Spicy Cashew Chicken

This Spicy Cashew Chicken is an easy version of a favorite take out dish ~ the chicken is tender, the flavors are authentic, and it’s got a satisfyingly spicy kick!

This one is a snap, especially if you are organized enough to keep all your Asian sauce ingredients in the same section of the refrigerator door. (I’m not.)  When you break it down it’s just browned chicken quickly stir fried with garlic and ginger, scallions, cashews, and a few common sauce components. My husband and I agreed it was one of the best things we’ve had in a while. We polished it off way too quickly, and my only regret is that I didn’t double the batch.

One of the nice things about stir frying is that the food tastes very fresh. Nothing is overcooked, and the flavors pop. Even the scallions stay bright green! The chicken, the sweet/hot/sour sauce, and the strong crunchy cashew presence makes this really wonderful, I highly recommend it.


If you’re a dark meat type, use boneless chicken thighs in place of the breasts.

Oh, one other thing…good fresh cashews really make this dish. Try to find raw ones. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are good sources. Even chain grocery stores start stocking all kinds of nuts for the holiday season, so you may be able to find them at your regular store.

spicy cashew chicken

Reader Rave ~

“Made this recipe and it was sooooo good! Everyone loved it – we are going to make it again soon. I wasn’t able to find the same red peppers so I used finely diced jalapeños and red pepper flakes and it was still great. Thanks a bunch!” ~ Micah

3.75 from 8 votes

Spicy Cashew Chicken

Author Sue Moran


  • 1 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger grated
  • 2 dried hot red peppers sliced, seeds and all (or about 1 - 2 tsp red pepper flakes, to taste)
  • 1 bunch about 10, green onions, sliced, both white parts and green parts
  • 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 Tbsp tamari soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar optional
  • 1/2 cup water
  • several dashes sesame oil
  • 3/4 cup raw cashews that have been lightly toasted see note below
  • snipped chives for garnish
  • Cooked white or brown rice


  • In a small bowl, toss the chicken pieces with the cornstarch, making sure to get all the chicken coated.
  • Heat the oil in a wok or large saute pan over medium high heat. When the oil is nice and hot, brown the chicken on all sides. Do this in batches, so you don't crowd the chicken. The chicken needs space in the pan to brown well. Set the browned chicken aside on a plate.
  • Add the garlic, ginger, and hot pepper to the pan and stir fry for a few minutes. Add most of the scallions, (reserve a handful for garnishing later.) and the chicken back into the pan and toss to combine.
  • Add the vinegar, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, if using, and the water to the pan. Mix everything well,bring up to a simmer and cook gently for a minute or two until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is thick and glossy. Taste it now to see if you want to adjust any seasonings.
  • Add the cashews to the sauce, and sprinkle on a few dashes of the sesame oil. Serve over hot rice garnished with the rest of the scallions, and some snipped chives. I also threw on a few more cashews.

Cook's notes

To toast the cashews, put them in a small saute pan over medium heat and toss them until they start to brown lightly and you can smell their aroma. Watch the pan and don't let them burn.
This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although theviewfromgreatisland.com tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.


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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    February 25, 2021 at 2:10 pm

    5 stars
    I’ve made this recipe so many times throughout the years and it is always amazing. Family members ask for the recipe. Give this a try….you wont be disappointed.

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      February 25, 2021 at 5:44 pm

      Thanks Mel ~ this is an oldie but goodie 🙂

  • Reply
    Kimi Wei
    October 7, 2018 at 5:55 pm

    Hey Sue, nice recipe. Just one thing: Chinese food is stir-fried over a high flame: meats, so they stay moist inside and veggies so they crisp up without steaming.

    • Reply
      October 7, 2018 at 6:42 pm

      Good point Kimi, you can definitely benefit from cranking up the heat for sure.

  • Reply
    Lauren Gaskill | Making Life Sweet
    December 22, 2015 at 8:51 am

    A simple but amazing recipe! Love!

  • Reply
    November 17, 2015 at 6:15 am

    Made this recipe and it was sooooo good! Everyone loved it – we are going to make it again soon. I wasn’t able to find the same red peppers so I used finely diced jalapeños and red pepper flakes and it was still great. Thanks a bunch!

    • Reply
      November 17, 2015 at 6:38 am

      So glad you enjoyed it Micah.

  • Reply
    mad sad
    April 8, 2015 at 7:09 am

    This is amazing. Cashew Chicken is one of my favorite Asian dishes ..

    • Reply
      April 8, 2015 at 7:49 am

      Me too! Hope you enjoy it 🙂

  • Reply
    April 3, 2014 at 11:43 am

    My daughter made it. My friend made it. I made it last night. Fabulous! It’s nice to adjust the heat to suit your taste, in my case a 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes was perfect. I don’t eat Cashew Chicken out and now I never will. I’ll only use this recipe.

  • Reply
    Christina @ Christina's Cucina
    November 21, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    Asian cuisine is where I’d most like to expand my repertoire and this looks awesome, Sue! However, my daughter has a tree nut allergy, so instead of omitting the nuts altogether, do you think this would work (flavor-wise) if I used peanuts instead?

  • Reply
    October 17, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    Recently stumbled over your website and am loving it. The cashew chicken looks really yummy. Will surely make this over the weekend!
    Also love yr ‘minimal’ pastas with cracked pepper…

    • Reply
      October 17, 2013 at 5:35 pm

      Hi Vasanthi! You’ve picked out a couple of my favorites…

  • Reply
    October 3, 2013 at 6:57 am

    fresh, easy chinese is my favorite chinese, and cashew chicken is a household favorite as well. i hate overdone cashew chicken that’s so heavy it weighs you down, and that’s unfortunately the sort you see most often at takeout places. pinning this, and quite possibly for this evening. 🙂 mr. table is coming down with something, and he may love a little warm chinese food to comfort him. 🙂

  • Reply
    Denise @ magnoliaverandah
    September 25, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    Love Asian food. I keep all my asian ingredients on one shelf in the pantry, so nothing is mixed up with everything else. The key is to have everything prepared because once you start cooking it is quick and easy! Love chicken and cashews.

    • Reply
      September 26, 2013 at 7:01 pm

      I’ve got to do that. If you add in the Thai and Indian condiments, it all takes up quite a bit of real estate in my fridge!

  • Reply
    [email protected] is How I Cook
    September 25, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    I love most anything with hoisin. And cashews. And green onions. those are a staple in my fridge!

  • Reply
    September 25, 2013 at 11:53 am

    This is amazing. Cashew Chicken is one of my favorite Asian dishes, but I’ve never tried making it myself. What a good idea.

  • Reply
    September 25, 2013 at 10:57 am

    I know I would love this Sue..

  • Reply
    September 25, 2013 at 10:20 am

    Lovely! I made a cashew chicken recipe last night that was horrible (didn’t even occur to me that it was a bad idea to add the 3/4 cup soy sauce it called for!) this looks MUCH better, can’t wait to try it!

    • Reply
      September 26, 2013 at 7:49 pm

      Oh gosh! I wouldn’t blame you if you never looked at another cashew chicken recipe again!

  • Reply
    Laura (Tutti Dolci)
    September 25, 2013 at 9:17 am

    I love cashews with chicken, your dish looks so flavorful!

    • Reply
      September 25, 2013 at 9:26 am

      Thanks Laura…I didn’t realize how much I love cashews till I tried this dish.

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