Better than Chinese takeout, Kung Pao chicken with vegetables is easy to make and ready in just 15 minutes. Plus it’s made with ingredients you have in the pantry! Serve with Instant Pot white rice!
Despite the fact that I’ve been making meal plans for YEARS now, there are STILL times when I forget to pull something out to thaw. Then I’m stuck at the last minute wondering what to make for dinner.
My backup meal tends to be tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches because I almost always have what I need to make it in the pantry, and it’s ready in less than 20 minutes.
These are the same reasons I love kung pao chicken with vegetables, except it’s ready even FASTER!
I don’t know if this qualifies as authentic Chinese food, but it’s spicy, has peanuts and it’s REALLY good. Which works for me! Plus this dish comes together literally while the rice is cooking. How so? Frozen vegetables.
I normally find the process of chopping vegetables soothing, but lately, it’s taking time I don’t have. If I can find a way to work around it that doesn’t sacrifice nutrition or quality, I’m all in!
Kung Pao Chicken with Vegetables
Besides the fact that this recipe is super quick, it’s also:
- Delicious. The whole family loves it!
- Easy. Using frozen vegetables saves you the time and effort of chopping vegetables.
- Healthy. Using real food ingredients, you know it’s healthier than what you’d order in Chinese restaurants.
- Fast. This recipe is ready in 15 minutes!
Kung Pao Chicken Ingredients
The ingredients may seem like a lot, but trust me, this recipe comes together very quickly.
- chicken breast
- garlic cloves (or 2 tsp granulated garlic)
- fresh ginger (or 1 tsp granulated ginger)
- green onions
- coconut oil
- frozen mixed vegetables (I used Birds Eye)
- peanuts, chopped
- prepared white rice, for serving (I like to make Instant Pot white rice)
Kung Pao Sauce Ingredients
- soy sauce or liquid aminos
- sesame oil
- granulated ginger
- black pepper
- crushed red pepper
- apple cider vinegar (how to make apple cider vinegar) (or rice wine vinegar)
- hoisin sauce or oyster sauce (optional, but VERY good!)
How to Make Kung Pao Chicken (Step-by-Step)
Allow me to share just how fast this dish comes together. Pull out your biggest cutting board and your favorite chef knife and let’s get started!
1. Start the rice
I like to use jasmine rice and it takes about 15 minutes to cook in total. Add a pad of butter (optional) and get it going. I like to make my rice in an instant pot.
Going grain-free? Make cauliflower rice instead! It will add time to the meal prep, but it’s equally delicious.
2. Heat up the oil
Heat up 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok (if you have one) or a large skillet over medium-high heat.
3. Make the Kung Pao sauce
Dump all the ingredients into a large measuring cup (I use this one) and whisk to combine. Set aside.
I almost always have either hoisin sauce or oyster sauce in the pantry – both are really good in this dish. If you don’t have either one, you can omit it from the recipe.
Note: We are a soy-free house because 93% of all soybeans are genetically modified organisms (GMO), so I use liquid aminos instead of soy sauce.
Psst! Want to give you Kung Pao chicken more POW? Try finishing this recipe with a pinch of finishing salt! I love Ava Jane’s Kitchen because it doesn’t have microplastics (gross, right?) and it’s SO GOOD! Plus, you can get a bag for just 1¢!! (Get your penny bag of salt on this page.)
4. Chop the garlic and the ginger. Slice the green onions.
I ADORE the taste of fresh garlic and fresh ginger, and it’s worth the ONE minute it takes to rough chop both of them together. You can use granulated garlic and granulated ginger if you don’t have fresh though, and you’ll shave one minute off the prep time. (Save more time AND have fresh ginger by chopping it ahead of time and saving it in the freezer!)
I also slice the white and light green portions of the green onions. Set all this aside to one end of the cutting board and set aside the dark green portions of the green onions for later.
Since we’re using frozen vegetables, you’re done with prepping veggies and you’re free to use your knife on the chicken.
5. Dice the chicken
We’re using chicken breast in this recipe and we’re going to dice it into just smaller than ½” thin slices. Use whatever method is fastest for you, but I like to make long strips, turn the chicken and then cut it into pieces.
It’s okay if the chicken touches the garlic, ginger, and green onions because it’ll all get cooked at the same time anyway.
Note: If you cook a whole chicken in a slow cooker, you might be able to get away with using shredded chicken instead of chicken breast. You won’t get the sear on the chicken, but it’s definitely doable and a bit cheaper. If you go this route, rough chop the chicken and add it in with the vegetables.
