If you love Chinese food but don’t want to wait for delivery from your local Chinese restaurant, this Cashew Chicken Stir Fry recipe is for you!
The combination of fresh vegetables, crunchy cashews, and tender chicken makes this dish a complete meal all in one pan. Simply marinate the chicken for an hour or overnight, and it will taste even better than takeout.
Chicken breast: I use 1 lb. of chicken breasts (about 2 breasts) for this recipe, but feel free to add more or less depending on how much protein you like in your meals!
Soy sauce: Soy sauce is a pantry staple ingredient that adds that punch of umami flavor to the cashew chicken sauce. It’s also the basis for great Chinese dishes and gives that classic, even-better-than-takeout flavor.
Sesame oil: Sesame oil brings out the flavor of soy sauce, and it also adds an earthy, nutty flavor to this stir fry. A little goes a long way!
Hoisin Sauce: I love adding hoisin sauce to my stir-fry meals. It tastes like a sweet-tart, savory Asian Barbecue Sauce and it’s amazing!
Mirin: Mirin is subtly sweet, slightly tangy rice wine. It’s a perfect addition to this cashew chicken recipe.
Honey or maple syrup: You can use either honey or maple syrup for this recipe. Both add a nice touch of sweetness and help to balance out the savory flavors of soy sauce and sesame oil.
Ground ginger powder or fresh Ginger: Ground ginger powder helps incorporate a hint of peppery, slightly citrus-y flavor. A little goes a long way, but if you don’t enjoy the taste of ginger, feel free to leave this out of the stir fry.
Garlic powder or fresh garlic: Garlic powder helps to season the chicken breasts along with the simple salt and pepper seasoning. If you like extra garlic-y flavor, you can also add minced garlic before stir-frying the chicken with the vegetables.
Chicken broth: Chicken broth adds another great layer of flavor to this Cashew Chicken Stir Fry, but if you don’t have it in your pantry, water is perfectly fine as well.
Cornstarch: Adding cornstarch to the sauce helps to thicken the sauce and create an amazing glaze. This makes sure that your sauce isn’t too runny when you serve this Cashew Chicken Stir Fry with rice!
Cashews: Cashews make this stir fry stand out from all other Chinese chicken stir fry recipes! Slightly toasting the cashews brings out that nutty flavor and adds an even crunchier texture to this dish.
Carrots: Carrots add great color and crunchy texture to this Cashew Chicken Stir Fry. Feel free to buy pre-sliced carrots if you are running low on time. Dice them into 1-inch cubes for bite-sized pieces.
Edamame: Edamame also adds great color and texture to this Chinese chicken stir fry and is a great plant based protein. Fresh or frozen edamame work equally as well.
Snow peas: Snow peas add a tender yet crisp texture. Be sure to trim the ends and remove the thin string from one side of the snow pea, or buy frozen or prepared snow peas.
Other veggies you can add: Sugar snap peas, broccoli, water chestnuts, baby corn, mushrooms, yellow bell pepper.
How to Make Cashew Chicken Stir Fry:
Marinate the chicken for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Cook the chicken. Once chicken has marinated, add to a wok or large frying pan and brown the chicken over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Add in the veggies and cook until veggies are tender and chicken is cooked (internal temperature of 165°F.)
Add in the stir fry sauce and toss. Simmer.
Add in cornstarch slurry and heat until sauce thickens.
Add in cashews. Serve over rice and enjoy!
Pro tip: you can double the sauce so you have extra sauce for leftovers!
Tips for Making Cashew Chicken Stir Fry:
Although this recipe calls for chicken breast, feel free to use boneless chicken thighs if you have that on hand.
Need to make this recipe gluten-free? You can replace the soy sauce with coconut or liquid aminos.
If you’re in a pinch for time, feel free to skip the marinating step. However, marinating the chicken for at least an hour, or even overnight, adds more in-depth flavor to the chicken.
This recipe is customizable! Carrots, edamame, and snow peas are what I like in my stir fry, but you can use what you have in your fridge.
Play around with adding in different vegetables like broccoli, green beans, mushroom, and bell peppers.
How to Reheat Cashew Chicken Stir Fry:
You can reheat Cashew Chicken Stir Fry in the microwave if it’s the most convenient, but the vegetables and cashews will lose their crunchy texture. I recommend heating on the stove over medium high heat until all the chicken and vegetables are heated through. Make sure to stir often so that it doesn’t burn!
How Long Does Cashew Chicken Stir Fry Last?
This Cashew Chicken Stir Fry can be kept in the refrigerator for approximately 3 days, but it’s best eaten the same day! The crunchy vegetables and cashews will become softer in the microwave after reheating, and the textures won’t be as great as the same day you make this dish.
In a large bowl, lightly season the diced chicken with salt and pepper, to taste. Don’t forget that you will be adding soy sauce in the marinade and sauce, so be sure not to be too heavy-handed with the salt.
Place the chicken in a large baggie, and add in the ingredients for the marinade. Close the baggie, gently shake making sure to completely coat all the chicken and place in refrigerator to marinate for 1 hour or overnight.
Once you are ready to cook, toast 1/2 cup of cashews over medium heat until light golden brown. Make sure to keep stirring the cashews around so they are evenly toasted and don’t burn. Set cashews aside.
Add in the marinated chicken and brown the chicken over medium high heat, ~5 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
Add the carrots, edamame, bell peppers, snow peas and broccoli (or whatever veggies you prefer to use) to the pan and stir fry for approximately 5 minutes so that the chicken is almost cooked through and the veggies have softened.
Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic and chicken broth to the pan. Let everything simmer for about 3 minutes, then add in the cornstarch slurry (cornstarch and water mixed together). Mix everything well and heat until thickened.
Add the toasted cashews last to maintain their super nice crunch, and mix slightly. Serve over white rice, and don’t be shy with the sauce!
If you have time to marinate the chicken overnight, I recommend doing so to help develop the flavors in the chicken. You can toast the cashews in advance and keep them in a baggie or container.
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