You may have tried takeout chicken with cashew nuts in the past. It has a little sweetness, a little saltiness, and a little spice, making it one of those dishes you crave time and time again. There is also the warm nutty note from the cashews, which give this dish a comforting feel. I love this cashew chicken recipe any time of year but it is especially satisfying as the weather cools down.
I love perfecting a homemade version of something we enjoy ordering out. It allows me to keep the recipe health-conscious, and to customize other factors as needed, so that the whole family can enjoy it!
Why You'll Love this Cashew Chicken
- Protein Packed – This chicken with cashew nuts packs a protein punch. There is also chicken broth in the sauce, to really maximize nutritional content!
- Lovable Leftovers – I love a recipe that keeps well! This cashew chicken is just as delicious the next day. You can even toss some cold, leftover cashew chicken atop a bed of greens for a salad at lunchtime.
Ingredients For Chicken With Cashew Nuts
- Pasta – You want to choose long noodles to pair with the bite-sized cubes of chicken. I prefer egg noodles or linguine style rice noodles, but it is up to you.
- Chicken - My favorite cuts for cashew chicken are breast or thighs. Before you begin, go ahead and trim your chicken into bite-sized cubes.
- Peppers - I love to have a variety of colors and flavors with my veggies, so I chose to use ½ each of red, orange, and yellow bell peppers.
- Onion - Yellow onion is great for this dish because it is delicate enough in flavor to complement the garlicky notes and the sweetness.
- Pepper – You will need a little black pepper to season the dish.
- Ginger – It is anti-inflammatory, helps to fight bacteria and viruses, and aids in digestion, not to mention, ginger tastes amazing!
- Garlic – Garlic is one of the most prominent flavors in cashew chicken, so don’t forget it! Minced garlic will work best.
- Chili Sauce – When shopping for chili sauce, you will probably see either chili garlic sauce or sweet chili sauce. The chili garlic sauce tends to be much spicier, while sweet chili sauce is sweeter and tangier. I prefer sweet chili sauce for this dish. You can tweak this measurement to your desired spice level.
- Cashews – Salted, dry roasted cashews are ideal for this recipe. If you have raw cashews, you will need to toast them in the oven before you begin.
- Olive Oil – You will need oil to help create a base for your marinade, but that marinade will also go into your sauce, so a lighter oil that can stand up to medium-high heat would be ideal. Olive oil is my preferred choice, but avocado oil would work as well.
Ingredients for Sauce
- Soy Sauce – A lot of this dish’s flavor comes from the soy sauce. Coconut aminos will work as well!
- Rice Vinegar – Rice wine vinegar offers a delicate acidity to a dish. Other vinegars won’t be the same, but in a pinch you could replace your rice wine vinegar with apple cider vinegar.
- Honey – You need something thick and dark in flavor to sweeten this dish. Your best options are either brown sugar or honey. I like honey for its antioxidant content.
- Chicken Broth – You will only need a little chicken broth to create a cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce.
- Cornstarch – Cornstarch is what will turn your marinade into a sauce. Make sure you whisk it into your chicken broth before adding it to the skillet so that it distributes evenly.
- Optional Garnishes – Make this dish even more delightful by garnishing with crushed cashews, cilantro, sesame seeds, or red pepper flakes. You can also add other vegetables like bell peppers.
How to Make It
1. Cook noodles al dente according to box directions and reserve. Rinse with cool water and set noodles aside.
2. Cut all vegetables and chicken into bite size pieces and place in a large zip-lock or bowl.
3. Add all of the ingredients except the cornstarch and chicken broth to the bag of veggie mix. Marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes.
4. To a hot, large, raised edge skillet add the marinated veggie-chicken mixture and cook for 8-10 minutes on medium high, or until chicken is cooked and sauce has begun to reduce.
5. Whisk the cornstarch and chicken broth together and stir into the skillet. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. At this point there will be a lot of sauce but it will be perfect for saucing the noodles.
6. Lower heat and toss in the noodles. Thoroughly sauce the noodles. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Garnish with crushed cashews and sesame seeds. Serve warm.
Step by Step Instructions
To begin, prepare your noodles according to package instructions. Cook them to al dente, then rinse with cool water, drain and set aside.
Next, cube your chicken and chop your peppers. You should keep them bite-sized, so that they are easy to eat with the noodles.
Now create your marinade! Place your black pepper, ginger, garlic, chili sauce, cashews, olive oil, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and honey in a gallon sized Ziploc bag, along with your chicken and bell peppers, and mix. Place your bag in the refrigerator to marinate for 30 minutes.
Once everything is done marinating, heat a large, raised edge skillet over medium-high. Empty the contents of your Ziploc bag into the hot skillet, and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until your chicken is cooked through, and your sauce starts to reduce.
While your chicken is cooking, grab a separate, small bowl, and whisk your chicken broth and cornstarch together, until completely dissolved. Add the mixture to your skillet, and stir. Allow everything to cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until your sauce has thickened to your desired consistency.
Once your chicken, sauce, and veggies are ready to go, lower your heat and toss in the noodles! Cook for another 2-3 minutes, thoroughly tossing so that all noodles are evenly sauced. Your cashew chicken is done! Garnish with crushed cashews and sesame seeds, and serve warm.
- You can keep leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat by microwave in 30-second intervals.
- Your cashew chicken can be frozen for up to 3 months. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave.
- If at any point your sauce gets too thick, slowly whisk in a little more chicken broth or water. If your sauce is too runny, make another cornstarch slurry and add it slowly to the pan, mixing well, until the sauce is thick enough.
What does cashew chicken taste like?
Cashew chicken has hints of sweetness, tanginess and spice, but its main flavors are chicken, garlic, and roasted cashews.
What is cashew chicken sauce made of?
Cashew chicken sauce is made of soy sauce, chili sauce, rice wine vinegar, honey, chicken broth, and spices. You also need cornstarch to thicken the sauce.
Soy sauce contains gluten, so if you want to make this dish gluten-free, you should substitute coconut aminos or tamari in its place. You will also need to be conscious of what type of noodles you use if gluten is a concern. You can substitute rice noodles for wheat noodles.
Is cashew chicken good for you?
Cashew chicken can certainly be a healthy option! This recipe is high in protein, with a modest amount of added sweetener and oil. It also gets a healthy dose of vitamin C from the peppers.
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