This Easy Thai Cashew Chicken recipe has rich flavors with added vegetables and cashew nuts. It's a quick stir-fry dish you can whip up in 30 minutes or less!
- What is Thai cashew chicken?
- Why you'll love this homemade cashew chicken
- Ingredients for easy Thai cashew chicken
- How To make easy cashew chicken recipe
- Garnishing & serving suggestions
- Helpful kitchen notes and tips
- Vegetables You Can Substitute for this Cashew Chicken Recipe
- Frequently Asked Questions
- More easy dinner recipes you'll love
- Easy Thai Cashew Chicken Recipe
What is Thai cashew chicken?
Thai Cashew chicken is a delicious stir fry dish with a delicious, flavorful sauce made from oyster and soy sauce sea, cooked in a hot pan with vegetables like red or green bell pepper, onions, green onions and topped with nutty and crunchy cashew nuts.
Cashew chicken originates in Chinese food which most Thai stir fries take inspiration from. Chinese stir-fries often have Shaoxing wine and sesame oil in their stir fries, while Thai stir-fries don't use those ingredients as frequently.
Why you'll love this homemade cashew chicken
- This flavorful stir fry is a good introduction to non-spicy food lovers. This stir fry is less spicy than all the other dishes.
- The chicken is not deep fried and uses less oil in the stir-frying, making this recipe healthier than the cashew chicken you order at your favorite Thai restaurants. It saves us extra time in prepping too!
- You can customize the vegetables to your liking! Use minimal ingredients, or add a few of your favorite vegetables.
- It's full of delicious and addictive flavors!
- This recipe is easy and quick to put together. Minimal time cooking and more time eating and enjoying with friends.
Ingredients for easy Thai 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 listed below.
The stir-fry sauce ingredients
- Oyster sauce. Please don't skip the oyster sauce. It's one of the main sauces that stir cashew chicken fry the silky, velvety umami flavors.
- Light soy sauce. I used Thai thin soy sauce. Any brand of soy sauce will work.
- Brown sugar. Any sweetener will work for this recipe.
- Water or stock. Use chicken stock or chicken broth. Stock or broth will add more flavor to your cashew chicken. Water has slightly fewer calories. Add to the pan if the ingredients get too dry during the stir-frying.
- White wine vinegar. It helps balance out the sweet and salty flavor of the stir fry. Use apple cider vinegar or rice wine vinegar are perfect for this recipe.
- White pepper. This is optional, but use ground white pepper if you want a bit of heat. Black pepper works too, but it's not as spicy.
The stir-fry ingredients
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts. Boneless chicken thighs work well for this recipe too. Cut the meat into 2-inch pieces.
- Cornstarch or tapioca starch. It helps thicken the sauce and gives the tender chicken a lovely texture.
- Water. Use stock or broth. Add the pan if the ingredients get too dry.
- Garlic diced small
- Onion. Use sweet, white, yellow, or red onions.
- Green onions. Chop the green onions into long pieces, around 3 inches pieces.
- Bell peppers. It adds a beautiful color and gives an extra crunchy taste to the juicy chicken. Plus, the color, especially if using red bell pepper, makes the dish pop, creating a pleasant-looking meal when sharing with guests. (:
- Whole cashews. (I used salted the whole cashew). The star of the show! If using unsalted cashews, adjust your final flavor at the end of the stir fry with more soy sauce.
- Dried long chilis. Use Thai long spur chiles, dried Serrano chilis, or dried long peppers as substitutes. Keep them whole, or the seeds will add intense spiciness to your cashew chicken.
- Vegetable oil. Use neutral oil that can handle high heat. Coconut, avocado, vegetable, or canola oil work great. Olive oil or sesame oil is not recommended.
How To make easy cashew chicken recipe
Step 1. In a medium bowl, make the cornstarch slurry by mixing the cornstarch with water. Add the chicken, and massage well together, set aside for a few minutes.
Step 2. In a separate bowl, make the sauce mixture by adding oyster sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, water, and sugar, and set to the side.