6. Start cooking quick & easy kung pao chicken
- Add the chicken and the chopped garlic, ginger, and onions to the skillet and stir every 10-15 seconds or it might smoke. It’s okay if it does.
- When most of the chicken has a golden sear on it, add the frozen vegetables and peanuts and stir well.
- Let the chicken and vegetables cook for about 4 minutes, stirring about once a minute.
- Whisk the sauce together one last time, and add it all at once. Let the sauce come to a boil and cook for about one minute.
- Then, turn the heat down to low and the sauce will thicken up as it cools.
7. Serve your kung pao chicken with white rice and enjoy!
FAQs for Kung Pao Chicken
The flavor of Kung pao chicken is sweet and spicy and a little nutty.
Kung Pao chicken is hotter than General Tso. The Kung Pao sauce is made with more chili peppers.
Why Use Frozen Vegetables in this Kung Pao Chicken Recipe?
I typically advocate using fresh produce whenever possible, but I have three good reasons for using frozen vegetables:
- When it’s winter. While I could eat sweet potatoes every day for the rest of my life, my family doesn’t share my enthusiasm. And since Spring is still a couple of months away, we’re stuck in the land of winter vegetables and we’re ready for some variety.
- They’re healthy. According to this article, freezing vegetables does not destroy their nutrients. Depending on where you buy your fresh produce, frozen vegetables might even contain more nutrients! (Be sure to read the list of ingredients though, just to be safe. I used Birds Eye mixed vegetables; the only other ingredient was salt, which is fine with me!)
- They’re easy. Pulling a bag of frozen vegetables out of the freezer requires zero cooking skills, zero prep work, and just a few minutes to cook.
Tip: I like adding a package of frozen vegetables to my homemade mac and cheese. Alongside homemade Italian meatballs and I have school lunches made for a week!
More Easy & Quick Recipes
- Instant Pot Beef and Broccoli
- Honey Garlic Chicken
- Instant Pot Steamed Vegetables
- Weeknight Veggie Stir-fry
- Green Bean Casserole
- Black Bean and Corn Salsa Tacos
- Instant Pot Spanish Rice
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Watch How to Make 15 Minute Kung Pao Chicken with Vegetables
15 Minute Kung Pao Chicken with Vegetables
Better than Chinese takeout, Kung Pao Chicken with vegetables is easy to make and ready in just 15 minutes. Plus it’s made with ingredients you have in the pantry! Serve with Instant Pot white rice!
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: Serves 4 1x
- Category: Main meals
- Method: Saute
- Cuisine: Chinese
- 1 lb chicken breast
- 2 garlic cloves (or 2 tsp granulated garlic)
- 1” fresh ginger (or 1 tsp granulated ginger)
- 2 green onions
- 1–2 Tbsp coconut oil
- 1–16 oz bag frozen mixed vegetables (I used Birds Eye)
- 1/2 cup peanuts, chopped
Kung Pao Sauce
- 1/2 cup water
- 6 Tbsp soy sauce or liquid aminos
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1/2 tsp granulated ginger
- 1 tsp sesame seed oil
- 2 pinches black pepper
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (how to make apple cider vinegar)
- 1 Tbsp hoisin sauce or oyster sauce (optional, but VERY good!)
- prepared white rice, for serving
- If you’re serving this over rice, go ahead and start the rice. Prepare according to package directions. I like to make Instant Pot white rice.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil over medium-high heat, in a wok or in a large skillet.
- Whisk together all the sauce ingredients together in a large measuring glass or in a small bowl.
- On a large cutting board, finely chop the fresh garlic and fresh ginger, if using. Slice the white and light green parts of the green onions.
- Dice the chicken.
- Add the chicken and the prepped garlic, ginger, and onions to the skillet. Stir every 10-15 seconds or cook until most of the chicken has a golden sear on it, about 2 minutes.
- Add the frozen vegetables, peanuts, granulated garlic, and ginger (if you didn’t use fresh) and stir well to combine.
- Let the chicken and vegetables cook for about 4 minutes, stirring about once a minute.
- Whisk the sauce and add it all at once. Let the sauce come to a boil and cook for about one minute. Turn the heat down to low and the sauce will thicken up.
- Serve with rice.
- Want to give you Kung Pao chicken more POW? Try finishing this recipe with a pinch of finishing salt!
