Kung Pao Chicken: With Gluten-Free and Make-Ahead Instructions

Gluten-free delicious make-ahead meal that's easy to customize.Kung Pao Chicken is a standard on any (American) Chinese menu, and while we enjoy the occasional take-out as much as anyone, it’s always healthier when we control the ingredients. Another great reason to make Kung Pao at home is the freedom to adjust the spice to your own preference. I would classify this recipe in the medium-heat category, so if you like mouth-numbing, spicy heat, just add more of the chiles.

Over the years, my good friend and cooking buddy Pati and I refined this dish together. We exchange dried red chilies or chili paste for chipotle peppers en adobo to bring the heat and complexity of flavor. Chipotle in adobo adds a unique smoky spice for a slight fusion twist we think you’ll love. Our low-carb version includes a vegetable stir-fry with fresh ginger for an easy, complete meal in minutes.

Want it even faster? Make-ahead cooking instructions are included with the recipe. Double or triple the recipe to freeze so next time you want take-out, you can just take-it-out of the freezer! A quick vegetable stir-fry and dinner is ready in a flash.

To make this dish gluten-free, look for the following:
Soy Sauce brands that are Gluten-Free        
Rachael Ray’s Stock-In-A-Box 

GF & Non-GMO Cornstarch
Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce

Easy Kung Pao Chicken at home, better than take out

Kung Pao Chicken
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main Dish, Chicken, Gluten-Free
Cuisine: Asian Fusion
Serves / Yields: 4
  • 4 boneless and skinless chicken breasts -- cut into small ½ inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons peanut or coconut oil
  • 1 bunch green onions -- white bulbs chopped; green tops chopped separately into ¼-inch pieces, saved for garnish
  • ½ cup roasted peanuts
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoon dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • ⅓ cup chicken stock
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoon white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons chilies in adobo sauce -- removed from sauce, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons garlic -- minced
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
STIR-FRY VEGETABLES: (Optional - as shown in photo)
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 cup celery -- coarsely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper -- coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup napa cabbage or bok choy -- sliced thin
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger -- grated or minced
  • salt & pepper
  • **Substitute any favorite vegetable in this stir-fry.
For the Kung Pao:
  1. In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with marinade; set aside.
  2. In a saucepan, combine the sauce ingredients (start with 1 tablespoon of chipotle peppers), except the cornstarch, and mix well over med-low heat. Bring to a low simmer and allow flavors to meld, about 8-10 minutes. Taste and adjust any of the ingredients (add more of the chipotle peppers), to taste. Dissolve cornstarch in a bit of water or chicken broth and add to the sauce. Cook over med heat until sauce thickens, then remove from heat.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet or wok; add the white part of the onions to the pan and cook, stirring, until softened. Add the chicken with its marinade and cook, stirring, until almost done, 2-3 minutes. Add the sauce and stir to allow the sauce to coat the chicken. Stir in the peanuts and chopped scallions. Serve over stir-fry vegetables (directions below).
For the Stir-Fry:
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet or wok, add ginger and cook until fragrant. Add prepared vegetables, and cook until crisp-tender. Salt and pepper to taste and reserve in warm oven until ready to serve.
  1. In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with marinade; set aside. In a saucepan, combine the sauce ingredients (excluding the cornstarch) and mix well over med-low heat to meld flavors. Adjust to taste and set aside to cool.
  2. Heat oil and add the white part of the green onions to the pan and cook, stirring, until softened. Add the chicken with its marinade and cook, stirring, until almost done, 2-3 minutes. In order to keep the chicken tender, not tough, be sure to not over cook it in this step. Add the sauce and set aside to cool.
  3. Once cooled completely, pour into a freezer bag, remove as much air as possible, and freeze flat. If frozen flat, it takes less time to defrost. Reserve the peanuts and scallions for you are ready to serve the meal.
  4. Note: The cornstarch is omitted from the sauce when originally prepared because it will lose its thickening properties in the freezer. Instead, it is added during the finishing steps.
  5. Make the stir-fry vegetables fresh when you defrost the chicken and sauce.
  1. Defrost chicken and sauce mixture. Heat the chicken and sauce in a large skillet over medium heat. Dissolve 2 teaspoons cornstarch in 2 tablespoons of water and add to the chicken and sauce; continue to cook until warmed through and sauce thickens 3-4 minutes. Stir in the peanuts and scallion tops. Serve over fresh stir-fry vegetables (directions above).
Nutrition Information
Serving size: Serves 4-5

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
The Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania
SS & GF Slightly Indulgent Tuesday
Real Food Whole Health Traditional Tuesdays
Hearth & Soul Blog Hop
The Nourishing Gourmet Pennywise Platter Thursday
Real Food Whole Health Fresh Bites Friday
EKat’s Kitchen Friday Potluck
Mom Trends Friday Food

Make-ahead for easy "take-out" anytime.

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting what I do here at Savoring Today. For more information, please see our Disclosure Policy.



  1. Sonja says

    Thanks for sharing this recipe. We made it right away after seeing it on NourishingGroumet blog. Next time I will start with 1 tablespoon chilies in adobo sauce!

    • says

      Oh, Sonja, this can be quite spicy, so less of the chilies is a good idea you’re not used to Kung Pao spicy 😉 I do hope you were still able to enjoy the meal! Thanks so much for letting me know, I appreciate the feedback very much.

  2. Rachel says

    Hi! I found this recipe through pennywise platter and tried it the other day. Wonderful dish! I now have enough of the cooked chicken in my freezer for two more meals. This is the closest I’ve come to making something that tastes like a good chinese restaurant at home. Even my DH, who rarely eats leftovers, got to the leftovers before me. Thanks for sharing.

    • says

      Hi Rachel, thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I am so pleased you and your DH enjoyed it so much. Here’s to cooking once and enjoying twice 🙂

  3. says

    How fun! I know the one I posted wasn’t GF, so I love to see ideas that are as we have some good friends who are GF as well.

    Thanks for linking up to Friday Food on Momtrends.com!

  4. Frank Mosher says

    Thank you for the idea of using chipolte pepper in odobo sauce as the heat ingredient in this great recipe. I had some saved in the fridge, wandering what to do with it (other than Mexican dishes). I have Thai chilies, and tons of other “hot” spices, but this worked great! Haven’t tried over half a pepper yet though, but will! Thanks from Nova Scotia, Canada.

    • Judy says

      Thank you, Frank, for letting me know you liked it, I appreciate feedback it helps me refine recipes like nothing else. I am glad you liked this recipe, it is one of our favorites and now can’t imagine it without the chipotle peppers! Here’s to trying new things and using what’s already in the fridge. 🙂

  5. says

    This looks like a beautiful and delicious Kung Pao Chicken recipe. I love that you put chipotle peppers in it. I’ve had a recently renewed interest in this dish and I may need to try your version very soon.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe:  

CommentLuv badge