No need to call for takeout. This 20-minute easy cashew chicken recipe is quick, colourful, and healthy. Most importantly, it’s delicious every time!
One of my favourite dishes to order from a Chinese takeaway has always been something along the lines of this chicken cashew stir-fry.
Asian restaurants are generally very good here in Australia. But I love that I can make a pretty good effort at my own version of this delicious meal in under half an hour!
Why this is better than takeout (or at least as good!)
- I don’t claim that this is a completely authentic chicken and cashew nut recipe. But hey, so what? It’s delicious, colourful and healthy. And did I mention it’s on the table in just 20 minutes? Less time than you could order a takeout, right?
- This recipe contains generous amounts of all the major components – chicken, peppers, onions, crunchy cashew nuts, and of course the yummy sauce.
- Speaking of the sauce, it contains a ‘secret ingredient’. Well, not so secret really, but it takes the dish from good to delicious.
- Another simple trick gives you super tender and tasty chicken. Just marinate the chicken in a little corn starch / corn flour and rice wine vinegar while you’re preparing all the other ingredients.
Preparing the ingredients
There are 4 simple components to this stir-fry: chicken, vegetables, sauce, and of course the all-important cashew nuts. When making any stir-fry, I always prepare everything first. You can even do this earlier in the day to get ahead.
chicken: You can use either chicken breast or thigh. I like to chop the chicken into small bite-sized pieces. While you’re preparing everything else. pop the bits of chicken into a bowl and stir through a teaspoon of corn flour / corn starch and a teaspoon of rice wine vinegar.
vegetables: Crush or slice some ginger and garlic. Chop up a whole onion into chunks. Then slice 2 peppers (I like 1 red and 1 green) into bite-sized chunks. Finally, slice a few spring onions / salad onions, ready to stir through at the end.
sauce: I keep the sauce for my cashew chicken simple but with a good balance of flavours. You’ll need oyster sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, salt and water. Plus… can you guess what the ‘magic’ ingredient is? It’s Chinese 5 spice! I call it ‘magic’ because to me it’s what gives your cashew chicken its distinctive (and very delicious) Chinese flavour.
cashew nuts: Stir them through at the end so that they get coated in the sauce but stay crisp and delicious.
Bringing your stir-fry together
Step 1: Stir-fry the chicken until just cooked through. Remove from the pan.
Step 2: Stir-fry the rest of the veggies.
Step 3: Add the chicken back into the pan. Pour over the sauce and let cook for a few more minutes.
Step 4: Briefly toss through the spring onions / salad onions and cashew nuts.
Step 5: Serve immediately. I prefer rice, but noodles would be delicious too.
Once you’ve added the sauce and tossed everything together, your kitchen will even smell like you’ve just brought takeout home!
How to serve it
This chicken and cashew nut stir-fry is best served immediately. I prefer to serve it in bowls over rice but noodles go really well too.
Somehow I also think it tastes better eaten with chopsticks, but no judgement if you prefer a knife and fork!
I love making this recipe with the crunchy, colourful peppers. You can however very easily make it with different vegetables.
All of these possibilities would work well:
- snow peas / mange-tout
- zucchini / courgette
- broccoli (chopped into small pieces and stir-fried until tender)
- thin rounds or batons of carrot
- asparagus, chopped into short lengths
Leftovers will keep really well in the fridge in a sealed container for a few days. You can even freeze them if you like for another week.
If you think you’re going to have leftovers, however, it’s best to anticipate this. Here’s why: cashew nuts don’t reheat very well. They tend to lose their crisp.
To get around this, take the food you don’t think you’ll eat out of the pan BEFORE adding the nuts. Then just add half of the amount of cashew nuts stated in the recipe to the food you’re about to eat.
This way you can reheat the leftovers and THEN stir through more crunchy cashew nuts!
Cashew allergy in the house? I think this recipe would also work well using peanuts instead of cashews!
More easy Asian meals
- 15 minute Thai basil pork stir fry (delicious!)
- 30-minute chicken pineapple stir-fry (another better-than-takeout Chinese classic!)
- Perfect Thai chicken and butternut squash curry (On the table in 40 minutes and makes a TON. We ALWAYS have some of this in our freezer!)
- Sticky and delicious 15 minute Shanghai chicken
- Perfect Mee Goreng (spicy Indonesian noodles)
- Or take a look at all my Asian recipes!
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20-minute chicken and cashew nuts with peppers
Ingredients (UK/Australia? Click below for grams/ml)
For the stir-fry
- 2 chicken breasts or 4 thighs, cut into smallish pieces
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch (UK/Australia = cornflour)
- 1 teaspoon rice wine or rice wine vinegar (I just use whichever I have)
- 2 peppers (US bell peppers, Australia capsicum) preferably one green & one red, chopped into big(ish) pieces
- 2 garlic cloves crushed or sliced thinly
- 5 cm-long piece of fresh ginger peeled and sliced into small pieces
- 1 large onion chopped into chunky pieces
- 4 spring onions/scallions finely chopped (optional)
- ½ cup cashew nuts roasted unsalted are best
- ‘Marinate’ the chicken in a bowl with the cornstarch and 1 teaspoon of rice wine/rice wine vinegar while you prepare the other ingredients.
- Prepare the sauce by whisking together all of the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl, then set aside.
- Heat up a wok or heavy-based wide pan with about a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Then stir fry the chicken pieces for a few minutes until they are just cooked. Take the chicken out of the pan, put it onto a plate and set aside.
- Add a little more oil to the pan and stir fry the peppers, garlic, ginger and onion together for a few minutes on a high heat.
- Add the chicken back into the pan along with the sauce and cook for a few more minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly and the chicken is cooked through.
- At the last minute, add in the cashew nuts and spring onions/scallions. Give everything a final quick stir. Serve immediately with rice or noodles.