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A healthy take on Cashew Chicken! Tender garlicky chicken stir-fried with red bell peppers and roasted cashews tossed with a flavorful, savory homemade stir-fry sauce.

A healthy take on Cashew Chicken, tender garlicky chicken stir-fried with red bell peppers and roasted cashews tossed with a flavorful savory homemade stirfry sauce.

Wisdom is not something we have to strive to acquire. Rather, it arises naturally as we slow down and notice what is already there.

Haemin Sunim

This cashew chicken is brimming with saucy deep flavor, created without any bottled sauces that often contain oils and sweeteners we don’t want to eat, or serve our families.

The sauce ingredients list may be lengthy but it comes together quickly and most items will probably already be in your pantry.

Ingredients In Cashew Chicken

Cut chicken and ingredients for cashew chicken.

Ingredient Notes

  • Shiitakes are used here to create some depth of flavor. Diced small these disappear into the stir fry but give nice umami.
  • Sherry Vinegar– offers an important balance, rice vinegar can also be used.
  • Molasses– gives a nice color and rich flavor.
  • 5 Spice– just a hint creates complexity.
  • Low Sodium Tamari– you can of course substitute with soy sauce or bragg liquid aminos. Be sure to adjust to taste as some are saltier than others.
  • Roasted Cashews– roasting the nuts brings out so much flavor.

See the recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.   

How To Make Cashew Chicken

Chopped ingredients for cashew chicken.

STEP ONE- Prepare the Chicken: Mix together cornstarch, water and salt.  Add the chopped chicken and toss with cornstarch slurry until fully coated. Set aside while you prep the ingredients.

Chicken tossed with cornstarch in a bowl.

STEP TWO- Cook the chicken in batches, frying over medium-high heat, with a high-heat oil, for about 1 minute on each side until just light brown. (It will continue to cook in the sauce don’t worry about cooking all the way through.) Set aside on a plate with a paper towel to absorb some of the oil.

Chicken searing on a pan.
Making the sauce in a blender.

STEP THREE- Make the stir-fry sauce: In a blender place tamari (or soy sauce) maple syrup, sesame oil, sherry vinegar, molasses, ginger, garlic, chicken broth, cornstarch, 5 spice, white pepper and pepper flakes. Blend until completely smooth.

Blended sauce.

STEP FOUR- In a pan or wok with oil add onions, garlic, ginger and diced shiitakes sauté about 3 minutes on medium heat.

Onions, shiitakes, ginger, garlic sautéing in a pan.

STEP FIVE- Add bell pepper, the sauce, the chicken, cashews and 1/2 of the green onions. Let the sauce bubble for about 2 minutes.  (If you want the sauce to thicken more, mix 1 teaspoon cornstarch with 1-2 teaspoons water and add, bringing it to bubble again.)

The cashews will soften in the stir fry. Add them on top after cooking if you prefer the crunch. Or half cooked and half as garnish.

Adding chicken and bell peppers in the sauté pan.

To Serve- Add the remaining green onions and serve over rice if desired. Also makes a delicious filling for lettuce cups!

Stir fried cashew chicken in a pan.

Recipe FAQS

Is Cashew Chicken healthy?

It depends on the ingredients used. This recipe is healthfully made with clean pantry ingredients, avoiding sauces that contain artificial ingredients and sugary syrups.

Is there a substitute for cornstarch?

You can use arrowroot or tapioca starch.

Arrowroot– Clear, glossy and tasteless. Add at the end of cooking time, prolonged heat will break down resulting in a thin sauce.

Tapioca Starch– Clear and tasteless. It is recommended to use twice as much as tapioca as cornstarch.

Can I stir-fry the chicken instead of pre-frying it?

Yes. You can skip the cornstarch slurry and add the chicken in with the onions and sauté.

Cashew Chicken in a bowl over rice with scallions.

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Cashew Chicken in a bowl with rice and fork.

We have been enjoying the leftovers of this Cashew Chicken just as much as freshly made! Let us know what you think.

~Tonia

Love this recipe? Please let us know in the comments and leave a 5-star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating below the recipe card.

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A healthy take on Cashew Chicken, tender garlicky chicken stir-fried with red bell peppers and roasted cashews tossed with a flavorful savory homemade stirfry sauce.

