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Cashew Chicken Recipe – Pinch of Yum

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Saucy, sticky, crispy, sweet and savory Cashew Chicken! Just like your favorite takeout, but made easy at home.

Oh my oh my oh my – saucy, sticky, sweet and savory cashew chicken is here, and it was my favorite recipe I made this month, and this just might be the recipe that will pull you (okay, fine, me) out of the winter slumps with texture, flavor, and a little extra jazziness. It’s just a really fun recipe.

My version of cashew chicken is actually based off of this Cheesecake Factory copycat recipe, which is lovely and reminds me that although haters like to hate, I should probably get back to the Cheesecake Factory for a feast ASAP. Great job, Sabrina.

I made it essentially the same as her cashew chicken recipe, but just a little easier, and with a shorter ingredient list.

And what resulted was glorious. We’re talking about bite-sized pieces of chicken, breaded and fried into a nice little crisp, tossed with a quick, sticky-sweet, soy-and-garlic sauce, all brought together with a handful of cashews. Ideally this would be served over a pile of hot, steaming rice with a side of something of the vegetable variety (steamed or roasted broccoli is a fave). But more practically, you won’t even get that far before you start popping bites of chicken straight out of the hot pan.

There is a 100% chance that anyone who is in a 10-mile radius will come running into your kitchen when they smell the garlic, ginger, and soy in the sauce as it hits the pan. It’s a good moment.

In This Post: Everything You Need For Cashew Chicken

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Cashew chicken in a pan with a spoon.

Ingredients To Make Cashew Chicken

While this is somewhat of a clear-the-counters-and-put-on-your-apron kind of recipe, it doesn’t take as much effort or ingredients as you’d think.

Here’s what you need:

  • Chicken
  • Dry ingredients (flour, cornstarch, the usual)
  • Batter (you’ll make this, but it’s easy! promise!)
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Cashews
  • Sauce (soy sauce, hoisin sauce, vinegar, ginger, etc.)
  • Green onions to top it off

If you really want to up the sesame flavor, you could even add a swish of toasted sesame oil too!

How To Make Cashew Chicken

First, you’ll have to put a little bit of prep work in – cube your chicken, get the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix the batter for frying, and maybe even whisk together your sauce now if you want to really make this seamless.

Then, you’re going to start making magic happen.

  1. Coat your chicken in the dry ingredients and get it in the batter to coat.
  2. Heat your oil in a large skillet to get it ready to fry. (You can test it by adding just a drip of batter to see if it sizzles, but if you want to be really exact, the oil should be about 350-375 degrees.)
  3. Fry it up! Add half your chicken, then repeat with the other half.
  4. Remove the oil and put the chicken back in the pan and add your sauce and cashews.
  5. Serve that tender saucy chicken with rice and veggies (if you want). Way to go!

Deep-Fried Vs. Stir-Fried

Traditionally, there are two ways to make cashew chicken: stir-fried in a pan or wok, or deep-fried, the latter of which is happening here.

I love love love the crispy, delicious, deep-fried bits of chicken and how they cling to the sauce here, but if you want to eliminate the deep-frying of this recipe, that is an option.

What I’d do instead: skip the batter and just stir fry the chicken in a pan, and then add the sauce at the end. Easy.

HOWEVER if you are choosing to deep fry, I have a small tip for you to make it a littttttle easier: toss *all your chicken* together into the flour, then stir up *all the floured chicken* together into the batter. From there, I dump about half of it into the pan of hot oil – it’s going to stick together and feel very wrong, but you can work quickly and use two forks to break the pieces apart. And repeat with the other half batch.

Cashew Chicken: Frequently Asked Questions

Where is cashew chicken from?

Cashew chicken is a Chinese-American dish that can be either stir-fried or deep-fried – the latter of which (what we’re making here), originated in Springfield, Missouri. It was created by a chef named David Leong who moved to the US from China and was looking to create a dish that appealed to the tastes of Americans, which is how it was born. Thank you, David!

Can I stir-fry the chicken instead of frying it?

Absolutely! As I mentioned above, the other version of this dish is stir-fried instead of deep-fried. Just skip the coating and frying step and stir fry your chicken, then add the sauce.

Could I use tofu instead of chicken?

Yup! I’d maybe skip the batter and deep frying and employ one of the crispy tofu ideas in this post. You can also check out this Sesame Apricot Tofu as an equally delicious alternative!

How does this hold up for leftovers?

There’s a little sogginess that happens for leftovers, but I still really enjoyed it. If you want to revive the crispiness, you can heat it in a pan on medium-high heat to get things crisped up again.

Could I add other veggies to this?

Absolutely! Green beans, bell peppers, snow peas, whatever suits your fancy.

Can I use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts?

Sure! Though I prefer chicken breasts in this specific recipe (makes it really deliciously tender, and a little less greasy!).

How can I make this cashew chicken healthier?

A few ideas: stir-fry the chicken instead of frying it, use brown rice instead of white rice, increase the veggies, and/or serve up that delicious chicken in lettuce cups instead for a fun lettuce wrap vibe!


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Saucy, sticky, crispy, sweet and savory Cashew Chicken! Just like your favorite takeout, but made easy at home. Served with steamy rice and broccoli.


Chicken Shortcut: I find dredging, battering, and frying individual pieces of chicken to be kind of tedious. So I tossed *all my chicken* together into the flour, then stirred up *all the floured chicken* together into the batter. From there, I dumped about half of it into the pan of hot oil – it’s going to stick together and feel very wrong, but you can work quickly and use two forks to break the pieces apart. And repeat with the other half batch. Done!

Type of Pan: Personally I like to use a nonstick for this to avoid the chicken getting stuck to the bottom of the pan. 

Caramelization and Stickiness Level: If you like extra browning, caramelization, chewiness, and stickiness, let everything cook in the pan together for more like 5 minutes instead of 1 minute. Personally I like the texture of the sauce at 1 minute, but it does look really pretty with that caramelization.

Leftovers: They get a tad bit soggy but I still really enjoyed them. For best results, brown the chicken in a nonstick skillet for a few minutes to get some browning / crisping on the outside.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Fry
  • Cuisine: Chinese-Inspired

Keywords: cashew chicken, takeout chicken, takeout at home, sticky chicken, chicken and rice

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