This Easy Cashew Chicken recipe is full of rich flavors with the added vegetables and cashew nuts. Not only is it a quick and easy recipe that you can whip up in 30 minutes or less, but it is also a healthy meal when adding extra vegetables to the dish.
Thai Easy Cashew Chicken Recipe
I didn’t grow up eating a whole lot of this cashew chicken dish since cashews were either hard to find where I grew up or they were extremely expensive for my family to afford. (I grew up in rural Thailand). The few times that I’ve had this dish were in restaurants in bigger cities and usually, there were just a few pieces of cashews in the bowl. When I came to the US though, I noticed this dish was a popular dish with folks living here. So, I started ordering Cashew Chicken in Thai restaurants, and boy oh boy was I ever disappointed. After giving it 3-4 different chances, I took a long break from this dish in restaurants. Those dishes were always too sweet for my taste and the insane amount of sugar and oil used was just too much for me to handle! So, of course, I started experimenting and playing around in the kitchen trying my very best to remember the flavors of the dish I had in Thailand.
Cashew Chicken in Thailand
Whenever I went back to Thailand, I tried to order some, when I was in Bangkok. It’s usually a favorite amongst my Western friends, if and when they came along on the trip. Since this stir fry is less spicy than all the other dishes. I’ve had a lot of different variations of this dish. Some are simple with minimal ingredients; others are full of fresh vegetables. It really is dependent upon the chef’s personal preference.
Easy, Healthy Thai Cashew Chicken
This recipe right here is an easy version that I created during the Corona Virus quarantine. This is also a healthier version, as well. Most of the dishes I’ve had, especially in the US are very greasy and drenched in oil, which I do not care for. I used only ¼ cup of oil for this recipe, but you can use less if you use a non-stick pan. I make most of my stir fries in my stainless steel wok, so it tends to get hot very quickly and sometimes dries food out quicker, so I use just a little bit more oil while cooking. A large 14 inch skillet works great for this easy cashew chicken recipe, too.
How To Make Cashew Chicken:
- Mix cornstarch with water, add chicken, and massage well together, set aside for a few minutes.
- Make the sauce in a small bowl. Mix oyster sauce, soy sauce, water, and sugar, set to the side.
- Heat your pan or wok on medium high heat, add a half portion of the oil. Wait until the wok is hot, add half the amount of chopped garlic, fry for a few seconds, add cashews and fry for 1-2 minutes. *Note, you have to watch the pan carefully so you don’t overcook the cashews.
- Add the long dried chilis, stir, cook for 30 seconds, turn the heat off, pour the mixture onto a paper towel, and put aside for a minute.
- Wipe the walk slightly with a paper towel then add the rest of the oil to the pan and heat still on medium high, add the rest of the garlic for 30 seconds or less. Stir up the chicken mixture really quickly, then add it to the wok. Stir all together well but let the chicken cook for 2-3 minutes on its own before stirring Watch the cornstarch or tapioca coated chicken pieces turn a beautiful light brown color in the wok.
- When the chicken is thoroughly cooked, and most have turned light brown, add the nuts, onion, and the sauce. Stir well together for 2 minutes.
- Add the bell peppers and green onions last for just 1 minute then turn the heat off. You can cook this step longer if you like your vegetables well cooked. I, personally, like mine slightly cooked, almost on the raw side, so I don’t let it cook too long. I also find that leftovers taste a bit better when the vegetables are not overcooked! Just my personal opinion and preference!
Ingredients Needed for Thai Cashew Chicken:
Fry the garlic and cashew in oil until the nuts are turning slightly brown.
Add the long dried chilis, for a very short time only, 30 seconds or so.
Set aside the fried cashew, garlic and chillis on a paper towel-lined plate to help soak up some oil from cooking.
Lightly wipe the pan or wok with a paper towel, add oil and the rest of the garlic and fry for just a few seconds.
Add chicken and cook until it's light golden brown. Stir often if you must to keep it from sticking to your skillet.
Add the yellow onions, cook for 2 minutes maximum.
Add the cashew mixture and the sauce into the pan and stir together for a minute.
The sauces (listed on the recipe card), should be premixed ahead of time and set aside until ready to add this step above.
Stir the sauces well in the pan, then add the green onions and bell peppers or other vegetables of your choice.
On this last step, you can cook your vegetables longer if you'd like. I only like mine barely cooked, almost raw! (:
Stir all really well together one last time, turn the heat off and you are done with your mouth-watering cashew chicken!
A note on Ingredients for the Cashew Chicken
For this recipe, I used all Thai brands for my sauces. However, all these ingredients are also available in most mainstream grocery stores in your area. Ingredients for this recipe are:
- Oyster Sauce. You can easily find oyster sauce in the Asian/International aisle
- Light (Low Sodium) Soy Sauce. If using regular soy sauce, try going ¼ less than what the recipe calls for. You can always add more if needed.
- Corn Starch. You can use tapioca starch as a substitute if corn starch isn’t available. I actually prefer tapioca starch but I ran out!
- Dried Whole Peppers. I used Thai long chilis but you can use dried Serrano chilis as a substitute. If that’s not available, use dried chili flakes.
Vegetable You can Substitute for this Cashew Chicken Recipe
- 1 cup mushrooms
- 1 cup thinly sliced celery
- 1 cup thinly sliced carrots
- 1 cup snap peas, sweet peas or pea pods
- 1 cup fresh baby corn
These are suggested vegetables you can use to substitute for onions. Or, you can add a tiny bit of each in your stir fry, just make sure to not go over 2.5 cups in total or it’ll be too much and can take away from the actual flavors of the dish.