Szechuan Chicken Stir Fry

This easy restaurant-style  Szechuan chicken stir fry will soon be your go-to chicken dinner on a busy weeknight, as it takes just 30 minutes to get on the table. Deeply flavorful chicken breast stir-fried with Chinese 5 Spice and a simple Asian sauce. 

overhead shot of a bowl with rice topped with Chinese 5 Spice Chicken

Szechuan Style Chicken is one of my favorite takeout meals to order in on a lazy Sunday -sweet, savory, and spicy. Such a treat!

The downside with restaurant-style chicken stir-fries is that they use a lot of refined sugar and oil, which adds a lot of empty calories to an otherwise nutritious and protein-packed dinner.

For this homemade takeout version of my favorite Chinese chicken stir-fry, I used way less oil, and no refined sugar and added a bunch of veggies. You can serve this Szechuan Style Chicken the classic way with rice or with cauliflower rice if you want to keep things low carb.

Chinese Szechuan Chicken Stir Fry in a black skillet

What is Chinese 5 spice?

Five-spice powder is my secret weapon when it comes to creating authentic tasting Chinese stir-fries at home and for this recipe, it’s a key player. Don’t skip it. I love it and in my opinion, it’s one of the most-underused spices so I do recommend you get some. You will use it up eventually, trust me on this one. And once you need a break from this Szechuan chicken, move on to my 5 spice chicken or use the spice blend for tofu stir-fries or in marinades for chicken breast or shrimp.

In Chinese cuisine, just like with Middle Eastern za’atar or American Cajun spice, the ingredients and the exact amount of spices vary greatly from region to region and even from household to household depending on personal tastes, but the key ingredients are star anise, fennel seeds, Szechuan Peppercorns ( or regular peppercorns), cloves, and cinnamon.

You can buy Chinese 5-Spice at any bigger grocery store or order it online. Or just make it yourself.

a bowl with Chinese Szechuan Chicken stir fry on rice with chopsticks

You will love how simple this is! Asian chicken stir-fries are one of my favorite quick dinner fixes since by nature, they’re quick-cooking! The trick is to have all the ingredients all chopped and prepped and ready to go before you start to cook so that every element can go in at the right moment.

How to make Szechuan Chicken Stir-fry

picture collage demonstrating how to prep meat and sauce for Chinese Szechuan chicken stir-fry

Make the sauce

Step 1 – Heat a large skillet (the same one you will use for the stir fry) over medium heat, and toast the peppercorns until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Crush them.

Tip: if you don’t have a mortar and pestle, place the peppercorns in the center of a cutting board and crush them with the bottom of a large pan or any heavy object with a flat bottom you can push.

Step 2 – In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients with a small whisk or fork until well combined. Set aside.

Make the stir-fry

Step 3 – Place chicken and cornstarch in a large bowl, mix to coat the chicken evenly with cornstarch, and season with 1/2 salt.

picture collage showing how to make Chinese Szechuan chicken stir fry step by step

Step 4 –  In the same skillet, you used for the peppercorns, heat 2 tbsp oil over high heat. Once it’s very hot, add chicken pieces in a single layer and cook for about 3 minutes, without moving them around, until golden brown and crispy. Flip to cook the other side. Depending on the size of your skillet, you may need to work in several batches (you don’t want to overcrowd your skillet to make sure the chicken is crispy and cooked perfectly). Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside on a plate or bowl.

Step 5 – Add another tablespoon of oil to the skillet (you might only need 1/2 tbsp if there is still some oil left from the chicken). Add onion and bell peppers, and stir fry (cook while stirring very often) for 3-4 minutes, until softened.

Step 6  – Add dried chilies, and stir fry for another 30 seconds. Return the chicken to the skillet. Give the sauce a little whisk and pour it into the skillet. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until thickened.

overhead shot of Chinese Szechuan Chicken Stir-fry

Serve immediately over a bowl of rice (or cauliflower rice for a lower-carb option). Unless you really love spicy food and can tolerate it, do not eat the peppers.

Can I make this Szechuan Chicken Stir-fry for meal prep ahead of time?

It’s best served fresh, but if you want to use this Chinese Szechuan Chicken Stir fry for meal prep for the week ahead, transfer the chicken to sealed containers and refrigerate for up to 3 days. To mix things up, serve it with rice one day, then with rice noodles another day. This chicken also tastes amazing as a filling for lettuce wraps.

overhead shot of a bowl of healthy Chinese Szechuan chicken stir fry served with rice

Tips:

  • You can use any protein you enjoy. Beef, shrimp, or tofu would be delicious.  Or, you can go 100% veggies!
  • This recipe would also work with chicken thighs but they need to cook a bit longer.
  • I kept my stir-fry simple, and just went with red bell peppers and onions.  But really, any stir-fry-friendly veggies will also work well here.  Think broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, carrots, or green beans – those would all be delicious too!
  • I highly recommend using kitchen tongs if you have them: it’s the easiest way to flip the chicken pieces and stir fry.