Step 3. Heat a wok, pan, or large skillet on medium-high heat, and add half of the oil. Once the wok is hot, add half the amount of chopped garlic, and fry for around 10 seconds. Add the cashews and fry for 1-2 minutes. *Note, you must watch the pan carefully to avoid overcooking the cashews. Turn the heat back down to medium heat.
Step 4. Add the long-dried chilis, stir, and cook for 20-30 seconds. Turn the heat off, pour the mixture onto a paper towel, and let the oil drain into the towel.
Step 5. Wipe the walk slightly with a dry paper towel, add the rest of the oil to the pan, and heat still on medium-high heat. Add the rest of the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir up the chicken mixture quickly, then add it to the wok. Stir all together well. Allow the chicken to cook for 3-4 minutes without touching the meat to brown to extract flavors.
When the chicken pieces are cooked, most have turned light brown.
Step 6. Add the cashew nuts, bell peppers, and green onions. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add a bit longer if you like your vegetables more tender. A couple of minutes or so longer is fine. Add a little bit of water or stock to loosen up the pan. 2-3 tablespoons or as needed.
Step 7. Add the sauce and the bell peppers, and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Stir a couple of times. Turn the heat off and serve with jasmine rice.
Garnishing & serving suggestions
- My favorite things to sprinkle on my cashew chicken are toasted sesame seeds, thinly sliced green onions, and a dash of white pepper for added heat to your cashew chicken.
- Serve your cashew chicken with your favorite kind of rice, like brown rice, basmati rice, or cauliflower rice, or serve it as a complete meal on its own.
Helpful kitchen notes and tips
- If you are short on time or energy, it's ok to skip frying the garlic, cashew, and chilis. With the delicious sauce handy, you won't miss out too much.
- If you like your vegetables on the tender side, cook them longer. I like mine on the crunchy and still lightly crispy side, so I cook mine with less time. The best part is that leftover cashew chicken tastes better when the vegetables are not overcooked.
- Make the cashew chicken sauce beforehand to save time and speed up your cooking process. Make the sauce up to 3 days ahead and keep it in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- You can use tapioca starch as a substitute if corn starch isn’t available.
- If using chicken breast for this recipe, try skinless chicken thighs next time. The darker meat adds an extra depth of flavor.
- Make this cashew chicken vegetarian by omitting the chicken and using crispy fried tofu instead.
- Use vegetarian oyster sauce instead of the regular oyster sauce.
- If long-dried chilies are not available, use dried red chili flakes. Beware that the red pepper flakes are spicy. Adjust according to your taste bud.
- Use coconut aminos if you have gluten allergies to soy products.
Vegetables You Can Substitute for this Cashew Chicken Recipe
These are suggested fresh veggies you can use for the stir fry. You can add a tiny bit of each in your stir-fry. Make sure not to go over 3 cups in total for the recipe, or it’ll be too much and can take away from the actual flavors of the dish.
- 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
- ½ cup of sliced water chestnuts.
Leftover cashew chicken keeps well for the next couple of days. Keep any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 days. Heat up in the microwave for 1-2 minutes and serve it with rice! Add a few fresh crunchy cashews for the added nutty flavor!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. A chicken and cashew nuts recipe like mine is healthy if the chicken is not deep fry in loads of oil. The chicken is stir-fried in oil rather than deep-fried. Added vegetables-bell peppers, onions, and green onions make this Thai cashew chicken even healthier. The cashew nuts added to the stir fry are naturally healthy, nutritious ingredients. See detailed nutritional information in the recipe card below.
There are variations of Thai cashew chicken sauces. The sauce for this easy recipe of Thai cashew chicken is made of soy sauce, oyster sauce, vinegar, sugar, and a little dash of ground white pepper.
Cashew chicken has a flavor profile similar to the Chinese Kung Pao chicken with flavor sauce made with minced garlic and fresh ginger stirred with light and dark soy sauce. The thick, velvety golden brown sweet sauce is very similar to the flavorful sauce in the Thai cashew chicken.
Peanuts are used instead of cashew in the stir fry. Like many Chinese-influenced stir fries, fish sauce is more common, while Thai cooking uses more fish sauce. This recipe, however, doesn't use fish sauce.
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