Cashew Chicken


18 Comments

February 14, 2023

Chinese Recipes Tastier Than Takeout Wok


This Cashew Chicken tastes better than takeout, with the tender chicken, crunch from the toasted cashews, and that DELICIOUS sauce! You’re going to love making this at home and it’ll be ready in less time than it takes to place a delivery order. Cashew Chicken has been a high requested recipe, and this is a version that brings a restaurant quality dish to your home!

Watch the Cashew Chicken Recipe Video Below!

Cashew chicken plated

My KEY tip for any “Tastier than Takeout” recipe is to prep your ingredients ahead of time! The dish comes together so quickly, and with the pan at high heat, having the next ingredient to be added to the pan is important since you need to work quickly so the ingredients already in the pan don’t overcook or worse, burn. This dish is relatively simple, but the most important steps are in the prep work!

Ingredients for Cashew Chicken

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for the best Cashew Chicken! This recipe serves 4, but use the scaling feature in the recipe card to increase the portions as needed!

Chicken

  • 1 lb chicken thigh cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp shaoxing wine
  • 1 tbsp neutral oil I used avocado oil
  • 1/2 tbsp cornstarch

Cashew Chicken Sauce

  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp msg optional
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock high quality
  • 1/2 tbsp cornstarch

Cashews + Aromatics

  • 1/2 tbsp ginger minced
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 oz cashews
  • 6 scallions chopped, whites and greens separated
Cashew chicken cooked in a pan

INGREDIENTS TIPS

CHICKEN
I used chicken thighs in this recipe, as I find them to be more juicy and flavorful – you can sub with chicken breast if that is what you prefer! Just make sure to adjust the cooking time, as chicken breast cooks more quickly than chicken thighs.

LIGHT vs. DARK SOY SAUCE
Yes, they’re different! Dark soy sauce is thicker, darker, and sweeter (as well as has a higher sodium content) than regular soy sauce. Because I use these two ingredients in both the chicken marinade and the sauce, I would highly recommend you use dark soy sauce. However, if you don’t have it on hand you can substitute with Oyster Sauce.

SHAOXING WINE
If you cannot or do not want to use wine, you can sub with sherry, mirin, or chicken stock!

CORNSTARCH

  • Cornstarch is a key ingredient in Chinese cooking because it is used for velveting the meat. Velveting is a Chinese technique where protein is marinated in cornstarch and cooked quickly in hot oil, resulting in the meat becoming tender and silky. You’ll see this technique in a lot of my recipes because it’s one of my favorite ways to guarantee moist, tender protein!
  • I also use cornstarch in the sauce as a thickening agent – this helps save you a step, as normally you would need to make a cornstarch slurry (cornstarch + water)!

MSG
As always, this is optional πŸ™‚ 

Cashew Chicken: Recipe Instructions

Marinate the chicken and prep aromatics

Cut chicken thigh into 1″ pieces and marinate with light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, white pepper, kosher salt, shaoxing wine, neutral oil, and cornstarch for 15 minutes. While the chicken marinates, prepare your aromatics and premix the sauce.

Because a dish like Cashew Chicken cooks so quickly, it’s important to have your ingredients prepped and ready to go so the cooking process goes smoothly!

Raw ingredients for cashew chicken

Toast the Cashews

In a large pan or wok, heat 1 tbsp of neutral oil over medium heat and add your cashews. Next, cook for about 1 minute or until toasted and fragrant. We want the cashews to be slightly toasted and golden brown. Keep the cashews moving to evenly toast them in the pan. Once they are golden brown, remove and set aside in a bowl.

Toasting cashew nuts in a pan

Cook the chicken pieces

In the same pan, heat 3 tbsp of neutral oil over high heat, then add your marinated chicken and cook for 4-5 minutes until cooked through. Remove and set aside in a bowl. Be sure to cook the chicken in batches if needed to get a good color on the chicken. If the oil is too cold due to overcrowding the pan, the chicken will not brown properly. Remove to a bowl once golden brown and cooked through!

