If you’re a fan of Chinese takeout, then you’re in for a treat. I have the ultimate copycat recipe for one of Panda Express and P.F. Chang’s most popular dishes: Kung Pao Chicken II. This dish is a combination of tender chicken, roasted peanuts, and vegetables stir-fried in a spicy sauce that will make your taste buds dance with joy.
Not everyone has access to their favorite Chinese restaurants, and even if they do, it’s an excellent idea to learn how to recreate some of their most famous dishes at home. That’s where this copycat recipe comes in handy. With fresh ingredients and a little bit of patience, you’ll be able to cook this delicious meal in no time.
Whether you’re cooking for your family or hosting a dinner party for friends, Kung Pao Chicken II is the perfect dish. It’s easy to prepare, and it packs enough heat to satisfy anyone’s spicy cravings. Plus, since you’re making it at home, you can customize it to your liking by adjusting the spice level or using different vegetables.
So what are you waiting for? Gather your ingredients and let’s get cooking!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Are you tired of ordering the same old Kung Pao chicken from your local Chinese restaurant? Look no further! This copycat Kung Pao Chicken II recipe is sure to excite your taste buds and leave you wanting more.
What makes this recipe special is the perfect balance of savory and spicy flavors that will leave you feeling satisfied. The addition of garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sherry wine, and roasted peanuts brings an explosion of umami flavors to the dish. Plus, the use of fresh vegetables such as water chestnuts and green onions provide a delightful crunch in every bite.
Not only is this recipe packed with flavor, it’s also easy to make! With just a handful of commonly found ingredients, this dish can be whipped up in less than 30 minutes. It’s the perfect meal for busy weeknights or impressive dinner parties.
Additionally, this copycat recipe was inspired by the infamous Panda Express Kung Pao chicken dish. So, if you’re a fan of this popular chain restaurant, be sure to give this recipe a try.
Upgrade your Chinese food game with this delicious Kung Pao Chicken II copycat recipe. Your taste buds will thank you!
Here’s a rundown of everything you’ll need to make this Copycat Kung Pao Chicken II Recipe. First of all, you’ll need 2 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces. For the Kung Pao Sauce, we need 1/2 cup of chicken broth, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tbsp sherry wine, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp cornstarch and we add to spice things up with 2-3 teaspoons of chili peppers. We’ll also need a stir-fry mix of vegetables including red pepper, green onions, garlic cloves, water chestnuts and roasted peanuts. Lastly, we’ll need 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil (divided 2 tablespoons and 2 tablespoons), and salt and pepper to taste.
The Recipe How-To
Now that you have all the ingredients ready, let’s go through the steps of making this delicious Kung Pao Chicken II Copycat Recipe.
Step 1: Preparing the Chicken
Start by rinsing and patting dry 2 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breast. Now, cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces of about an inch in thickness.
Step 2: Marinating the Chicken
In a mixing bowl, add 2 tablespoons of sherry wine, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Stir well and add the chicken pieces to this mixture. Marinate for about 15 minutes.
Step 3: Preparing Kung Pao Sauce
In a small mixing bowl, add 2 tablespoons each of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar. Mix well to dissolve sugar completely.
In another bowl, mix ½ cup chicken broth with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, set aside.
Heat up a wok or non-stick skillet over high heat until it starts smoking. Add 2 tablespoons of peanut oil, wait for about 10 seconds until heated up.
Add in diced garlic cloves and chopped red bell pepper and stir-fry for 30 seconds.
Now, add the marinated chicken to the skillet and keep stirring until cooked evenly on all sides.
Next, add a handful of diced green onions, followed by the Kung Pao Sauce mixture from earlier. Remember to give everything a good stir so that the sauce covers all the chicken pieces evenly.
Finally, pour in the chicken broth + cornstarch mixture and add in some roasted peanuts to your liking.
Stir fry everything until the sauce thickens up to your desired consistency.
Voila! Your Kung Pao Chicken II Copycat recipe is ready! Garner some compliments from your guests as they help themselves to this delightful dish!
Substitutions and Variations
Throwing a party means catering to the taste preferences of all your guests. If you’re looking to switch things up or cater to specific dietary needs, here are some substitutions and variations for the Kung Pao Chicken II recipe.
For those who prefer vegetarian dishes, you may swap out the chicken meat for tofu or seitan. These alternatives have a similar texture to meat and have the ability to absorb the flavors of the Kung Pao sauce. To make this dish vegan-friendly, replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth and replace honey with agave nectar.
