much that I went and bought all of the fabulous ingredients and spent a happy time in the kitchen putting it all together. We spent an even happier time at the dining room table eating it! It rivals PF Changs, and I have plenty of the bottled sauces to make more!! Also – I’m gluten intolerant and was able to get gluten free Soy Sauce and Hoisen sauce and the recipe was still perfect!

    - Kathy Filatreau on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • This tastes just like an authentic chinese recipe! Being that I’m 2nd generation chinese, I’m not well versed in chinese cooking, but thanks to your blog and recipes, I can practice cooking chinese food! My asian family/friends ate it all up!

    - Sandy on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • I love this recipe because it truly jazzes up boring, ol’ chicken. The cashews are crunchy and the sauce is tangy. I threw a crown of blanched broccoli in about 3 minutes before it was completely finished just to add a little more greenery to the dish.

    - Christen G. on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • This is perfect for a quick weeknight meal, especially since I usually have most of the ingredients on hand. Another winning recipe!

    - Emma on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • I’ve made your cashew chicken several times, my whole family loves it! I love the toasted nutty flavor once it’s all cooked! Yum! The flavors all blend wonderfully….and my picky toddler even gobbled up some! Thanks!

    - Julie M. on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • My family loves this recipe! We love Chinese and now I finally have a recipe to make at home that rivals our favorite restaurant!! Thank you Once Upon a Chef!!

    - Sally Krueger on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • I made this today, I added celery and water chestnuts for extra crunch. Delicious!!

    - Maribeth on January 21, 2012 Reply
  • I love your web site. I made this cashew chicken. It was great. My kids even ate it. Since my husband and I love spicy I added some chopped up jalapeno. We are trying to cut calories so we put it over shredded cabbage instead of rice. I sauteed the cabbage in the cashew chicken for a couple minutes and it was great this way too!

    - Tobi on January 16, 2012 Reply
  • I made this tonight and it was scrumptious! I put in half breasts half thighs, and my family favored the thighs (although less healthy). I also added 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes to give it a little kick. I love that it was tasty but wasn’t oily like most Chinese takeouts are. Thanks again for another winner!

    - Kim on December 28, 2011 Reply
  • That’s correct, Charlene. Hope you enjoy it!

    - Jennifer on May 10, 2011 Reply
  • Just to be clear, you don’t start with raw cashews? Thanks.

    - Charlene on May 9, 2011 Reply
  • Hi Mary,

    I actually have tried the Whole Foods brand and did not like it in this recipe. Definitely go with one of the others…it makes a huge difference. Hope that helps!

    - Jennifer on February 24, 2011 Reply
  • This looks delicious, looking forward to trying it. I typically buy Whole Food’s 365 Organic Hoisin Sauce. Have you tried this one and if so do you think it is as good as the ones you mentioned?

    - Mary on February 24, 2011 Reply
  • Made this for dinner last night and my family loved it so much that they fought over the last of the sauce! I omitted the cashews due to allergies, and no one missed them at all. It was so delicious – thank you!!!

    - leslie on January 19, 2011 Reply
  • This is a winner! Made it tonight for the first time and it was a million times tastier than take out! Easy to make and so delicious. Thank you for giving me another great dinner idea!

    - Louisa on December 1, 2010 Reply
  • This was delicious, very tasty with brown rice and broccoli! I didn’t have sesame oil, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. A new family favorite.

    - Britney on June 28, 2010 Reply
  • This was such a yummy and easy recipe to make….the whole family loved it!! Thanks for sharing…..

    - Tammy Bane on May 9, 2010 Reply
  • So easy to make and everyone enjoyed this as a quick dinner before heading out to a baseball game!! Thanks for sharing.

    - Tammy Bane on April 22, 2010 Reply
  • Made this last night, another big hit! Who needs take-out?!

    Thanks!

    - Jill on April 1, 2010 Reply
  • This was a great recipe! My husband and I both loved it, and it was really simple.

    - Kate on March 28, 2010 Reply
  • i’m throwing away my other cashew chicken recipe. this is hands down the best. so pungent and flavorful! remember all those trips to szechwan palace? :)

    - bethy on March 28, 2010 Reply
  • This looks delicious! I’ll definitely be trying it soon. You have a beautiful blog. I look forward to exploring it more.

    - Kath on March 27, 2010 Reply
  • This looks great! Despite the long ingredient list it seems pretty simple. Thanks for sharing. :)

    - saveur on March 25, 2010 Reply
  • My husband would not be considered a fan of Chinese food but he loved this dish. I made it last night and he said it was a definite “repeat”. He has loved everything I have made from your site! Thank you!

    - Belinda on March 24, 2010 Reply
  • Wow, I think this recipe is really delicious,…the picture look mouth watering dish yummy.

    - online consultation on March 24, 2010 Reply
  • I like a pantry stocked with some of these Chinese sauces and oils…essentials for good Chinese food :)

    - tigerfish on March 24, 2010 Reply
  • I have been on an Asian kick lately..this looks wonderous!

    - leslie on March 22, 2010 Reply
  • AMAZING meal! My husband who is a very finicky eater has eaten all of the meals I have made from your blog. This one he ate up the quickest!!!!

    - Lee on March 22, 2010 Reply
  • ooo, Jen….THIS LOOKS sooo good.I keep a notebook with all my favorite sites and recipes I want to try from each. Your page is getting big! :)

    - the domestic mama on March 22, 2010 Reply
  • Looks great…Tried your Oatmeal cookies last night and this looks like another winner…..

    - Cindy on March 21, 2010 Reply
  • This looks WONDERFUL!! I’m of Asian decent, but have never really tackled the “american” favorites beyond beef and broccoli stir-fry. My family will be so ecstatic, thanks so much for this wonderful recipe, will be trying it son!

    - soury on March 21, 2010 Reply

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