Quick, easy, and so flavorful, this Cashew Chicken stir fry features tender bites of chicken and crunchy toasted cashew nuts tossed in a sticky, savory-sweet garlic sauce. Perfect for weeknight dinner!
Easy Chicken Cashew Stir Fry
Cashew Chicken is a longtime Chinese restaurant favorite, whether we’re dining in or picking up take-out!
I love the simplicity of the dish – tender chicken, toasted cashews, and a delightful garlic sauce that’s both sweet and savory. It’s so good!
Lucky for me, it’s easy to make at home too. In fact, this cashew chicken recipe comes together in just 30 minutes!
We like to serve it over rice, garnished with chopped green onion, sesame seeds, and a little drizzle of sesame oil. It’s a flavorful and satisfying meal that is easy to prepare. Absolutely perfect for a weeknight meal.
What Is Cashew Chicken?
Cashew Chicken is a popular dish in Chinese-American cuisine that typically features stir-fried chicken and cashew nuts in a savory-sweet garlic sauce.
This dish originated in the Hunan province of China and was later popularized in the United States in the 1960s.
This better-than-takeout chicken cashew stir fry recipe is easy to make with Asian staples like soy sauce and hoisin sauce.
See the recipe card below for the exact measurements and full instructions.
- Olive oil – To saute the chicken.
- Chicken – I most often use boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but chicken thighs would also work.
- Salt & pepper
- Garlic – Fresh garlic adds a delicious earthy flavor kick and wonderful aroma.
- Soy sauce & hoisin sauce – Add the classic umami base to the cashew chicken sauce. Both are savory in flavor, with hoisin sauce being slightly sweet.
- Sriracha – Adds just a tiny amount of heat.
- Rice vinegar – Thins the sauce and adds a bright tanginess.
- Cornstarch – Helps to thicken the sauce.
- Honey – Sweetens the sauce. Use as little or as much as you like.
- Water – To bulk up the sauce.
- Cashew nuts – Use toasted, salted nuts for the best texture and flavor. You can buy them toasted or toast them yourself.
How to Make Cashew Chicken
Here’s how to make this easy chicken with cashew nuts recipe:
- Cook the chicken. Cube the chicken into 1-1/2 inch pieces. Season with salt and pepper, then cook in olive oil until browned and cooked through. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the sauce. Whisk together the cashew chicken sauce ingredients (soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sriracha sauce, rice vinegar, cornstarch, honey, and water) and stir into the chicken.
- Add the nuts. Stir in the toasted cashew nuts.
- Thicken the sauce. Simmer the dish for 3-5 minutes to thicken. Depending on how thin or thicken you prefer the sauce to be, you can alter the thickness by either adding water or additional cornstarch. See the “Tips & Variations” section below for details.
- Enjoy. Serve over rice with desired garnishes. I like toasted sesame seeds and chopped green onion.
Tips & Variations
Here are a few helpful tips for making homemade cashew chicken (that tastes BETTER than takeout!).
- Use toasted cashews. Toasted cashews are key to this recipe, and I also recommend that they’re salted. If you buy raw cashews, you can toast them yourself by spreading them on a baking sheet in a single layer and toasting them at 350° F for 5-10 minutes. Let them cool before adding them to the recipe.
- Can I use chicken thighs? Yes. I use boneless, skinless chicken breasts but boneless, skinless chicken thighs will also work. Thighs will give the dish a slightly different texture and flavor.
- Use a wok or large skillet. Make sure your pan is big enough for the chicken to be in a single layer and not crowded when cooking the chicken in the first step. If using a skillet, it’s especially helpful if you have one with tall sides.
- Add some veggies. If desired, you can easily add some veggies to your chicken cashew stir fry. Zucchini, mushrooms, bell peppers, onion, and broccoli are all good options. I recommend cooking the chicken, removing it from the pan, cooking the veggies, then adding the chicken back.
- Make it more sweet or more savory. If you’d like this dish to have more sweetness, simply add in more honey or a touch of brown sugar. If you’d like it more savory, add a little more soy sauce or sprinkle in some kosher salt. I also like to add freshly ground black pepper!
- Alter the sauce thickness. If the sauce is thicker than you’d prefer, add a bit more water. If thinner than you’d prefer, thicken with additional cornstarch – make a cornstarch slurry by whisking together 2 tablespoons water and 2 tablespoons cornstarch in a small cup. Then stir some of the slurry into the simmering cashew chicken sauce, adding a little at a time until desired thickness is reached.
What To Serve With Chinese Cashew Chicken
Cashew chicken is typically served over rice and garnished with chopped green onion and some sesame seeds. A light drizzle of toasted sesame oil over the top also adds some nice flavor.
As far as side dishes go, asparagus, broccoli, or another vegetable is a great option.
And no Chinese takeout meal is complete without some potstickers, egg rolls, or crab rangoon!
How to Store & Reheat Leftovers
Store any leftover chicken stir fry with cashews in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave, taking care to not overcook the chicken. Be sure to store it with any extra sauce.
More Asian-Inspired Recipes:
- Honey Walnut Shrimp
- Hunan Beef
- Slow Cooker Orange Chicken
- Beijing Beef
- Yaki Udon
- Thai Drunken Noodles
- Egg Roll in a Bowl
- Vietnamese Noodle Salad with Pork
- Easy Korean Beef
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For the sauce
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- ¼ cup hoisin sauce
- 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon honey (use more or less, to taste)
- ⅔ cup water
- 1 cup toasted, salted whole cashews
To make the cashew chicken
- 1¼ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1½" pieces
- 1 teaspoon Morton kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 large garlic cloves, minced
- For the sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sriracha sauce, rice vinegar, cornstarch, honey, and water. Set aside.
- For the cashew chicken: Place chicken pieces in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add olive oil.
- When olive oil starts to shimmer, add chicken to the skillet and cook until browned and cooked through, about 8-9 minutes. When chicken is nearly done, stir in the minced garlic and cook for the final minute.
- Stir the prepared sauce, then pour it over the cooked chicken and stir until the chicken is coated.
- Reduce heat to medium/medium-low and simmer for 3-5 minutes, or until sauce thickens.
- Stir in the cashews and simmer just a bit more.
- Serve over rice, topped with chopped green onion and sesame seeds, if desired.
If the sauce is thicker than you'd prefer, add a bit more water. If thinner than you'd prefer, thicken with additional cornstarch - make a cornstarch slurry by whisking together 2 tablespoons water and 2 tablespoons cornstarch in a small cup. Then stir some of the slurry into the simmering cashew chicken sauce, adding a little at a time until desired thickness is reached.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 368Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 121mgSodium: 1156mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 1gSugar: 9gProtein: 46g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.