This Szechuan chicken recipe features succulent and crispy chicken bites drenched in a flavorful sweet and spicy sauce. Ready in just 15 minutes and tastes like Takeout!
We make lots of chicken stir-fries around here.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Quick to make. From prep to plate, this entire dish takes less than 15 minutes to make.
- Perfect for meal prep. If you are anything like me, you’ll make a big batch of this on weekends and meal prep it with a side of rice.
- Customizable. Easily switch up the cuts of chicken, the vegetables, or even the heat level.
What I love about this chicken stir fry recipe is just how much it tastes like takeout, except so much better for you and even more delicious.
This recipe calls for very simple ingredients and a few staples you’ll find in Asian recipes. Here is what you’ll need:
- Chicken. Skinless and boneless chicken breast cut into 1-inch cubes.
- Cornstarch. To coat the chicken bits and make them crispy.
- Ginger. Minced.
- Garlic. Minced.
- Onion. Yellow onion, quartered.
- Bell peppers. Red and green bell peppers are sliced or cut into squares.
- Dried red chiles. Get small dried chilies and use as many as you like. I use 15 to 20 dried chiles for my Szechuan chicken.
For the Szechuan sauce:
- Soy sauce. The base of the Szechuan sauce. It provides saltiness and a rich umami flavor.
- Rice vinegar. Gives the sauce its glossy and sticky texture.
- Hoisin sauce. Another staple Asian sauce with a salty and slightly sweet flavor.
- Brown sugar. To add sweetness. You can use the sweetener of your choice, including honey and maple syrup.
- Cornstarch. To thicken the sauce.
How to make Szechuan chicken
This recipe is quick to make and besides a quick fry of the chicken and veggies, there isn’t much hands-on time needed.
Step 1- Prep the chicken
Cut the chicken breast into 1-inch cubes. Put the chicken pieces into a zip-top bag, add cornstarch, and shake until the chicken gets coated in starch.
Step 2- Make the sauce
Whisk the sauce ingredients together in a bowl or a measuring cup. When adding the cornstarch, mix it with a small amount of water to make a slurry, and only then add it to the rest of the ingredients.
Step 3- Cook the chicken
Add vegetable oil to a non-stick pan and heat it on medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the chicken pieces. Stir-fry the chicken for 7 to 8 minutes or until they are golden and crispy. Remove the chicken.
Step 4- Cook the vegetables
Remove the oil from the pan leaving only a tablespoon of it. Cook minced ginger and garlic until fragrant and add the chopped vegetables. Cook onion and bell peppers until they are tender.
Step 5- Bring everything together
Bring back the cooked chicken and drizzle everything with the sauce. Cook everything together until the sauce thickens.
Tips to make the best recipe
- Follow the cooking order of the ingredients. When making stir-fir fries, you should first fry the chicken or meat, remove it from the pan, and only then pan-fry the vegetables, starting with onions and hard vegetables and finishing with the fast-cooking ones.
- Cut the ingredients evenly. This will not only make the stir-fry look more presentable but also ensure that the ingredients are cooked evenly.
- Use Chinese five-spice powder. This mixture of five or more spices will give Szechuan chicken an authentic Asian flavor. Chinese five-spice powder is typically a combination of fennel seeds, cloves, star anise, cinnamon, Szechuan peppercorns, or white pepper.
The beauty of this dish is just how easy it is to customize with whatever ingredients you have on hand. Here are some ideas:
- Add more vegetables. Mushrooms, broccoli, green peas, baby corn, and eggplant are all good choices to add to this sweet-spicy stir-fry.
- Make it vegan. If these Asian flavors and colors are too tempting for you but you’re vegan, swap the chicken breast with tofu. Both are great sources of protein and are good at absorbing different flavors.
- Add nuts. Adding nuts to this stir-fry is a great way to add some crunch. Cashews and peanuts are popular choices though almonds work well too.
- Use other cuts of chicken. Skinless thigh fillets, chicken tenderloins, and even cutlets will all work.
- To store: Place leftovers in an airtight container. It will last 3 to 4 days in the fridge.
- To freeze. Place the cooked and cooled chicken stir fry in an airtight container and place it in the freezer for up to 6 months.
- To reheat. Reheat leftover Szechuan chicken in a non-stick pan over low to medium heat. You can also the chicken in the microwave.
More Asian stir-fry recipes to try
Frequently asked questions
Szechuan food is known to be on the spicier side. The dishes of Szechuan cuisine are spicy as they are commonly made with Szechuan peppercorns and chilis.
Szechuan chicken has a sweet and spicy flavor thanks to the sauce. It is a savory aromatic dish with flavors of garlic, ginger, and onion, as well as spicy and sweet peppers.
Szechuan chicken is a Chinese dish while General Tso’s chicken has Chinese-American roots. This is the reason why General Tso’s chicken is less spicy. While both chicken dishes have a sweet-spicy flavor, Szechuan chicken is usually spicier.
Another key difference is that the chicken pieces for General Tso’s chicken are breaded and deep-fried while Szechuan chicken is pan-fried.
- 1 lb chicken breast skinless
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 tablespoon ginger minced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 large yellow onion quartered
- 2 large bell peppers sliced
- 15 small dried chilis optional
- Add the chicken in a ziplock bag with the cornstarch and mix together until combined.
- Make the sauce by whisking everything together in a small bowl.
- Add the oil to a non-stick pan or skillet and place it over medium heat. Once hot, add the chicken and cook for 4-5 minutes, until crispy. Remove from the heat.
- To the same pan, add the ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the onion and bell peppers and cook until tender.
- Add the chicken back into the pan and then drizzle the sauce on top. Cook everything together until the sauce has thickened.