This low carb Kung Pao Chicken tastes just like your favorite Chinese takeout. Easy to make with just the right amount of spice. Jump to Recipe
Are you a stress eater? Do you have stress foods? If so, you are not alone. For me, when I'm stressed out (or tired or both) I tend to crave greasy, take-out Chinese food. It's been a "thing" for as long as I can remember. I blame it on my college years when late-night papers and study sessions led to even later night Chinese food takeout calls (hey, I figured I had to nourish my brain somehow to keep it retaining all that information). For some, it was pizza but for me, it was Chinese takeout all the way.
Back then my metabolism made quick work of these late-night meals (do you miss those days as much as I do?), but these days I need something healthier to satisfy my cravings for unhealthy foods. Luckily, it's pretty easy to make healthier, delicious versions of lots of take-out meals at home, including Chinese food.
That's where today's recipe comes into play. This Kung Pao Chicken is one of my all-time favorites, and is pretty much on heavy rotation these days as much as it was back in the day. It's packed with spicy chicken, crunchy celery, and sweet red peppers and it can be prepared in about 20 minutes from start to finish. Plus, there are lots of ways to customize it to your tastes. Easy, healthy, and delicious.
Ideas for Customizing Low Carb Kung Pao Chicken
Like many Asian dishes and stir-fries, this Kung Pao Chicken is easy to change up to suit just about any tastes or nutrition plans.
- If you like a sweeter Kung Pao Chicken, consider adding some Stevia or honey to the stir-fry sauce.
- Feel free to mix up the veggies to create any taste combination you like. Some of my favorites include shredded carrots, snow or sugar snap peas, red or white onion, broccoli, and cabbage.
- If you don't want to use boneless, skinless chicken breast, you can substitute chicken thighs, steak, or shrimp.
- Make this dish spicier by adding more Sriracha, red pepper flakes, or any hot peppers or hot sauces you enjoy.
- Skip the peanuts if you do not want nuts in the dish. If you don't want actual nuts but still want the peanut butter flavor, consider adding a tablespoon of peanut butter or PB2 to the sauce and whisk in.
- If you are on a Paleo diet, substitute cashews for the peanuts.
- To add an extra depth of flavor to the nuts, you can toast them up before adding to the dish.
- To make this dish vegetarian, substitute firm, pressed, dried tofu for the chicken, or you could double the veggies, or add chickpeas.
Ways to Serve Kung Pao Chicken
It'll serve you well to think outside the takeout box when serving up this delicious dish.
- Serve this dish over veggie noodles like zucchini, sweet potato, or summer squash.
- Try cauliflower rice instead of brown or white rice if you are following a low-carb diet.
- Top veggie or high-fiber pasta with this wonderful chicken dish.
- Make Asian grain bowls, using rice, cauliflower rice, quinoa, or another grain as the base, and topping with veggies and this Kung Pao Chicken.
- Make a Kung Pao Chicken spaghetti squash boat.
- Try another kind of Asian noodle for a base: ramen, udon, soba, or rice noodles all go great with Kung Pao Chicken.
- Eat it alone, without anything else — this is a filling meal in and of itself.
What Is the Difference Between Kung Pao Chicken and General Tso's Chicken?
Kung Pao Chicken is cooked in a wok with veggies, peanuts, and a savory sauce. General Tso's Chicken is battered and deep fried and tends to be spicer than Kung Pao. I have slimmed down General Tso's Chicken as well (another takeout favorite) and made a healthier version.
What is Kung Pao Sauce Made Of?
Traditionally, Kung Pao sauce is made from both spices and sauces. They are cooked together in such a way that creates layers of flavor. In first cooking the chicken with the garlic and ginger, I create the first layer of flavor. The third layer is in the cooking of the celery and pepper with the sesame oil. Finally, the soy, pepper, and hot sauce make a third layer, and when they are all put back together, well, all I can say is "yum"!
Low Carb and Paleo Kung Pao Chicken
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- 1.33 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast, chopped
- 4 tsp sesame oil, divided
- 2 U garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp. ginger, minced
- 2 U celery ribs, chopped
- 1 U red pepper, chopped
- 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce (or coconut aminos)
- 1.5 tbsp sriracha (adjust to taste)
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/3 cup peanuts, chopped (use cashews for Paleo)
- 2 U green onions, chopped
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* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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