This Szechuan chicken has the perfect amount of spice and flavor! Crispy pieces of chicken and spicy Szechuan peppercorns are cooked in a tangy sauce with just a touch of sweetness. This dish is well-rounded with chopped bell peppers and whole cashews for a slight crunch. It all comes together in less time than it’d take to have it delivered!
What Makes This Szechuan Chicken Recipe So Good
- The chicken is dipped in cornstarch, then lightly fried yielding crispy bites of chicken throughout the dish. This extra step makes all the difference in helping the chicken stand out on its own. Lightly fried chicken pieces will maintain their crunch when introduced to the sauce.
- It contains plenty of delicious aromatics such as garlic, ginger, and scallions! They give this recipe a delicious fresh taste and also make your kitchen smell incredible.
- This recipe includes just a tiny bit of sweetness to help balance out all of those spicy Szechuan peppers. It’s very well-rounded, allowing you to enjoy all of the flavors that Szechuan chicken has to offer.
- You can make it as mild or as spicy as you’d like! The recipe below makes a pretty mild Szechuan chicken. If you prefer it spicier, then add a couple more dried Szechuan chilies.
Key Ingredients for Szechuan Chicken
Szechuan Peppercorns – Though small, these tiny peppercorns are pretty spicy. They also contain a special element that act as a sort of numbing agent. I use just a tablespoon of Szechuan peppercorns in this recipe, this way we can enjoy their spice and slightly citrus flavor without turning our mouths entirely numb.
Dried Szechuan Chilies – Tossing whole dried Szechuan chilies in this dish give you the essence of their delicious flavor, without exposing you to their ultra-spicy insides. I use just 15 chilies in my Szechuan chicken, but you can add more depending on your spice preference!
Cashews – I love adding cashews to this dish for an additional crunch. Though if you don’t like cashews, you can use peanuts instead. Make sure whatever nuts you use are unsalted.
- Fry your chicken in batches to avoid overcrowding your pan. It took me three batches to fry all of my chicken. The couple of extra minutes were worth it to get my chicken as crispy as possible!
- My favorite way to serve this Szechuan chicken is over rice. I just love letting the rice soak up some of that Szechuan sauce – YUM! If you’re low-carb, then you can serve this recipe over cauliflower rice for an easy dinner.
- Work with whatever vegetables you have on-hand. Chopped carrots, broccoli, or cauliflower would taste great with the sautéed bell peppers!
Other Easy Asian-Inspired Recipes
- Tofu and Broccoli
- Hibachi Steak with Fried Rice and Vegetables
- Tom Yum Soup
- Sweet and Sour Chicken
- Simple Asian Cucumber Salad
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- Large bowl
- Small bowl
- Large skillet
- 1 pound chicken breast cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch see Notes for paleo
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns
- 15 dried Szechuan chillies
- 2 bell peppers chopped
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger minced
- 3 scallions sliced
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar see Notes
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- ½ cup unsalted cashews see Notes
- Add chicken, cornstarch, and salt to bowl. Toss until chicken is evenly coated.
- Heat vegetable oil in large skillet over medium heat. Carefully add in chicken in a single layer. You will probably have to work in batches. Cook for 3-4 minutes per side. Continue until all chicken is cooked, then set aside on plate lined with paper towels.
- Add Szechuan peppercorns, dried Szechuan chilies, and bell peppers to pan with oil. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until vegetables have slightly softened.
- Add garlic, ginger, scallions, and cashews to pan. Cook for just 1 minute, then place the chicken back in pan with other vegetables.
- Mix together soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, and sesame oil in a small bowl. Transfer sauce mixture to pan, then reduce to a simmer and let cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Make it Paleo: Use arrowroot starch instead of cornstarch and fry the chicken in avocado oil instead of vegetable oil. You can also swap out the soy sauce for coconut aminos and omit the brown sugar completely.
- Rice Vinegar: If you don’t have rice vinegar, you can use white vinegar instead.
- Unsalted Cashews: You can use unsalted peanuts if you’d prefer, or leave out the nuts completely.
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Hi! I’m Sam, a travel, food and fitness enthusiast from the New York metro area. I love creating new and inventive recipes, and my favorite part is sharing them with others. My love of food goes all the way back to my early childhood, I grew up cooking alongside my mom and Nonna – the two best cooks I know! When I’m not in the kitchen, I’m either planning my next vacation, spending time outdoors (preferably on a beach), or bingeing Netflix’s latest docu-series. My passion for eating and living well led me to create the blog and Instagram account, Sam Does Her Best, where I health-ify my favorite comfort foods. I’m a big believer that good-for-you food can still be exploding with flavor and (most importantly) easy to make. I’m thrilled to be here at 40 Aprons doing what I do best – creating, photographing, and sharing delicious recipes with you all!