Easy Cashew Chicken

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Better than takeout, this Easy Cashew Chicken is the perfect go-to recipe for dinner. It’s easy to make and packed with veggies and flavor. Then add a touch of crunchy cashews, and you just take this right over the top – it’s so good!

Cashew Chicken over steamed rice in a black bowl with chopsticks.

What are your go-to recipes during the workweek? We rely heavily on stir fries for sure because they’re simple to make, and they’re a 1-pan kind of dinner too. You can also easily customize whatever stir fry you’re making to what you have on hand as well.

All in all, stir fry is a must have ‘back pocket’ kind of recipe. Once you make it a few times you’ll know it so well you can whip it up extra fast. You’ll also find some tips below for how to prep a few things ahead to make this even faster.

Cashew chicken is a classic standby that simply never gets old. However for the average weeknight, I kept this recipe extra simple. I’ve also added lots of extra veggies too, so you won’t even need to make a side dish, just steam some rice and you’re done!

A large white skillet filled with Cashew Chicken.

Let’s get started by talking about the ingredients for this Easy Cashew Chicken!

  • Chicken – I like to use chicken thighs here because they don’t dry out as easily as chicken breasts in a stir fry.
  • Green onions – Both the white and green parts are used in this stir fry. The white ends go in early and the green goes in at the end.
  • Red bell pepper – adds lots of flavor and a bright pop of color. But as I mentioned above, stir fries can be customized easily to whatever veggies you love in a stir fry. You only want to steer clear of the veggies that take too long to cook like extra hard root veggies, (winter squash, potatoes, etc.). Veggies like carrots and parsnips can be thinly sliced and stir fry well.
  • Broccoli – is my main green veggie here, but asparagus, snow peas, or bok choy all work here. (Although bok choy cooks really fast, so add it in towards the end if you use it.)
  • Water chesnuts – add lots of fun crunch to this stir fry and have been traditional in any cashew chicken I’ve ever ordered in a restaurant. You can usually find them in your ordinary supermarket. They’re in the oriental section of our grocery store.
  • Garlic & ginger – are your aromatics in this stir fry and add so much flavor.
  • Sauce ingredients – I’ve kept the sauce ingredients extra healthy here. I used a mixture of coconut aminos and fish sauce to mimic the flavors from the classic dish which usually has oyster sauce in it. I haven’t found an oyster sauce yet in the store that doesn’t have a whole pile of ingredients in there I’m not too sure about. It’s also usually not gluten free. So the fish sauce in this recipe adds the right flavor to get by without it.
  • Cashews – toasted to golden perfection add lots of yummy crunch. They’re not strictly necessary if you can’t have nuts. Despite the fact this is a ‘cashew chicken’ recipe there’s still plenty of flavor if you need to omit the nuts.

Now let’s jump in and make this Easy Cashew Chicken step by step:

Mincing the garlic and ginger on a wooden cutting board.

Step 1:

We’re going to start by prepping all the ingredients. Stir fries are best cooked over high heat and need all of your attention once you start cooking.

Time saving tip #1: You can mince your garlic and ginger ahead of time, and refrigerate it for a couple of days. Or you can freeze it for a later date. I mince up large batches, and then freeze them in small containers. From there I just pull out a container and place it in the refrigerator to thaw. A good amount to freeze for a stir fry is 2 cloves of garlic and 1 tablespoon minced ginger. You can vary the ratios, but that one is very tasty!

Chopping up the broccoli on a wooden cutting board.

Step 2:

Cut up all the veggies. Try to aim for evenly sized pieces if you can. This helps the veggies to cook more evenly in the pan.

Time saving tip #2: Cut up your veggies on the weekend and store in airtight containers. This way if you don’t have much time in the evenings, the main prep work is already done. You can also buy lots of different veggies already cut up these days. And if you use a veggie like snow peas, there’s no prep at all!

Veggies for the cashew chicken being stir fried in a red skillet.

Steps 3 & 4:

Next it’s time to sauté the chicken before removing it from the pan.

Then stir fry the veggies until they’re crisp tender.

Adding the last few ingredients to the cashew chicken.

Step 5:

Finally we’re going to add the sauce mixture along with the water chesnuts and cashews. Stir together while cooking over high as the sauce absorbs, and serve!

A black bowl with steamed rice topped with cashew chicken.

Serve this over:

  • Freshly steamed rice
  • All by itself, just pile it into a bowl and dig in!
  • Cauliflower rice
  • Roasted sweet potatoes

And if you love stir fry too, here are some of our other favorites!

A white skillet full of cashew chicken.

I really hope you enjoy this simple and tasty dinner that truly is better than takeout! And if you do get a chance to make it, I hope you’ll leave me a comment/rating below. I always love hearing from you here! Also for lots more Asian inspired recipes, head over to the recipe index.

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A black bowl with steamed rice topped with cashew chicken.

Easy Cashew Chicken


  • Author: Kari
  • Prep Time: 25
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Forget takeout and make this healthier Cashew Chicken! It’s loaded with veggies and perfect stir fry flavor.


Ingredients

Scale

2 tablespoons avocado oil, or stir frying oil of your choice

1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1” pieces

1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2” pieces

12 heads of broccoli, 1 pound

1 bunch green onions, sliced into 2” lengths

1 tablespoon minced ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 can water chesnuts, drained & rinsed

3/4 cup toasted unsalted cashews

Sauce:

1 tablespoon tapioca starch, or cornstarch

1/4 cup coconut aminos, or soy sauce

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1/2 cup chicken stock or broth


Instructions

Prep all the ingredients before you begin to cook. For the broccoli, cut the heads into evenly sized florets. Then peel the tough outer layer of the stem and thinly slice it.

As you cut the green onions, separate the dark green parts off to the side to add at the end of the cooking time. Then mix together all the ingredients for the sauce and set it aside.

Preheat a very large skillet, 15″ works great, over high heat. When the pan is hot but not smoking, add 1 tablespoon of the avocado oil along with the chicken.

Cook stirring only as the chicken browns until it’s just cooked, 3-4 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and set it aside.

Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan with the bell pepper, broccoli florets and sliced stems, and the white parts of the green onion. Cook until the veggies are crisp tender, 5-6 minutes.

Then add the ginger and garlic, stir to combine and cook until fragrant, 2-3 minutes.

Finally add the sauce mixture along with the cooked chicken, water chesnuts, dark green parts of the green onion, and the cashews. Continue to cook over high heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens and is thoroughly mixed in, about 30 seconds.

Season to taste with salt if needed and serve immediately.

  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stir Fry
  • Cuisine: Asian

Keywords: Healthy Cashew Chicken, Paleo Cashew Chicken, Gluten Free Cashew Chicken

2 thoughts on “Easy Cashew Chicken”

  1. I made this recipe twice. The first time I followed the recipe exactly and I found it to be a bit bland and the cashews became soggy and lost their flavor. The second time I made the recipe I substituted celery for the water chestnuts. I added the white green onions at the very end and tossed it. And I reserved the cashews and green part of the onions for garnish. I also increased the fish sauce a very little bit and doubled the ginger.I also marinated the chicken in additional sesame oil before sautéing. This time it was absolutely delicious!

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