If you want a spicier Kung Pao Chicken II recipe, you may add more chili peppers or try using Sichuan peppercorns, which can give a numbing sensation in addition to heat. Alternatively, reduce the amount of peppers or completely remove them for a milder taste.
For those with gluten intolerance, use tamari instead of soy sauce because it is gluten-free but still tastes similar to regular soy sauce. You may also use arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch as an alternative thickener.
Moreover, adding more vegetables such as bell peppers and zucchini can elevate the nutritional content of the dish and make it more colorful on the plate. Roasted cashews can also be used instead of peanuts for a subtler flavor that adds a slight sweetness.
Finally, you may also experiment with a different protein. Instead of chicken, try Kung Pao shrimp, pork or tofu. Each protein source will alter the taste slightly but still provide that crunchy and salty flavor that everyone craves.
Overall, these substitutes and variations on this classic Kung Pao Chicken II recipe allow for creative freedom while still sticking to what makes this Chinese recipe so amazing. Remember to tailor your cooking according to personal preferences and taste buds – everyone’s palate is unique!
Serving and Pairing
Once the Kung Pao Chicken II is ready, it’s best served hot, fresh out of the wok or pan. You can serve it with steamed white rice, brown rice, quinoa or noodles. The flavors of the dish are bold and spicy, with a hint of sweetness that pairs well with plain jasmine rice or brown rice to balance the heat.
You can also set out additional condiments such as chili paste or sesame oil for those who prefer the extra kick in their dishes. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try pairing this dish with a light-bodied red wine such as Pinot noir or Merlot to bring out the fruity notes in the sauce.
For a vegetarian option, swap out the chicken meat for firm tofu or seitan and adjust the cooking time accordingly. You can also add more vegetables such as bok choy, bell peppers, snap peas or carrots for extra crunch and freshness.
Overall, Kung Pao Chicken II is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed for lunch or dinner. It’s perfect for sharing with friends and family during parties or movie nights. Remember to pair it with your favorite drink and enjoy the spicy tangy flavors!
Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating
Whether you’re planning to cook in advance for a party or just want to prepare your Kung Pao Chicken ahead of time, this recipe is perfect for that. In fact, it tastes even better the next day after all the flavors have had time to meld together.
To make ahead, simply cook the chicken and vegetables as directed in the recipe and store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to three days. When you’re ready to serve, reheat on the stove over low heat or in the microwave until heated through.
Leftovers can also be stored once cooled down properly. Place them in an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator for up to three days. You can also freeze them for longer storage. To reheat, simply thaw overnight in the refrigerator (if frozen) and heat on the stove or microwave until heated through.
To maximize flavor, it is recommended that you store the chicken and sauce separately as they may congeal when mixed together after refrigeration or freezing. When reheating, you may need to add a splash of water or chicken broth and adjust seasonings to taste.
Overall, this recipe offers great flexibility and convenience without compromising quality and flavor. Whether you’re serving it fresh or reheated, your guests are sure to enjoy every bite of this Kung Pao Chicken Copycat Recipe.
Tips for Perfect Results
Achieving perfect results for Kung Pao Chicken II (Copycat) recipe takes more than just following the instructions. In this section, I’m going to share some of my tips and tricks for making sure your dish turns out just as delicious as you imagined.
1. Use high-quality ingredients
Using fresh, high-quality ingredients is always going to make a big difference in your cooking. For this Kung Pao Chicken II recipe, make sure to get the best chicken meat you can find, preferably chicken breast. Additionally, use fresh garlic cloves, green onions, water chestnuts and roasted peanuts.
2. Cut ingredients evenly
The ingredients for this recipe should be cut uniformly or evenly to allow for even cooking. When cutting the chicken meat and vegetables into bite-sized pieces, try to make them as consistent as possible so they will cook evenly.
3. Do not overcook the chicken
To achieve that tender and juicy chicken meat in your Kung Pao Chicken II, be careful not to overcook it. Overcooked chicken tends to become dry and chewy. Cook the diced chicken breast in a hot pan with oil until it’s almost cooked through, then remove it from the heat while preparing the rest of the dish.
