Chinese Cashew Chicken Recipe

Chinese Cashew Chicken is a delightful and savory dish that combines tender chicken pieces with crunchy cashews in a rich and flavorful sauce. This dish is a staple in Chinese-American cuisine and is loved for its perfect blend of textures and tastes. Whether you’re a fan of Chinese takeout or looking to add a new recipe to your home-cooking repertoire, Cashew Chicken offers a satisfying and relatively easy-to-make option that’s sure to impress. In this article, we’ll explore the origins of this dish, its key ingredients, a step-by-step recipe, and some tips and variations to make it your own.

Origins of Cashew Chicken

Cashew Chicken is believed to have originated from the Chinese province of Guangdong but gained widespread popularity in the United States through Chinese-American restaurants. The American version of Cashew Chicken often features a more pronounced sweetness and a thicker sauce compared to its more traditional counterparts, which might emphasize umami and a lighter touch with the sauce. This evolution of taste reflects the adaptation of Chinese cuisine to American palates, resulting in a unique fusion that has become a beloved comfort food for many.

Key Ingredients

The beauty of Cashew Chicken lies in its simplicity and the harmony of its ingredients. Here are the essentials:

  • Chicken: Boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs are the most commonly used. Thighs offer more flavor and tenderness, while breasts are leaner.
  • Cashews: Roasted unsalted cashews are preferred for their crunch and natural sweetness.
  • Vegetables: Common additions include bell peppers, onions, and green onions, adding color, texture, and nutrition.
  • Sauce: A mixture of soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, and chicken broth forms the base of the sauce. Cornstarch is used to thicken it, and garlic and ginger add depth and warmth.
  • Oil: For frying, neutral oils like vegetable or canola oil are recommended.

Recipe for Chinese Cashew Chicken


  • 1 pound chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup roasted unsalted cashews
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch ginger, minced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Green onions, sliced for garnish

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  1. Marinate the Chicken: Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Set aside while you prepare the other ingredients. This allows the chicken to come to room temperature and absorb the seasoning.
  2. Prepare the Sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, and chicken broth. Set aside.
  3. Cook the Vegetables: Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper and onion, cooking until they’re just soft, about 3-4 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the skillet and set aside.
  4. Cook the Chicken: Add the remaining oil to the skillet. Add the chicken pieces and cook until they’re browned and cooked through, about 5-6 minutes. Add the minced garlic and ginger in the last minute of cooking to avoid burning.
  5. Combine and Simmer: Return the vegetables to the skillet with the chicken. Pour in the prepared sauce and bring to a simmer. Add the dissolved cornstarch and water mixture, stirring continuously until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes.
  6. Add the Cashews: Stir in the cashews until they’re well coated with the sauce and warmed through.
  7. Garnish and Serve: Sprinkle sliced green onions on top for garnish. Serve your Cashew Chicken hot with steamed rice or noodles for a complete meal.

Tips and Variations

  • Protein Variations: Beyond chicken, this recipe can be adapted to include beef, shrimp, or tofu for a vegetarian option.
  • Vegetable Variations: Feel free to add or substitute vegetables according to your preference. Broccoli, snow peas, and carrots are excellent choices.
  • Nut Variations: If cashews aren’t your thing or you have an allergy, consider using almonds or peanuts for a different crunch.
  • Spiciness: For those who enjoy a bit of heat, adding a dash of chili flakes or a spoonful of chili sauce to the dish can introduce a welcome warmth.


Chinese Cashew Chicken is a versatile dish that showcases the delightful interplay of textures and flavors. Its combination of tender chicken, crunchy cashews, and a savory sauce makes it a favorite among many. By following the recipe and tips provided, you can create a delicious meal that captures the essence of Chinese-American cuisine. Whether you’re cooking for a weeknight dinner or a special occasion, Cashew Chicken is sure to satisfy your cravings for something comforting, flavorful, and satisfyingly crunchy.

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