Chicken, Mains

Spicy Cashew Chicken

May 7, 2020 (Last updated September 30, 2021) · Nicole Triebe

Forget take out with this quick and easy Spicy Cashew Chicken Recipe! So easy to make, and on your table in under 30 mins!

One of my new goals is to try and recreate our favorite take out recipes in Chicago.  We lived in Lakeview before buying our house and our go-to asian take-out place was Joy’s Noodles. My go-to order was pad thai and Allison’s was a spicy cashew chicken.

Since moving to our new house, I just haven’t found something that is as delicious as Joy’s, so I’m left to try and recreate it!  

What do I need to make cashew chicken?

This classic Chinese dish has a few different variations depending on where you order your take out. Our favorite version includes the obvious, cashews and chicken, big juicy chunks of pineapple, bell peppers, and sugar snap peas! What’s great about this dish is you can use whatever veggies you have on hand. Throw broccoli or mushrooms in there if you’d like!

Be sure to use high-quality ingredients like hoisin sauce from Kikkoman or Lee Kum Kee! It may seem silly, but it makes a big difference. We will also include sesame oil, sweet chili sauce, sriracha, ginger, garlic and corn starch!

If you’re not familiar with what corn starch is, it is used as a thickener for the sauce in this cashew chicken. Cornstarch has about twice the thickening ability of flour. When you create a slurry of cornstarch and water and add it to this sauce, as it heats and cooks, the sauce will thicken!

Is cashew chicken gluten-free?

This cashew chicken recipe contains soy sauce, and most soy sauces contain gluten! Soy sauce is typically made by combining soy and crushed wheat and allowing the two to ferment for several days in a salty brine containing mold cultures. So, most soy sauces contain gluten from the wheat. However, you can substitute soy sauce with something called tamari, which is gluten-free. So you can adjust to your dietary restrictions if needed!

How do I make cashew chicken?

Start by prepping the ingredients! When you cut up the chicken breasts, you always want to make sure to cut approximately the same size pieces. This ensures even cooking, and allows you to avoid pieces that are dried out. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Same rule of thumb goes for the veggies! Cut the bell peppers and pineapple the same size.

Next, add 1/2 cup pineapple, along with the garlic, ginger, rice vinegar, sriracha, sesame oil, and coriander to a food processor and press on until smooth.

You don’t need a fancy wok to make this simple recipe! Just heat the sesame oil in a large skillet. Cook the chicken on all sides until browned on the outside and fully cooked, about 6 minutes. Remove to a plate.

Whisk together cornstarch and soy sauce in a separate small bowl and add to pineapple mixture in the food processor. Pulse to combine completely.

After removing chicken from the skillet, and add the sauce. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened, this should take about 3 minutes.
Add the chicken back into the sauce, along with the cashews and remaining pineapple.

Serve over steamed rice or cauliflower rice and garnish with fresh cilantro!

Still hungry? Check out my Asian turkey meatballs with spicy peanut sauce!

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Spicy Cashew Chicken


Ingredients

Scale

1.5 lbs chicken breast meat, cut into 1″ cubes

salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup fresh diced pineapple, divided

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

2 teaspoons sriracha sauce

1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons corn starch

1/2 cup whole cashews

steamed rice and fresh cilantro, for serving (optional)


Instructions

Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Cook chicken on all sides until browned on the outside and fully cooked, about 6 minutes. Remove to a plate.

Meanwhile, add 1/2 cup pineapple, along with the garlic, ginger, rice vinegar, sriracha, sesame oil, and coriander to a food processor and press on until smooth.

Whisk together cornstarch and soy sauce in a separate small bowl and add to pineapple mixture in the food processor. Pulse to combine completely.

After removing chicken from skillet, add the sauce. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened (about 3 minutes).

Add the chicken back into the sauce, along with the cashews and remaining pineapple.

Serve over steamed rice garnished with fresh cilantro.


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