4. Use Sichuan peppercorns for authentic flavor
If you want to give your Kung Pao Chicken II an authentic Sichuan flavor that is similar to what you would get in China, use Sichuan peppercorns instead of black peppercorns. This will add a slightly numbing sensation to your dish and make it more flavorful.
5. Control the heat level according to your taste
This recipe has optional spicy sauce ingredients like CHILI PEPPERS which will determine how spicy it will be. Control the heat level according to your liking by adjusting the amount of chili peppers you add or omitting it entirely.
By following these tips and tricks, you are sure to create a delicious Kung Pao Chicken II (Copycat) recipe that is sure to impress your guests!
As the scribe of this copycat Kung Pao Chicken II recipe, I have gathered some of the frequently asked questions that home chefs usually encounter when cooking this dish. In this section, I will provide answers to these questions to help you achieve perfect results and make a delicious meal for your friends and family. So, let’s dive into the FAQs and clear up any doubts you might have so far.
What is Kung Pao Sauce made of?
When it comes to kung pao sauce, the key to its flavor lies in a delicate balance of spices along with the perfect amount of soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar. To begin this delicious sauce, we start by frying together garlic, ginger, and scallion with dried red pepper. This imparts a distinctly delicious flavor known as “胡辣味” or fried chili pepper taste.
What is Panda Express kung pao chicken made of?
This recipe features a spicy Szechwan-style chicken stir-fry with crunchy peanuts, fresh vegetables, and fiery chili peppers.
What is the difference between Kung Po and kung pao?
When it comes to Chinese cuisine, it’s important to note the distinction between kung pao and kung po. Kung pao is a spicy stir-fry dish made with chicken, peanuts, and vegetables, while kung po is made with pork, peanuts, and vegetables in a similar spicy sauce. Remembering which protein is traditionally used for each dish can help avoid confusion when ordering or making them.
What’s in PF Chang’s Kung Pao Sauce?
This recipe calls for a mixture of water, sugar, soy sauce made from water, wheat, soybeans, salt, and ethyl alcohol, as well as distilled vinegar, corn starch, and white wine. Additionally, less than 2% of the ingredients used include salt and chili bean sauce comprised of salted chili peppers (chili peppers and salt), fermented soybean paste (water, salt, soybeans, and wheat flour), and fermented broad bean paste (broad beans, water, and more salt).
Kung Pao Chicken II is an incredibly flavorful and easy-to-make dish that will satisfy your cravings for delicious Chinese food. By following this copycat recipe, you’ll be able to prepare an authentic version of the popular Panda Express and PF Chang’s dish right in your own kitchen.
Whether you’re a seasoned home chef or a beginner cook, you’ll love the simplicity of this recipe, which requires only a handful of ingredients and basic cooking techniques. The result is a tender chicken stir-fried with spicy Kung Pao sauce, peanuts, and vegetables that will make your taste buds dance.
So why not take your culinary skills to the next level and impress your family and friends with this mouthwatering Kung Pao Chicken II recipe? With my tips and recommendations, you can add your own twist to this classic Chinese dish and make it even more special.
Kung Pao Chicken II (Copycat) Recipe
- 1 1/2 lbs chicken meat, cut in bite size pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg white
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 4 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
- 1/2 cup roasted peanuts, skinless
- 10 whole dried red chili peppers
- 4 green onions, cut into 1/2-inch lengths
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup water chestnut, diced (optional)
- 1 teaspoon chili paste with garlic
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sherry wine
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Combine chicken, salt, egg white, and cornstarch. Mix well by hand and set aside.
- In a small bowl, blend all sauce ingredients. Set aside.
- Add 2 tablespoons oil to heated wok and stir fry chicken. Cook the chicken until it's golden to golden brown on each side. Remove to serving bowl.
- Add 2 more tablespoons oil to same wok.
- Toss peanuts and chili peppers in the wok and stir fry until peppers turn dark red.
- Remove from wok and add to chicken. Lower Heat. If necessary, add more oil.
- Stir fry green onions and garlic for several seconds. (Do not let garlic burn.).
- Return chicken, peanuts and peppers to wok and stir fry a few seconds to combine.
- Add water chestnuts and combined sauce ingredients and stir fry till heated through and thickened (less than a minute).
- Serve over rice.
Your Own Notes
Recommended Recipes Just For You
Anna is a culinary expert who specializes in grilling delicious BBQ dishes. She also enjoys sharing her recipes and experiences with her foodie community on her blog. She’s the total package for any backyard barbecue!