When the craving for Chinese takeout hits this Hunan Chicken is always one of my favorite choices. But instead of ordering takeout and resigning yourself to the post-Chinese-takeout hangover that comes with it try this recipe. My clean-eating version features all the same delicious flavors and seasonings, without all the additives that leave you feeling less than your best.
The sauce is full of flavor, but not heavy or cloying, and it’s the perfect consistency for coating everything just enough to deliver maximum deliciousness. Like all Chinese takeout, this is best over steamy rice. If you’re looking to up your whole-grain game, opt for brown rice, which has more fiber.
And if you love making your favorite take-out dishes at home make sure to check out my Teriyaki Chicken, Chicken Chow Mein, and Orange Chicken recipes they are super easy and taste 10x better than any take-out you’ll order.
some ingredient notes
Chicken – I recommend using chicken breasts as they are easy to thinly slice into even pieces. If you want to use chicken thighs then make sure they are skinless and boneless and cut them in to even sized pieces for cooking.
Cornstarch – This is the key ingredient for thickening the sauce and gives it such a delicious and authentic texture so don’t skip it!
Chicken stock – This adds a ton of flavor to the sauce alongside the soy sauce. If possible use low sodium so you can control how much salt you put in the dish.
Ginger and garlic – Two fundamental ingredients in Chinese cuisine, they must be fresh for an authentic flavor!
How to Make Hunan Chicken
1. In a small bowl, stir together chicken stock, soy sauce, brown sugar, 4 teaspoons cornstarch, sriracha, and 1 teaspoon sesame oil, set aside.
2. Season chicken with 2 teaspoons salt and pepper; toss with remaining 1 tablespoon cornstarch.
3. Add chicken and half of garlic and ginger to a skillet; cook until white but not fully cooked through, about 4 minutes, remove from skillet and set aside.
4. Add remaining garlic and ginger and saute. Add remaining sesame oil, vegetables, and water chestnuts, cook until vegetables begin to soften.
5. Return chicken to skillet with cooked vegetables.
6. Add the sauce and stir until thickened, serve with rice and scallions.
Tips and ideas for making this recipe
- Turkey or pork would also work well instead of chicken.
- To keep this Hunan chicken clean and wholesome serve it with some brown rice.
- You adjust the heat by adding more or less Sriracha, if you want you can also add in fresh chili.
- Feel free to swap the veggies for your favorites!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Hunan Chicken?
Hunan chicken is a classic Chinese stir-fry that you’ll have probably had many times before (even if you didn’t know the name of it). It’s bold in flavor with fresh garlic, ginger, and soy sauce with a spicy kick from the sriracha.
The technique is simple—a good classic stir fry—and most of the ingredients are pantry staples. And the veggies? They’re entirely up to you. Personally, I love to pack this stir fry with as many bright, colorful, and crunchy veggies as I can.
What vegetables can I use?
The main veggies in Hunan chicken are broccoli and mushrooms but I like to add in mini bell peppers and water chestnuts for extra crunch, texture, and nutrition.
The mini sweet peppers I used in this recipe come pre-packaged from grocery store; they’re super sweet and add a bright pop of color to this dish. But by all means, if you can’t stand the sight of a bell peppers, leave them out! Same with the mushrooms and broccoli—swap them out for snow peas, or even asparagus.
What’s the difference between Hunan chicken and Szechuan chicken?
Both of these dishes are classic take-out favorites and both have a savory and spicy flavor. Szechuan chicken however has much more of a spicy kick thanks to the Szechuan peppercorns and Hunan chicken is packed with more veggies.
Can I prepare this in advance?
The great thing about this Hunan Chicken is that you can prep it in advance up to step 4 then store it in the fridge until you are ready to eat. Simply follow on from step 5 to thicken the sauce and heat everything through and dinner is ready!
Make the sauce in advance: you can also prep the sauce in advance and store it in the fridge for a couple of days or freeze it. It can be used in any stir fry you like and works well with any veggies, meat or fish just pour it in at near the end of cooking to thicken and it’s done.
How do I store leftovers?
Leftovers will keep well in the fridge for around 3 days just make sure to store it in an airtight container. You can also freeze leftovers in suitable containers, thaw completely before reheating.
If you’ve tried this Hunan Chicken Recipe then don’t forget to leave a rating and let me know how you got on in the comments below, I love hearing from you!
- 1 cup chicken stock
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp. plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch divided
- 1 tsp. Sriracha
- 2 tsp. sesame oil divided
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts thinly sliced
- 21/2 tsp. kosher salt divided
- ½ tsp. ground black pepper
- 3 Tbsp. canola oil
- 2 Tbsp. minced garlic divided
- 2 Tbsp. minced ginger divided
- 8 oz. baby Portobello mushrooms sliced
- 3 cups small broccoli florets
- 8 mini sweet bell peppers halved or quartered
- 1 cup water chestnuts
- Sliced scallions for garnish
- In a small bowl, stir together chicken stock, soy sauce, brown sugar, 4 teaspoons cornstarch, sriracha, and 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Set aside.
- Season chicken with 2 teaspoons salt and pepper; toss with remaining 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat; add 3 tablespoons canola oil.
- Add chicken and half of garlic and ginger; cook until white but not fully cooked through, about 4 minutes. Remove from skillet; set aside.
- Add remaining garlic and ginger to skillet; cook 1 minute. Add remaining 1 teaspoon sesame oil, mushrooms, peppers, broccoli, water chestnuts, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes.
- Return to chicken to skillet; add sauce. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, about 4 minutes. Serve over rice; garnish with scallions.
- You can use any vegetables you like in this recipe it's a great way to use up leftovers.
- Turkey or pork would also work well instead of chicken.
- To keep this Hunan chicken clean and wholesome serve it with some brown rice and scallions.
- You can make this in advance and store it in the fridge or freezer.
- Leftovers will store well in the fridge for 2-3 days or can be frozen in suitable containers.