Chicken cooking in a pan

Fry Aromatics

In the residual oil, fry the minced garlic, ginger, and scallion whites for 30 seconds until fragrant. Next, be sure the chicken and premixed sauce is ready by the pan because this cooking process will go quickly.

Frying garlic in a pan

Add back Chicken and Sauce

Add back the cooked chicken and mix to combine. Finally, add the premixed sauce and continue stirring over high heat until the sauce has thickened (about 1-2 minutes).

Cooking Chicken with scallions and garlic

Garnish and finish the Cashew Chicken

After you’ve added the sauce, continue stirring for a minute or two until the sauce has thickened (thanks to our cornstarch thickening agent). Finally, add the scallion whites and give it a final mix. If you followed the steps and measurements correctly, the end result will look like this!

RECIPE TIPS

SUCCESS IS IN THE PREP!
For a recipe that comes together extremely quickly, the key to pulling this recipe off successfully is having your ingredients prepped and in bowls right next to your wok or pan! Next, have your premixed sauce, garlic/ginger, scallions, chicken, and cashews in separate bowls so they are easily accessible during the cooking process.

CORNSTARCH IS KEY
Cornstarch is a key ingredient that I would not recommend omitting from this recipe. The starch helps protect the chicken during the cooking process (a technique known as “velveting”), as well as helps thicken the sauce to create that glossy texture. It is one of the keys to this recipe!

Close up of Cashew chicken on rice

If you liked this Cashew Chicken recipe, check out some of the most popular Chinese Take-Out recipes on the blog! Please consider giving a rating and commenting down below what you thought of the recipe! It really helps out the blog!

Close up of Cashew chicken on rice

Cashew Chicken

by Chris Joe
This is my ultimate Cashew Chicken recipe! What makes cashew chicken so delicious? For me, it's the tender chicken and savory sauce! This recipe is so much better than takeout and you're going to LOVE IT!
5 from 8 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients
 
 

Chicken

Sauce

Cashews + Aromatics

  • 1/2 tbsp ginger minced
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 oz cashews
  • 6 scallions chopped, whites and greens separated

Instructions
 

  • Cut chicken thigh into 1" pieces and marinate with light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, white pepper, kosher salt, shaoxing wine, neutral oil, and cornstarch for 15 minutes.
  • In a small bowl, mix together your sauce by combining light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, white pepper, msg, chicken stock, and cornstarch.
  • Chop your scallions, separating the whites from the greens, then mince garlic and ginger and set them aside along with your marinated chicken and sauce.
  • In a large pan or wok, heat 1 tbsp of neutral oil over medium heat and add your cashews. Cook for about 1 minute or until toasted and fragrant. Remove and set aside in a bowl.
  • In the same pan, heat 3 tbsp of neutral oil over high heat, then add your marinated chicken and cook for 4-5 minutes until cooked through. Remove and set aside in a bowl.
  • In the same pan, heat 2 tbsp of oil over high heat. Add garlic, ginger, and scallion whites, and fry for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add back the cooked chicken and mix to combine. Add the premixed sauce and continue stirring over high heat until the sauce has thickened (about 1-2 minutes).
  • Once the sauce has thickened, add back your toasted cashews and scallion greens. Mix to combine and serve with freshly steamed white rice!
Keyword cashews, chicken, chinese food, chinese takeout
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18 Comments
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Recipe Rating




  1. 5 stars
    Tasted great!
    Mine was a bit sour but all I had was a bottle of Japanese rice vinegar of unknown pedigree and age. Any recommendation on a type/brand? I’m fortunate to live near several large Asian groceries so don’t hold back πŸ˜‰

    1. If you head to my “Kitchen Essentials” page, I have a wok guide there with the links to the woks I use!

  2. Hi CJ!

    This looks great. I would love to see the thai version of this if you were interested in making it!! Thanks for all your recipes!

    JP

  3. 5 stars
    Great recipe, you may save me a fortune. Your chow mein dish is superb too. Using chicken thigh meat with this really does give it a take away feel.

  4. 5 stars
    I will use white meat next time. I just don’t care for the texture of thighs. This turned out delish. Thank you!