Easy Healthy Kung Pao Chicken
Published Mar 13, 2019, Updated Mar 16, 2022
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A lightened up version of a Chinese take-out favorite, this healthy kung pao chicken is packed with nutrients and not lacking any flavor. Gluten-free and dairy-free.
Remember when I shared I was on a Chinese takeout kick? I wasn’t lying. LOL! I love spicy foods and was so excited when I nailed this kung pao chicken recipe. It tastes just like the real deal, but instead of being packed with ingredients you can’t pronounce, it’s made with real food, a lightened up sauce without a ton a oil and, of course, lots of extra veggies!
Takeout in general can be loaded with a lot of excess fat and salt – and Chinese food is no different. Traditional kung pao is loaded with sugar, oils and salt. Don’t get me wrong, I will still indulge at a restaurant occasionally, but I love making healthy versions of restaurant favorites. And with a homemade version like this, you can feel good about eating it multiple days in a row if you want (which is exactly what we did). Literally the first night I made this Isaac said, “I want to get this for dinner every night!” He’s a huge Chinese fan and obviously he loved this! This healthy orange chicken is another one of his favorites.
How to Make Healthy Kung Pao Chicken
Kung pao chicken is really just spicy sautéed chicken typically served with crushed peanuts. This healthy version uses less oil than the classic take-out dish and it’s loaded with extra veggies. To start, you simply heat sesame oil in a pan and sauté your chicken chunks with garlic and ginger. Once the chicken is cooked through, you’ll transfer it to a plate and cook the veggies in sesame oil. The chicken is then transferred back to the plate with the sauce and cooked for a few additional minutes, just long enough to let the sauce coat the dish and thicken. The whole process takes less than 20 minutes, so it’s perfect for a quick and healthy weeknight meal.
I chose to serve this with brown rice. I either make a big batch of brown rice for the week or use the frozen brown rice packs from Trader Joe’s. They only take 3 minutes to heat up and work great if you’re strapped for time. Of course, feel free to pair this with whatever grain you prefer, or even cauliflower rice if you want to keep the dish lower in carbs! Top with crushed peanuts if you’re feeling fancy – and you’ve got yourself a delicious, healthy kung pao dinner!
More Asian Inspired Recipes to Try
- Egg Roll in a Bowl
- Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps
- Sesame Chicken
- Kung Pao Tofu with Roasted Cauliflower
- Asian Chicken Sheet Pan Meal
- Asian Tofu Tacos
- Healthy Orange Chicken
Popular Chicken Recipes to Try
- Slow Cooker Butter Chicken
- Healthy Chicken Enchiladas
- Air Fryer Chicken Breast
- Chicken Protein Bowl
- Za’atar Chicken Bake
Be sure to check out all of the chicken recipes here on EBF!
Healthy Easy Kung Pao Chicken
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, chopped into chunks
- 1 Tablespoon sesame oil, divided
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated or minced
- 1 bell pepper, yellow, orange or red, chopped
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 3 cups broccoli
- 2 cups cooked brown rice, for serving
- crushed peanuts, for serving (optional)
- 1/4 cup coconut aminos or low sodium soy sauce/tamari
- 1-2 Tablespoons honey*
- 2 teaspoons sambal oelek chili paste or sriracha
- 1/2-1 teaspoon arrowroot powder for thickening, optional*
- Make sauce by combining all ingredients in small bowl.
- Heat 1/2 Tablespoon sesame oil in a large sauté pan or wok. Once hot, add chicken, garlic and ginger and cook for 5-7 minutes until chicken is just cooked through. Transfer chicken to a plate. In the same pan, add remaining oil, bell pepper, green onions, and broccoli and toss. Cook for 5 minutes or until broccoli is tender, then add chicken and sauce to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes or until sauce thickens a bit. Turn off heat and let rest for 2-3 minutes.
- Serve kung pao chicken and veggies over brown rice. Top with crushed peanuts and sriracha for more spice!
- I like using 1 Tablespoon of honey but if you like things on the sweeter side you can add 2 Tablespoons.
- You can use cornstarch instead of arrowroot powder if you’d like. You can also make the sauce without either. It will be a thinner sauce, but it still tastes just as good and it’s perfect for drizzling over the plated dish.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Is the calorie count just for the chicken dish or does it include the brown rice?
Hey Kris! Yes, that is correct. 🙂
I still don’t know if the calorie count includes the rice or not…
Just updated the recipe so it’s more clear. Nutrition info includes 1/2 cup cooked brown rice. 🙂
Wow – that’s great! I made it for dinner tonight and my husband now wants it at least once a week. He’s a pretty picky eater so it’s a huge win for me.
Sounds yummy! Those of us who are watching our sodium intake would truly appreciate knowing how much sodium is in a serving. Thank you.
This meal is delicious and even tastes great as leftovers the next day. Truly tastes like I ordered Chinese food! Have already made it twice! 💛
Yay!! So glad you’re loving this recipe, Marisa! Thanks for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I so appreciate it!
Oh my gosh this meal is so delicious. I love PF Changs but I would take this dish over PF Changs any night! It’s healthier and honestly, has better flavor. I should have made a double batch!! Yum.
Perfect recipe as always !! For a family of 4, we doubled the broccoli and peppers along with the sauce. It was delicious!! Would absolutely make again. Garnished with crushed peanuts and fresh cilantro — tastes as “authentic” as takeout Chinese w/o all the calories and sodium!! Absolutely wonderful.
Ahh that makes me so happy to hear, Katie! I’m so glad this recipe was a hit with your family. Thanks for trying it and for coming back to leave a comment + star rating. I really appreciate it!
So yummy! This is a new regular for us! It is such a good healthy alternative to takeout!
Woo!! So glad you loved this recipe, Jen. Thanks for the review. I so appreciate it. 🙂