No need to call for takeout. This 20-minute easy chicken with cashew nuts and peppers 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 it’s 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, 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.
Don’t skip the rice wine, either. Strictly speaking, use Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing Wine) in this dish. But I find it’s delicious with rice wine vinegar (Japanese mirin) too if that’s all I have. Just use what you have in the cupboard!
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 thing to know (recipe FAQ)
If you don’t have Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing Wine), the best substitute is rice wine vinegar (Japanese mirin). Another possibility is dry sherry.
If you’d rather skip the wine altogether, that’s OK! Just swap out the water in the sauce for chicken or vegetable broth (stock).
Whoops – you don’t have any oyster sauce. That’s OK. Do you have hoisin sauce? Use that instead. If you don’t have that either, add a little more soy sauce and sugar, but not too much!
No! If you have one, by all means use it. But otherwise just use a large non-stick frying pan.
Kung pao chicken is another mouth watering delicious Chinese takeout dish. It’s very similar to this chicken with cashew nuts, but it has an intensely flavoured spicy sauce. It also usually contains peanuts rather than 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!
IF YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE, LET ME KNOW HOW YOU GET ON BY LEAVING A COMMENT AND RATING BELOW… AND DON’T FORGET TO SIGN UP TO RECEIVE ALL MY NEW RECIPES BY EMAIL!
FOLLOW ME ON FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, PINTEREST AND YOUTUBE.
20-minute Chicken With Cashew Nuts And Peppers
Equipment (affiliate links)
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
For the sauce
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 1½ teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon rice wine or rice wine vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice
- 1 teaspoon sugar brown or white are both fine, or use honey if you prefer
- 6 tablespoons water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ‘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.
I made this dish and it was delicious! I will definitely be making this dish again! Thank you Helen
Hi Terri! So happy you enjoyed it 🙂
Really great recipe. Tasted amazing -thanks!!!
Oh, that’s great news, Rick! This is one of my older recipes, so good to hear it’s still as delicious as ever! Thanks for leaving such a great review and I hope you try another of my recipes soon.
I just love this recipe! So easy, quick and above all it’s downright tasty! I make it for my veggie friends easily too, replacing the chicken with sliced quorn fillets and the oyster sauce with hoisin sauce with shredded seaweed for that fishy salty twang 😛
Have had a look at your other recipes and have a whole list of em ready to try!
Hi Scooby! Thank you so much for bothering to pop here and leave your feedback. This is one of my favourite quick recipes too, and it’s great to know that you’ve successfully customized it for your veggie friends! Please do let me know how you go with the other recipes you have ready to try. I love it so much when people enjoy my recipes! 🙂
It can be so hard to find good Chinese food sometimes! There is a new Chinese place just just opened up near us that has gluten free options which is really exciting, but it is also so nice to be able to make your own! Honestly, I don’t have a ton of experience cooking Chinese food even though it is one of my favorites. Your sauce sounds amazing and I think I could drink it by itself!
No, I don’t have a lot of experience cooking Chinese either … which is why I was so excited about this. The sauce was pretty amazing … really simple, too …
[email protected] says
Oh I love that it is so much healthier than the take out version which I eat often without guilt!! Now I got no excuse of eating that since I got this recipe!! Thanks!
Oh, you’re welcome, Ami! I hope you have a go at this and enjoy it. 🙂
Bintu @ Recipes From A Pantry says
This def looks better than a take away. Lucky you having spent some time in China. One day I might go there.
I hope you do get the chance to go to China some day, Bintu. I found it SO interesting! 🙂
Annie @Maebells says
How fantastic! I love all of the colors! This makes for such a beautiful dish! And I love that you added the cashews for a nice crunch! I can’t wait to try this!
Thank you, Annie! It is a pretty one, isn’t it? So glad you like it!
Alyssa @ My Sequined Life says
I love everything about this, Helen! Usually I feel a bit like Goldilocks with take-out meals, either too much sauce, too salty, a little too gloopy, etc. Making it at home would solve those problems! I also love Chinese five spice powder. I’m definitely making this one soon!