Cashew Chicken

  • Author: Tonia | Feasting at Home
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 5 cups 1x
  • Category: main
  • Method: stir-fry
  • Cuisine: Chinese
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

A healthy take on Cashew Chicken, tender garlicky chicken stir-fried with red bell peppers and roasted cashews tossed with a flavorful savory homemade stir-fry sauce.


Ingredients

Units Scale

Chicken 

  • 1 pound chicken thighs or breast, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Stir-fry Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons low sodium tamari or soy sauce (or gluten-free Braggs Liquid Aminos)
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup (or honey) adjust to taste
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (or Chinese cooing wine or rice vinegar)
  • 2 teaspoon molasses
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger root, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper (optional)
  • a pinch or two of pepper flakes for spice or a squirt of sriracha

Stirfry

  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) shiitake mushrooms, chopped fine
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped in 1-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup cashews, roasted

Instructions

  1. Prepare the Chicken: Mix together cornstarch, water (add more water if needed) and salt.  Add the chopped chicken and toss with cornstarch slurry until fully coated. Set aside while you prep the ingredients.
  2. Make the sauce: In a blender place tamari (or soy sauce) maple syrup, sesame oil, sherry vinegar, molasses, ginger, garlic, chicken broth, cornstarch, Chinese 5 spice, white pepper and pepper flakes. Blend until completely smooth.
  3. Cook the chicken in batches, frying over medium-high heat, with high heat oil, about 1 minute each side until just light brown. (It will continue to cook in the sauce don’t worry about cooking all the way through.) Set aside on plate with a paper towel to absorb some of the oil.
  4. Stir-Fry: In a pan or wok with oil add onions, garlic, ginger and diced shiitakes sauté about 3 minutes on medium heat. Add bell pepper, the sauce, the chicken, cashews and 1/2 of the green onions. Let the sauce bubble for about 2 minutes.  (If you want the sauce to thicken more, mix 1 teaspoon cornstarch with 1-2 teaspoons water and add, bringing it to bubble again.)
  5. Add the rest of the green onions and serve over rice if desired! Also makes a delicious filling for lettuce cups!

Notes

Toast raw cashews in a 350F oven for 10-15 minutes- don’t walk away! 

The cashews will soften in the stir fry. Add them on top after cooking if you prefer the crunch. Or half cooked and half as garnish.

If you prefer you can skip the cornstarch slurry and add the chicken in with the onions and sauté.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 316
  • Sugar: 13.3 g
  • Sodium: 440.6 mg
  • Fat: 5.1 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 56.5 g
  • Fiber: 3.5 g
  • Protein: 14.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 28 mg

Keywords: Cashew Chicken, Cashew Chicken recipe, best cashew chicken recipe

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Comments

  1. I made this wonderful dish last night. It was sooo delicious… perfect for a cold winter evening. The sauce was extra good. Highly recommend this recipe!!

  2. This is such a delicious meal. I made it with vegan chicken and it was one of the best meals I’ve eaten in a while. It’s definitely going to be one of the recipes I double/triple next time I cook it so that I can keep leftovers in the freezer. Love it!

  3. I’ve been longing to eat some good Chinese food that wouldn’t be all sweet and sticky for a long time, and this recipe is exactly what I needed. That 5 spice mix from your recipe is amazing, and has just become a staple in my seasonings stash.

  4. My husband and I had this last night and it was delicious! The only thing I would change next time is to use a little less maple syrup. Also, I added a little more water to the cornstarch/salt mix for the chicken as there seemed to be a bit too much cornstarch for the amount of water. I will definitely make this again though.

  5. This was quite tasty!! I found the sauce to be delicious and something I will make again. My only complaint was that the cornstarch coating on the chicken made it almost slimy. Next time I’ll either deep fry the chicken, or just leave it without the coating to have a better texture.

    1. hmmm….slimy is not good. Curious if you used thighs or breasts and if you patted them dry (recipe did not state this) before adding cornstarch slurry?

      1. Hi Tonia,

        I used chicken thighs and perhaps my cornstarch mixture was too wet when I put it on! Will try again and maybe get a different outcome.

  6. So tasty-full of flavor! Love the clean recipe, not too oily, sweet or salty (like many Chinese recipes)…. just right 🙂

  7. It is tasty (I used diced zucchini instead of bell peppers because I don’t like bell peppers and the store was out of broccoli because the I-80 was shut down for snow) but is not worth the 1.5 hours it took to make it, even with my daughter helping to prep vegetables. I can make a stir fry equally as tasty in about 30 minutes.

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Hi, I'm Tonia!

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