Szechuan sauce adapted from Feasting at Home 

5 from 4 votes
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Szechuan Chicken Stir-fry

This easy restaurant-style  Szechuan chicken stir fry will soon be your go-to chicken dinner on a busy weeknight, as it takes just 30 minutes to get on the table. Deeply flavorful chicken breast stir-fried with Chinese 5 Spice and a simple Asian sauce. 

Course dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American, Chinese
Keyword 5-Spice Chicken, Chinese chicken recipe, chinese chicken stirfry
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 429 kcal

Ingredients

Stir Fry:

  • 1 lb / 500 grams boneless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp avocado oil divided in 2 + 1 tbsps - or your favorite vegetable oil
  • 1 large yellow onion cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 large red bell pepper cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 large green bell pepper cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 10 small dried red chillies I used dried chilli de arbol

Sauce:

  • ½ tsp black peppercorns or Szechuan Peppercorns to make it even more authentic!
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp honey or maple syrup, coconut sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 3 garlic cloves finely minced
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic chili paste I used samba oelek
  • 1/4 tsp Chinese five spice
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch

Instructions

Make the sauce.

  1. Heat a large skillet (the same one you will use for the stir fry) over medium heat, and toast the peppercorns until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Crush them. Tip: if you don’t have a mortar and pestle, place the peppercorns in the center of a cutting board and crush them with the bottom of a large pan or any heavy object with a flat bottom you can push.

  2. In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients with a small whisk or fork until well combined. Set aside.

Make the stir fry.

  1. Place chicken and cornstarch in a large bowl, mix to coat the chicken evenly with cornstarch and season with 1/2 salt.
  2. In the same skillet you used for the peppercorns, heat 2 tbsp oil over hight heat. Once it’s very hot, add chicken pieces in a single layer and cook for about 3 minutes, without moving them around, until golden brown and crispy. Flip to cook the other side. Depending on the size of your skillet, you may need to work in several batches (you don’t want to overcrowd your skillet to make sure the chicken is crispy and cooked perfectly). Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside on a plate or bowl.

  3. Add another tablespoon of oil to the skillet (you might only need 1/2 tbsp if there is still some oil left from the chicken). Add onion and bell peppers, and stir fry (cook while stirring very often) for 3-4 minutes, until softened.
  4. Add dried chillies, and stir fry for another 30 seconds.
  5. Return the chicken to the skillet. Give the sauce a little whisk and pour in the skillet. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until thickened.
  6. Serve immediately over a bowl of rice (or cauliflower rice for a lower carb option). Unless you really love spicy food and can tolerate it, do not eat the peppers.

Recipe Notes

 

Szechuan sauce adapted from Feasting at Home https://www.feastingathome.com/szechuan-sauce/#tasty-recipes-27433

  • You can use any protein you enjoy. Beef, shrimp, or tofu would be delicious.  Or, you can go 100% veggies!
  • I highly recommend using kitchen tongs if you have them: it’s the easiest way to flip the chicken pieces and stir fry.
  • This recipe would also work with chicken thighs but they need to cook a bit longer.
  • I kept my stir-fry simple, and just went with red bell peppers and onions.  But really, any stir-fry-friendly veggies will also work well here.  Think broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, carrots, or green beans - those would all be delicious too!
Nutrition Facts
Szechuan Chicken Stir-fry
Amount Per Serving (1 /4)
Calories 429 Calories from Fat 162
% Daily Value*
Fat 18g28%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Cholesterol 73mg24%
Sodium 711mg31%
Potassium 989mg28%
Carbohydrates 42g14%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 24g27%
Protein 28g56%
Vitamin A 2147IU43%
Vitamin C 228mg276%
Calcium 38mg4%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

If you tried this Szechuan Chicken Stir Fry Recipe, don’t forget to rate the recipe below and let me know how it went in the comments – I love hearing from you! You can also follow me on InstagramPinterest and Facebook for more deliciousness and behind-the-scenes!

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5 Comments
  1. I loved it. The flavors in the sauce are so good and super spicy. Also love that it can be a sort of mix and match for what’s in the fridge at the moment.

  2. This looks so tasty and exactly like it would in a restaurant! It actually looks a lot like my favorite Kung Pao (sp?) chicken – are they very similar, do you know?

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