Ooh, I really hope you do make it, Alyssa … and let me know what you think! I love your ‘Goldilocks’ comment! I totally get what you mean … I can’t think of many Chinese takeaway dishes I’ve had that have been perfect.
Wait, you’ve been to China as well! I want your life! You must have get so much inspiration from all of your meals around the world. I think travellers are the best cooks 🙂
I love that you made you own Chinese takeaway. I don’t necessarily like how actual Chinese takeaway makes me feel, so I’m always looking to recreate those flavours at home. Something about that sticky sauce is so addictive! Sometimes I actually crave sesame oil! It’s weird, but so good. Great recipe and photos, Helen, as always!!!
Yes, isn’t sesame oil just the best? I really love the strong nutty flavour it has. I do love travelling, and have been to quite a few places, but there are still plenty more places I’d like to visit in the future. I think it’s going to be a while now, though, before I can do that …
Thanks for the lovely compliements, Allison (again!) 🙂
Tandy | Lavender and Lime says
I shall remember to stay away from yak milk – thank you! I am not big on Chinese take away’s but I am going to make a version of this tonight as something different is always good and I have chicken waiting for some inspiration 🙂
Oh, how exciting that you’re going to make this! 🙂 I really hope you enjoy your meal, Tandy! 🙂
Jessica @ Jessiker Bakes says
I love trips that show me the best food locations in new places haha! This is definitely better than takeaway and looks delicious!! Love the time and effort you put into it :).
Thank you so much, Jessica! It was delicious, indeed!
Judit @ Glamorous Bite says
What a fabulous experience you have had Helen (with chicken heads and all)! We do not have a very good Chinese restaurants near by here in Santa Barbara. This is one of my favorite Chinese dish and now I can make it anytime. Just love your delicious recipe 🙂
Hi, Judit! So glad you like this dish! I think it’s going to become one of my favourite go-tos when I’m lacking inspiration for our evening meal. It was always one of my favourites to pick from a takeaway menu, too, so I was excited to find an easy recipe for it that works.
Cindy @ Pick Fresh Foods says
Wow, Helen that sounds like a fantastic experience. I was in Japan for a couple of weeks and made it my mission to try as much food as possible.
I love your recipe and 5 spice is so delicious! I can’t wait to try this 😀
Ohhh, Japan is definitely on my travel bucket list! I’m not sure most Japanese food is so easy to ‘throw together’ at home, so maybe it’s best to go there to experience the real deal! 🙂
Connie @ Sprig and Flours says
I once visited China too! I can’t believe it has almost been 9 years since I was there. I loved the food there so much! After visiting China, I spent some time in Thailand and oh my god, the food there is amazing as well. I’d go back just for a meal! I’ll have to make this delicious dish to tide me over until my next visit (:
Hello, Connie! Thanks so much for passing by! 🙂
I absolutely adore Thailand and the wonderful food there, especially the street food. I would go back there tomorrow if I could just to have dinner! So glad you like this dish … I hope you do get around to making it some time. It’s my new favourite!
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says
That looks good! And it’s so easy and much better for you than getting takeaway too 🙂
Yes, once you’ve got all the different bottles of sauces and oils it takes no time at all to throw together. Glad you like it, Lorraine!
Meggan Hill says
This sounds so delicious, Helen! I make a pretty good Chicken Teriyaki that is better than take-out. Crab Rangoon is my go-to takeout dish to make at home if only so I can have 7x as many rangoons to devour. 🙂 I love how colorful and flavorful your dish is! Can’t wait to share it all over the place.
Hi, Meggan! Ooh, is your teriyaki on your blog? I think I’ll hope on over there and check it out if so because that sounds delicious. I’ve never tried crab rangoon (or even heard of it, to be honest, so there’s some homework for me today!) but I love crab so I bet I’d be a fan. Thanks so much for sharing … you’re such a sweetheart!
Archana @ The Perfect Zest says
that looks so good and fresh – I could easily swap chicken for tofu in it! I love Chinese food.
You’re right, you totally could put tofu in this! Prawns would be good, too, I think. 🙂