- Calories: 781
Keywords: Kung Pao Chicken, kung po, chicken kung po, kung pow chicken, Chinese kung pao chicken, kung pao chicken recipe
Hello! I was wondering if there is a way to make this in the instant pot with frozen chicken 😉
Sometimes I forget to pull it out of the freezer 🤪
Karen @ Team Crumbs
Of course you can make it in the IP. Just adjust the timing for frozen chicken. I’d do high pressure for 9-10 minutes with a natural pressure release for the frozen chicken breast.
Thank you so much for this recipe. I normally buy stir fry sauce. But making my own is so easy now.
SJ - Team Crumbs
You’re most welcome Angela!
Loved it! My whole family enjoyed it and even my SUPER picky eater gave it a 7 out of 10 🙂
I used powdered ginger this time since I ran out of my fresh ginger. This is the first time I am using Hoisin sauce — which to me is like Asian Molasses. I used basmati rice and followed your instant pot rice recipe (fabulous and easy!). I had some carrots, peppers, and celery already cut up so I used those along with the green onions and garlic.
Bottom line is I will make this again and try Jasmine rice and fresh ginger.
I’m making this!
Can I ask a favor of you? Is there any way you can format your recipes so when I print them I am not using three pages of paper and ink?
I am having trouble finding a hoisin sauce that (1) doesn’t have soy in it and (2) isn’t full of junky ingredients. What brand do you use?
Kyare - Team Crumbs
I would make it homemade and use a soy sauce alternative like coconut aminos or liquid aminos.
No Kroger up north but Wegmans is great and so are their store brand veggies:)
This is delicious! I will make it again. But it took me way longer than 15 minutes!!
I made this last week and gave some leftovers to my dad. He told me it is the best meal I have ever made!
What a great compliment Jana – so glad you both like it!!
This looks yummy, but I’m a little hesitant to add the “1” of fresh finger” 😂
On my screen it shows 1″ (one inch) fresh ginger – does the inch symbol not appear on your screen?
No it has the inch symbol, but it also says finger instead of ginger 🙂 I just thought it was funny!
Oh my goodness! I didn’t even see that, LOL. Thanks for pointing that out Janelle!
Liquid aminos is still made from soy beans and their unfermented which according to the WAPF is less healthy than soy sauce which is fermented. Maybe coconut aminos would work here.
Aha, you are correct! I was under the impression liquid aminos was soy free, but it’s not – just non-GMO soybeans. Coconut aminos would be a great substitute!
Good heavens! Not an eclipse! What’s the matter with you, autocorrect! Dish! How did it go from dish to eclipse? I’d like to hear about the thought process!
I make a eclipse similar to yours but vegetarian, using organic non-gmo tofu. The sauce I make has soy sauce, honey, ginger and garlic. I use frozen “stir-fry” vegetables for it.
I keep frozen vegetables in the freezer always. French cut green beans, peas and corn are staples. The beans for a stir fry to eat with rice and split lentils like red lentils, cooked with tomato or tamarind extract and seasoned (there are several South Indian traditional dishes that have these basic lentil-sour something-or greens-or a cubed summer squash ingredient, and seasoned. These dishes are called just plain name-of-vegetable-dal or kootu or sambar or pulusu/kuzhambu).
Peas, I use in upma (usually made with cream of some grain) and seasoned, hopefully with lots of vegetables like peas, carrots, potato, onion, tomato, beans. If it is a stand alone meal, I add lots of peanuts in, if using broken wheat or broken rice or Cashewnuts for cream of wheat.
Corn, in soups or by itself or in corn pulao. No, I didn’t spell it wrong. It isn’t pilaf. Although it is a rice-based dish too.
I love that you shared all these, your ease and familiarity with your dishes. I am trying to explore more dal recipes.
Ah, I see that Kroger underwrote your post, but I”ll leave my comment anyway. I always buy Bird’s Eye at Publix when they go BOGO 😉
But where you buy isn’t really the issue. I love Bird’s Eye and their blends are so good! They have a Recipe Ready blend that I love that’s called Southwest Something-or-other, and it has diced green & red peppers, diced onions, black beans, and corn. It is SO easy to throw into some broth + tomato sauce + frozen meat and add spices to make a great soup. I think some of the Recipe Ready ones have sauce added but this one doesn’t. My Publix stopped carrying it for whatever reason, but they were willing to make a special order for me when I asked. It’s almost time for me to ask again b/c I used up what I had!
And your Kung Pao looks delicious! I’ll have to give your sauce a try–the sauce often makes the dish in those recipes 🙂 Yum!
I didn’t know Birds Eye made a blend like that Diana! You could cook that one up with some tortillas and call dinner DONE! I love this!!