This cashew chicken recipe comes together in about 10 minutes and is a healthier version of the classic Chinese takeout dish!

Cashew Chicken Recipe Video

These tender bites of chicken are coated in a bold homemade sauce and mixed with roasted cashews. Serve it over a bed of rice with a side of steamed broccoli and dinner is on the table in no time!

a photo of saucy chicken bites mixed with cashews and steamed broccoli.

Chinese Cashew Chicken Recipe

I have no idea why this is, but Christmas always makes me crave Japanese and Chinese food. Yup, not an Asian ancestor in me, but the holidays, a time when we reflect on family and make family favorite recipes, always makes me want Chinese food like our crispy honey chicken. I have never had cashew chicken at home until now, and I’m sure there are gobs and gobs of recipes out there, but this one is our personal favorite, especially because it’s quick and easy. For real.

I adore cooking, but there’s nothing I love more than a delicious dinner that took no time at all to clean up and then busting out our pajamas and relaxing. It’s my favorite time of day. I love sending everyone upstairs to hop into pajamas.

Especially during the winter because it means I can really get cozy and warm. I have the worst circulation and unless one of you know of some secret way to fix that I depend on layers all winter long. In fact, even during the summer you’ll always catch me in slippers or socks because my feet are freezing. I can’t be the only one, don’t any of you love getting into your pajamas and snuggling up?

a photo of a bowl of tender bites of chicken coated in a bold sauce and mixed with cashews all next to steamed broccoli florets.

Cashew Chicken Ingredients

For this chicken with cashews recipe, you’ll need only a handful of pantry staples and all the ingredients are easy to find at the grocery store. You won’t believe how easy it is to make this restaurant quality recipe right at home. Here is what you will need…

Chicken

  • boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • cornstarch
  • salt and pepper
  • garlic
  • rice vinegar
  • canola oil

Sauce

  • hoisin sauce
  • soy sauce
  • brown sugar
  • ground ginger
  • water
  • cornstarch

Add-Ins

  • dry roasted cashews
  • sesame oil

This is meant to be an overview of the ingredients for this recipe. For the detailed measurements, scroll down to the recipe card at the end of this post.

a photo of a bowl filled with saucy cashew chicken mixed with roasted cashews with a side of steamed broccoli.

How to Make Cashew Chicken 

In addition to keeping the ingredients list as simple as possible, we also decided to skip the deep-frying and opted to cook the cashew chicken in an oiled skillet instead. Here are the main steps for making this cashew chicken recipe: 

  1. Toast the cashews to bring out that nutty flavor.
  2. Toss the diced chicken with the cornstarch, salt, and pepper. 
  3. Cook the chicken in a well oiled skillet until it’s brown on all sides.
  4. While the chicken cooks, stir together the cashew chicken sauce. 
  5. Pour the sauce over the chicken and let the mixture simmer until slightly thickened. 
  6. Toss the cashews and a little sesame oil with the chicken and serve. Top with green onions and sesame seeds if desired.

All of the detailed instructions can be found in the recipe card at the end of the post.

Can I Make Cashew Chicken with Chicken Thighs Instead? 

Yes, I’m sure chicken thighs could be used instead of chicken breasts. Just note that you’ll want boneless skinless thighs for this Chinese chicken recipe. 

Can I Add Veggies to My Cashew Chicken?

Definitely! Snap peas, broccoli, mushrooms, bell pepper, and baby corn would all be delicious additions to this homemade cashew chicken. You may want to sauté the vegetables before cooking the chicken and add them back to the skillet when you toss everything with the sauce. (You don’t want to overcook the vegetables!)

a photo golden cooked chunks of chicken coated in a sweet sticky sauce and mixed with roasted cashews served with steamed broccoli.

Can I Make This Gluten Free? 

Yes, by using cornstarch rather than flour to dredge the chicken, it should be gluten free. You’ll want to double check that your soy sauce is gluten free (if it’s not, you can use tamari instead). 

Tips for Making Cashew Chicken

Try to cut the chicken into even-sized pieces so that it all cooks at roughly the same rate. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but do your best.

