This homemade cashew chicken is incredibly easy, made in one pan, and is way better than takeout! Chicken breast sits in a quick 30-minute marinade then stir-fried and tossed in a luscious, thick garlic sauce with cashews and green onions. Serve with your favorite rice and vegetables!
Growing up, we didn’t live in an area with a lot of takeout options, so it was the occasional trip to McDonald’s or Pizza Hut. Getting things like Chinese food was not on our radar, so when I first tried it with a friend’s family in college, I devoured my cashew chicken and couldn’t wait to try more!
These days, my go-to order is General Tso’s, but this recipe that opened up the world of Chinese takeout to me will forever hold a special place in my heart, and I’m so excited to share this recipe with you!
The Ingredients You’ll Need
There are two main steps to making chicken with cashew nuts: the chicken marinade/stir fry, and the sauce. Here’s what you’ll need:
For the Chicken:
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
- Dry sherry or cooking wine
- Fresh ginger
For the Brown Sauce:
- Chicken broth
- Soy sauce
- Rice vinegar
- Green onions
Quick Step-by-Step Instructions
This is a fabulously easy one-pan recipe that makes for a quick and easy weeknight meal. This is the rundown:
- Marinate the chicken: A quick 30 minutes is all it needs after being tossed with some sherry, fresh ginger, and cornstarch.
- Stir-fry the chicken: Brown the cubed chicken with vegetable oil in two batches and set aside.
- Make the Sauce: Stir-fry the garlic, cashews, and green onion, then add the sauce ingredients. Cook until the sauce thickens, then serve.
Slow Cooker Version
This cashew chicken converts to the slow cooker very easily!
To make this in a slow cooker, simply brown the chicken in step #3 (it does not need to be cooked the whole way through) and add it to the bottom of a slow cooker. Stir together the sauce ingredients, including the cashews and white parts of the green onion, and pour it over the chicken. Cook on low for 3 to 4 hours. Serve as suggested.
Cashew Chicken: Frequently Asked Questions
Cashew Chicken is a Chinese-American recipe that combines stir-fried chicken with cashews in a sauce that can be either thin or thick.
This is a deep-fried version of the recipe; it was created by Chef David Leong, a Chinese immigrant living Springfield, Missouri, who was trying to find a way to bridge the gap between the authentic food of his homeland and local residents’ tastes.
It is most commonly served with rice (white or brown) and steamed or stir-fried vegetables. The most common choices are broccoli, snap peas, and water chestnuts.
You could also serve it over noodles and include a sweet fruit component, such as mango, pineapple, apricot, and orange.
If you like spicy meals, sprinkle on some red pepper flakes!
Leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Reheat in a microwave or on the stovetop.
- 1½ pounds chicken breasts, boneless skinless, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons dry sherry, or cooking wine, or omit
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
- 3½ teaspoons cornstarch, divided
- Coarse salt
- ½ cup (120 ml) chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
- 2 cloves garlic , minced
- ⅔ cup (75 g) unsalted cashews
- 2 green onions, white and green parts divided and thinly sliced
- In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with the sherry, ginger, and 1½ teaspoons cornstarch; season with coarse salt. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together the chicken broth, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and 2 teaspoons cornstarch. Set aside.
- In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add half of the chicken and cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover with foil. Add 1 teaspoon of oil to the skillet and cook the remaining chicken (reduce the heat if the chicken is over-browning). Transfer to the covered plate.
- In the same skillet, add the remaining teaspoon of vegetable oil. Add the cashews, garlic, and green onion whites. Cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic begins to soften, about 30 seconds. Whisk the sauce again to combine and add to the skillet along with the chicken. Cook until the sauce thickens, about 30 seconds. Serve over rice or noodles and top with the green onion greens.
- Chicken: You can substitute skinless, boneless chicken thighs for the breasts.
- Serving: Serve over rice or noodles, alongside your favorite vegetables. Classic sides are broccoli, snap peas and water chestnuts.
- Sweeten It Up! While not traditional, add fruit such as pineapple, mango, apricots, or orange for more complex flavors.
- Make it spicy: Add a sprinkle of red pepper flakes if you like your meals on the spicy side.
- Slow Cooker: To make this in a slow cooker, simply brown the chicken in step #3 (it does not need to be cooked the whole way through) and add it to the bottom of a slow cooker. Stir together the sauce ingredients, including the cashews and white parts of the green onion, and pour it over the chicken. Cook on low for 3 to 4 hours. Serve as suggested.
- Storing: Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop.
Photography by Dee Frances.