No takeout Chinese dinner is complete without cashew chicken, also now as cashew nut chicken. This recipe takes the guesswork out of how to make the best Chinese cashew chicken you’ve ever had.
If you love Cashew Chicken, you're going to want to try this easy Cashew Chicken recipe. All you need is 30 minutes, and you've got a satisfying meal! It’s a family favorite for us, and I’m sure it’ll soon become one for your family as well!
Serve it over a bed of cauliflower rice or just regular rice to have one of the best meals you’ve ever tried.
Warning: this takeout copycat recipe will blow your mind, and you won’t be able to stop eating it!
What is Cashew Chicken?
If you haven’t ever heard of or tried Cashew Chicken Recipe, you’re in for a treat! It’s a scrumptious Chinese takeout dish which stir-fried chicken pieces and cashews coated with a sweet and savory brown sauce!
This cashew nut chicken recipe is so quick and easy to make that you’ll have it ready on the dinner table in less time than it would take to place an order and wait for it to be delivered!
It’s a classic dish, and one of my go-to’s when I’m looking for a takeout dish! But since I’ve experimented and figured out this recipe, I haven’t ordered it even once!
Cashew chicken is packed with flavor and by using boneless chicken thighs (like I have mentioned in my recipe) you’re going to get the juiciest chicken ever. This is a recipe you have got to try at least once (but I’m sure you’ll end up making it multiple times in that same week!).
Where was Cashew Chicken Recipe Invented?
Even though Cashew Chicken is a Chinese dish, it wasn’t invented in China. It’s actually a Chinese-American dish that was first made in Springfield, Missouri in 1963 by chef David Leong at a restaurant called Grove Supper Club.
This dish is now synonymous with Springfield and is usually referred to as Springfield-style Cashew Chicken, and that’s exactly what I’m going to teach you to make today!
Cashew nut chicken also called the unofficial ‘dish of the city’ of Springfield. And it’s no wonder why, it’s absolutely delicious and unforgettable!
The Secret Cashew Chicken Sauce
This recipe of chicken with cashew nuts is all about its mouth-watering secret sauce! There’s a lot of speculation as to the exact ingredients of the sauce; some people like to add hoisin sauce to it, and others swear by special Chinese wines, rice vinegar, cornstarch, and even ketchup!
But the truth is, that you don’t need any of these ingredients to make this secret Cashew Chicken sauce at home.
It’s incredibly easy to make and requires the simplest of ingredients that you probably already have lying around in your pantry! After all, it is a Chinese-American dish!
To make the sauce, you need the following ingredients:
Soy Sauce: This adds the classic umami flavor that we have all come to love in Chinese cuisine.
Oyster Sauce: A sauce that’s readily available in every grocery store, this sauce boosts the umami flavors in the recipe that are perfectly balanced with the sweetness.
Sesame oil: It adds an unbeatable nuttiness to the chicken and overall sauce that goes perfectly with the cashew nuts!
Brown sugar: This is what we’ll use to get that perfect sweetness that balances out the savory tanginess in the sauce from all the umami flavors. I’ve gotten better results using this than honey.
Black pepper: The last ingredient, apart from some plain water. It adds a subtle heat to the recipe which brings out all the other flavors perfectly.
What You’ll Need to Make it at Home
Apart from the delicious secret sauce ingredients listed in the previous section, here is all that you’ll need to make Cashew Chicken Recipe at home:
Chicken: I’ve opted for boneless skinless chicken thighs for this chicken with cashew nuts recipe cut into 1-inch pieces. But you can also use boneless skinless chicken breasts as an alternative. I’ve found that chicken thighs result in a juicier chicken than chicken breasts because it is a less lean cut of chicken.
Cashews: Of course, this recipe is not complete without some cashew nuts! I’ve used ½ cup of them in the recipe.
All-purpose flour: Instead of cornstarch, my recipe requires plain ol’ all-purpose flour. It’s used to coat the chicken which allows the sauce to coat it better.
Dried red chili: These add an extra crunchy, spicy flavor to the dish.
Garlic: Chinese takeout is incomplete without some garlic. I’ve cut 4 cloves of garlic into thin slices for this recipe.
Veggies: I’ve included thinly sliced onions and chopped scallions (or green onions) in this recipe. They add extra flavor and texture to Cashew Chicken. Other vegetables you can add are broccoli, red bell peppers, celery, or carrots to the dish as well as they go really well with the sauce.
How to Make Chicken with Cashew Nuts
Simple ingredients and a simple cooking method define this classic dish. Here’s how to make it at home:
Make the sauce: In a bowl, add all the ingredients of the sauce and mix well. Keep this aside for now.
Fry cashews and chilis: In a pan, heat 3 tablespoons of oil and fry cashews and dry chilis until they turn golden in color. Remove from pan and set aside.
Coat chicken with flour and fry: Mix chicken with flour until well covered. Fry the chicken in previous hot oil until golden in color, about 3 minutes. Cover and set aside.
Fry onions and garlic: In a large skillet, fry onions for 1 minute. Now, add the garlic and then the chicken, and stir for 1 minute. Add the cashews and dry chilis you previously fried as well.
Add sauce: Next, add the sauce we prepped previously and stir well for a few seconds. Now add chopped scallions, stir for a few seconds, then turn off the heat.
Ready to serve: Cashew nut chicken is now ready to serve on a bed of rice.
Ways to Adapt This Recipe
The easiest way to adapt this recipe to your preference is to change up the veggies. It’s a fun way to get kids in the house to consume more veggies! Some other veggies that I recommend you try to make this recipe your own are:
- Bell peppers
More Takeout Faves to Make at Home!
Easy Chicken and Broccoli Stir-Fry: If you have 20 minutes, you can prepare this chicken and broccoli stir fry! Juicy and tender chicken in a sweet and savory brown sauce, mixed with broccoli florets. The dish is low in calories besides, it is healthier, and tastes better than Chinese takeout.
Chicken fried rice: In the mood to try some delicious stir-fry Chinese rice? Then this is the recipe you’ve been looking for. It goes super well with other Chinese dishes or can be a complete meal on its own.
Chicken Schezwan Noodles: Making chicken schezwan noodles for dinner is a great idea, and it takes only a few minutes – and most of that time is spent mostly on chopping the vegetables. You might think this dish is super spicy, but it has the most perfectly balanced heat ever!
Easiest Cashew Chicken Recipe
- 600 gm boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size
- ½ cup raw or roasted cashews
- 4 or 5 dried red chili
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 4 garlic cloves cut into thin slices
- 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 medium onion thinly sliced. Or one large onion
- 3 scallions chopped
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce, Try to get low sodium if possible
- 2 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 2 teaspoon sesame oil
- ¼ teaspoon Black pepper powder
- ½ teaspoon brown sugar
- ¾ cup warm water
To make the sauce:
- In a bowl, mix all the sauce ingredients until well blended. Keep aside.
Making the Chicken Cashew:
- Fry cashews and dry chili in 3 tablespoons of hot oil until golden in color. This will take a few seconds. Set aside.
- Mix chicken with flour until well covered. Fry the chicken in previous hot oil until golden in color, about 4 to 5 minutes. Cover and set aside.
- Add onion and fry for 1 minute. Now, add the garlic and fry for 2 seconds.
- To the onion and garlic add the chicken, and stir for 2 minutes. Add cashews and red chili.
- Pour the sauce to the previous mixture and stir well for few seconds. When the sauce is little thicker, add the chopped scallions, stir for few seconds, then turn off the heat and serve.
- You can use chicken breast instead, make sure not to overcook or it will turn out dry.