Kung Pao Chicken Recipe with Caramel

Kung pao caramel chicken

  • serves 2
  • Easy

Using caramel in savoury cooking adds a smoky, sweet depth to marinades and braises, and brings an extra dimension to this Chinese classic



  • skinless chicken thigh fillets 4
  • cornflour 1 tbsp
  • soy sauce 5 tbsp
  • sunflower or vegetable oil 1 tbsp
  • dried red chillies 8
  • garlic 2 cloves, sliced
  • Szechuan peppercorns ground to make ½ tsp
  • golden granulated sugar 2 tbsp
  • ginger grated to make 1 tsp
  • rice vinegar 1 tbsp
  • toasted sesame oil 1 tsp
  • roasted peanuts or cashews 75g
  • spring onions 3, cut into 5cm pieces
  • jasmine rice or noodles to serve


  • Step 1

    Cut the chicken into bite-sized chunks. Mix the cornflour with 2 tbsp of the soy sauce and use it to marinate the chicken in the fridge for 1 hour.

  • Step 2

    Heat the oil in a large wok or frying pan. Drain the chicken from the marinade and pat dry with some kitchen paper (discard the marinade). Tip into the wok with the chillies, garlic and szechuan peppercorns, and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes to brown the chicken and start to blacken the chillies.

  • Step 3

    Tip everything out of the wok onto a plate and wipe the pan clean with some kitchen paper. Tip the sugar into the wok with 50ml water and boil until it turns a caramel colour. Measure out 300ml of warm water, then quickly tip it into the wok to stop the caramel colouring more. Add the ginger, vinegar, sesame oil and remaining soy sauce, and bring back to the boil. Return  the chicken mixture to the wok, along with the peanuts or cashews, and continue to bubble for 20 25 minutes or until the sauce is reduced to a caramel consistency and coating the chicken.

  • Step 4

    Add the spring onions whites for the final 2 minutes, followed by the spring onion greens for the final 30 seconds. Serve with jasmine rice or noodles.

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Nutritional Information

  • Kcals 674
  • Fat 36.3g
  • Saturates 7.1g
  • Carbs 45.6g
  • Sugars 31.9g
  • Fibre 3.6g
  • Protein 39.3g
  • Salt 6.3g