If you prefer your cashew chicken on the spicier side, add some crushed red pepper flakes to the sauce. Be careful, a little goes a long way!   

What to Eat with Cashew Chicken

If you serve this chicken with steamed rice and a side of broccoli as shown, you don’t need anymore more than that. But if you want to change things up or you’re feeding a crowd and want more options, try the following side dishes to go with it:

Storing and Reheating

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to 5 days but I recommend eating in 2-3 days for maximum flavor.

And if you have leftover Chinese cashew chicken, I recommend reheating it in a skillet with a little oil over low heat. This will prevent the chicken and sauce from drying out and becoming rubbery.

The contrasting textures of the tender chicken with the crunchy cashews covered in a sweet and salty sticky sauce makes this cashew chicken totally irresistible! Forget the Chinese takeout and make this quick and simple recipe at home!

More Asian Recipes: 

Quick and Easy Cashew Chicken

4.18 from 40 votes
Servings: 4 -6 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Description

This Cashew Chicken Recipe comes together in about 10 minutes and is a healthier version of the classic Chinese takeout dish!

Ingredients 

For the Chicken

  • 3 Chicken Breasts, boneless, skinless, chopped into 1" cubes
  • 1/4 Cup Cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Pepper
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Canola Oil

For the Sauce

  • 4 Tablespoons Hoisin Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • 6 Green Onions, 1/2" pieces
  • 1 Tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 1/4 Cup Water

To Finish

  • 1/2 teaspoon Sesame Oil
  • 3/4 Cup Cashews, dry roasted
  • Green Onions, optional, chopped
  • Sesame Seeds, optional

Instructions

For the Cashews

  • Heat the oven to 350 and place the nuts on a baking sheet. Roast for 5 minutes then remove from the oven and set aside.
    3/4 Cup Cashews

For the Chicken

  • Place the cornstarch, salt and pepper in a bowl and toss with the chicken.
    1/4 Cup Cornstarch, 1/4 teaspoon Salt, 1/4 teaspoon Pepper, 3 Chicken Breasts
  • Shake off any excess.
  • Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat, then add 1 tablespoon canola oil.
    2 Tablespoons Canola Oil
  • Add 1/2 the chicken and brown on each side for about 2-3 minutes. Remove to a plate and repeat with remaining oil, chicken and garlic.
    3 Chicken Breasts, 4 Cloves Garlic, 2 Tablespoons Canola Oil
  • Add the first batch of chicken back into the pot as well as the vinegar and cook until the vinegar is completely incorporated.
    2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar

For the Sauce

  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar and ginger.
    4 Tablespoons Hoisin Sauce, 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce, 1 1/2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar, 1/8 teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • Pour over the chicken in the pan and turn the heat to medium low.
  • Allow to simmer for another 2-3 minutes or until thick and the chicken is cooked through.
  • Whisk together the cornstarch and water together and add to the sauce to help with the thickening.
    1 Tablespoons Cornstarch, 1/4 Cup Water
  • Toss the cashews and sesame oil in and serve over rice with broccoli if desired.
    1/2 teaspoon Sesame Oil
  • Serve over rice with the green onions.
    6 Green Onions

Notes

Store left overs in the refrigerator for 2-3 days
Note: This recipe was updated and republished in May 2023. If you are looking for the previous recipe, here it is:
1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 Tablespoons canola oil
2-3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 Tablespoon hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
4 tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 cup whole unsalted cashews
Mix water and cornstarch in a bowl until smooth; whisk in everything else with the cornstarch mixture, stirring until brown sugar has dissolved and cornstarch is free of lumps. Simmer over medium heat. Proceed with recipe as written above.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 501kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 42gFat: 23gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0.05gCholesterol: 109mgSodium: 1113mgPotassium: 896mgFiber: 2gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 232IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 48mgIron: 3mg
Author: Sweet Basil
Course: 50 + Best Easy Asian Recipes
Cuisine: Asian

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a photo of a bowl filled with saucy cashew chicken mixed with roasted cashews with a side of steamed broccoli.